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A “Teen Titans” Fanfic, based on the episodes ‘Apprentice 1 + 2’ and on the Batman stories.
I’m not sure how this fits in with the continuity but anyone who’s seen these episodes will know that Batman would have shown up, even if he has fallen out with Robin at this time.


Submitted:May 19, 2008    Reads: 306    Comments: 3    Likes: 1   


Fathers.

Most parents do not choose their children and most children don't choose their parents. This is one of the ways that Dick Grayson is special. He was adopted after his parents… Anyway, neither he nor his adopted father ever had any reason to regret it, even after they had fallen out. Bruce Wayne knew that he had found someone special in his young ward. He was only a child, but he had great spirit and fought as though the world depended on it. Bruce soon made him a full partner in his night-time ventures and, together, Batman and Robin defeated many foes. That's why it came as such a shock to see what Oracle, formally Batgirl, had to show.Sure, Robin was out on his own now, leading his own team, and yes they'd had a falling out, but there must be some mistake.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.A 'Thermal Blaster' was stolen from a Wayne's Enterprises facility. Oracle was reviewing the CCTV footage with Alfred when Bruce came in. He'd been out battling Poison Ivy, now safely locked in Arkham Asylum.
"Master Bruce," Alfred called him over.
"Yes, Alfred. What is it?" he asked, joining them at the console.
"There's something you need to see." Oracle told him, rewinding the footage. She pressed play. There was no mistaking that spiky haired teenager who was on screen, removing the 'Thermal Blaster' from the vault, even with the strange dark costume.
"No." Bruce gasped. "Barbara, is this real?"
"No one's tampered with the film. That's Robin, Our Robin." Oracle replied.
"How did this happen?" Bruce fumed. "I know he's been out on his own, making his own mark… and we may not have parted on the best of terms… but he should know that he could come to me for anything. Why would he turn to stealing?"
"There's more. Look what happens when his fellow Titans show up." Oracle told him. They watched in silence.
"He fought them." Bruce said quietly.
"They don't seem to know any more than we do. Look how shocked they were." Alfred said.
"But watch," Oracle rewound the footage again, and then froze the image. "He was careful not to hurt them."
"Alfred, pack the Batmobile, we're going to visit family." Batman said.
****************************************************************************************
Meanwhile, the remaining Titans sat in their tower feeling desolate. Why would Robin do this?
"Okay, the way I see it," Beastboy explained as he paced, "there are only two logical explanations. One; Robin's been replaced by an evil robot double. Two; he's another innocent victim of zombie mind control." Raven and Cyborg stared at him for a few seconds.
"As… logical as that sounds, if anything was controlling his mind, I would have sensed it." Raven said.
"And my scanners confirmed his bio-metrics. That was the real Robin." Cyborg added. "Our Robin."
"LIES!" the cry came from Starfire. "That was not Robin! Your scanners are wrong." Just then there was a chime from the computer console and Batman appeared on the screen. "Robin is our friend and nothing could ever make him betray us." Starfire continued. "Nothing!"
"But something did." Raven replied.
"Three words:" Beastboy said, the others turned to him, "Disgruntled Radioactive Clone."
"Hello Titans." Batman's voice emerged from the computer, amused. "What's happened to Robin?"
"Sir!" Beastboy saluted as they all turned to look.
"How, how did you know about that?" Cyborg asked.
"The company he stole from is owned by a good friend of mine." Batman replied. "I had access to the CCTV."
"Well, um, Sir. We don't know exactly what happened to Robin." Beastboy told him. "There was this bad guy, Slade, Sir. He split us up. He had set up a fake chr…chron… bomb, sir. Then this Hench dude Cinderblock attacked, sir, and Robin stayed behind to fight. Slade must have got to him then sir."
"Robin… there's no way he would do this. Slade must have some kind of hold on him." Batman told the Titans.
"Well, actually, he did do something similar awhile back. Robin pretended to be a villain called Red-X. He approached Slade as a partner as a way to find out what he's planning." Raven informed the Bat. He sighed.
"Look kids, I'm on my way. I'll be there in half an hour. Be careful." The screen went blank.
"Batman…" said Cyborg.
"…coming here?" added Beastboy. "Dude, no way!"
