A palpable air of depression hung over Teen Titans headquarters. Robin, the team’s leader, closed the Titans casebook and silently replaced it on the shelf. Wonder Girl, Speedy, and the others said not a word as they moved from room to room, going about the grim business of closing down the headquarters.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a shrill beeping noise.
“The intruder alarm?” Speedy asked, jumping into readiness but a little unsure. The alarm sounded different.
“No,” Robin said. “That’s the perimeter alarm, all right, but it’s not the intruder alarm. That’s the alert for when someone recognized as a friend has breached our perimeters.”
“I should hope so,” boomed a basso voice known to the Teen Titans.
“Superman!” Wonder Girl exclaimed as the familiar blue and red form sailed into the meeting room.
“You picked a weird time for a visit, Superman,” Mal Duncan said sadly. “You’re just in time to help us lock up.”
“Lock up?” Superman asked, confused. “What do you mean?“
“He means the Teen Titans are disbanding,” Robin explained. “It’s a long story, and a sad one, but with one thing and another, we decided this isn’t worth doing anymore.”
“I’m sorry to hear it,” Superman said grimly. “But I need to ask you to keep the team together, at least for one more adventure. I need your help — in fact, the world needs it!”
“Our help?” Kid Flash asked. “We’ll do whatever we can, Superman, but why come to us and not the Justice League of America?”
“That’s the heart of the problem,” Superman explained. “The Injustice Gang has cut off the JLA from the world! You don’t know it, but the entire planet Earth has been shifted out of this dimensional plane and into another!”
“What?” Wonder Girl gasped. “That’s incredible!”
“Indeed it is,” Superman agreed. “The Injustice Gang was very clever. They managed to spy on the JLA Satellite and struck when the entire team was on board for a meeting. I should have been at the meeting, too. Luckily I was late due to an attack by the Toyman that I had to break up. But the whole rest of the JLA is cut off from Earth! I investigated and found that the Injustice Gang accomplished this using three special vibratory engines. I could wreck them one by one, but if they are not turned off simultaneously, the result could be disastrous. Earth could be shifted into yet another vibratory plane, one already occupied by a planet!”
“So you need the Teen Titans to help you shut down all three engines at once?” Robin summarized. “You’ve got it, Superman! We can pull it together one more time! Where are these engines?”
“One is in San Francisco, one in Australia, and one in Hong Kong,” Superman explained.
“OK, Titans, here’s the game plan,” Robin said, shifting easily into leader mode. “Kid Flash, you and I will go with Superman to Australia. Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Mal will head for Hong Kong. I’ll call some of our West Coast-based friends to deal with San Francisco.”
“The Injustice Gang has members guarding each engine,” Superman explained.
“No trouble,” Robin said. “Everyone will call in when they’ve overcome the guard, and we’ll shut down the engines together. OK, Titans?”
“OK!” the other young heroes shouted simultaneously.
“What a beautiful city,” Wonder Girl remarked as her invisible plane banked over the horizon, and the pagodas of Hong Kong came into view. “I’ve never been here before.”
“Let’s hope we’ll all get to come again on friendlier terms,” Mal said anxiously. He had changed into his Guardian costume with the exo-skeleton beneath. “To do that, we’ve got to find the vibratory engine and put the clobber on the Injustice goon guarding it.”
“Finding it won’t be a problem,” Speedy commented. “Not with these portable vibro-detectors Superman jury-rigged.” Speedy examined the device, roughly the size of a handheld calculator, in his palm. “About twenty points due east, Donna.”
Wonder Girl flew the plane in the direction Speedy indicated. They didn’t need to look far to find the vibratory engine; large and glittering, it stood out in a clearing in a small grove of trees.
“Looks like H.R. Giger’s idea of a water cooler,” Mal commented. “I don’t see any guard, though.”
“The villain isn’t going to jump out and say, ‘Here I am, come get me,'” Wonder Girl commented.
“Um, Donna? I think you may be wrong about that after all,” Speedy said, gulping. “Look at that!”
The three Titans watched as the branches of the trees began to move, reaching for them like the fingers of some many-armed giant.
“Great Hera!” Wonder Girl exclaimed. “Everybody bail out!”
As one, the heroes leaped from the plane. Wonder Girl caught Mal on the way down, while Speedy made his own landing with a hastily drawn net arrow. They gathered in the clearing before the humming vibratory engine.
“Well, well, so the JLA’s junior auxiliary is pinch-hitting for them, eh?” came a honeyed voice from the trees. “How cute.”
The three heroes looked up to see a beautiful young woman in sylvan garb perched on a tree limb.
“Poison Ivy!” Speedy gasped.
“In person, young arrow-caster,” Poison Ivy cooed. “How nice of you to come see me. Ah, but I’m being a terrible hostess. Sit down, let me take your things.”
