by Hitman 44077
At a small airfield outside the city limits of Denton, Texas, the sandy-haired doctor waited for his partner to arrive. He grew nervous, not wanting to waste any more time or leave himself open to arrest. “Where could he be?” he said tensely, looking first left, then right. “He couldn’t have run into any problems, not the way he’s built. The sooner we get out of here, the better I’ll feel.”
Minutes passed, and the dark red van driven by Bane finally arrived. Bane himself told his guests to wait for him and to keep guard on the unconscious, crimson-clad archer while he tended to his business. It was then Bane exited the vehicle and walked toward the doctor. “What happened out there?” the doctor said, his voice mixed with anger and worry.
“I did as you asked. I used the list to find five teenagers who have utilized Ambrosia. They agreed without incident — that is, until I found myself followed by a would-be hero,” Bane said in his usual cold voice.
“Eh? Heroes stick to the big cities, Bane. They aren’t going to journey to towns like Denton,” the doctor said.
“No matter. This individual was dressed as an archer, and he used a bow and arrows as weapons. He shot an arrow into my arm, but I pulled it out with relative ease. We engaged in combat, and I defeated him. In fact, I brought him here with our other guests,” Bane responded.
“What? You did what?! What were you thinking?!” the doctor said, careful not to yell. He looked at Bane in anger, even as Bane continued to speak.
“I am no fool, my friend. Both of us know that I am, so far, the only one who has survived repeated usage of Ambrosia. It is unlikely that the children I brought with me will survive continued exposure to the drug. But now, we have a fresh test subject, one whose body is untainted by Ambrosia. Dare I say, he may even act as the perfect test subject for your modified Ambrosia formula. And even if he dies, it can only help you in your efforts to perfect your modified formula,” Bane said calmly.
The doctor stood quietly, thinking as he realized that what his partner was saying was true. “I hadn’t considered kidnapping people in my work, not that the people I experimented on before had a choice where they were. I can see your point, Bane. I just don’t want to lose out on my efforts. My benefactor is depending on me and my success. Look, get everyone on board the plane, and we’ll take off to our destination point,” the doctor said.
“Of course,” Bane said as he walked toward the van.
So much is on the line. Ambrosia is going to be the key to the future, and if it means some blood must be spilled, then so be it, the doctor thought as he walked toward a small plane.
Minutes passed as all parties were boarded onto the small plane. Once all were secure, the doctor started the plane up and made its way to the runway. From there, the flight to the doctor’s other quarters was well underway.
As the doctor and his guests made their trip, another plane arrived in the city of Denton. It was a T-Jet, and its occupants were the New Titans. Once the T-Jet landed, the young heroes exited the vehicle and made their way onto the streets. “It’s hard to believe I was here only a few days ago,” the Protector said, as he looked about the city that had been his home.
“I used to get that feeling when I’d head back to Gotham,” Nightwing said, as he remembered a time period where he and his mentor had been at odds. “It’s best to face it head-on.”
Starfire looked briefly at Nightwing, as the words reminded her of her own situation. You’ve always known to accept the truth, Dick, she thought as she took a few steps away, looking about the streets. And once again you are — huh?! Starfire paused as she suddenly noticed a yellow archer’s cap with a red feather sticking from it. That’s Arsenal’s cap! she thought in shock. “Nightwing!” she shouted aloud.
Nightwing and the other Titans heard Starfire’s yell. They approached where their golden-skinned teammate stood, even as they themselves spotted the cap. “I don’t believe it,” Kole said aloud.
“There’s more,” Changeling said as he spotted and then pointed toward a beaten-down motorcycle. “Look!”
The New Titans turned toward the direction of the small wreck, even as Nightwing noticed several arrows strewn across the street. He bent down to the ground and picked up one of the arrows, examining it. He knew that it was indeed one of his old teammates’ weapons. “Something’s definitely happened to Arsenal,” Nightwing said grimly. “Protector, have you come across anyone here that could do this?”
“No — the closest thing I saw was Captain Justice,” he responded, reminded of his cousin Ted. “But if that drug is involved, anyone could be capable.”
“Cyborg, can you scan the streets?” Nightwing asked, almost fearing the worst.
“Already did, Nightwing,” Cyborg responded. “Depending how you want to look at it, there’s no body nearby. I ain’t no detective, but I’d say our friend’s probably still alive.”
“Then there’s one positive,” Nightwing said with some relief.
“Not just that,” Cyborg said. “Remember, after our battle with the Crimelord a few months ago, you decided to incorporate small tracers onto our uniforms, like the bands on your wrists. Same with Artemis’ bracelets, and–”
“Arsenal’s belt! Of course,” Nightwing said, interrupting his partner. “And you can still interface with the Tower while we’re traveling in the T-Jet, Cyborg. We’ll be able to track him down, and hopefully take down whoever took him.”