"Booyah!" Cyborg yelled.
"Excuse me, but who is this Bat Man?" Star asked politely.
"Even I've heard of Batman." Said Raven.
"You've never heard of Batman?" Beastboy exclaimed. "He's only the coolest hero in the world! I know you're an alien, but jeez Starfire!"
"More than that," added Cyborg, "he raised Robin from a little kid. They fought side by side for years."
"Then why does he never mention this Bat Man?" Star asked, confused.
"I don't know," Raven replied. "A while back, Robin turned up here and the Bat started fighting solo. No one knows why."
"Besides, when do we know anything about Robin?" Beastboy said. "He never talks about himself. He doesn't trust us."
"That is not true! Robin is our leader. He deserves our trust. He tells us what we need to know." Starfire replied.
"Come on Star, he's not exactly open with us is he?" Cyborg replied.
"Leave it alone, guys!" Raven said seeing the tears in Starfire's eyes. Her own glowed red. Then she continued more softly. "Whatever the reason, Robin's a criminal now, and just like any other criminal…"
"The Teen Titans have to bring him down." Cyborg finished. Starfire gasped, her face awash with pain, the tears falling freely now.
***********************************************************************************
The night before, after the fight with the fake bomb, Robin stood in a pool of light, surrounded by darkness. He slowly, despondently, divested himself of his garish costume. He hung it gently on a pipe nearby, ignoring the pleading calls from his communicator.
"Robin, Robin, please respond." Starfire's pained voice came. "Robin, you must answer. Please!"
He sighs and carefully lifts the black and gold uniform. He pulls it on, his face screwed up in distaste. He snaps on the metallic wrist guards over his plain black gloves, tightens his new utility belt and screws on the upper chest plate. Slade steps out of the dark behind him, his skull-like mask, glinting black and gold.
"I know it seems bad now, but trust me, you'll learn to like it." Slade's sinister voice emerged form the four vertical slits in his mask as a black gloved hand came to rest on Robin's shoulder.
********************************************************************************************
Batman's black gloved hand came to rest on Oracle's shoulder.
"Barbara, we'll figure it out. He'll be alright." He said.
"Yes, miss Oracle. We will save him." Alfred stepped up.
"I still think you should have stayed behind." Bruce told them, a frown on his face.
"Do not begin that again, master Bruce. He is as much my family as yours." Alfred answered as he pushed Barbara's wheelchair up to the base of Titan's Tower. Batman walked alongside, leaving the Bat-copter on the rocks behind them. They were admitted by Cyborg and were led up to the main area where the Titans spent most of their time. They were gathered there, still trying to track Robin down. Oracle grinned as she looked around.
"Wow! He keeps the Tower a lot tidier than he kept his room back home!" she said. The Titans who had remained upstairs turned at the sound of her voice and hurried over to greet their guests.
"Sir, Batman, Sir!" Beastboy snapped a salute. "Beastboy reporting, Sir!"
"I'm Cyborg Mr Batman. I'm in charge whilst Robin's away. This is Raven…"
"Hey," Raven said dryly.
"… and Starfire."
"Joyous greetings friends!" Starfire exclaimed. "With you here Robin shall soon be rescued!"
"Pleasure to meet you kids. I'm Batman, not Sir or Mr Batman. This is Alfred and Oracle."
"Charmed." Alfred said.
"Good to know you." Oracle added. Star studied the girl, noticing all their similarities, both redheads of similar size and build.
"Please," Starfire asked Raven, "Why is the Oracle in the chariot? Ah! Is she royalty?"
"Starfire!" Raven gasped. "Hush. It's not polite!"
"Sorry, Miss Oracle. Star isn't from around here," Cyborg said as it was obvious everyone had heard. "She doesn't understand Earth customs."
"I am sorry to have caused offence." Star said, eyes downcast, "I did not intend to."
"It's okay." Oracle smiled slightly. "It's kind of refreshing actually. I was shot by the Joker. The bullet severed my spinal column and my legs don't work anymore."
"Dude! You went up against the Joker?!?" Beastboy exclaimed.
"We all did." Barbara replied with a sad, nostalgic smile.