Thick vines suddenly burst from the ground, ensnaring the three Titans. Speedy’s bow, Mal’s shield, and Wonder Girl’s lasso were wrenched away from them.
“That’s better,” Poison Ivy grinned, swinging down from the tree. “Now you can die comfortably.”
“You sure this is the right place, Lilith?” a young man in blue and white asked. “I mean, this is the Golden Gate Bridge! Not exactly a hiding place.”
“I sense… great evil here, Dove,” said the red-headed girl named Lilith Clay. “Great evil and malicious purpose. It can only be the villain we seek.”
“You never know; this is an election year,” Hawk quipped.
“Enough talk!” the huge brute with them snarled. “Gnarrk will find machine!”
“Gnarrk, wait!” Dove called. “We don’t know who we’re dealing with yet! Better that we–“
“Gnarrk doesn’t take orders from you, Dove!” the caveman growled. “I will find the villain myself! You stand here talking if you want to!”
“No need to quibble among yourselves,” a smooth, oily voice came from nowhere. “I’m right here.”
The young heroes of Teen Titans West looked around but saw nobody. “Where are you?” Hawk demanded. “Show yourself!”
“Oh, dear me, I’m being rude,” the voice said apologetically. “I told you I was right here, but I never said when I was. Hold on, I’ll phase into your time-stream.” In an eyeblink, a man in a garish costume and cloak appeared, grinning. “That’s better. Welcome, youngsters.”
“Gang, I recognize him from the papers!” Dove declared. “That’s Chronos!”
“Ha! He’ll be crushed-nose when Gnarrk’s through with him!” the young Cro-Magnon declared, charging forward. Chronos simply turned his wrist so that the face of his wristwatch faced the young caveman. Something launched itself from the watch and struck Gnarrk full in the chest. With a rumbling grunt of pain, the caveman went down.
“Gnarrk!” Lilith cried, rushing to his side.
“That’s one whose time has come,” Chronos declared. “Who’s next?”
Kid Flash raced across the surface of the ocean, Robin riding atop his shoulders. Superman flew alongside them, keeping perfect time with the young speedster. The Man of Steel smiled at Wally’s speed; even carrying a passenger, he was nearly as fast as his uncle Barry Allen, the Flash.
“Australia dead ahead,” Superman announced. “How’s the vibro-detector working, Robin?”
The teen wonder stared at the device. “I’m not sure. If I’m reading this right, the vibratory engine is in the middle of the Sydney Opera House!”
Superman’s computer-like memory consulted its file on the Sydney Opera House. “They’re between performances now. It wouldn’t be that hard for someone to sneak inside. They could even get the vibratory engine inside in a crate marked scenery. Let’s check it out!”
In less time than it would take to tell, the three champions arrived at the Opera House. Robin consulted the vibro-detector. “It’s going batty, pardon the pun! This has to be it!”
“Indeed, it is,” a sibilant voice hissed. All three heroes looked around and saw no one. Then Robin, looking down on the ground, noticed something. “Guys, we’re casting four shadows!”
Before anyone could react to Robin’s words, the fourth shadow reached up and struck Kid Flash along the side of his head. With a groan, the young speedster collapsed.
“Shadow-Thief!” Superman exclaimed. “Hang on, Robin, I’ll handle him!”
“Oh, no you won’t,” a voice from above called. Instinctively, Superman looked up, directly into a stream of silvery liquid. In an instant, Superman was covered from head to toe in a metallic substance that glittered so brightly in the sunlight, Robin had to shield his eyes.
“My special liquid mirror compound,” Mirror Master called from the roof of the opera house. “Superman is covered with it, and it reflects all of the sun’s rays away from him. Not just the visible light portions, but all the different rays of solar energy, including those that give him his powers!”
“So it’s just you against two powerful super-villains, Boy Wonder-bread,” Shadow Thief smirked. “What will you do now?”
In Hong Kong, Poison Ivy landed on her dainty feet and not so much walked as flowed liquidly across the grass to her three captives. “My, such prizes I have netted,” she purred sensually. “I like the young ones, you know.” She ran a green-lacquered fingernail across Speedy’s biceps. “My, such muscles. I always admired Green Arrow’s arms; using a bow does such wonderful things for a man’s muscles. I see you’re no exception.” The villainess turned to Mal Duncan, who scowled at her in impotent rage. “You’re cute, too, honey. I’ve always wondered if what they say about your race is true.”
“Tell your triffids to let me go, and you’ll find out,” Mal grumbled.
“Would I, now?” Poison Ivy asked, fluttering her eyelids. “Or would you simply try to overpower me, make me submit to arrest?” The honey went out of her voice as she turned to Wonder Girl. “You, on the other hand, are a disappointment. Far too tall for your age, and that muscle-tone! What guy wants a girl that can bench-press him? But I suppose some guys get off on that. I’ll see if Chronos or the Mirror Master wants you.”
