“Gemini, listen to me,” said Artemis. “Your mother was a good woman until she was twisted and perverted by an evil man. He is the one who truly robbed you of the woman who was Laura DeMille. After that she turned evil, and she took the lives of the Doom Patrol, including the life of Rita Farr. You know the pain you feel at the loss of your mother? Well, Gar already suffered that kind of pain when Madame Rouge killed Rita. You and he are both victims. Your mother also was a victim. The man who engineered such suffering was the Brain, not Gar.”
Gemini listened to Artemis, and she seemed to consider the merit of her words for a few moments. “I have nothing but hate for the Brain. He will pay as well. Still, nothing you say changes the fact that it was the Changeling who actually killed my mother!” she said tearfully.
Crimelord clapped his hands in a melodramatic manner. “Well done, my pet! You see through their passionate efforts to save their friend. Rest assured that your team shall see that the Brain and his pet ape shall die soon enough!” he said.
Jinx said, “His guilt is obvious. He said as much himself. Now, pass judgment!”
Crimelord said, “How I agree, my precious Jinx. He cost me something I valued above all else, too! Thus, his guilt was ever evident!”
Gar frowned. “Mister, I don’t even know you. Of course, that Darth Vader mask of yours distorts your voice something fierce!”
Mammoth said, “Let me smash him!”
At that moment, a commanding voice rang out from above. They looked up to see Nightwing standing on a window above. “Surrender now! We have you surrounded!” he said.
Starfire smiled broadly. Thank X’Hal! Nightwing must have decided to track us down when I failed to keep a date we had planned! she thought.
Crimelord said, “The fearless leader arrives, eh? Well, my Fearsome Five can handle you and Cyborg easily. I happen to know your teammates Jericho and Kole are away on leave. I made certain of that fact before I had my little Gemini reveal herself. Logan has a big mouth. He told her that those two had left the area on personal business.”
Nightwing smiled slightly. “You are right about that. You’re even right that Cyborg is with me. He’s freeing the poor Jacksons as I speak. However, you are wrong when you assume that we came alone!”
A red blur swept into the room and landed dozen or more blows to the armored Crimelord before he could react. Perhaps his enhanced senses had enabled him to detect the approach of the Flash, but his all-too human reactions were still far too slow to make that matter.
The Flash smiled as his motions swept the Crimelord across the room. “If you are so smart, then you should know we say, ‘Once a Titan, always a Titan’!” he said.
Gemini shrieked in anger. “Stop them! I’ve wanted this for too long!” She moved forward, and her arms elongated as they reached for Nightwing.
He flipped out of her reach and hurled a small pellet in her path. She was agile, but she was also angry, and her rage prevented her from exercising normal care. She moved directly into the path of the pellet as it released a blinding flash of light. She yelped in pain and wiped at her eyes even as Nightwing connected with a jab to her neck. She fell forward into his arms as he wrapped a rope around her body.
Mammoth charged toward the Flash, only to be struck with a blunt arrow from above. He yelled in pain and turned to see Arsenal standing above. The archer released two more shafts, and they circled the massive thug as if they had minds of their own. A sonic blast came out of them before they dropped to the ground. Mammoth covered his ears and leaned forward in agony. Arsenal grinned and said, “Green Arrow always hated my music, too!”
The Flash grinned as Artemis, Raven, and Starfire joined the fight. Their powers had returned as soon as the speedster had battered Crimelord. “Nice to see you ladies again! Now, how about giving me a hand?” he said.
Starfire smiled and flew into Jinx even as emerald energy formed around the Indian witch. She gripped her by her filmy garments and carried up into the air. “Your magic bolts are hot, but I can withstand extreme temperatures. I also know that you lose all your powers when you cannot touch the ground!” she said.
Jinx hissed in dismay. “Help me, Crimelord!” Starfire connected with a hard punch and continued to hold Jinx above the floor.