A few moments later everyone was galvanised into motion. They all wanted robin back where he belongs.Batman was with Cyborg at the computer whilst Raven meditated on Robin's spirit. Beastboy was looking through the mission log for the mission they'd lost Robin on with Alfred. Starfire and Oracle were looking at a map, trying to pinpoint possible targets.
"You have known Robin a long time, have you not?" Starfire asked.
"Since we were just children." Oracle replied.
"It is hard to imagine Robin as a young one; he is so serious and adult."
"He wasn't always. We used to go into battle laughing. He was only a child, and he'd been through so much already when I met him. Yes he was serious and driven, but that didn't stop him from having fun."
"You care for him a great deal."
"Of course. I love him." Oracle smiled as she said it.
"Oh, I see." Starfire's face fell.
"Not like that! Not really. We're more like brother and sister than anything."
"How was it that he came to leave you and his mentor?"
"He hasn't told you? No, I guess he wouldn't, would he? He's old enough to take care of himself. He felt he needed some time apart, out of the Batman's shadow, but Batman didn't understand. He still sees Robin as the little boy he took in. He gave Robin an ultimatum, either fight at his side or stop fighting. They got into a big argument. Batman didn't mean anything bad; he was just trying to protect his boy. But Robin, Robin thought that Batman meant he wasn't good enough and so he left."
"Did the Batman not know that Robin is a strong fighter?"
"Yeah, he knows. But Batman raised |Robin from when he was really young. It's hard for him to accept that he's grown up." Oracle sighed. "Bad things happen. We know this better than most. Batman doesn't want Robin to suffer because he wasn't there."
Suddenly there was a chime from the computer. At almost the same instant Batman's phone rang. He moved away to take the call.
"It's him!" Beastboy said, starring at the screen.
"Titans go!" Cyborg cried and then they were gone, leaving Alfred, Oracle and Batman behind them.
Bruce hung up and turned to face his friends.
"There has been a break in at a Wayne enterprises facility near by." He said.
"Let's go!" Oracle said.
"Wait. I don't want him to know we're here yet. We'll go but don't get involved unless we're needed." Bats replied. They moved out after the Titans.
******************************************************
Earlier-
"Excellent, Robin. I'm pleased. You're already proving to be a perfect apprentice." Slade's voice pierced the darkness.
"This deal can't last forever!" Robin said defiantly.
"It can and it will." Slade pushed a button and a wall of monitors came to life, each showing a Titans blood stream, crawling with electric devices. "The Titans still have no idea that my chronoton detonator was more than a decoy. Now that my probes are inside their bodies, they could remain undetected for years, decades."
"Sooner or later, you will let your guard down. I will get that controller and the instant they are out of danger, you will pay."
"That sounds like a threat young man. Quite a good threat actually. Betrayal, destruction, revenge. We really do think alike." Slade smiles. Robin grits his teeth and charges his would be mentor. He doesn't even lay a hand on him as Slade grabs his wrist and twists his arm behind his back. The bones grind and creak worryingly. "I monitored your vital signs during the mission. Elevated heart rate, adrenaline, and endorphins. You won't admit it, but at some level, you enjoyed stealing for me. It was a thrill, wasn't it?" he finally released Robin's arm and the apprentice staggered to one side clutching his poor arm. "You're going to keep stealing for me, and you're going to keep getting that thrill. And sooner or later, you're going to see things my way." Slade took Robins right arm and attached the Thermal Blaster he had had the boy steal. "Who knows, I might even become like a father to you."
Robin lowered his arm sullenly and refused to meet Slade's eyes.
"I already had a father." He replied softly. A flutter of wings echoed around Slade's lair. A few bats fly from their hiding place past the pair and up into the night.
