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                                 Broken Spirit

                         Chapter 4 - Grave Exaggeration

Outside on the streets of Jump City, life went on. Even in the later hours of the day transitioning into the night hours there was a vibrant energy in the air all around. The city lights aglow, the low rumble of the passing subway cars below. Typical ambience of metropolitan life.
But inside the museum, never had there been such silence.

The Titans looked on, each in their own disheartened and still disbelieving manner, looking to the lightly charred floor tiles and smoldering embers outlining where their friend and fellow Titan once stood. None of them prepared to acknowledge that BeastBoy had been standing front and center in the midst of such senseless destruction. Least of all Raven, who remained motionless and without a word spoken.

Normally, a blast from Control Freaks remote was hardly deemed anywhere close to fatal. It was traditionally used to augment living matter, and as a means of transport to and from another dimensional plane within television itself. And there was plainly no televisions or active monitors to lead to any conclusions of the contrary that he’d merely been transported, separated from the others into one of Control Freaks digital domains. But more than that, they had all observed its effects before. And this? This was nowhere near its standard operation.

Cyborg rubbed his eyes, looking again, trying to assure himself that this couldn’t be as it seemed. “That didn’t just happen, right?” he asked as calm as he could muster. “He’s… gotta be here somewhere.”

“Perhaps… a teleportation of some kind?” Starfire inquired.

“Yeah,” Cyborg gave a small nod. “Maybe some kinda’… containment beam. Sucked him up into the remote. Right?”

Robin just stared with a straight face. His silence speaking volumes against his friends dwindling hopes.

Starfire and Cyborg gave no further response, knowing full well just how deep into denial they were falling. They had a fair grasp of how most technology worked. No teleportation ever scorched the ground like that. Nor did it cause anywhere near that much visible pain and discomfort they had seen in BeastBoy’s face before he vanished.

They all just stared. None of them knowing what to do or what to say.

Slowly, Control Freak began to stir, sitting up from the ground beside the equally disoriented terminator who’d come crashing down onto him. “Ugh…W-Wha?” he groggily shook his head.
He looked to find four of the Titans visible, close to the center of the room. Three of them standing off to the side, and one of them standing short of a sizable seared section of the floor. Furrowing his brow, he looked more intently at the large burn marks. Slowly he looked to his remote in hand before looking back.
He remembered taking aim at an exhibit, the terminator coming straight at him, then pain, and then? Did he fire off a blast before he went down? He looked to his remote once more. Then looked back to the burn patterns on the floor. Then noticed the absence of one Titan. The math finally started to add up in his head.

“I… I got’em?” he asked. His face curled to a vicious sneer. “I GOT’EM!”

Oh, happy day for villains and ne’er do-wells everywhere. This was an event every bad guy dreamt of. Doing in a hero. Slaying a do-gooder. Granted, a younger, lesser-known hero. But hey, it was a start. He’d cut down a super hero in their prime. This was the path to stardom in the villain ranks. This was the Joker holding a gun to Batman’s head. This was Lex Luthor lording a chunk of kryptonite over Superman. This was big.

“I DID IT!” he beamed. Control Freak looked at his remote with the faintest of curiosity. “NOW… How’d I do it?” He looked back to what was clearly the spot he’d felled the teen hero, somewhat perplexed. He never remembered installing a feature like that and certainly no knowledge of a function like that before. “What button did I press? Agh! What was that function?!” He scanned the keypad of the remote.

Okay, so maybe he was sketchy on the details. Maybe it was a lucky shot. But in his book he still chalked that up as a win.

“Eh, details,” he shrugged. “For now is my time of ascension. NOW is the moment of glory. NOW begins the era of CONTROL FREAK!” he threw out his arms to the sky in celebration.

Just then, a thought occurred.

His eyes went wide as if snapping back to reality.

For the last few moments, Control Freak had been caught up in his own personal grandeur, shouting to the heavens, and cheering the downfall of a hero. And all while in the immediate vicinity of the formers four fellow heroes. Very much alive and well, and more than likely not in the most pleasant of moods in regards to him snuffing out one of their own.

He looked down, across the room, finding all four teens still with their backs to him. Whether overwhelmed by grief or oblivious to his presence due to the gravity of recent events was hardly his concern. Slowly he turned, beginning to tip toe away, choosing to exercise some restraint before further boasting of his victory.
“Take a moment to gather yourselves, Titans,” he said calmly, in a soft whisper, trying to brand his hasty retreat as an act of pity as he began to slink away. “For when next we meet…”

BA-BLAM!

The terminator beside him exploded into a burst of flame, scattering fragments of his metal frame like confetti.

Control Freak froze, turning to the side, visibly startled.

Cyborg’s arm was outstretched, his sonic canon cooling down alongside a secondary shoulder mounted launcher with mini rockets primed and loaded. His cybernetic eye glowing bright red.

Starfire gave a matching look of spite, fists clenched, eyes burning bright green as a single tear flowed down her cheek that evaporated under the intense heat of her anger before reaching her chin.

Robin narrowed his eyes, doing his best to maintain his composure.

Control Freak jumped back, trying desperately to conceal his fright. “H-Hold it right there!” he shouted as he aimed his remote. “I was more than willing to prolong this until our next fated encounter but… d-do not think I won’t hesitate to…”

Click.

“…”

Click. Click.

Click Click-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK!

Control Freak furiously tapped the remote’s buttons, at the most hoping to duplicate the prior blast. At the least a warning shot or another transformation to stall long enough to beat a hasty exit. Unfortunately it seemed that last blast had depleted the remote’s energy entirely as the light atop the device faded to black to a falling beep.
He shook the remote. Then shook it again more vigorously with both hands, almost strangling the device.

“Uh… eh-heh!” he nervously chuckled. “Battery’s dead.”

Poor choice of words.

The Titans just stared him down in the most ominous silence and a quiet unyielding anger.
These were no longer the proud, dedicated, one lining heroes of the city whom he’d been battling. No, these were emotionally distraught teens reacting to the loss of a friend and teammate. Distraught teens with powers. And blunt objects. And glowing fists. And oh so many methods of potential pain and suffering waiting to be visited upon him.


Control Freak took a step backwards. Then slowly took another. Finally he turned, breaking into a full sprint, trying to put as much distance between him and his pursuers as possible.

A bird-a-rang flew from Robin’s hand, a grapple line trailing behind it, ensnaring one of Control Freak’s hands. The line went taut, jerking him to a complete stop, tugging him by the arm. He pulled desperately trying to slip free, but the line was tightly dug around his wrist.
Robin grabbed onto the line with both hands, leaning forward to let out just enough slack before swiftly yanking back, reeling Control Freak off the ground and into the air back towards them.

Starfire took to the air, zipping forward in a power dive straight for him, extending her arm to her side. She connected, clothes lining her forearm right across his chest, spinning him wildly in midair, somersaulting several times before landing flat on his face at the others feet.

He simply lied there. Sore and aching. He could feel the Titans standing over him. But he just didn’t have the energy to care anymore. He knew there was nowhere to go. No grand plan of escape. No harrowing fight to the finish.
Control Freak pushed off against the ground, rolling over onto his back. A few bruises and scrapes lined his face, but as far as the Titans were concerned, it was an improvement. He curled his face before spitting to the side onto the floor. There was just one thing left for him to do.

He sighed before curling a boastful smirk. “I still got’em.”

Robin grabbed him by the collar, pulling him forward, nose to nose with him, briefly catching him by surprise. He stared a hole right through him, boring every thought and gesture of disdain and cruelty right into his eyes.

Mildly shaken at first, Control Freak quickly eased back into his cocky demeanor. If they were going to take vengeance, they would’ve done it by now. He knew they weren’t going to do anything. Hero etiquette. Moral code. Right and wrong. Yadda yadda yadda.
They might’ve gotten him, but he permanently got one of them. He still bagged one of the good guys. He still won.

“So what now, Robin?” he grinned. “Fallen hero speech? Self-proclamation how you won’t cross that line to avenge a fallen comrade? Cause seriously, that stuff is SO done to death. I mean, COME ON! Take last issue of Captain Laser, number one fifty-nine… which in my opinion was really starting to turn the series around. Till they got wind of the movie deal and then…”

Robin released one hand from Control Freak’s collar, holding it out beside Cyborg.

Cyborg removed a small wrapped white package, unwrapping it before depositing its contents into Robin’s hand with an audible wet glop.

Robin reeled back his hand, just as Control Freak; previously distracted by his own rambling took notice. Robin shot his hand forward and…

SPLOTCH!