“Too late. Without your magic, you have a glass jaw, as they say here on Earth!” said the Tamaranian princess.
Artemis kicked Mammoth backward and called out to Arsenal, “I can handle him. Take care of Shimmer!”
Shimmer had been busy dodging the swooping hawk form of Changeling. “Bah! I will turn your skin to acid!” she cried.
Cyborg bounded down from above and smiled as he said, “He has that effect on women!” He used his white sound blaster to stun the Australian woman before she could connect with her foe.
Changeling landed on her in gorilla form and said, “Is Jill OK?”
Cyborg nodded. “Yeah, she’s cool. So’s her old man. I got them to safety.”
Arsenal dropped down to snare Shimmer in a tight net. “There! Her hands are tied together so she can’t transform anything except her own body,” he said.
The Flash added a super-speed whirlwind to send Gemini reeling before he could recover from Nightwing’s jab. She gasped and fell flat at his feet. “Poor kid. She needs help. How our folks treat us determines so much about what we become. She must have grown up without her mother. Rouge’s criminal career would have made that likely,” he mused.
Nightwing turned to where Artemis was wrestling with Mammoth. She was holding her own against his raw power, but it took a sudden touch from Raven to leave him dazed long enough for Artemis to hit him hard enough to stun him. “Thanks, Raven! I needed that,” said Artemis.
Raven smiled demurely. “It was the swiftest way to end the matter without added violence.”
Starfire joined Nightwing. “Jinx is out cold. What should we do next?”
Nightwing said, “Crimelord is still awake, although he has not tried to attack any of us.” He gestured to where the prone figure of the Crimelord lay still.
The armored villain had indeed remained out of the fray until now. He seemed to be acting not out of cowardice but from some careful strategy. He said, “You have triumphed thus far, and yet is not valor even greater when it pulls forth victory from the apparent ashes of defeat?” He gestured, and Starfire gasped in pain.
“X’hal! I’m unable to control my star-bolts!” she said as she tried to fly away from her friends. An explosion of her stellar energy shook the room and left everyone battered and dazed.
In that time, Crimelord gathered his allies and activated a teleportation system. “We will return to avenge ourselves anew, Gar Logan!” he said. The Fearsome Five vanished even as the Flash shook off the effects of the blast and rose to his feet.
“I detect no lingering vibration pattern from the teleporting. This Crimelord is good,” he said as he helped his friends to their feet.
Nightwing cradled Starfire and said, “Kory, are you hurt? What exactly did he do to you?”
She said, “I suddenly surged with energy, and he made me explode the star-bolts with enough force to stun you all. He managed to do so when I was closest to you all and not his team.”
The Flash said, “Jinx was at your feet. If you had not tried to fly upward before releasing that blast, she might certainly have died, too.”
Cyborg said, “This dude is cold. He doesn’t care about losing his own partner.”
Raven said, “He is evil. I sensed a powerful hatred within him.”
Changeling said, “Yeah. And it was all aimed at me. I guess he was an angry Trekkie who hated the way my old show made use of elements from that one!” Cyborg knew his friend’s jokes were nothing more than a defense method designed to mask his pain. He was hurt by everything that had happened. Vic hoped he could somehow ease Gar’s pain.
Mr. Jackson and Jillian were outside with the police. They had summoned them after Vic had freed them upstairs. “Gar! That witch kept us prisoners for months while she recruited her team. They used Daddy’s money and both our images for their plans. She said it was all because I was close to you. Gar, I don’t think I can see you again. It’s all too much. This is the second time I’ve been abducted by someone who hates you. I know it’s not your fault, but I can’t live like this!” she said.
Mr. Jackson said, “She’s right. I don’t ever want to see your green face again!”
Gar stammered, “B-but, I’m sorry. I never meant for you to be hurt! I — I guess I don’t blame you.”
Cyborg led his friend away gently and said, “C’mon, kid. Let’s go back to the Tower.”