“I hope he is still safe,” Raven said softly, knowing that, while she did not love him, she still thought of Arsenal as a dear and close friend.
“I know he is,” Protector said, trying to keep positive.
“Look, Protector, once this is finished, we’ll return to Denton and try to locate the pushers of the Ambrosia drug,” Nightwing said.
“Spee — er, Arsenal is my friend, too, Nightwing. His safety is primary,” Protector said truthfully. “I’m not going to lose another person I think closely of.”
“Nor are we, my friend,” Nightwing said before turning toward the rest of the team. “Let’s track our friend down, team.” With those words, the Titans all boarded the T-Jet and took off, refusing to waste any time in their search for their friend.
Several hours passed in the meantime, and though the New Titans were on the trail of their friend, the doctor had enough time to set his new base of operations up in Mexico for Bane, their guests, and their latest test subject.
Arsenal slowly awoke, bound to a chair and unsure of just how this had happened. But in front of him was a small chemical laboratory already brewing new, modified batches of Ambrosia. Unngh, he thought, shaking some of the cobwebs from his head. Not the way I’d hoped to locate the pusher of the drugs. I’m just glad Ollie’s not here to see this, not that he’d have been able to fare better than me against that masked goon. Arsenal looked about as he began to notice that things had changed somewhat in scenery.
This isn’t Denton, that much is obvious, he thought as he began struggling against the ropes. These guys really did their homework.
“Ah, I knew you’d wake up eventually,” a voice called out aloud.
Arsenal tried but was unable to see just where the voice was coming from.
“Don’t strain your neck looking for me. The way I see it, I’d rather talk to you face to face,” the voice called out, rather amused.
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense,” Arsenal said sarcastically, maintaining his inner strength. “The big revelation always makes for a good story.”
The sandy-haired doctor walked past the right side of Arsenal and finally stopped to address him while standing three feet away “You remind me of that kid who used to be with the Teen Titans — Speedy, wasn’t it?” the doctor said, a curious look on his face.
“Actually, I’m more interested in who you are,” Arsenal said civilly.
“OK,” the doctor said with a pleasant smile. “My name is Randolph Porter. Dr. Randolph Porter. No relation, obviously, to the police officer who died the other night, either.”
“What’s your game, Porter? What are you exactly a doctor of?” Arsenal said as he worked against the ropes that kept his wrists tied behind his back.
“I was a pharmaceuticals scientist, son. I was paid very well to design new drugs for the public. In fact, some of my previous work allowed me a grant with the United States Armed Forces. An upper here, a stress reliever there, all in the name of Uncle Sam,” Porter revealed.
“Are you saying that soldiers are using your drugs right now?” Arsenal asked.
“Oh, no,” Porter said, removing his glasses briefly to clean them. Once they were clean, he placed his glasses back on his face and continued speaking. “Not quite. You see, I was given the opportunity to practice on criminals, or terrorists, or whatever was placed in their prisons. It was there I began to design the drug which will change the scope of humanity.”
“No drug can be beneficial to humanity, Porter,” Arsenal said as he began to grow angry. “Drugs kill.”
“Yes, they do,” Porter agreed, smiling. “But like I said, my drug will change the human race, make them into more than one could ever imagine.”
“That drug you used to lure those kids here — is that–?” Arsenal began to say.
“Very observant,” Porter said, turning to his chemical lab. Walking toward the table, he placed a glove on his hand and removed a boiling beaker. He then walked back to the bound hero and placed the beaker near his face. “This is called Ambrosia,” Porter said. “The mythical food of the gods. That is exactly what this stuff does to the human body.”
“What are you talking about?” Arsenal said, trying to comprehend the doctor’s description.
“Imagine a drug which not only gives its users the largest emotional high, but actually physically transforms the human body into something superhuman,” Porter said, placing the beaker back on its burner.
“You can’t be serious,” Arsenal started to say.
“Oh, I am,” Porter said. “You’ve already met Bane.” With his name spoken aloud, Bane himself stepped from a hallway and walked to Porter’s side. “Bane, here, is my greatest success. Not a terrorist or war prisoner, he’s, well, you’d be shocked at what he once was. Maybe I’ll elaborate further on his past later. Anyway, he alone has managed to utilize Ambrosia to its ultimate potential. The trouble is, he’s the only one,” Porter said.
“And why is that?” Arsenal asked bitterly.
