by Martin Maenza
A small barge approached the island upon which Titans Tower was situated. Two figures stood on the platform. One was a dark-haired male in a black domino mask, a red tunic, green shorts and boots, and a yellow cape. The other was a young woman with soft facial features. She wore a dark blue gown with an attached cape of similar color. A blue hood covered her head.
“Richard, I appreciate our talk,” Raven said in her haunting voice.
Robin nodded, then paused as they were within sight of the dock. A fallen form in yellow and red could be seen on it. “Raven, that’s Kid Flash! He’s down!”
“Wallace!” the young woman exclaimed. Instinctively, she used her ability to teleport and vanished in a cloud of dark smoke. She then appeared on the dock seconds later. “Wallace, are you all right?” Raven bent down to examine his body for visible wounds.
Robin had to wait for the barge to get closer. He then leaped from it before it had time to stop, landing on the dock with a somersault. “Raven, how is he?”
“His breathing is shallow,” Raven replied, “but other than that, he seems OK.”
“Try your empathic abilities,” Robin instructed. “We need him to come around so we can find out what happened to him.”
Raven nodded, placed her hands upon the young man’s face, and concentrated. Her healing touch flowed through him, allowing him to revive a bit from the attack earlier.
Kid Flash bolted upright. “Whoa! What happened?” He looked about. “Raven, Robin! What’s going on?”
“You tell us,” Robin said.
Kid Flash scratched his head. “I — I was running towards the island when something reached up and grabbed me! I think it was some kind of hand or something. Then it felt like all my speed was drained from me, and I fell! Next thing I know, I’m coming around a second ago!”
“Hmm…” Robin said.
Suddenly, all three heard a loud crashing sound coming from their headquarters nearby. “Sounds like trouble! Come on!” The teen wonder took off first with the other two following close behind.
“All right, chump! That’s it! You’re going down!” Cyborg announced as he charged forward. His metallic fists slammed hard into the Parasite. He pounded the villain with a one-two combo, over and over.
The Parasite grasped at the cybernetic parts that covered the hero’s body, trying to find a handhold. “What? It’s not working!”
“Damn skippy!” Cyborg said. “For once, being part-machine comes in handy! Ain’t nothing for you to steal, stupid!”
“Fine!” the Parasite spat. “Since you’re no use to me, begone!” He thrust both hands out into the air and began to spin them around and around like egg beaters. In a few seconds, the super-speed powers created a small whirlwind that slammed hard into Cyborg, forcing him backward.
“Hey!” the metal man exclaimed, digging his heels into the floor to try to hold his ground.
The Parasite just smiled. His hands started to glow, and star-bolts launched from them. The random shots flew wildly around the room, ricocheting into furniture, the ceiling, and the floor.
“Look out!” Wonder Girl cried out as she dodged a blast.
Changeling frowned. “Can’t have this! This is a rec room, not a wreck room!” He started to charge forward, then changed from his human form into a larger, more massive shape. As a green rhinoceros, he plowed horn-first into the side of the Parasite, knocking him off-balance and putting a halt to the attack. “Mind if I horn in on this?” the green hero quipped.
The Parasite recovered and lashed out at Changeling, catching the side of the beast. He felt a wondrous sensation as the power of the youth joined with his other stolen abilities. The green rhino wobbled for a moment, then fell to the floor with a loud thud. Knocked out, Changeling reverted to his human form.
“Ha-ha!” the villain laughed. “There was a reason I targeted your speedster friend first! He would have given me the most trouble, but with his abilities I can easily beat each of you!”
The Parasite started to change shape, becoming a large purple gorilla thanks to his most-recent stolen abilities. “Now, the time for monkeying around is over!” The huge purple gorilla swung his fist out at blurring speed, nailing Cyborg squarely in the jaw. The man-machine flew backward through the glass window to the terrace. His body skidded across the patio and was stopped by the thick railing before he could tumble over the edge.
“Who’s the king of this urban jungle now?” the Parasite-gorilla said, puffing out his chest and pounding it with both fists.