A thick mass of tofu was shoved in its entirety into his mouth, effectively corking any further dialogue. Allowing them the tiniest of satisfaction. It was only right that BeastBoy, even in spirit alone, be the one to shut him up.

Cyborg seized up Control Freak’s remote, inspecting it to make certain it was fully inoperative before placing it into a storage compartment in his chest. He then grabbed the gurgling villain who was attempting to dislodge the hunk of soy product from his mouth by the back of his coat as he proceeded to drag him towards the exit.

Robin followed close behind.

Starfire turned, about to accompany them. Until she saw Raven out of the corner of her eye, having not budged an inch from where she stood. Even with her back to her she watched for any kind of movement. But she was stiff and unmoving, almost like a statue.
Starfire’s face fell, not that it had that much farther to go as of late. She reached out for her, to call to her.

But she stopped, finding Robin’s hand on her shoulder. She looked to him as he just quietly shook his head.

Star opened her mouth to speak, to protest, to plea, but then she just looked back at Raven and her unmoving stature. She closed her eyes as Robin put his arm around her and led her outside, looking back at Raven one more time. She needed her friends, but the shock was still far too fresh. She needed some time. They all would.

And with that they exited the building.


Silence…

Never had there been such silence.

To Raven silence had always been golden. So peaceful, so pure, so absolute. But for the first time she could recall, this silence…hurt. Her eyes burned, having barely blinked. Her throat felt like it was gagging like she was forgetting to breathe. Her chest felt tight. Her stomach felt uneasy. Her knees softly shaking.
Raven stood glued to the spot where she had been for what felt like an eternity. As if everything else had stopped all around her. As if sound itself had gone away. She just stared. Stared in disbelief. Stared in shock. Stared at the floor where BeastBoy had stood not long ago, faintly able to make out the tiniest inklings of footprints among the singed floor panels.

Her knees finally gave way, collapsing to the floor, barely catching herself, holding herself up from the floor on her hands and knees. Her breathing was becoming shallow. She looked over at that same one spot on the floor, slowly reaching out, tracing her fingers across the seared marks and scorched serrations.

It was still warm.

Raven bit the corner of her lip, sinking her head between her shoulders. She pressed her hands firmly against the sides of her head, shutting her eyes tight, shaking her head vigorously. She wanted to yell. She wanted to scream. She wanted to break something. She wanted… to cry.
But she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Raven had to suppress these surging feelings of sadness, grief, and anger before they boiled over and completely overwhelmed her. And it was proving more and more difficult by the moment. All that emotion seizing up inside of her and if she wasn’t careful it could reach critical levels.

The charka stone centered in her forehead sparked and crackled, black energy seemingly trying to force its way out like the side of a dam about to give way.

Raven tried furiously to quiet her thoughts and center her mind, to ease her state of being. But all she could do was keep flashing back to that one instant. That look on BeastBoy’s face right before he vanished in a flash.

So much pain.

Such fear.

She shut her eyes tighter, almost starting to hurt. It felt like she was on the verge of pushing them inside her own head. She gritted her teeth, her lip shivering, as a warm dampness began to seep from her eyes.

“…Uuugh.”

Raven’s eyes snapped open, alerted to the faintest groan.

Everything stopped inside of her. Her thoughts, her breathing, even her heart felt as though it was put on pause for an instant. She waited a few seconds as she flared her nostrils, resuming the flow of oxygen. She slowed her breathing, but still dared not to look. She just focused her gaze squarely on the floor, listening intently.

“…Dude.”

Raven slowly turned her head about ten degrees, at a snail’s pace, peering out of the corner of her eye.

There, staggering slightly into the open was BeastBoy.

Completely intact. Uninjured. Not even the slightest trace of blood or bruising. He showed signs of slight disorientation as evidenced by hobbled footsteps, but for all intensive purposes he appeared to be fine. And very much alive.

“Mmmph,” he stretched with one hand against his side before rubbing his head. “I feel like Cy just broke in new floor mats for the T-car. With me under’em.”

Raven carefully rose to her feet, turning to face him.

“Hey, Rae,” he said casually. “What happened? I miss anything fun?”

She began walking towards him.

“Where’s Control Freak?” he glanced around the museum, which was partially in shambles. “We get’em?” He looked at the sizeable blast radius short of where Raven had been standing. “Or maybe got’em and a half?”

Raven was now walking at a slightly brisker pace.

“Um… w-where are the others?” his voice faltered at Raven’s lack of verbal response. Always a concern when Raven was this quiet.

Raven was drawing closer without a word. And a look in her eyes BeastBoy had never seen before. And BeastBoy had practically mapped a color wheel worth of distinct looks in Raven’s eyes.

“R-Raven?” he asked timidly. “Raven, are you mad at me or somethin’?”

She was now in a full sprint towards him.

“Yyyeeah…YOU’RE MAD!” he froze, starting to lean back, beginning to raise his arms in defensive blocking position. “W-Whatever I did, I didn’t do it! And if I did, I didn’t mean it! And if I did anyway, I’M SORRY!”

Raven sprang from the ground, diving right for him. She didn’t know if she was going to strangle him, hug him, or any combination of the two. But she figured it would come to her when she got there.

BeastBoy shut his eyes, looking away as he crossed his arms over his face, bracing for assumed standard disciplinary impact.

Raven was coming right for him. The faintest of smiles curled to the side of her trembling features. Arms thrown out in front of her, prepared for imminent hug… strangle… hangle.

THUD!

SCREEEEEEEECH!

Raven hit the museum floor, skidding across the tiles a foot or so before grinding to a halt.

She looked up, eyes squinting, clearly in a daze. However she was quick to shake it off, pushing off the ground to her hands and knees, blinking in confusion. Eyes wide, Raven quickly looked back.

BeastBoy was still right where she left him. Eyes shut, bracing himself in silence. “Um… Raven?” he asked, somewhat concerned, seemingly curious as to the lack of overdue contact.

Raven blinked, mouth slightly agape, clearly confused. What had just happened?

BeastBoy peeked out from under his arms, finding Raven nowhere in sight. Gradually he eased out of his guarded position, scanning the surrounding area. “Raven?” he called. Quickly looking behind him, he spotted Raven rising off the floor. “What gives? You never been that lousy a shot.”

Raven rose to her feet, still visibly have trouble processing what had just occurred. No way she missed. Not by that much. Not at that range. She started towards BeastBoy again, much slower.

“Uh, Rae?” BeastBoy asked hesitantly, still somewhat baffled by her behavior. “Raven? You feelin’ okay?”

Raven stopped short of BeastBoy, leaning her head to the side. Then to the other.

“Raven?” he asked.

“BeastBoy…” she began, a bewildered look on her face. “I-I… I can see right through you.”

BeastBoy blinked. “Uh… come again?” he tilted his head. “You’re sayin’ I’m shallow or something?”

“No, I mean I can literally SEE right THROUGH you,” she said, having trouble believing it herself.

BeastBoy raised an obligatory eyebrow. “O-kay,” he rolled his eyes to the side. “I think it’s time to switch to decaf, Rae. Don’t know if ya keep track, but I make up the weird crazy stuff and you’re all about ‘crazy smart’ sense making. So why don’t we try…”

SSHWOO

BeastBoy reached out to assuredly pat Raven on the shoulder. Only for his hand to pass right through her shoulder and sink into her arm.

Raven looked down, speechless.

BeastBoy none too vocal either, but unsure whether by choice or by capability.

He pulled his hand back for a second, pausing briefly before making a second attempt.

SSHWOO

As before, his hand phased right through her, this time sticking his hand out straight, out the other side of her back.

Raven gave no indication of pain or feeling anything resembling physical contact. She just quietly looked down at BeastBoy’s forearm cut off right at her shoulder.

BeastBoy quickly pulled back his hand again, holding it up to his face. Rotating his hand from one side to the other, he focused his eyes squarely on his hand, able to see everything around him right through it as if his hand wasn’t even there. It was completely transparent. He looked down, arms out wide as he examined himself from his feet to his chest. He was entirely transparent. Almost ghost like.

“BeastBoy?” Raven asked in as a calm a tone as she could.

He lowered his hand taking a deep breath. “Heh,” he let out a small weak chuckle, “For a second there, it kinda’ looked like… I was… just a little…sorta’… dead.”

Raven exhaled slowly, closing her eyes as she held her hands out in front of her. She couldn’t sense him. Not as she always had before anyway.

