The White Room
Raven rolled over onto her side, the mattress below much less comfortable than when she remembered falling asleep on it the previous night. The padding felt more like a straight board, something that Cyborg would be content sleeping on, seeing as his bed consisted of an inclined iron slate. Raven, however, was not Cyborg, and she was currently experiencing what people might call irritation, something the empath was all too familiar with. The only part of the bed that seemed to be as soft as she remembered was her pillow, and she was grateful for the warmth it provided. Raven breathed out once, trying to fall back asleep and ignoring the pillow's small rise and fall that kept her from sinking into unconsciousness. Realizing that pillows didn't move, Raven's eyes shot open and she sat straight up, whipping her head around. With a shout of alarm, she scrambled back, a small streak of magic escaping from her hand to attack the object that she'd believed to be her pillow.
Her "pillow" was in fact a person, and now a groggy Beast Boy sat up, blinking. He wore a confused expression on his face, and as the shape-shifter rubbed the sore spot on his side, he tried to figure out what or who had attacked him while he'd been sleeping. Raven tried to suppress an uncomfortable shiver. She now stood several feet from Beast Boy, her hood shadowing the girl's embarrassed expression. Why was Beast Boy in her sleeping quarters in the first place? She glanced around, realizing suddenly that she was no longer in her bedroom like she'd been led to believe.
Raven and her teammates resided in a large white room roughly the size of a basketball court with high ceilings and no apparent doors. Gray stripes similar to Cyborg's electronic wires streaked the walls and floor in unorganized lines, and the lone object in the room was a black television screen which took up half of the wall. Nearby Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg lay on the ground, asleep as Raven and Beast Boy had been, though her teammates were not resting on each other; Raven still had no idea how she'd mistaken the shape-shifter for a pillow. Thankfully, Beast Boy was oblivious to the event ever having happened, and he now was looking around the strange environment curiously.
"Dude, where are we?" he asked, standing.
Raven simply shrugged in response. His guess was as good as hers. A deep groan caught the dark girl's attention, and she and Beast Boy glanced over to where Cyborg was resting on his side. The robotic teenager yawned, stretching out and unintentionally hitting Robin in the stomach with one of his heavy arms. The Titan leader woke instantly as the air rushed out of his chest, and Robin rolled over, gasping for breath. Cyborg glanced at him, blinking several times before he recognized who was beside him. He sat straight up.
"Yo, man, what are ya doing in my room?!" he cried, jumping to his feet. "Especially during my beauty sleep time?! What's wrong with ya?!" Robin was too busy filling his lungs with air to answer.
"If you haven't noticed, we're not in your room, dude," Beast Boy stated, walking forward and offering a hand to his robotic friend. Cyborg looked around, realizing that the shape-shifter was right. He scratched his head, and then took the green boy's hand.
"And now I see that."
Robin had finally recovered. "The last thing I remember is going to bed and falling asleep. We're obviously not in the tower now, so where exactly are we?" he questioned, helping a sleepy Starfire up from the floor. The girl had woken up because of Cyborg's surprised shout. Cyborg flipped open a section of his arm and pressed a few buttons. Beeping was heard, and the robotic teenager took on a frustrated expression.
"Can't tell. Somethin' is blocking my sensors from landing on any specific coordinates. It's just scanning a bunch of meaningless numbers and letters." He closed the hatch on his arm, glancing about the white room again. "Well, wherever we are, we can only hope that whoever brought us shows up sometime soon. I don't know how else we could have gotten here unless we all have a secret problem with sleepwalkin' and didn't say nothin'."
Starfire, at last fully awake, lifted her head to examine the ceiling. She caught sight of a miniature black piece of machinery with rotating gears attached to it. "Friends, have you not noticed the small object here?" she asked, flying up to it. The alien princess tilted her head curiously, reaching out to touch it when a bright purple light pulsed outwards without warning, passing throughout the room and over each of the Titans. The team slid into their battle positions, but as quickly as the light had appeared, it vanished. The Titans exchanged confused glances. From where Starfire floated, a peculiar tingling spread throughout her body, and, before she knew what was happening, she plummeted toward the ground, powerless to stop herself.