“Don’t count on it,” Wonder Girl scowled. With a flex of her mighty muscles, she snapped the vine like a twig. Poison Ivy gasped in horror. “My plants! My beautiful plants!” She was quick to react and hurled a handful of pollen dust into Wonder Girl’s face. Through eyes stinging and streaming tears, Wonder Girl tried to land a punch, but Poison Ivy dodged it easily. As she did so, however, she stepped back into Mal’s waiting hands.
“My exoskeleton took a little longer with your creepers than W.G., but I still got loose,” he chuckled as he held the thrashing villain by her wrists.
“How very clever of you,” Poison Ivy spat. “Here’s your reward!” She kicked backward with her small foot, the thorn-spines on the back of her boot plunging through Mal’s costume and exoskeleton to sink into the skin of his calf. He cried out in pain, and the villain wrenched free from his grip. Before she could make a move, however, something exploded at her feet. Clouds of sweet-smelling vapor rose around her, and she sank to the grass unconscious.
“Ollie designed that insecticide-arrow for use against giant bugs,” Speedy commented. “I’ll have to tell him it works on monster plants, too. Good thing P.I. was close to me; she’s still got my bow, and my knockout gas-arrow won’t go off if just hand-thrown unless it’s point-blank. How you feeling, Mal?”
“Kinda… queasy,” Mal commented, holding his forehead. “Some kinda drug…”
“We’ll get you to a hospital,” Wonder Girl promised, wiping her eyes, “as soon as we take care of the vibratory engine!”
In San Francisco, Lilith knelt on the ground, cradling Gnarrk’s head in her lap and silently weeping. Gnarrk was still and unmoving. Hawk and Dove stood tensed like coiled springs, ready to strike at Chronos, who stood there smirking.
“Superman should know better than to send children to do grown-up jobs,” he chided. “Who else wants to challenge me? Time, after all, is the slayer of us all, and Chronos is time.”
“Shut up!” Lilith suddenly screamed, looking up at Chronos with pure hatred in her eyes. Chronos reeled as if struck, and his hands flew to his head. He screamed in pain.
Hawk and Dove did not understand what had just happened, but instantly went into action. Hawk grabbed Chronos’ right arm and forced it behind his back and up, in a painful lock. Dove ripped Chronos’ belt from his waist, depriving him of his weapons.
“Ohhh, my head,” Chronos complained. “Feels like… someone shoved… a red-hot knife blade… right through my brain!”
Dove glanced at Lilith, who was staring at Chronos with undisguised hatred, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Lilith… did you do that?” Dove stammered. Lilith nodded once.
“I didn’t know you could do that, Lil,” Hawk said in awe.
“Neither did I,” Lilith sniffled, wiping tears from her face. “I suppose my emotions transferred to my mental powers in my moment of anguish.” She paused for a moment, then added, “Gnarrk’s dead.”
Everyone was silent for a long moment. Dove finally broke the silence.
“I think we’d better contact Robin to coordinate the engine shutdown,” he said. Lilith nodded.
In Sydney, Australia, Robin stood tensely as the Shadow-Thief approached him. He knew that his physical weapons were useless against the villain’s shadow form.
“Just hold still, little birdie, and it’ll all be over in a minute,” Shadow-Thief mocked.
“I know,” Robin said, smiling. Quick as a striking cobra, the teen wonder tossed something from his utility belt at Superman’s paralyzed form, then ducked. Instinctively, Shadow-Thief looked in Superman’s direction. The magnesium flare exploded in a bright flash, which Mirror Master’s liquid mirror reflected in a brilliant bolt that struck Shadow-Thief full in the face. With a scream, Shadow-Thief reverted to his human form. No sooner did he have a solid chin than it was met by Robin’s gloved fist.
“Very clever, Robin,” Mirror Master shouted from the opera house roof. “But let’s see you evade my mirror-laser!” The cowled villain aimed a pistol with a mirror mounted on the barrel.
“He won’t have to,” Kid Flash announced. He had recovered from the Shadow-Thief’s cowardly attack. At blinding speed he used his hands to scour the liquid mirror compound away from Superman. The Man of Steel’s powers returned even as the Mirror Master’s laser-beam lanced down toward them. Superman’s heat-vision blazed forth and met the laser in midair, stopping it in a brilliant display of energy.
Kid Flash ran up the side of the building while Mirror Master was distracted and relieved him of his weapon.
“Kid Flash!” Mirror Master gasped. “You — did you see that? What was that?“
“What are you talking about?” Kid Flash asked the startled villain.
“That energy-flash — when Superman stopped my laser with his heat-vision!” Mirror Master stammered. “I — I could swear — I saw… faces in the light!”
“Faces?” Kid Flash repeated incredulously. “Scudder, I think you’d better lay off Poison Ivy’s homemade wine.”
“I think you’re right,” Mirror Master whispered. He was still gaping when Superman arrived on the roof.