She could vaguely make something out. It was faint, but…

BeastBoy’s pupils darted from side to side, clearly struggling to wrap his head around this development. He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be. Even he would remember something like that. Nope. He was definitely, absolutely, positively NOT DEAD. Probably.
“A dream,” he said. “A DREAM! Yeah, that’s it! This is all just a late night movie marathon binge with one too many double chocolate sugar frosted num num bars in my tummy.” He started walking towards a nearby wall. “Just need to wake myself up.”

“BeastBoy,” Raven called.

BeastBoy held out both hands, palms flat to the wall, taking aim. He reeled his head back, throwing himself forward, head first into the solid stone barrier.

SSHWOO

BeastBoy’s head disappeared into the wall, passing right through it. Everything above his neck vanished from sight into the wall.

He pulled himself out. “Okay, THAT didn’t work.”

“BeastBoy,” Raven called again a little louder.

He paced back and forth a few steps. “Alright. Time to face facts here,” he took a deep breathe, steadying his nerves. “I’m… I’m dead. And… that is… okay.” He paused. “WHO AM I KIDDIN’? NO, IT’S NOT! I’M DEAD!”

“No, BeastB…”

“Dead!”

“BeastB…”

“I’m as expired as five year old tofu! Dead!”

“Beas…”

“DEA…”

On impulse Raven reeled back her arm, swinging it sharply across BeastBoy’s head. Unfortunately, briefly lost among the circumstances, it passed right through him. However he stopped all the same.
“Well,” she looked at her hand with a dry stare, finding her traditional methods were now of little use. “THIS is going to be a setback.”

“Well, it still kinda’ tingles if it makes ya feel any better.” BeastBoy blinked, calming himself from the welcome distraction, if only for the fact that Raven was still here with him.

“BeastBoy, you’re not dead,” she said.

“B-But…” he held up his hands and all of their transparent glory, feeling another erratic panic coming on.

“No,” Raven cut him off, keeping him on the level. “You’re not dead.”

“I…”

“NOT dead. Listen to me. Stay calm, and just listen,” she spoke firmly but caringly. “Which of us tends to make the least amount of sense on a daily basis?”

“Well…”

“Who?” Raven turned her chin up at him.

“I do.” He reluctantly replied, sheepishly lowering his head.

“Which of us makes more sense, can think logically, AND is in tune with existence itself on a spiritual level?”

“Pfft. Showoff.”

Raven narrowed her eyes, instantly snapping BeastBoy to attention.

“Uh, Y-You do.”

“Yes. So, listen carefully. You. Are. Not. Dead.”

BeastBoy took a few deep-cleansing breaths letting it sink in. He was still uncertain. Just a touch of hysteria still lingering somewhere in there. But he was now more calm and susceptible to Raven’s understanding. If she didn’t think he was dead, who was he to argue? Especially from someone who’d held his life in her hands so many times before.
“So, then… what am I? How come I can see through me? How come I can pass through stuff? How come you can’t hit me? How c…”

It just clicked.

“Hey,” BeastBoy gave a genuine smile with a lax demeanor. “You CAN’T HIT ME,” he beamed with a sense of glee.

Raven rolled her eyes. “Good to see you haven’t lost sight of what’s important,” she sarcastically remarked.

“Sorry. But, How can I be… ‘not’ dead, when I’m…THIS?”

A valid question. One that deserved a valid answer.

“It’s hard to explain,” Raven scratched her chin, trying to understand it herself. “All living creatures give off a certain resonant life energy. Think of your body like a candle. And life energy as the flame. If you were in fact dead, the flame would go out and the candle would slowly start to deteriorate. In your case, it’s quite the opposite. The flame is still burning, just without a candle.”

A bit convoluted, but BeastBoy could somewhat understand. “So… I’m a dud?”

“In a manner of speaking,” she curled a smirk.

BeastBoy gave a sour look. But he was also starting to feel a little more reassured if Raven could afford to make verbal jabs at him like that.

“What I mean is, your life energy is still radiating from within you. Its not as strong, but it is still there.” She explained with her hand held out in front of his chest, lightly glowing, able to sense a definite trace of his life energy.

“Then where’s my candle? I mean, where’s ME?” BeastBoy shrugged.

Raven shook her head. “I can’t say for certain.”


Outside, Cyborg dragged Control Freak past a gathered crowd of onlookers and reporters trying to ask for comment or clarification of what had transpired inside. However they were quickly made to step back by police moving to cordon off the scene.
He came to a stop short of an awaiting paddy wagon with its rear doors already open, as if expecting its new cargo. Cyborg flung the villain inside, landing him flat on his stomach and at last dislodged the previously stuffed chunk of tofu gagged in his mouth.

“Pa-toohy!” he spit the lingering taste from the back of his throat. He quickly crawled to the rear of the vehicle, holding himself up by the doorframe. “Remember this day, Titans! A day to be feared. For NOW, you must live on in shame and horror, knowing not when our next fated encounter will bring one more of you to your fated demise! At the hands of, CONTROL FR…”

SLAM!

“OOWWWW!”

Cyborg slammed the doors right in Control Freaks face, taking the force of the impact square to his nose and knocking him onto his back as was evidenced by the transport mildly rumbling and shaking. It then drove off, en route to deliver him for prompt incarceration.

Cyborg wore a constant scowl, holding strong as he watched the transport round the corner at the far end of the street and disappear from sight. Watching even still for a few seconds more.
Finally, the moment passed as he let out a weary sigh.

Starfire and Robin approached on opposite sides, sharing in his dismal mood.

The crowds slowly began to disperse. A few reporters made attempt to speak to the Titans for insight. But were just ignored, shut out completely. Their minds and hearts clearly elsewhere.
Another swift end to a bitter exchange between good and evil. The day was saved. The night was won. Calm had been restored. The city safe, and its people protected. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like much of a victory given the price.

They cast their eyes down, fatigued by guilt, sorrow, and shame. Every hero was always prepared to make that ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. But someone else taking it in your stead? There was no bracing or preparing for that.

Cyborg was the first to break away, starting to slowly walk towards the main street.

“Where ya goin’, Cy?” Robin asked.

He stopped, letting out a deep breath, letting his shoulders droop. “I just lost my best bud,” he spoke solemnly. He turned, looking over his shoulder. “I need pizza. Lots and LOTS of pizza. And a few dozen milkshakes,” he sniffled. “…And a box of tissues.”
Everyone had their coping mechanisms. Cyborg favored food. Choosing to stuff his face to his friend’s memory.

Starfire wiped her eyes, forcing as hopeful a smile as she could, flying out beside him. “I wish to join you in the remorseful consumption of grief and junky foods in large portions.”

Cyborg offered a small smile with a nod as if signaling the more the merrier.

Star put a comforting arm around him to which Cyborg did the same as they began to walk off side by side.

“Guys?” Robin called.

They stopped, looking back.

“…First round’s on me,” he added.

Cyborg and Starfire nodded. Robin walked up beside him as the two allowed him into the fold.

“Perhaps friend Raven would care to partake as well?” Starfire inquired optimistically, feeling obliged to make this a complete and proper event.

Robin and Cyborg traded unconvinced looks of skepticism. Knowing full well just how much this had to be affecting her.
“Star,” Robin began, rubbing his shoulder, “I… don’t know if…”

The soft sound of approaching footsteps turned them to face the museum, finding Raven walking towards them. Calm and clear.

“Raven!” Starfire zipped out past the others, throwing her arms tightly around her no doubt grieving friend. “It is okay. We shall share the sadness and pain together.”

“Hgh!” Raven gave a contorted grunt at the force of Star’s debilitating power hug. “Yeah. Nothing like a little outer pain to distract from inner pain,” she gritted through her teeth as Star lessened her hold just enough for her to break free.

“You wanna come with?” Cyborg stuck out his thumb towards the main street and the late night diners and restaurants. The ideal binge worthy prospects.

“For what?” she straightened her cloak.

“Honor the loss of a friend,” Robin said.

“Pay tribute to a fallen hero,” Star followed.

“Eat pizza till the pain in our stomachs matches the pain in our hearts,” Cyborg added.

“It is what he would want,” Star bowed her head lightly.

BeastBoy stood behind Raven, waiting for her to brace them for the shock, but unable to keep from shedding a single tear at the sentiment. “You know it, dudes,” he sniffled, “You know it.”

“Pass,” Raven responded. “I need to…”

Starfire let out an audible gasp. “Do not be this way Raven. You must not deny yourself the hurtful sadness over our departed friend. It cultures the body with mucus of tragedy that then seeps and festers from within.” She franticly cried, mildly shaking Raven by the shoulders. “It is a preventative measure on top of the expression of loss.”