***********************************************
Now-
Robin looked up at the building Slade had sent him to and smiled ruefully. The irony of his situation didn't escape him. He threw his grappling hook and began to climb. He stopped two floors from the roof and smashed, feet first through a window, not worried by the alarm. He runs through the building. First left, second right, don't stop. He came to a halt in front of large reinforced steel doors with a huge 'W' on them. He attached a small device, marked with Slade's stylistic 'S' to the doors, then retreats a few paces. The door explodes. The room beyond is dimly lit, and almost completely empty, save for a little gadget suspended in a force field at the centre.He approached it cautiously, slowly. His hand extended. He was about to take it when…
"You aren't walking outta here Robin!" Cyborg's voice was loud and sure. Their ex-team-mate span in his tracks to see the remaining Titans stood in the wreck of the doorway. "Not without a fight!" Robin charged with a cry and Cyborg called out "Titans go!" The Titans raced across the floor, Beastboy turned into a tiger as he ran, and Star primed a star-bolt. Robin dodged Cyborg's punch and Beastboy's lunge. Beastboy changes back to human form and Robin vaulted over his head. He sailed neatly between Starfire and Raven and tore away a ceiling panel. He was away before his former fellows could react.The starred, flabbergasted at the opening through which he fled.
Up on the roof, Robin has emerged. He was silhouetted against the neon lights which spell the word 'Wayne' in capitals. (Hence the irony). He ran across the roof, reaching for his utility belt.
"Not so fast Robin. You have yet to achieve your objective." Slade's voice sounded in Robin's earpiece.
"The device was too heavily guarded. I'll have to steal it another-" Robin was cut off.
"NO!" Robin flinched at Slade's anger. "Go back. Unless you want me to destroy them, go back and fight." Robin stands undecided.
"Robin!" Cyborg's voice sounded from behind. He turned. "Look, I don't know what's going on, but we don't want to fight. We just want to talk." Cyborg had his hands raised as though in supplication. Robin was touched by this display of loyalty and friendship. They were risking an attack to try and help him. He could only do the same. So, with a yell, he launched a flying kick which sent Cyborg staggering.
"Guess there's nothing to talk about." Beastboy made his voice hard. He cracked his knuckles and transforms into a green gorilla.
Just then, the Bat copter landed a few roofs away. The three passengers emerged.
"It really is him." Barbara gasped as she saw the fight. "I guess I was hoping…"
"I k now what you mean." Batman agreed.
"You must help him, Master Bruce." Alfred pleaded.
"Let's see what happens first."
Beastboy banged his fists on the rooftop, narrowly missing the boy-wonder who leaped backwards again and again as Beastboy presses his attack. Robin launched up and forwards to perch in the centre of the 'A' in WAYNE. A huge green hand follows him but grasps air. Robin had jumped to the 'A's peak then back down towards the roof to as Beastboy climbs up after him. In the air, Robin twisted and pulls out a Slade-a-rang. It shoots a rope out as he throws it, and this winds itself around one of Beastboy's wrists. Robin drops down through the centre of the 'A'. He threads the rope through and it is pulled taut, yanking Beastboy through the too tight hole so that he is stuck. Robin finds himself face to face with Star.
"Please-"she said before he rushes past her to come down with a flying kick and a flurry of strikes against Raven.Cyborg aims and primes his sonic cannon. He filled with dismay and unease. His uncertainty was clear on his face.
"Don't make me…" he begged. Then, with a growl of pent up emotion, he gave up, disarmed and ran in to do this the old fashioned way.The punch he threw missed Robin and connected against the shield Raven had thrown up to protect herself from Robin.
"These kids can handle themselves." Batman said from his nearby perch.
"He's still not trying to hurt them" Oracle countered. "Did you see him avoid Starfire?"
Above the fighting across the way Beastboy has finally broken free from the 'A' by changing to a snake and slithering down. When he is back on solid roof, he turned into a Ram with large curved horns and charges. He slams into Robin, sending him rolling to the edge. Robin stopped just in time to prevent certain death. He lies still. Beastboy, shocked at what he had done to the boy he still considered his leader.
"Dude!" he ran over, amazed he'd managed to hit him. "Are you okay?" he cried. Robin answers with a high kick to the chest, knocking him back into Cyborg.
"Fight to win Robin. Use the Thermal Blaster." Slade said in Robin's ear. Raven rises to the air in front of him.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" She cried and Robin was suddenly encased from neck to knees.Somehow he managed to get his right arm free. He sent a Slade-a-rang flying towards Raven. It exploded inches from her face.
"I…I can't see!" she cried falling as her power broke.
"No!" Starfire gasped. Robin meanwhile, freed as Raven fell, had re-engaged Cyborg. He was hitting the half-man, half-machine, who backed away, blocking the punches.