Starfire turned to Artemis, “I feel so sorry for Gar. This is the second time a girl he loved betrayed him in some manner.”
Artemis nodded regretfully. “I know. He’s been through so much.”
Nightwing turned to Arsenal and the Flash. “I’m glad you two both arrived in time to help me. I knew Kory would never miss a date if she was not hurt or in peril,” he said.
The Flash said, “Being on time is part of my image — you know that!”
Arsenal said, “Making time is part of mine!”
The New Titans gathered again at Titans Tower a day later to celebrate Lilith Clay’s marriage to Azrael. A somber Dick Grayson watched from the side as Kory approached to draw him closer to the group. She wore a simple but attractive white shift and sandals. “Dick, we’re almost ready to start. Why are you brooding?” she asked.
He took her hand and smiled. “Sorry. It’s just that I think I’ve figured out a couple of things about our latest version of the Fearsome Five. First, Gemini could not have inherited her powers from her mother, since she is too old to have been born after the Brain gave Laura DeMille her powers. Gemini either lied about her origin or perhaps received the powers via a blood transfusion from her mother at some point after her birth and after the Brain experimented on her mother.”
Kory said, “I never thought of that. What else have you deduced?”
He said, “The Crimelord suppressed all of your powers and later forced you to use them against us at such a potent level. I wonder if he is using a modified version of the Disruptor armor once worn by Michael Beldon. Michael is in jail, but his father — ‘Brains’ Beldon — could easily have sold the design for the suit to Crimelord. Also, apparently Crimelord hates Gar for some personal loss as he claimed. That could mean he is Gar’s old guardian, the second man to use the name Arsenal, with some impressive lessons in elocution and general strategy. ‘Brains’ Beldon could be the man who turned the former Logan family lawyer Nicholas Galtry into the polished Crimelord. Neither man can be located.”
Kory said, “I trust your detective work totally. Now, it’s sunny and beautiful, and two of our friends are going to formalize their love with vows. Let’s just enjoy ourselves!”
Dick smiled at the Princess. “How can I argue with that kind of logic?”
Wally West and Frances Kane stood near Roy Harper and Raven. Raven also wore a white shift, while Frances was clad in a pink dress.
“I understand you’ve been hitting the books and the Rogues lately,” said Roy. “I admire your determination. School was never my kind of scene!”
Wally said, “You know me, a typical Middle American hum-drum kind of guy. I like the routine.”
Frances took his arm. “That’s why I love you.”
Raven smiled. She was truly comfortable now around Wally and his new love. She had grown past being ill-at-ease around any type of emotion and had in fact resolved many of the old issues that used to be between the empath and the speedster she once manipulated.
Wally said, “How’s little Lian?”
“Lian is with her nanny, but she’s doing fine. I’ll show you a couple pictures I took. Raven and I were on a picnic,” said Roy. While the proud father displayed his child, another pair of couples mingled.
Donna and Terry Long stood next to a handsome young man with purple eyes and his companion, a beautiful blonde with waist-length blonde hair and a shy smile. “Ulla, I took a trip through Denmark when I was in grad school. It’s a lovely country,” said Terry.
Ulla Påske, the Mermaid — the national heroine of Denmark — smiled with pleasure. “Thank you. It’s so kind of you all to be so welcoming to me. Garth thinks of all of you as family, and I am honored to be a part of this celebration,” she said.
Garth, the Titan called Aqualad, kissed her suddenly. “Donna and Terry know you are part of my family now, too, although we’ve not made it official yet.”
Donna smiled. “We might just have another Titan at the marriage altar soon!”
Garth glanced over to where Wally and Frances were whispering to one another. “It would be the first time I beat Wally anywhere!” he joked.
Cyborg nudged Gar as they waited for the beginning of the ceremony. “Cheer up, Gar. You look like Mary Tyler Morticia! You can’t beat yourself up about Jill or Gemini. You didn’t want anything to happen to Jill, nor did you kill Madame Rouge,” he said.