“Star,” Cyborg called, easing her off of Raven. “If Raven doesn’t wanna’, it’s cool. This ain’t her kinda’ coping mechanism. Not like she can just smack around BB till she feels be-be-be…” Cyborg stuttered briefly, tearing up at the sudden recollection that BeastBoy wasn’t with them anymore. “BWAAAAAH-HA-HA-HAGN!
Star cradled Cyborg, allowing him to blubber into her shoulder as she lightly patted him on the back, encouraging him to let it all out.

“Guys!” Raven raised her voice enough so as certain to be heard. Sure enough, the others silenced immediately. “BeastBoy is fine. More or less,” she shrugged. “Look.”
Raven gestured beside her, to which BeastBoy stepped out into the open giving a timid wave.

The three Titans were silent, blinking their only response.

“This is… the coping mechanism?” Stafire whispered to her friends, somewhat confused.

“Nah, Star,” Cyborg sniffled once more, almost as if humoring the notion. “I can see him.”

“Prove it,” BeastBoy said, sticking out his tongue, razzing and making faces at them.
He felt somewhat hurt that from their statements of care and devotion earlier didn’t match their response. He was expecting to be greeted with celebratory high fives and cheers by now. Heck, he was even open to one of Star’s circulation stopping mega hugs.

“Raven, it’s okay,” Robin held up his hands, attempting to ease the situation delicately. “Why don’t you take some time back at the…”

“Wait!” Raven threw up her hands, raising an eyebrow. “You… can’t see him? You really can’t see him? Or hear him?”

They all just looked at each other.

“Should we?” Robin asked.

BeastBoy and Raven looked at each other briefly before BeastBoy marched out in front of them. “HELLO? Dudes! I’m right HERE,” he flailed his arms, jumping up and down, calling to his friends.
But it was all for naught. They just looked right past him to Raven as if he wasn’t even there.

They couldn’t see him. Or hear him.

BeastBoy looked back to Raven with a shrug, unsure of what else to do.

It wasn’t an act. They really couldn’t see him.

Raven held her head with one hand briefly, running her fingers through her hair, clearly trying to fathom the situation. Looking to BeastBoy, looking back at the others, her eyes soon wandering between the ground and up into the air, her mind racing. It didn’t make sense. How was it that she could see him and the others couldn’t?

Maybe this… wasn’t real. Maybe she was hallucinating. Maybe her grief-roasted mind was making her see what she wanted to see. Maybe… BeastBoy really was gone after all.

BeastBoy noticed the somewhat bewildering look in Raven’s eyes as she rubbed her temple. And it did very little to keep him calm in an already tense situation. The only reason he wasn’t still in full-blown freak out mode was because of her. And if Raven was having her doubts, maybe his earlier fears were justified.

No. That couldn’t be. If she believed he was still here, HE believed he was still here too.

“Raven?” he pleaded. “Come on. S-Say something. Say somethin’ so smart they’d have to believe it. C’mon, whip out those big words. Whatever it is, I’ll agree. Even if I can’t understand it. ESPECIALLY if I can’t understand it.”

Raven just shut her eyes. Trying to think.

“Tell’em I’m a body without a candle. Or a flame without energy. Or… WHATEVER!”

Raven was now starting to question her own senses. Was it possible that on top of seeing what wasn’t there that her ability to sense was betraying her as well?

“…Please.”

Raven looked up at BeastBoy’s strained hopeful expression, his eyes losing their luster of optimism and beginning to sink into fear. He was scared.

Sure she wanted to believe this was what it seemed. Desperately. But if the others couldn’t see him, couldn’t hear him, couldn’t sense him, how could she know her mind wasn’t just playing tricks on her?

She lowered her head for a moment, mentally taking a step back to review everything she had witnessed thus far. Raven may have doubted what she was seeing, but she knew what she sensed. And what she sensed, what she felt, was real.
She had to cement her instincts. And prove to the others that their friend was still with them beyond their own senses.

Raven quietly gestured BeastBoy over to her.

BeastBoy looked at the others briefly before walking up beside her. He leaned in as she whispered to him.

The other Titans just looked on, occasionally sharing concerned looks with one another, uncertain where this was heading and growing more concerned for Raven’s state of mind.

“It’s okay, Rae. We all miss the little guy. And there’s nothin’ wrong with that,” Cyborg held out his hands in support.

“Oh yeah?” he said, unconvinced. BeastBoy leaned in whispering in her ear. Even though the others seemingly couldn’t hear him was no reason not to take any chances.

Raven gave a nod, turning to face the others giving only a quick glance back at BeastBoy before slowly opening her mouth to speak.
“BeastBoy says he rigged your controller in your last sudden death battle of Lone Samurai Showdown six.”

“WHAT!” Cybrog exclaimed in outrage. “I knew that no good cheater couldn’t beat my high score level! Not in a fair fight! How’d he do it? Low batteries in the controller? Glue around the buttons?”

“And he also says when he finished the last of Star’s favorite mustard on his veggie burger, he discarded the empty bottle by Robin’s door.”

“WHAT?!” Robin and Starfire shouted in unison.

“So it was friend BeastBoy that soiled my snack of the afternoon in between the working out?” Starfire frustratingly balled up her fists at her sides.

“And left me to take the blame?” Robin finished in equal parts shock and annoyance, recalling the incident with full clarity and how long it took him to apologize for something he never even did.

This was sounding more reassuring by the moment. To Raven at least. Just because she had a keen mind was no reason to assume she could anticipate how someone else’s, least of all BeastBoy’s would work.
After all what better way to prove BeastBoy was here than to be told things only BeastBoy would know. Not even the most convincing hallucination could recreate that.

Raven leaned to the side as BeastBoy whispered into her ear once more. “BeastBoy says he can’t help if there are times when you’re really easy targets.”

The three Titans cast cold, angry stares aimed squarely at Raven, being there was no one else to focus on. To which she took a step back, momentarily startled but maintaining her neutral state. “So, this is what its like to be BeastBoy,” she whispered to herself.

The Titans only further narrowed their gaze at her, fuming.

Raven leaned to the side, receiving one more message whispered in her ear.

“And that’s just one of the reasons that he loves you all.”

The Titans anger broke. Their stares softened. Looking at each other before looking back at Raven with a sense of reinvigorated hope. Overlooking the previous nature of incidents past to the more important fact. BeastBoy was still alive. Their friend was still here with them.
Just moments ago they had thought it preposterous. But then, the hero line of work was in the business of preposterous. Other worlds, other planets, technology beyond our own. Superhuman abilities, magic, and everything in between. Surely there had to be some leeway between logic and the unknown.

They felt a dip of guilt for having jumped the gun so quickly. If only for the fact that Raven believed it with such certainty.

“He’s…He’s here? For real?” Cyborg asked.

“He is not uprooting the Earth daisies?” Starfire asked softly in turn.

Raven gave a nod, much to her own relief as well as the others.

Robin relaxed his stance. “Raven, start from the beginning.”


To be Continued…
Kinder Steed by BlueSerenity
Kinder Steed
Inspired by :iconaslan1:'s fav.me/d5jpecf 

Been meaning to sketch this out since Aslan's sketch planted the seed in my head a while back. There was just something about the combo. I sort of picked up where he left off. Death finds himself in a strange, unknown world, and Fluttershy happens upon him and (hesitantly/scared senseless at first) offers to guide him. And on their way, they run into the Diamond Dogs looking to make trouble for poor Fluttershy. Totally ignorant of who or what her new companion is.

Originally planned to just add some generic demons/monsters, but decided to throw in something else pertinent to the MLP universe. Minor threat/villains to add to that, 'they don't know what they're getting themselves into' vibe.
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Pearl by BlueSerenity
Pearl
Wanted to try something new, and I been on and off of Steven Universe so I figured 'Why not'?
Pearl is such a graceful character. Was going for Swan Lake with pointy things.
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Broken Spirit

Chapter 3 – Disconnected

Starfire swooped in just below the top of the entryway into the exhibition hall, remaining in the air only a few inches off the ground, both hands spread out wide, as a star bolt remained charged in each palm. Her arms extended in both directions, scanning one side of the room to the other.
The presentation of this particular area was considerably wider than the previous ones. Display and exhibits of the American old west covered the surrounding area. Large replica storefronts of a saloon, a bank, and a sheriff’s office lined the wall alongside a sidewalk of wooden planks. A covered wagon stood in the center of the room beside a display of mounted horses and wild buffalo. Various thick glass cases scattered the adjacent sides, containing various western six shooters and rifles and mannequins sporting clothing pertinent to the time period.

