by Hitman 44077
At about the same time as Arsenal’s fight with Bane had begun, the New Titans had finally arrived in their T-Jet, which Cyborg began manually landing. “No doubt about it, Nightwing, this is the place,” Cyborg said to his teammate in reference to the small villa below the flying craft. “The signal is as strong as it’s ever been.”
“I just hope we’re not too late,” Artemis said, concern for her friend written on her face.
Nightwing was concerned as well, but he kept calm as he explained his plan of action to the others. “Starfire, you, Kole, and Changeling take a glance around the building. If you see Arsenal inside, bust your way in. The rest of us will follow once the T-Jet is landed,” Nightwing ordered.
“All right, Nightwing,” Starfire said, feeling the thirst of battle starting to build.
“Of course, El Supremo!” Changeling bellowed in his best accent as he tried to hide his worry in front of his friends. He promptly transformed into an eagle as he waited for the side door of the T-Jet to open.
“Let’s do it,” Kole Weathers said in a serious voice. Once the side door was open enough, the three Titans took flight, searching around the compound for anything that might lead them to their friend.
An eagle isn’t gonna get that close a glimpse inside that villa, Changeling thought, but a butterfly can. Changing from his eagle form to that of a butterfly, Changeling began fluttering around some of the villa’s windows, even as his teammates continued their flights. It took a few windows, but he finally found just what he was looking for.
No way! he thought as he settled down on a ledge. He looked inside the villa and saw not only his friend held down by a very large masked and muscled man while a man in a white lab coat approached with a syringe in hand, but also a small chemical laboratory and five teenagers watching the scene unfold themselves. Arsenal’s safe, but he ain’t gonna be if I just watch. Time to make an entrance in the only way I can, Changeling thought as he took flight once more.
Changing back to his human form, Changeling contacted Nightwing with his communicator. “I found Arsenal, and he’s relatively safe. I’m going in!” he said.
“We’re on our way!” Nightwing responded as the T-Jet finished landing.
While Nightwing alerted Starfire and Kole, Changeling transformed into an elephant and plowed his way into the villa. The large noise and the green elephant was enough to distract all present.
“What on Earth?!” Dr. Randolph Porter shouted, turning to face the elephant.
“Hey, hey, hey, let go of my friend today!” Changeling shouted, whipping his elephant trunk against the hand Porter was holding his syringe in. He knocked the syringe loose, which slid across the floor.
Porter shouted, “Damn you!”
Starfire was next to arrive, as was Kole, and finally the rest of the team, using the entrance Changeling had made. “Let our friend go!” Starfire shouted, firing a star-bolt toward Bane. Though it wasn’t intended to hit the large man, it was enough to cause him to let go of their friend so that he could evade a possible collision. Raven and Nightwing made their way to their friend, helping him to his feet.
“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here,” Arsenal said, relieved. “And I was starting to have my doubts, too.”
“I am glad you are safe, Arsenal,” Raven said.
“We still have work to do, bud,” Nightwing said to his friend, noticing the chemical laboratory.
“That’s the stuff — that Venom!” Protector angrily exclaimed, noticing the laboratory himself. “The poison that killed Ted and Casey!”
“I’ll take care of that!” Kole shouted, encompassing the laboratory in crystal.
“And here’s the finishing touch!” Cyborg himself shouted, using one of his arm attachments to destroy the crystal and its contents beneath.
“I’m not about to let my work be destroyed by you!” Porter angrily shouted at the New Titans. “Come, Bane!”
“No,” Bane said coldly. “I want the archer’s spine. I will kill them all if I have to!”
“Fine. I’m getting out of here!” Porter said, concerned for his freedom.
“Not so fast,” Artemis said as she flung her lasso and bound it around the body of Dr. Porter. “You’re not heading anywhere except prison!”
“And you’re going to join him there!” Protector shouted, launching himself at Bane.
Bane caught the Protector by his leg and swung him into the wall. The Protector fell to the floor, even as Bane pulled him back up by his cape. “Little man, do not even consider yourself in my league,” Bane said as he began swinging the Protector around by his cape.
Nightwing removed one of his small discs from his costume and eyed the muscled monster carefully. I need to time this perfectly, he thought, narrowing his eyes. And that’s the best opening I’m going to have! Nightwing flung the disc, which promptly shattered one of the red lenses on Bane’s mask.
Normally immune to pain, even Bane himself was unprepared for shards of red glass entering his eye where the red lens was originally. “Aghh!” he shouted, letting go of the caped hero and grasping his eye with his hand.
The Protector went flying forward, where he was caught in mid-flight by Starfire, who set him back down. “Whoa,” Protector said, both dizzy and groggily. “Thanks a lot, Starfire.”
“No problem,” she responded with a small amused smile.
As the Titans tended to their two foes, they hadn’t realized that the five teenagers who’d viewed the battle had come across a bag filled with syringes of Ambrosia. All felt the gnawing pain that their drug addiction had made possible, and the five sought to lessen the pain. Individually, they began to prepare themselves for their injections, when finally Jericho noticed. Panicked, he managed to signal the others before any injections had been made.
“Put that stuff down! You have no idea what it does to the body!” Arsenal shouted to the teens, remembering the conversation Porter had revealed to him earlier.
“I — I just don’t want to hurt anymore. You have no idea what I’m feeling inside — what we’re all feeling inside,” said Jasper, the black-haired boy, closing his eyes.