Suddenly, a golden lariat looped over his form and pulled tightly. “As Changeling might say, you look more like Grape Ape to me!” Wonder Girl said. “This should hold you!”
The Parasite reverted back to human form, but the lasso merely adjusted to accommodate the smaller form. “You think you have me, girlie? Think again!”
The villain began to spin in place like a top, moving faster and faster thanks to his stolen super-speed. The lasso began to pull tight and then wound around him.
“Wha–?” Wonder Girl was caught off-guard by the move, and she was jerked closer to the spinning villain. Before she could release her grip from the lasso, she was right where he wanted her.
The Parasite slammed into her like a whirling dervish, knocking Wonder Girl to the ground. He then stopped on a dime, lurched his foot out, and touched her exposed arm. The surge of Amazon strength filled his body.
“Yes! Yes!” the Parasite cried. “Just what I need to face Superman!” He started to work himself free from the lariat that bound his arms. “I’d love to kill you all, to repay your contributions, but I have to be getting to Metropolis!”
“Not yet you don’t!” a voice commanded from the doorway.
The Parasite spun around to see Robin standing defiantly. Behind him was a still-groggy Kid Flash and Raven. The villain laughed. “You don’t scare me, Boy Blunder! You’re nothing more than a glorified acrobat!”
Robin responded by reaching to his utility belt and tossing a pair of capsules at the Parasite’s feet. Gas started to rise from them as they broke open.
“Oh, please!” the Parasite said. “You’ll have to do better than that!” With a whirl of his hands, the villain blew the gas out the open window with super-speed. “Was that really supposed to bother me?”
Robin frowned. “Raven, run! Get out before he gets you, too!” The cloaked woman started to move.
The Parasite was upon her thanks to the super-speed and grabbed her by the cloak. “Oh, really?” he said pulling her closer. “I don’t think so! If bird-boy wants you to get away, then you must have a nice juicy little power!” The villain licked his lips as he stared into the woman’s fear-filled face. “Tell me: what can you do, my sweet?”
“If you insist,” Raven said, her fear turning to confidence. Just as Robin had discussed with her, she touched the Parasite and used her abilities.
The Parasite felt a sensation, but different than the one he’d been basking in all evening. This time, the touch of the hero didn’t cause him euphoria; it instead caused him agony. “Aaah!” he screamed. “What are you doing to me?”
Robin smiled. “Keep it up, Raven!” He could see that the taker of others’ abilities was getting a little taste of his own medicine. He glared at the villain who was struggling to break Raven’s connection to him. “I worked a lot over the years with Superman, so I know a little bit about you, Parasite. Once I realized who was attacking the Tower, I knew that Raven would be the perfect weapon against you.”
“Stop… please!” the Parasite begged. He was now down on his knees, but Raven continued to press her hands to his exposed flesh.
“She’s doing it!” Kid Flash said as he felt a bit steadier. “I can feel my powers returning!” He noticed the others who had fallen were starting to stir, too.
Robin nodded. “That’s what I figured,” he said as the Parasite collapsed on the floor. Raven started to stumble, and Kid Flash caught her. “Her empathic abilities allow her to absorb the pain of others. His abilities allow him to absorb the abilities of others. I concluded that the two might have an interesting feedback effect on one another, causing her to reverse the effect he had on you all.”
“Good thinking,” Starfire said as she rose to her feet. She and the others joined them around their fallen attacker. “But, X’hal, what if you had been wrong?“
“Robin wrong?” Kid Flash echoed. “Nah. Hardly ever happens.”
“I’m not perfect,” Robin said in his own defense.
“Perfect enough for us,” Wonder Girl said, giving him a hug.
“Hey,” Cyborg called out as he reentered the room from the terrace. “What say we save the little love-fest for later, after we’ve got this creep secured, called the proper authorities to haul him away, and get this place cleaned up?” He glanced around. “Looks like we’ve had one hell of a party.”
Changeling put his hand to his head. “Yeah, and some of us have got the wicked hangover feeling to prove it!” The others laughed.