"Starfire!" Robin cried. Raven, also seeing how her friend appeared incapable of flight, levitated, about to soar up and catch her. However, the moment she was in the air, a wave of nausea claimed the dark girl, and Raven doubled over, wrapping her arms around her stomach. Just like Starfire, she suddenly dropped out of the air. Fortunately for her, Cyborg and Beast Boy were just underneath and managed to catch Raven before she hit the ground. Likewise, Robin cushioned Starfire's fall, and the two landed on the floor with a heavy thump.
Starfire blinked. Now that she was back on the ground, the odd feeling had disappeared and she felt quite aware of how she lay bridal style in Robin's arms. She blushed, but Robin was too busy being concerned to notice. He looked at her in distress. "Are you alright?"
She nodded, and they got to their feet. "Yes, I am 'the okay', but I do not understand." She bit her lip, rubbing her arm and glancing at the strange object in the high corner of the room. "How was I unable to fly? There was no reason for me to fall."
From where Beast Boy and Cyborg helped her down from their arms, Raven agreed. She too no longer felt the queasiness that had struck her while in the air. "I was in complete control. I should have been able to fly, just like Starfire."
Robin put a finger to his chin, thinking, and then faced Beast Boy. "Beast Boy, can you fly?"
The shape-shifter grinned. "Let's find out!" He jumped into the air, morphing into a hummingbird. However, no sooner than he had finished transforming, he switched back to a human and fell heavily to the ground, eyes wide. "Dude," he exclaimed, looking at the other Titans with a scared expression, "I didn't do that!"
"You didn't mean to change back?" Cyborg asked. Beast Boy shook his head, and then closed his eyes for a moment, scrunching up his nose in concentration. When he opened them again, the green boy appeared a little panicked.
"I can't transform at all now!"
Robin furrowed his brow, musing over the problem. As Cyborg helped Beast Boy to his feet, Starfire approached Robin. "Perhaps the Ding-Dong-Daddy is to blame?" she suggested. "He had a machine which made friend Raven and I unable to fly during the race for your briefcase if I remember correctly."
Robin considered the idea, and then shook his head. "No, this doesn't seem his style. And that doesn't explain why Beast Boy can't transform either. I'm pretty sure that whatever the machine up there hit us with, it wasn't Ding-Dong-Daddy's."
"You never know though, man," Cyborg said. "Ding-Dong-Daddy's car could do some crazy stuff; if it made Star and Raven stop flyin', then who else knows what it could do?" Robin opened his mouth to reply when he was cut off by the sound of static from the large screen on the wall. The shadowed outline of an electronically disfigured person appeared on the monitor.
"Welcome, Titans." A deep, unrecognizable voice echoed throughout the room. The team took defensive positions, and the person laughed. "Don't worry; I'm not planning on attacking you as long as you only do everything I say." Reluctantly, the Titans set down what weapons they had, though the group was still on edge. None of the teenagers had any intention of doing what he said just like that, but it might be worth it to listen to what the voice said. "That wasn't so hard, was it? Now, you might have noticed a little… change in your powers. And when I say change, I mean not having any. This is due to my little device that you saw in the corner of the room called a Power Neutralizer. You will be powerless as long as I have the machine."
As the nameless person spoke, Robin whispered to Cyborg. "He's using a voice modifier. Can you adjust the sound so we will recognize who it is?"
Cyborg shook his head. "No, I'd need my equipment back at tower to do that. Besides, if that machine neutralizes our powers, who knows it'll do to my mechanics? I don't know if I can even use my arm cannon right now."
Robin frowned, reaching into his belt for a weapon. "Well, I know one thing that doesn't require any powers to use." He'd only just wrapped his fingers around an explosive disk, however, when the voice stopped him.
"And don't even think about shooting down the Power Neutralizer, Robin, for there is a protective shield around it. Even one of your little gadgets won't be able to get through." Robin narrowed his eyes and flung the disk anyway. He wasn't about to take the chance that he could have destroyed the machine at some point and didn't. His precise shot detonated directly over the Power Neutralizer, but once the smoke cleared, the device was untouched. The mystery person on the screen laughed, the voice modifier altering it creepily. "I told you."