"Come on, man, don't make me do this! I don't want to do this!" Cyborg pleaded. He grabbed his arm, preparing to fire his Sonic Cannon, but a low foot got under his guard, knocking him to the floor. The Sonic Blast went off as he fell and Robin leaped away. He landed back atop the 'A'. As his friends (former) started to recover and press the attack, he ran from one letter to the next. He reached the 'E'. Starfire, furious, was waiting for him at the end. She steeled herself, readying a Starbolt.
"STOP!" she commanded. He did so. "Do not move!"
"I thought I told you to use the Blaster. Attack! Now!" Slade's voice sounded in his ear. Robin readied the weapon to fire on Star, his face set in a snarl. She was torn, her eyes widened. Friend or foe? She lowers her arm and the starbolt went out. She lowers her head.
"Robin, you are my best friend. I cannot be in a world where we must fight. If you are truly evil, then go ahead. Do what you must. Her voice trembled.
On the other roof the three onlookers starred in confusion and amazement.
"What is she doing?" Barbara cried out. Do something Bruce!"
Star just stood there, head bowed, defenceless. Robin stared at her in disbelief, eyes wide. He lowered the blaster, and took a trembling step forward (on the other roof, Batman has removed a grappling hook and rope from his belt).
"Starfire! No! I-"a shrill burst of feedback from his earpiece made Robin stop and grab his ear. "Aaarrrgh!"
"ROBIN!!! I gave you an order!" Slade was stunned. "If you won't attack, my probes will." And so they do, as Slade pressed the trigger with malicious pleasure. (Batman stops just as he is about to swing out to the other building.) The Titans all begin to glow orangey-red and cry out in pain.They start to fall. Starfire is still airborne, floating in thin air, over the gap between buildings. She convulses and goes limp, falling.
"Starfire!" Robin cried out, he crossed the distance between them in an instant and caught her before she fell. He turned around, Star in his arms, and saw the other Titans all laid out, writhing in pain and glowing just as Star was.
"Stop! Please stop!" Robin shouted in obvious distress. (The three onlookers exchanged confused glances.)
"Attack Robin. It's the only way to save them. Attack with everything you've got." Slade replied.
Robin looked from one of his friends to the next, finishing by meeting Star's eyes. He was still cradling her in his arms. He became resolved looking in those eyes and he gently set her down on the roof.
"Robin…" Star pleaded weakly.
"I'm sorry." He told her an instant before he shot her with his thermal blaster.
Slade smiles in the darkness of his empty lair. He is watching on CCTV.
"That's my boy."
*************************************************
The Titans slowly came to as the effects of the probes wore off. They stopped glowing as they come round
"Huh?" Starfire asked as she pushed herself into a sitting position. They stood slowly and gathered together in front of the 'A'.
"Okay, weirdness. What just -?" Beastboy started. He was cut off by a wordless yell from Robin as he dived towards them in a vicious attack, firing his Thermal Blaster. He landed in the middle of the group and flung Beastboy into Raven's face and shoulders. A low kick followed and Cyborg was knocked backwards. Starfire let loose with a couple of Starbolts which Robin expertly dodged. He leaped up and went flying across the roof in a somersault as he trained his blaster on her face. She saw that his aim was true and gasped. There was no way she could get out of the way in time. At the last possible second he shifted his aim slightly to avoid her. Instead the blast shot harmlessly past her, hitting the base of the 'Y'.Robin landed in a fighting crouch and was immediately up again and firing upon Beastboy and Raven. BB scampered away as a monkey and Raven blocked with a hastily rendered shield. The little green primate darted in whilst Robin was distracted by Raven and climbed all over Robin. He was more of a hindrance than a real threat but it took Robin a precious moment to remove the hairy little creature. As he was preoccupied, Raven used her powers to dismantle the weapon on his wrist. To reward her Robin sent her careening across the roof with a hard shove to her chest. Cyborg suddenly grabbed him from behind. The Boy Wonder ducked away, turned, and saw that the others have regrouped to fight him. Beastboy; a massive, ferocious, bear, Cyborg; locked and loaded and both the girls were prepared to use their respective powers. Robin, desperate, looked behind him as his footing faltered. He was right at the edge of the roof. His face hardened as he threw a handful of discs which he pulled from his utility belt. The Titans tried to dodge but they didn't stand a chance. Somehow the projectiles miss them anyway. They fly over their heads and explode on contact with their real target, the base of the 'A'. It starts to fall.