“Ambrosia has one small side-effect, friend. It begins to break down the human body upon contact with the bloodstream. The changes the human body experiences also does damage to the subject. In short, those who have used Ambrosia usually die between their fifth and seventh doses,” Porter responded.
“And you peddle that stuff to kids?!” Arsenal yelled in disgust.
“In a way,” Porter said. “Initially, I used a small crime organization to do my work for me. I was paid well for the exchange, using Bane as a personal middle-man, but they began to grow greedy. Bane killed one of their numbers when they attempted their first double-cross, while at the same time another individual — and I have no idea how he did to this day — managed to learn of my work. I saw immediately why he was interested when I met him, and explained how the drug worked. He decided to fund me personally, which allowed me this nice villa here in Mexico. I agreed to try and modify the formula so that the side-effects could be lessened, if not completely eradicated.”
“And so you plan to use those kids to perfect your formula? You twisted nut!” Arsenal yelled.
Bane interrupted. “Those children came of their own free will, archer. Ambrosia is all they desire in their weak lives.”
“It’s no secret that a few kids have died already. But I will remember their sacrifice. Just as I will remember the five children here today, and you, friend,” Porter said with a small, sinister smile.
“What?!” Arsenal shouted in shock.
“I’ve been working on the modified formula even before Bane brought you to me tonight. And I believe it’s ready to be tested on someone who has not had any exposure to my original version,” Porter said as he walked toward his small chemical lab. He turned off one of the beakers and began to let the contents cool.
“You’re crazy!” Arsenal shouted again. “There’s no way I’m going to let you do that to me!”
“Oh, really?” Porter said, somewhat amused. “I don’t remember giving you a choice.”
As Porter began preparing a syringe, Arsenal began rocking the chair he was tied to, doing what he could to loosen the bonds or to break the wooden chair.
“This is the real world, kid,” Porter said as he began to fill the syringe with the cooled purplish substance. “No last-minute rescue for you. But it’s OK. Struggle all you want. It just amuses me all the more.”
Porter’s actions and behavior only served to inspire Arsenal to fight back as best as he could. He continued to work against the ropes and the wooden chair, which he felt was starting to give just a little.
There is no way in hell itself I’m going to go through the pain of drugs again, Arsenal thought, continuing to fight. “I’d rather die first!”
Porter finished filling the syringe and began to approach the scarlet-clad archer. “You might just thank me when it’s all said and done,” he said.
Arsenal knew it was now or never. With one last surge of strength, he managed to struggle and stand up enough to run back and break the fragile chair against a wall. The ropes quickly came undone in the process.
“No!” Porter shouted, seeing the now-free archer standing in front of him. Bane, att–!” he shouted before being punched in the face by Arsenal. The syringe in Porter’s hand slipped out and slid across the floor, even as Arsenal landed another punch into the stomach of Dr. Porter.
“You like that, Porter?” Arsenal shouted as he avoided a swing of Bane’s fist. “That’s only a fraction of the pain drugs do to the victims! And as for you, you monster, we can dance, too!”
As Porter recovered, the five children who Bane brought to Porter were alerted to the noise caused by the fight. They watched in amazement as the two men fought.
Arsenal picked up a piece of wood that had been part of the chair he’d been tied to and swung it at Bane. The man caught it and twisted it, which forced Arsenal to release it. Bane then threw the piece of wood at Arsenal, who moved out of the way by virtue of a sidestep.
“You want to tell those kids, Porter, or shall I?” Arsenal shouted. “Just what happens to them once they’ve had enough Ambrosia?”
“Huh?” Jasper, the small black-haired boy said.
“What does he mean?” one of the girls said.
Bane took the opportunity to launch himself at Arsenal, grabbing his arms from behind and squeezing them tightly. “Yearghh!” Arsenal screamed aloud as he felt his arms being crushed by the massive hands of Bane.
“Kneel,” Bane said coldly. “I say, kneel, archer!”
The pain was too great, and Arsenal was forced to his knees. Bane held him in place, maintaining his grip on the archer’s arms. By this time, Porter had recovered enough and located the syringe filled with the modified formula.
“You are strong in will, friend, just like Bane,” Porter said. “Perhaps you’ll benefit from Ambrosia just as he has. I’ve always suspected that maintaining strength over one’s emotions allowed one to utilize the drug to its fullest potential. But now we’ll see just how true that is.”
Porter approached Arsenal, syringe in hand, even as Arsenal tried to wriggle out of the tight, painful grip of Bane. Time seemed to run out for the crime-fighter as Porter removed an elastic cord and tied it around Arsenal’s left arm. Once he saw a vein appear, he began to aim his syringe at the arm, even as Arsenal desperately shouted, “No!”