Carefully Starfire continued to sweep the room for any sign of Control Freak or more of his impromptu resistance. But the room was quiet. No movement. No activity.

She lowered her arms, looking back through the way she’d come. “The way is clear,” she called.

Robin, BeastBoy, Cyborg and Raven advanced forward, each keeping a sharp lookout as they hastened their way across the hall towards the next exhibit. Each of them on their guard for any sudden threat to present itself.

Starfire hung back, not moving from her spot until the others safely made it into the next area of the museum. Slowly she hovered in reverse bringing up the rear, keeping her point of entry visible, vigilant on all sides to ensure nothing unseen would follow or catch them by surprise.
She turned, just about to exit the room. When the sound of footsteps put her on her guard. Starfire peered over her shoulder.

Walking out into the open, casually stepping out from behind the building displays were two figures of equal size, seemingly human in appearance at a glance.

Starfire narrowed her eyes as if somewhat perplexed. The two did not seem to match her expectations what she had estimated a potential threat for this particular exhibit would entail. Well, not entirely anyway.
The first individual seemed dressed to the surrounding period. Stepping out from the bank he wore brown cowboy boots with spurs clanging against the floor with every step. Dark jeans. And much of his upper body shielded by a thick olive green poncho. Atop his head he wore a matching brown cowboy hat and a black neckerchief barely sticking up from the neckline. A scruffy beard and moustache, with a small cheroot curling to the side of his mouth between gritted teeth and a hard squint in his eyes.
Opposite of him, a second figure emerged from the sheriff’s office. However unlike his associate, he was dressed from an entirely other different time, more modern, far from outside the old west theme that bordered around them. A gray suit against a white dress shirt with a proper tie tucked in to a dark red vest. His hair combed back and slightly to the side with an equally serious squint of his own.

Slowly, Starfire turned her body towards them, remaining on her guard for any sudden movements that might signal an impending attack. But they only continued to walk forward, calmly and casually. Until coming to a stop in the center of the room, leaving a good fifteen feet between her and themselves.
They did not speak a word. Only a dead silence between them, their demeanor serious but somehow relaxed at the same time.

They stared at Starfire. And she stared right back in return.

She shifted her pupils from one to the other, narrowing her eyes as if mentally furrowing her brow. She could not shake this feeling of familiarity somehow. Like she had seen them before. But where? They clearly were not from the same time period. They did not dress alike. Were they somehow related? Perhaps. There was some kind of resemblance, even if only for that squint in their ey…

That was it.

Starfire’s eyes widened slightly as if a light had clicked in her mind, mentally placing the two. She had merely lost herself in thought of placing them that she had momentarily overlooked Control Freak’s ability to summon fictional characters from media. That was who these two were. Characters from classic Earth cinema.
Starfire had since expanded her knowledge of Earthly amusement and entertainment, primarily in the weekly movie nights at the Tower. And these were from some of the films in Robin’s collection she had viewed with much enthusiasm. Different characters, but portrayed by the same actor. Which explained the look of similarity between them. Wood of the East, she believed was his name. From the respective films of ‘The Good, the Awful, and Most Unsightly’ and ‘Harry the Unclean’. Both men of justice. But now, it seemed they were twisted to Control Freaks whims.

Starfire shut her eyes, letting out a small sigh of discontent. As much as it pained her, it seemed she would have no choice but to do battle with these two otherwise well-meaning rugged men of righteousness. Her eyes quickly opened, her resolve hardened, and willing to do what had to be done. She gave a hard look in their direction as if signaling she was prepared.

The cowboy and detective shared a fleeting glance before turning away from one another and taking five steps apart, widening the distance between them and then turning to face her once more.

Starfire lowered her head. They were making it more difficult to bear down on both of them at the same time.

The western gunman parted his poncho to the side, making his holstered revolver visible, and keeping his hand to his side prepared to draw. The detective drew back his jacket exposing a shoulder holster, occupied by a large caliber revolver of his own.
They flexed their fingers slightly, loosening their grip, awaiting her to make the next move.

Starfire relaxed her shoulders but remained still. “I know what you are pondering. And your question is most valid. Can I dispatch one such as myself, imbued with such vaunted strength, warrior’s courage, and righteous fury matched by the energy discharged from my very fingertips?” Starfire flexed her fingers ever so slightly, allowing only a fleeting glow from her hands, impressing upon her adversaries her resort of violent means should the need arise. “So, you must inquire… ‘Do I feel that luck favors me?’

The two shared another fleeting glance at one another before looking back.

“Well? Do you, earth delinquents?” she asked stoically.

A heavy silence hung in the air.

In a split second both men reached for their weapons.

Starfire thrust her fists forward in crisscrossing swings, hurling a barrage of star bolts at both opponents in unison.

CLING!

The first volley struck their drawn weapons from their hands and onto the ground.

ZANG!

The second struck their belt buckles, causing their pants to fall to their ankles, briefly immobilizing them.

BLAM!

The third and final barrage hit hard against the ground beneath their feet, weakening the surface integrity of the floor enough for them to fall straight through with dual screams as they crashed into the sub levels below.

Starfire drew back her arms, curling them up by her chin, blowing the lingering energy trail from her fingers like a pair of smoking guns. And with the impending threat no more, she turned to hasten her exit from the room to join the others.

Meanwhile, at the far side of the museum, Control Freak was experiencing a set back of his own. He pulled and pried at the main door, finding it to be sealed shut.
“Ugh! Come on,” he gritted his teeth, pulling with all he could muster, “COME ON!” His grip came loose, sending him tumbling backward. He sat up with an annoyed look of disbelief, yanking on his hair. “I don’t believe this! I stage an elaborate, grand assault on a major city foundation, I leave my mark in historical significance, I keep all five Titans at bay, and A DOOR slows me down!” he got to his feet, pulling his remote and aiming it squarely at the obstacle before him. He pressed a button, discharging a beam of energy that struck the door, engulfing it in a blue glow, which momentarily blinded him as he shielded his eyes. When he looked again, the thick reinforced entryway was transformed into a much more standard, flimsy looking white wooden door. He reached for the doorknob.

THWACK!

“Yaagh!” he yelped, leaping backwards as an axe smashed through the center of the door sending splintered chunks of wood flying. He looked to the newly carved hole to find a rather psychotic looking man, grinning menacingly at him.

“Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Control Freak blinked in response before looking confoundedly at his remote, clearly not rendering his intended means of escape. Perhaps he pushed the wrong function. Either that or the battery was running low. He gave the remote a vigorous shake before taking aim and firing another blast, transforming the door again.
When he looked again, the door was now a gateway with a long trail of steps leading to the top of a foreboding looking Samarian temple. There at the top stood an imposing female figure with red eyes and spiked hair, looking down at him from on high with two demon dogs at her side snarling through their sharp teeth.

“Are YOU a GOD?” she asked menacingly.

Control Freak gave an audible gulp. “Better not take a chance on this one.” He discharged another blast from the remote, transforming the doorway yet again.
This time the exit took the form a thick green emerald colored set of double doors.

He gave it a brief inspection. No axe-wielding maniac. No daunting god lady. So far, so good.
He tried to open the doors, but to no avail. They were locked tight. “What the…” Control Freak pushed and pulled and tried every which way he could to forcibly open it. Finding no success, he gave the base of the door a firm kick in frustration, sounding a thick knock against the surface. And also served to crush two of his toes in the process, hopping briefly on one leg to alleviate the pain in between muffled grunts of soreness.

A small circular opening at the top of the door swung open, revealing a doorman, dressed all in green with parted hair and a curled moustache. “Nobody gets in to see the wizard! Not no way, not no how!”

Control Freak was quick to regain his composure. “But, I am… CONTROL FREAK,” he boasted confidently, throwing back his shoulders and sticking out his chest as if presenting himself in as refined and self-important manner as possible.

The doorman’s eyes opened wider, taken aback. “Well now, THAT’S a horse of a different color!”

“Heh,” he snorted. “Finally,” basking in recognition at last.

“No, I meant him,” the doorman pointed across the room.

Control Freak looked to find a green horse galloping towards him; Robin mounted atop with his bo staff drawn. He leaped from atop the horse to the ground, with BeastBoy resuming human form close beside him. Raven flew above with Cyborg and Starfire joining from the opposite side.

“It’s over, Freak,” Robin shouted.

“We gotcha’ cornered now,” Cyborg cracked his cybernetic knuckles accentuating his openness to pick up where they left off.

“Surrender. You have nowhere to run,” Starfire added.