"Titans move!" Cyborg yelled.They did so, just in time as both the 'A' and the 'Y' topple over. Cyborg didn't move quickly enough. Luckily, he was standing where the hole of the 'A' landed. An inch either way and he would have been squashed.
"He's gone." Raven said as the smoke cleared.
(On the other roof Batman and his friends were still watching. They had seen Robin swing away and abseil down a neighbouring building. Batman had thrown a small device after him.)
"Everyone okay?" Cyborg asked as Batman swung across to join them. They nod in return.
"Uh, I know where Robin picked up the heat ray, but where did he learn that little glowy, hurty trick?" Beastboy asked rubbing his head.
"I do not think that was Robin. Perhaps it is Slade who has learned a new trick." Starfire said thoughtfully. Raven turned to Batman.
"Where were you during the fight?" She said.
"Yeah," Beastboy added. "You're supposed to be this big hero, and you hide on another roof. What's up with that?"
"He would have acted differently if he knew I was here. Besides you guy's can handle yourselves. If you needed help I would have helped. This way, I managed to get a Bat-Tracer on him. We can find him." Batman replied.
"I think Star is right. Let's go home and figure out what's going on." Cyborg told them.
*****************************************************
Slade was watching the footage of the fight. He watched Robin fire upon his friends. He rewound and watched it again. And again.
"Thrilling." He smiled coldly as he rewound it yet again. "My apprentice is progressing even faster than I'd hoped. All he needed was a little…motivation." Robin's hand suddenly shoots down and grabs Slade's wrist.
"Motivate THIS!" Robin cried. He threw a vicious punch but Slade was quick to catch it without even flinching.He wrenched Robin's arm to the side and sent him flying to crash into some overhead gears across the room. He lands in an awkward crouch, and then stood up as Slade rose, flexing his hands.
"Robin." Slade crossed the floor to stand in front of his defiant apprentice. "That was vicious, deceitful and ruthless. Excellent work. You're becoming more like me every second." Robin wipes his bloody mouth, eyes downcast. Slade turned as if to leave, and then whirled to face his apprentice. He showered him with a volley of sudden blows. Robin dodged but many hits still connected. His counter-attacks make no difference; they don't stop the harsh rain of strikes. Slade grabbed him into a headlock, pulling him backwards and up, so that the Boy-Wonder's feet dangle in the air. Robin kicked his legs up over his head, connecting with Slade's head, forcing him to release his hold. They were both forced to retreat a few steps to catch their breath and clear their heads.
***********************************************************
Meanwhile, back at Titan Tower…
"I don't get it Bruce. We need to go after him now!" Oracle said in a hushed voice.
"If we go now, then we may do our boy more harm than good. We have to know what's happening and we must have a plan." Batman replies. "I know how you feel, but we have to think this through."
"You're right. I know you're right and yet…"
"I know." He puts his hand on her shoulder.
"Think I found something!" Cyborg called. Bruce, Barbara and Alfred join the Titans who are gathered around the computer which has Beastboy wired up to it. On the screen is a read-out showing Beastboy's vital signs. "The enhanced sensors are picking up interference on the nano-scopic scale." Cy explained. He types and the screen changes to show Slade's probes, attached to Beastboy's red blood cells.
"Those things are inside me? EEEWWWW!" BB shouted.
"They're inside all of us. Billions of 'em!" Cy replied.
"With such technology at his command, Slade could easily destroy us whenever he wants!" Star realised.
"Unless Robin does exactly as he says." Raven added.
"And you guys thought my zombie idea was crazy!" Beastboy folded his arms with a sigh. In doing so he managed to tangle the wires still attached to him and fell off his chair trying to get free.
"We have to go in." Cyborg said simply. The Titans turned to exit the Tower. They needed to find and save their friend.
"Wait!" Batman called. He whipped a device labelled 'Bat-a-rang tracker' from his utility belt. "Wouldn't you like to know where he is?"The Titans returned, sheepishly, their exit ruined. "We'll follow in the Bat-copter. We'll wait outside as backup. If you need us yell."