Gar shrugged. “Yeah, I know. I really do know that. Still, I feel like everything I do leads to trouble. Romance is just not part of my can-do list!”
A black couple rushed over to greet the pair. “Vic, Gar, nice to see you guys again. Twice in a little more than a month. Mr. Jupiter flew the three of us out for Lilith’s big day, since she and I were his first new pupils in a way,” said Mal Duncan.
His wife Karen nodded. “We don’t have a T-Jet, so we gladly accepted his kind offer. He is with Lilith now.” She noticed Vic’s grim manner. “Vic, Sarah said to give you a hug. Work keeps her so busy that she could not make it, as you know. Still, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you two come out west for a while? Charley’s birthday is coming up at the end of the month, and he’d be thrilled to have you two at the party. You could spend some quality time with Sarah, too!”
Vic smiled. “Yeah? I’d like that a lot. What do ya say?”
Gar said, “I’m not in the mood for parties, but Charley’s cool. Sure, I’ll come. Not much for me here now, anyway.”
Mal frowned as Vic nodded as if to say he’d explain later. “Not a word to Charley. Here he comes now!” whispered Karen.
The friendly blond surfer rushed over with a cup of punch in one hand. “Whoa, dude! It’s, like, totally cool to be here,” he said rapidly. “I mean, I’m so into the, like, West Coast vibe, but this island’s pretty neat, too. Gar, you ever try to get Betty Gilson’s number?”
Gar smiled slightly. “No luck there. Besides, this month I’m into that British pin-up turned singer, Samantha Wolf!”
Charley continued talking. “Yeah? She is awesome. By the way, Hank, like, told me to say ‘hey.’ He and Dawn, like, couldn’t make it due to final exams. Bummer, huh?”
Gar said, “Hank’s brother Don used to go with Lilith for a time. I guess that was after the death of the caveman Gnarrk.”
Inside Titans Tower, Lilith was hugging the famous Mr. Jupiter. The paternal philanthropist smiled readily at the girl in her silver and gold gown. “Lilith, you look divine — no pun intended. I am so proud of you. You gave up Olympus to try to keep the world safe from Thia’s other children. You really have become what I hoped you and Mal and the others would be all those years ago,” he said as he held her hands.
She said, “I would not be what I am without your encouragement and help. You have shaped me and Mal, too. I’m so glad that you could come!”
At that moment, the sun reached a high point in the sky. “It is noon. Time to begin!” announced Lilith. She led Loren Jupiter outside and called over her friends. “My friends, let us begin now.”
Azrael swooped down as if out of the sun. He wore an ornate tunic cut to allow his wings to move freely. “My love, I am ready!” he said. The others gathered around the couple as Raven, Kory, and Donna drew closer to stand around Lilith as bridesmaids. Azrael stood alone and remained gazing intently at Lilith.
She raised her face skyward and took his hands. “We have gathered this day to recite the traditional vows of Hymeneal. We wish to join the threads of our fates into one stronger, more vibrant weave,” she said.
Cyborg frowned as he detected a figure standing on the shore waiting for the automated barge that carried visitors across the river.
Gar whispered. “What is it? What do you see?”
Cyborg said, “Trust me, you don’t want to know!” He remotely activated the code that allowed the barge to float across to where the dark figure could climb aboard and make his passage across the river.
“We shall offer these vows of devotion as a sign of our love for one another,” continued Lilith. The barge came closer, and she stopped in sudden surprise as she saw the figure atop it. “By the gods! How can this be?”
Azrael stepped closer to her and said, “What is the meaning of this interruption?”
Donna turned to Wally, Dick, Roy, Garth, and Mal in silent questioning. “Can it really be–? He’s dead!” she said.
The hulking man in black climbed ashore from the barge and stood before them in the sunshine. “It’s me,” he growled. “I’ve come back — come back for the love of Lilith!”
“Gnarrk!” she cried.