Control Freak curled a mischievous grin as his eyes darted to the side, aiming his remote at one of the nearby exhibits. “Look to the future!”
He blasted a nearby display of five medieval knights, ensnaring them in a field of energy. When the field dissipated, there in place of valiant knights stood four humanoid robots, forged of polished steel exoskeletons and glowing red optical sockets. Standing out in front was a fifth machine, only this one was masked in human appearance. A muscular build with spiked up hair. Black boots, black leather pants, black shirt, and a black leather jacket dressed its outer human form with dark black sunglasses, obstructing its eyes from view, save for a fleeting red glimmer.

“Ooh,” Starfire briefly clapped with joy, “I have seen this one as well from our late night film watching endeavors.” Starfire flew out, stopping in front of the blank faced towering figure, gently plucking the sunglasses from off his face and wearing them herself. “Ahem,” she cleared her throat. “Come with me if you desire to continue living,” she attempted to deepen her voice as she outstretched a hand as fitting action from the movie by memory.

The cyborg stood blank faced, its now visible eyes totally unresponsive and devoid of even the slightest emotion. Reaching behind his back he pulled a laser weapon, firing a burst of plasma energy, striking the Tamaranean girl in the face and knocking her back to her original position beside Cyborg, still hovering in mid air.
She gave no indication of pain, as her alien biology was quite resilient. And her skin had withstood far worse.
She turned to face him, as the glasses broke apart, shattering to the ground, a large black soot mark on her face. “I do not believe they have seen that one,” she observed innocently.

The four terminators dove forward, tackling her to the ground in a cybernetic dog pile.

“Star!” Cyborg yelled, reaching for her.

CLANG!

The remaining cyborg sucker punched the teen hero with a hard left hook, sending him stumbling backwards and eventually to one knee.
Cyborg shook his head, shaking off the brief disorientation. He looked up to find his attacker standing over him, weapon drawn and aimed squarely at the human portions side of his face.

“You are terminated,” he said grimly in a thick Austrian accent.

Cyborg grabbed the barrel of the weapon with both hands, giving a swift yank, prying it away from his face just as it fired, narrowly avoiding the blast. Then with all his might gave a sharp tug pulling the weapon and the attached machine’s arm, which broke off at the shoulder in a burst of sparks and crinkling metal.
The terminator took only a single step back, analyzing the vacancy of its arm socket with the same neutral expression and without a single sound of pain or discomfort. It looked again as Cyborg got to his feet, dangling the weapon with his arm still tightly holding the grip. “And YOU are off warranty,” he smirked as he reeled back the weapon like a bat.

BONG!

The terminator arced into the air before skidding across the floor and denting itself into a wall.

Control Freak weaved and ducked from exhibit to exhibit trying to make a quiet get away in the commotion. Back flat against a display case he peered around the corner making certain no one was looking in his direction as he took off running for the side hall, hoping to double back to the main entrance somehow.
Suddenly a nearby column irradiated black just before toppling over, blocking his path.

Control Freak looked up to find Raven levitating overhead.

He turned, looking to run the opposite direction. But as soon as he turned a large green snake coiled around his legs, ensnaring him up to his waist, staring him down with its sharp fangs and a deep hiss.

Robin stepped forward, cuffs in hand, about to restrain him fully. “Looks like a another re-run for you, Control Freak.”

He narrowed his eyes at the teen hero, flailing his arms, not willing to go quietly. “Take your hands off me you damned dirty Titans!”
Control Freak swung his arm forward sending out another discharge from his remote, striking the exhibit displaying human evolution, portraying four primates and their evolutionary path from simian to modern man. As the energy dissipated all four figures were now fully-grown apes, brandishing assault weapons.
Immediately coming out of their previously dormant state, the now advanced and intelligent creatures drew their weapons on the three teens, spraying a hailstorm of automatic gunfire.

Robin dove for cover as Raven ascended higher into the air. BeastBoy loosened his grip, slithering onto the ground behind Control Freak where he transformed into a rhinoceros. Rearing back his head he swung forward, hooking the villain by his coat onto his long horn.
“Hey! Wha… put me down!” he ordered, hanging helplessly.

The ape’s gunfire saturated the ground near them, loud ricochets whizzing past their heads.

“Gah!” he threw his arms around his head, “Never mind! Get me outta’ here!” Control Freak was clearly less inclined about being a captive than he was about the notion of being used for target practice.

The rhino started running, charging one of the main supports of the upper levels.

“Hey! HEY! Watch out for that…”

BeastBoy swung his head upward, flinging Control Freak skyward and out of harm’s way. He then locked down his now free horn, boring right through the marble pillar. The weakened exterior above came crashing down in a small avalanche of debris and dust, affording more cover to get behind and the dust acting as a makeshift smokescreen to hinder the ape’s aim.

Robin and Raven quickly got behind BeastBoy’s provided cover.

“Any ideas to draw them off,” Robin asked, glancing a peek at their attackers.

“Got a banana?” Raven asked dryly.

Another volley of gunfire beat against the slab of broken stone, forcing them lower to the ground. Robin looked to her, giving a hand signal. Raven silently nodded. Robin lobbed a gas pellet overhead, dispersing a thick cloud of smoke and warranting vicious primal shouts from their aggressors who continued to fire aimlessly in their general direction. Robin broke left moving to get around behind them as Raven opened an energy field beneath her, sinking into the floor.

“Hey! Lemme’ down from here!” Control Freak hollered. BeastBoy’s throw had caught him atop a spiked flagpole deeper in the medieval exhibit, his coat snagged as he tried to swing free. Suddenly sounds of ripping and tearing began to alarm him as he looked up to find the material of his jacket starting to break apart.
“Whaaahhhhh!” he yelled as he dropped down, face first into a large hollowed out metal cauldron in a blacksmith’s workshop. Upside down and stuck, he kicked and squirmed trying to get free.


Back beneath the heap of piled on terminators came a building tremor just as Starfire broke free, throwing her arms out and tossing the machines off her like tin cans. But it did little to waver their morale, as they got right back to their feet, charging right back towards her.
One rushed her from the side, swinging a straight punch right for her. But Starfire caught the incoming fist, pulling it downward before following through with her other hand into a mean uppercut that sent the machine flying once more and lodging him right into the ceiling.
Another came up from behind her, locking both arms tight around her shoulders and constricting the movement of her arms. The other two terminators wasted little time alternating heavy swings on her midsection.
In between battering strikes to her stomach and chest, Star’s eyes glowed bright green before a beam energy shot from her pupils striking one in the chest, burning a hole clean through. She then threw out her left leg, curving it right into the dazed robot’s skull and kicking him right into the other terminator beside him, tumbling them both to the ground in a heap.

From behind her, the other terminator suddenly released his hold allowing her free movement of her arms. Caught off guard, tripping forward slightly, she quickly turned to disable her remaining attacker.
Except Cyborg had already beaten her to it, lifting the machine over his head. One hand gripped tightly on one of its legs, the other tightly squeezing an arm, Cyborg pried and pulled with such ferocity until he tore the machine in two, separating its torso from its waist. He then let both halves fall with a heavy clank against the ground.

Starfire gave an appreciative smile as Cyborg dusted off his hands. However the relief was short lived as they both turned to see the other two terminators, previously kicked to the curb as it were, getting back to their feet. Save for the still smoldering hole in the one’s chest, there was hardly a mark on them for all their efforts. And it was doubtful to assume it had lessened their eagerness to fight to any extent as well.
A small rumble from above and falling fragments of drywall alerted them to the third terminator starting to pry itself free. It dropped from its previously perched position above and landed square on its feet, leaving deep feet impressions in the floor, cracking apart the tile beneath where it had landed.
Even the clicking and grinding of gears from behind caused them to turn to see the fourth and previously considered disposed terminator, slowly crawling towards them. And though only from the waist up, was still percolating and not even hesitant to engage in battle.

Cyborg shook his head with a small sigh. “Man, these things are like BeastBoy in a good mood.”

Starfire quirked her head slightly. “A source of abundant cheer and a most uplifting start of the day?” she rotated her shoulders, loosening up.

“Doesn’t take long to get annoying,” he answered.


Meanwhile, the four evolved apes continued to scout for their prey. Weaving between the exhibits in tight formation, weapons at the ready, they advanced forward. The smokescreen Robin had previously put up was starting to settle, but it still remained enough of a hindrance to keep them overly cautious.
They moved slowly but steadily, stopping only to take aim around any corner or hiding place a surprise attack might be waiting.

Just then, a piece of debris came loose, crumbling and striking the floor behind them.