Slade and Robin, in the lair, were still trying to collect themselves. Robin suddenly took the offensive; jumping high to come down towards the metallic mask of his would be mentor. Slade grabbed his legs and swung him low, scraping the floor, and then throwing him up and away from him. Robin cried out as he flew through the air. He caught hold of a nearby lever as he sailed by, managing to stop himself falling as he slammed into gearwheels. He climbed cautiously down, wary of Slade. But the enemy is gone. He strode, still nervous into the centre of the room.Still nothing. He looked around him, then approached a bank of levers near the edge of the elevated platform he had landed on. Steam hissed suddenly and plumed up as a stationary gearwheel began to turn. Slade is riding it up like an escalator.
"Good Robin. You're doing much better than last time. A few more years and you might actually pose a threat." Slade headed across the platform towards the boy. Robin backed slowly away, only to find himself against the bank of levers he'd been contemplating earlier. In desperation, he grabbed one and snapped it clean off. A makeshift fighting staff. He twirled it back and forth, getting used to the weight. Slade merely pulls a short stick from the back of his belt which telescoped out to become a full sized fighting-pole. Steam surrounded them. Robin charged with a defiant shout. Slade parried expertly. The two leaned into each other, their staffs creaking under their full joint weight. Robin is slowly but surely overpowered. He is forced backwards and Slade catches him with a sudden high swing, which forced the young opponent back against the steaming pipes. Slade aims a savage, stabbing blow.
Robin jumped away as Slade stabbed the section of pipe where he'd been an instant before. Steam poured out, hot and thick, enveloping the duelling pair. The staff remained lodged in the metal. Robin used it as a perch to get a better shot as he swings his makeshift staff directly at Slade's face. A bell-like sound told that the blow had found its mark, but Slade rose quickly back to his feet. He was furious and delivered a vicious downward blow, severing the end of his own staff, upon which Robin still perched. Robin managed to dart away jumping high overhead to land on a broken section of pipe. A large piece of machinery moves back and forth in front of him like a pendulum. He took a few cautious steps backwards as though readying himself to jump through, but suddenly Slade was before him, on the other side of the machine. A swing or two later and he is gone. Robin's eyes widened in disbelief and he looked around him for his dark master.An instant later Slade barrelled in and hit him broadside. Robin fell and landed, dazed on a stationary horizontal wheel. He struggled to lift his head, and then collapsed back down. Robin snapped awake a second later though, as Slade charged straight at him. One of the armoured fists slammed down, denting the metal inches from the spiky haired head. Slade stood easy and cracked his knuckles in anticipation. Robin's eyes narrow in pure hatred and he used this emotion to fuel a running leap that takes him past Slade. He turned, bringing his leg up for a savage spinning kick. A second blow knocked Slade flying down to the lower floor where the fight began. He landed in front of the screens showing the Titans bloodstreams, and the probes within them.A piece of machinery was glowing in the corner. Slade raised his head and the apprentice can see that his mask is cracked by the force of that last blow. Robin jumps down to land lightly in a fighting stance.
"You're going to wish you hadn't done that." Slade growled.
"I only wish I'd done it sooner." Robin replied scathingly. (Unbeknownst to the two fighters, the doors have swung open at some point in the last couple of moments and the Titans were there with their allies. Watching.)Robin tore the metal stylized 'S' from his chest and threw it to the floor at Slade's feet. Slade was incensed. He charged at Robin with a roar. Robin was forced to defend himself with a series of kicks but Slade grabbed his foot, throwing him to the floor. The former Titan lay there, panting, trying to find the strength to rise.
"I have much to teach you, but the first thing you must learn is gratitude." Slade told him. Robin forced himself to his feet and yelled as he ran at Slade. Slade seizes his right arm, bending it cruelly past his shoulder, up behind his back. (The watchers outside stared in horror, and Starfire began to move forward slowly but is stopped by Cyborg.They need to see how this ends.) Robin is forced; face down, to the floor. He gritted his teeth but a low moan escapes him. Slade releases his hold. Robin moved to roll away.