“Damn straight I do!” Arsenal shouted back, concerned. “I was like you once — felt abandoned, unloved. I thought heroin would solve all of my problems. It only made matters worse. You know what kind of pain I went through while I was on that? Shaking, the sickness — no high can be worth that pain. I had to get clean, for me. And it meant going through withdrawal, yeah, the same pains you’re having right now. I saw people who I thought were my friends die, even as my real friends helped me during the recovery. I have been there, and I will never put myself through that hell again! You have family and friends that care about you. Please, don’t destroy your or their lives by injecting that poison into your bodies.”
The five stood, stared at the crimson-suited archer, contemplating what he’d just revealed to them. Minutes later, Jasper and one of the girls dropped their syringes.
Before anything further could happen, Bane charged at Arsenal, still wanting to kill his foe. “Ambrosia is power, archer! I am power!” Bane shouted, landing punch after punch at Arsenal.
The three others made their minds up, raising the syringes to their arms. “No!” Protector shouted, reminded of the deaths of his cousin and friend.
Jericho acted as best as he could, staring into the eyes of the tall, seventeen-year-old boy. “What’re ya lookin’ at?” the kid managed to say as Jericho made contact. In only a matter of seconds, Jericho had succeeded in possessing the boy’s body.
“Hey! What’s goin’ on with me?” the young man shouted, no longer in control of his body. Jericho now controlled the actions of the teenager’s body, and he forced him to throw the syringe down and break it by stomping on it. “No!” the kid shouted in anguish. “No, no, no, no…”
Though one of the kids were stopped, the other two injected themselves with the drug. The two shook, even as their bodies began changing. The sixteen-year-old girl finished changing first, as multiple flesh-like tentacles began extending from her body, attacking anyone near her wildly. But she was unable to control the form her body taken.
“Help me!” she shouted in pain, her body burning, even as the grungy-looking boy had transformed himself into a human mass of tar-like material. He took a few steps, then collapsed, a bluish-black smear penetrating the ground the only reminder that a human being had once existed.
“Hera help us,” Artemis said quietly, disturbed by the sudden shock, as were the others who were not aiding Arsenal in his battle with Bane.
Nightwing, Cyborg, and Kole managed to break Arsenal free of Bane’s grasp, and Kole placed Bane inside a block of crystal, hoping to stop him. “I hope that’s enough to stop him,” Arsenal said. “Damn that guy! If he hadn’t attacked–“
Nightwing noticed the tentacles that were continuing to extend from the girl’s body, then the remains of the one boy on the ground. “You did what you could, but we have to put a stop to the matter at hand right now,” he said cautiously.
The tentacles began to attach themselves around several of the New Titans, including Artemis, who turned her attentions toward the menace. She was unaware that Dr. Porter would make the best of his opportunity to escape.
I still have a chance, but wait! Porter thought as his eyes caught hold of a shimmering hope. It was the syringe filled with his modified Ambrosia formula. With these Titans alive, it means that they’re going to hunt me down until they capture me. And if I fail my benefactor, I’m still going to die. But if my modified formula is a success, then I can kill the Titans myself and generate the biggest payday of my life! Porter picked up the syringe and ran toward the entrance Changeling made earlier, even as the New Titans fought against the tentacles.
“Should we cut our way loose?” Cyborg yelled in the melee.
“No! Those tentacles are an extension of her body. No telling what damage we could do to her by severing them,” Nightwing responded urgently.
“Then it is up to me!” Raven said as her soul-self exited her body. The soul-self surrounded and encompassed the girl as it began to drain her of the poison inside her body.
“Careful, Raven! You’ve never encountered something quite like this,” Arsenal said, not wanting the woman that he still cared about to suffer in any type of manner that he once had.
“I will not fail… the team… or this girl!” Raven said as sweat beads began to form in her head from the strain.
It was difficult, even by her standards, but within a matter of minutes, Raven had achieved success. The girl’s tentacles shriveled up and dropped from her body, even as the girl collapsed from the experience. Jericho exited from the body of the boy he’d possessed and aided the girl, even as Artemis turned to Raven, whose soul-self returned to her body.
“You all right, Raven?” she asked her friend.
Raven placed her hand on her head and wiped some of the sweat from it. She closed her eyes, but responded, “I… will be, Artemis. Arsenal… was right. That drug… still pulls at my body… even as I… expunge it.”
“I didn’t expect to find the pushers of Ambrosia here,” Protector said, looking around at the crime scene, then at the crystal prison containing Bane. “How could I have not come across those bastards during the past few months? And now, another kid dead from that damn Venom.”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Nightwing said consolingly. “None of us knew this was going to turn out this way.”
“I’m just glad you all arrived in time. I thought I was done for,” Arsenal admitted. “And, Protector, I stumbled across these jerks by accident myself. Sometimes, the most dangerous criminals are the ones you never see. But I think that’s over now, at least this chapter.”
Artemis suddenly realized one small problem in the wake of things. “Oh, no,” she said, her voice starting to grow worried.
“What is it, Artemis?” Kole asked.
“In the middle of the confusion, that doctor escaped!” Artemis exclaimed.
“I doubt he got too far,” Nightwing stated. “There isn’t anywhere he can hide from us.”
“Then let’s cut the chase short,” Protector said. “He has a lot to answer for.”
“Kole, you and Jericho keep an eye on those kids in the T-Jet. Raven, stay with Kole and Jericho, too. There’s no need to drain yourself any further,” Nightwing said.
“You may need my help, Nightwing,” Raven said, her haunting voice emanating a bit of weariness.
“You can help by allowing your body to finish expunging the poisons your soul-self absorbed,” Nightwing said softly. “Now, let’s finish this case.”
As Kole, Jericho, and Raven led the four surviving teenagers into the T-Jet, the remaining Titans began their search, even as Dr. Porter hid inside his plane.