Two of the apes turned, startled, squeezing off a few dozen rounds, destroying a few cases and blowing apart several wall fixtures.
Slowly they drew back their weapons, dumbfounded at the lack of enemy presence and their own false alarm. Each received a swift smack across the back of the head from the third ape behind them, snarling and thumping his chest in impatient anger.

The fourth ape out in front merely rolled his eyes with a petty grunt, turning to take another step forward.

“AARGHHH!” he shrieked, jumping backwards landing flat on his back.

The other three gathered around him.

He pulled in his leg, revealing thick green porcupine quills deeply dug into the underside of his foot.

The short green porcupine in question scurried away with a soft chuckle, unseen beneath the still settling smoke against the ground.

The apes were now on their guard, backs to each other, anticipating an imminent attack while one of them was temporarily incapacitated. It was only a question of when it would come, confident that there was no direction their enemy could attack from where they couldn’t spot them.

From inside the ape’s tight formation a small black vortex materialized through the floor. And through it came Raven’s hand, sprouting up just long enough to the ape’s unseeing backs to sharply jab one behind the knee before disappearing back into the vortex which collapsed in on itself from sight.

Hobbling from the hit to the back of his leg, the ape angrily turned to the ape beside him, interpreting the hit as a shove to be granted more space. He fumingly shoved him in response.

The embittered ape shoved him back, palms flat with a stern thrust to his shoulder.

He in turn replied with a stern slug from the butt of his rifle to the gut.

In no time at all it boiled down to an all out scuffle, the two apes acting out like two rough housing children, punching and kicking, thrashing and biting, all while shrieking and roaring back at one another. They may have been evolved, but it did little to hamper their basic primal nature.

The only ape still on his feet, he turned briefly, shouting at the two but keeping his weapon high and at the ready. He looked back, still finding no activity. Glancing back another two or three times, finally he became too irritated and distracted by his companions scuffle, turning fully to make another focused effort to cease their aggression.

At that instant, Robin dropped down from above, landing right on the barrel of his weapon, forcing it to the ground and delivering a firm swing from his bo staff right across the ape’s face. The ape dropped to the floor with a thud, knocked out cold.

The other previously downed ape hobbled to his tender feet, having just pulled the last of the offending quills from his foot. He took his weapon firmly in hand, drawing it on Robin.

From behind, a pair of massive green hands locked themselves around the ape’s chest.

He looked over his shoulder to find a large lime green gorilla lifting him into the air, up over its head, and suplexing him right into the ground. The ape took a nasty spill right onto the back of his neck, laid out motionless save for the occasional muscle twitch or two.

BeastBoy shifted back to human form. “Monkey see, monkey do.”

Robin gave a nod.

From beside them came the clicking of gun hammers being pulled back.

The two heroes looked to find the other two apes had ceased their brawl and had their weapons drawn on them. And between the bumps and bruises on their faces, none to happy to boot.

Suddenly both their weapons irradiated black. Screws and bolts sprang from their assembly causing their guns to fall to pieces, out of their hands and onto the floor.
A black energy bubble encased them both, lifting them into the air, bringing them face to face with Raven.


Starfire and Cyborg stood back to back, still managing to hold their own in their continuing onslaught of metal might. But it was starting to get senseless. No matter how many times they knocked them down they just kept getting back up again.

Cyborg gave a one-two punch to one terminator’s upper body before kicking it away with a straight boot to the face.

Starfire tossed a star bolt, scoring a clean hit to one’s leg, causing it to slow its charge with a limp. She then lifted both arms above her head, clasping her hands together, driving them down like a sledgehammer onto the robot’s head and dropping him flat on the floor.

Cyborg shifted his body to the right, dodging an incoming strike. He then countered with a knee sharply digging into the robot’s abdomen and then swinging his elbow down into its neck, causing it to collapse at his feet.

Another terminator made a grab for Starfire, tightly squeezing her arms, keeping them locked at her sides. It then swung forward, head butting her with a loud clang against its metal skull. Stunned only for an instant, Star narrowed her eyes, flaring her nostrils, rearing back before swinging forward with a head butt of her own.

KLANG!

The terminator’s head was knocked clean off, flying across the room, tumbling along the ground. Within a few seconds the rest of robot’s body began to power down, releasing its grip. Star shrugged the metal miscreant off her, letting it drop lifelessly.

At Cyborg’s feet, one of his previously downed aggressors was starting to claw at his leg, slowly starting to pull itself up.

“They are most persistent,” Starfire glanced over her shoulder.

“So are cockroaches,” Cyborg agreed, raising his foot in the air, Star’s last attack stirring a notion in his head. “But there’s an easy way to deal with them too.” He drove his foot down, crunching and eventually crushing through the robot’s skull under foot. He lifted his leg off the terminator’s skull which now resembled a trampled soda can, watching as the red glow of its optics faded to black.

The remaining two terminators lunged at the two, one coming straight at Cyborg, the other coming right for Starfire.

Cyborg ducked underneath the robot’s reach.

Starfire dodged the terminator’s oncoming strike.

Both threw up their hands, each face palming their respective opponent’s face in a tight grip. They turned in unison, putting all their weight behind them, thrusting the metal skulls right into each other to the sound of creaking steel, crumpling like paper against their strength.
It was either an epic finish or a multi tasking high five. But either way, it was over.


Control Freak meanwhile continued to pull and squirm, trying to dislodge himself, flailing his legs wildly as his lower half stuck out from the large metal pot. After a continued and strenuous effort, he finally managed to tip the cauldron over onto its side and onto the floor. Much to his relief as the prolonged hanging upside down had been causing blood to rush to his head making quite dizzy.
Propping his legs onto the edge of the cauldron for leverage, and firmly with both hands pushing from the inside, he grunted and strained to force himself out. And with a soft pop, tumbling out he came, staring up at the ceiling. Groggily he sat up, shaking his head and getting his wits about him.

He attempted to stand, but teetered back to his knees, still shrugging off the effects of being upside down for so long. Slowly he crawled to a nearby directory, pulling himself up and peering around the corner to evaluate the situation with his pursuers.
To one side he saw small piles of beaten and broken terminators lying in their own scrap and to the other, unconscious and equally detained apes.

His face fell briefly, only before contorting in the bitterest scowl. “Ugh! Everything I stand for trampled beneath the feet of people I can’t stand! This is high school all over again.”
He quickly surveyed his surroundings. He needed either a quick exit before the Titans regrouped or more reinforcements.


“Well, that was fun,” Cyborg dryly remarked, checking a readout of his systems to make certain there was no undue damage.

“Indeed,” Starfire replied. “But, does it not feel like… we are forgetting something?” She could not help but shake this notion that they were overlooking something pertaining to their recent encounter.


Raven continued to keep the two embittered primates in a holding pattern in her energy bubble. The two shrieked and yelled, pounding in vain against their prison, occasionally pausing only to turn their frustrations on each other. To which she gave an exasperated sigh with a roll of her eyes.

Just then from behind her came a low hum.

She looked over her shoulder to find the human disguised terminator earlier drawn off by Starfire and Cyborg standing behind her, minus an arm, but with a laser weapon pointed right at her.

Raven narrowed her eyes. With both her hands currently occupied to keep the other two of Control Freak’s minions contained she couldn’t mount any kind of offense without letting the others slip free.

The cyborg gave an equally deadpan stare. “Surrender. It is the only logical response.”

Suddenly there came a boisterous trumpet roar.

The terminator turned, just in time to be stampeded by a charging green elephant. He knocked the cyborg to the ground, trampling him into the floor.

Raven gave a small smile of gratitude. “Fortunately, BeastBoy has always been the ideal defense against logic.”

Her two captives looked to one another. One ape making goo-goo eyes and kissy faces, warranting stifled laughs from his cohort. Clearly poking fun at her softened expression towards her rescuer.
Until they sensed an alarming presence of danger, turning to find Raven’s eyes glowing ominously at the both of them. Immediately quieting them to a straight faced, passive state.

The terminator slowly started to sit up, lifting himself out of the shallow crater he had pressed into the ground. Before he could get to his feet however, the elephant’s trunk ensnared him around his upper body. Gripping him tightly as he heaved him into the air, swinging him briefly overhead before letting him fly like a hammer throw.


A short distance away Control Freak gave a content smile as he pulled his remote from his coat, taking aim at a new sufficiently promising display. His target? A nearby exhibit entitled ‘Tyrants Through the Ages’.

At that point, sailing towards him from above came the aforementioned airborne cybernetic lawn dart, bearing down on him at high speed.

“Huh?” he looked up, somewhat alarmed by the expanding shadow growing beneath him on the floor.