"I made you my apprentice. All my knowledge, all my power. All for you." He grabbed Robin's hair and pulled his head sharply back. "But the only thing you care about is you're worthless, little friends!" Slade's voice turned to a roar. Then he suddenly seemed to return to rationality. He released Robin's spiky 'do and casually lifted the trigger for the probes. "If the Titans are so distracting, maybe I should just get rid of them?" Robin readied himself for another charge but froze when a single gloved finger began to descend towards the trigger.
"Don't." Robin is defeated. His head hung down. "I'll do whatever you say."
"Good boy!" Slade condescended. "And from now on, I'd like you to call me master." The Titans have seen their theory proved beyond any doubt and a starbolt suddenly shoot across and hits Slade's chest, forcing him away from his teenage victim.
"Leave. Him. Alone." Starfire said decisively.
"Robin! Attack!" Slade ordered. The four Titans were ranged opposite, framed in the light of the door.
"Get out of here!" Robin begged desperately, he gestured to the screens showing the probes. "You don't know what that beam did to you!"
"Dude…" Beastboy interrupted.
"We know…" Raven continued.
"And we don't care…" Cyborg told him.
"We are your friends, Robin. And we're not leaving without you." Starfire finished.
"How very touching, but Robin has no need of friends." He pressed the trigger, and the Titans slowly collapsed in agony, glowing red-orange. Tears poured down Starfire's cheeks, white hot.
"This is the price for your disobedience, Robin. Now, do as I command. Attack!"Robin, torn, looked from one of his friends pain-stricken faces to the other. Then he notices that the machine which had been gently glowing in the corner had suddenly gone into overdrive, sparking out red lightning. Robin put two and two together.
"No!" he cried out in righteous denial. He dashed towards the device.
"Robin!" Slade was in shock. Robin gave an almighty leap and landed at the machine. Almost immediately he began to glow the same red-orange as his team. He groaned at the torturous pain, but forced himself over to face his "Master".
"New deal Slade. I lose my friends, you lose your apprentice." He fell to his knees. "And I know how much you hate to lose!" Amazingly the apprentice could still grin as he looked, through a cloud of pain, into his tormentors face. But it has taken all his strength and he collapsed facedown on the grimy factory floor.
Slade stared at him, genuinely astonished that he has been outmanoeuvred. He could not believe it. He considered for a brief moment, the he was forced to concede. He dropped the trigger to the ground and the glowing stopped immediately. The probes have stopped their painful work, but Slade was not through with the teens. Robin was still prone before him. Slade raised one steel toed boot to stomp that spiky head flat, but before he could come down with a crushing blow, Robin had his hands up to grab it. He stood, smirked, and Slade's eyes widened as the former apprentice sent a devastating blow crashing into his face. It propelled the older man down across the floor.
"Titans! Go!" Robin shouted, punching the air in exhilaration. They charged together. Beastboy, now a green tiger, swiped at Slade's armour, leaving claw tracks as Starfire and Cyborg moved in from either side. Starbolts to the left of him, Sonic blasts from the right. Slade fell back; Raven chanted her spell, binding their enemy's feet, causing him to fall. Now, Robin joined the fray, with a flying kick to Slade's head. There was an almighty crash as Slade's mask split down the crack already present. The arch-villain clapped his hands up to cover his exposed flesh. He fled into the darkness, pausing only to call back;
"Another day, Robin." He hits a self destruct for the lair. "Another day."
Gears started falling down around them. The building shook. Robin had to run to avoid the falling machinery. He is lifted from harms way by his loving Starfire. Raven towed Beastboy to safety and Cyborg blasted any falling rubble that dared to threaten him. They got to the door; a rectangle of pure white against the darkness.
"Let's go home." Robin smiled and they exited the building. He stopped in surprise, seeing the 3 figures before him. "How…?" he ran over, leaving the others behind him. He stopped in front of the tall costumed figure in the middle. "You came." He said his shock clear.
"Master Robin." Alfred said in his stoic British tone.Robin flung his arms about the staunch butler, he held him tightly, surprising the teen onlookers.
"Alfred!" he grinned then slowly released the man.
"Batgirl!" he went down into a crouch to embrace the chair-bound girl.
"Please, its Oracle now, bird-boy!" she replied, then gently kissed his cheek. Now he was back before Batman. He expected a lecture on what happens when he's off on his own.




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