The robot was coming in fast, no time for it to be avoided.

“Oh no,” his face fell as if knowing how this would end.

WHAM!

The cyborg struck Control Freak head on, crashing him to the ground at high velocity. Sprawled onto the ground, his remote swayed, his thumb mashing several buttons inadvertently upon impact, as an energy beam discharged. Heading straight for Raven.

Robin looked up from binding one of the downed apes, alerted by the previous commotion. “Raven! Look out!” he warned.

Raven turned, spotting the beam coming right for her. She turned, dispelling the field around the two apes, letting them fall to the ground, putting up an energy barrier in front of her.

The beam struck the barrier, pushing her back only an inch or so as it ricocheted wildly off the barrier.

The beam bounced off the floor.

Then rebounded again off one of the display cases.

Then deflected once more against a nearby window.

BeastBoy returned to human form, holding a hand against his head, shading his eyes to see how far he’d thrown the former robotic aggressor, blissfully unaware of the danger bearing down on him.

The beam was coming directly for him.

“BeastBoy!” Starfire called as she and Cyborg came into view.

He turned, only able to make a bright light coming straight at him. He turned to bound off the ground, to jump out of the way, but…

“AAAAAAAAAAARRGGGHHHHHHHH!!!”

It was too late. The energy beam caught him, spreading across his entire body, enveloping him in energy that seemed to saturate every fiber of his being. His eyes shut tight, gritting his teeth, holding his head as it felt like he was being torn apart.
And then from the center of his stomach came a light. A glow that seemed to be stretching out over him, growing larger, glowing brighter, crackling as it surged through him. His body began to pulse and glow. And then…

BA-BLAAM!

Like a crack of thunder, a blinding flash filled the room.

Within a matter of seconds the light faded. The other Titans looked back.

“N-No way,” Cyborg murmured.

Starfire muffled an audible gasp.

Robin looked away solemnly.

Raven slowly descended to the ground, touching down onto the floor. Completely unmoving. Not a word spoken. She merely stood emptily, her eyes staring vacantly and her mouth cracked just enough to afford her lips the slightest tremble. She didn’t blink. She just continued to stare at the radial ember pattern scorched onto the floor. But no matter how long she looked, no matter closely she observed the surrounding area; it did not change what had transpired. What she was trying to wrap her mind around in obstinate denial.

He was gone. Just… gone.

BeastBoy… was gone.


To Be Continued…

deviantID

BlueSerenity
Ryan Farnsworth
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Current Residence: Florida, United States
Favourite genre of music: Pop/R&B, J-Pop, Rock, Techno
Favourite style of art: Anime / Manga
Operating System: Windows 7
MP3 player of choice: Windows Media Player
Favourite Cartoon Character: Raven & BeastBoy - Teen Titans
Personal Quote: "Smile, It makes the world wonder what you're up to"
Interests

BOOM! Go the Sky Flowers

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 4, 2014, 2:14 PM
  • Mood: Noble
  • Listening to: Disciple - Dear X
  • Reading: Tsugumomo
  • Watching: Law Abiding Citizen
  • Playing: Wolfenstein
  • Eating: Baked Chicken
  • Drinking: Grape Kool-Aid


Hope everyone is having a Happy 4th of July. Enjoy whatever cookouts, parties, and blow up-ables you have planned today or the weekend.

A few things to report. First off, I found that Tara Strong posted ANOTHER of my pics on her twitter page. This time she put up my 'Fire's Gem' pic The Fire's Gem by BlueSerenity for Father's Day. So needless to say, as before, I'm flattered and humbled. Again, if anyone follows her, please pass on my thanks. I will refrain from any 'who's your daddy' remarks as well.

Also, I've been approached about working on another game project. Yes, yes, I know. This is like the third or fourth one and they never seem to pan out. But in truth, I can always use more experience and it never hurts to bulk up the resume. I will admit I have my wandering notions of defeat pertaining to a career in the industry. But as long as I keep working and stay busy, at the very least I can't say that I didn't try.

Chapter three of my fic is well underway. As well as a few other assorted pics. I've also been approached by a couple people about doing commissions, but I'm waiting to hear back.

I've also been giving more and more thought to my earlier notion of an ongoing BB/Rae relationship comic. Seriously, I've got like four dozen potential ideas jotted down. I just need to figure out how I wanna go about doing it. Do I want to do monthly or bi-weekly? Do I want TTG style or do I want to stick closer to the regular series? Do I want to mix it up? Where do I want to start? How do I want to mix'em up? And so on. I think I'm just waiting to see how the new projects pan out, but I've put so much thought into this I really don't want it to fall by the wayside. I'm hoping I can at least start it soon to at the very least kind of test the waters with it to see if its something feasible, that I can enjoy, and can put out at a reasonable time frame.

Again, hope everybody out there has a nice holiday. And be safe with all your festive celebrational incendiary devices.




Quote of the Day: "The ancient Greeks were the first ones to say, 'An unexamined life is not worth living.' They don't tell you what we found out, an examined life not that fascinating either."





************************************************************

Artists Who Never Cease To Surpass Expectations---->
:iconjodi-seer: - One of the first artists who inspired me to join DA.
:iconpizet: - A Teen Titans artist for shippers and art appreciators alike
:iconlimey404: - Her comics, artwork, and creativity in general are a must see.
:iconsparkyx: If you're a BeastBoy/Raven shipper and you don't know who this guy is, you don't know what you've been missing
:iconaslan1: - Few things have brightened my day like an update to his BB/Rae comic, but his skill in general and imagination really make him one of my favs.
:iconsunyimaci: - Departed from DA, but I still cherish and regard her work with the utmost prestige.
:iconraven-of-shadows: - An artist who's dedication and growing skill with TT based work continues to grow more and more towards an accomplished fan artist.
:iconemisan: - Long absent, but not forgotten, another superb Titans artist.
*****************************************************

Artists worthy of respect and admiration---->
:icontotalmayhem::iconbleedman::icondrunken-novice::icondou-hong::iconteentitansfan::iconds-hina::iconmeadow-rue::iconneoslashott::iconbjorkubus::iconbbmbbf::iconrinacat::icongandalfia::icondavidfernandezart::iconchalodillo::iconnightlink::iconharumi-chan::iconmakihosaku::iconshiankra::iconfallenrose24::iconkazehime::iconsamrh::iconunicorn-catcher::icongogglegirl::iconbluemage14::icondramaelfie::iconwaterjewelemi::iconsansgills::iconveganrocker::iconvestenotus::icontotalrandomness::iconbizmarck::iconturynn::icondoodlebuggy::iconfreakish--jinx::iconklar::iconcarrinth::iconmagzwlbr::iconjessicaelwood::iconwagnerf::iconvashperado::icongunstarheroblue::iconlaslindas::iconkingpin1055::iconchibi-bb::icon14-bis::icongarabatoz::iconsii-sen::icongreeendude::iconblue-ten::iconceshira::iconticcy::icongofu-web::iconslugbox::iconthe-pooper::iconvanheist::iconshock777::iconss2sonic:
*****************************************************

Clubs---->
:iconteentitans::iconraven-fans::iconbbxrae::iconteentitanstower::iconthe-raven-club::iconthe-beastboy-club::iconterra-vs-raven-fc::iconcatgirl-zone::iconrealghostbustersfanc::iconghostbusters-fanclub::icontoon-guys-and-gals::icongame-art-hq::iconheroscuties::iconi-can-fix-it::iconmlp-fim::iconteen-titans-project:



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:iconj4rre77:
J4RRE77 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
"If you're all alone....pick up the phone.....and call...."
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:iconblueserenity:
BlueSerenity Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
"Ghostbusters!"
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:iconj4rre77:
J4RRE77 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
"Egon, this reminds me...of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head, you remember that?"
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:iconblueserenity:
BlueSerenity Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
"That would've worked if you hadn't stopped me."
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:iconj4rre77:
J4RRE77 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
"What? Wait a sec. Lieutenant? I think YOU better talk to this guy."
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:iconblueserenity:
BlueSerenity Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
"I'm busy here."
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:iconj4rre77:
J4RRE77 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
"It's some dock supervisor down at Pier 34."
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:iconblueserenity:
BlueSerenity Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
"What's the problem?"
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(1 Reply)
:iconj4rre77:
J4RRE77 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
"Stay with me. McClane! Stay...with me! On your tombstone, it should read, 'Always in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time!'"
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:iconblueserenity:
BlueSerenity Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
"How about, "Yippi-kay-ay, motherfu - " *gunshot* 
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