Raven stepped forward, crossing her arms. "So now that you've gotten rid of our powers, what's your plan? World domination? Riches beyond galore? That's what you villains want, right?" she asked in a bored tone. The Power Neutralizer could be very dangerous if used correctly, and all of the Titans knew it, so of course they wished to find out what the criminal on the television had in mind.
The person shrugged, causing their figure to distort further. "Maybe later, but first you Titans are going to endure a few tests. If you can survive all of my games, you are welcome to the control room at the end where I'll be inside. Otherwise, you die."
"Not like we have much of a choice," Raven muttered under her breath.
Robin looked up at the screen. "Fine then, what are these games of yours?"
The Titans imagined the figure behind the screen grinning. "Tests of honesty. Of course, you will also be testing your fighting abilities, but that will come later if you haven't behaved yourselves very well. It's simple. This room -including the other ones that you will enter later- is one enormous lie detector. Say something that isn't true and I'll know it. The first task is simple in order to get you familiar with the games. Are you prepared?"
Robin glanced at his team, and they all nodded. He faced the screen. "We're ready."
"Good," the person said. "The first question is for Beast Boy." Hands in his pockets, the green shape-shifter strolled ahead of the other Titans with confidence and the came to a stop. He didn't have a lot of secrets, so he wasn't very worried about answering anything the dude on the television was going to ask. "Your question is… Have you ever eaten meat before?"
Beast Boy sighed. "Yeah I have, but it was only because this guy-," he gestured to Cyborg who was grinning, "-snuck a chunk of steak into my tofu burger. But I got back at him the next day by switching his eggs with tofu eggs."
"Most disgusting thing I've ever tasted," Cyborg grimaced as Beast Boy walked back to his place in between the robotic teenager and Raven.
The person chuckled, the voice modifier making the sound low and eerie. "The next question is for Cyborg."
The robotic teenager marched up to face the television, crossing his arms. "Bring it, man! I can take anythin' you've got planned for me!"
A pause filled the room, and then the question was asked. "Have you ever not played honestly while competing in video games against Beast Boy?"
Cyborg didn't even blink. "Of course I have, man."
"Dude!" Beast Boy squeaked from his place with the other Titans. "I knew it!"
Cyborg smirked. "It's not what you think, BB. I've let you win before is what I mean. If you lost all the time, then I wouldn't be able to stand all of your whining. It's easier to just let you win than have to deal with it." Beast Boy's jaw dropped, and the other members of the team suppressed smiles.
"He's telling the truth," the voice said, a smirk audible in his voice.
"Man, these are supposed to be hard questions?" Cyborg asked as he moved away. "This is gonna be a breeze."
"It gets harder as you go," the person snapped. "This is a walk in the park compared to what you will have to deal with later. I'm just scratching the surface. Raven," the voice barked. "You're next." Lowering her hood, the dark girl awaited her enquiry. "What do you think of Starfire's food?" Raven gave no physical reaction to the question, but Robin, Beast Boy, and Cyborg all sucked in a breath. They'd all been asked that by Starfire before, but the typical response they gave was that they 'had to be somewhere' or 'it's… nice' or something along those lines. Now, however, Raven had to answer truthfully or the voice would announce she that had lied. Starfire tilted her head, confused at the question. Why was it difficult to answer?
Raven responded. "I'd rather drink tea."
"That's not what I asked," the voice said. "Try again. Give Starfire a little more insight to your thoughts."
"Hm… getting closer."
Raven sighed. "Starfire's food tastes like it is a delicacy from any planet other than Earth." The voice grunted, and Raven added quietly, "When I get over the churning of my stomach because of its taste, her meals are not entirely horrible. I've answered your question; can I go now?"
The person behind the screen was silent at first. "Fine, you get a break with this one, but don't expect me to be kind in the future. I'm not known for sentiment." This little statement was noted and stored into Robin's brain. Even if the person was boasting or just saying that to throw him off, the young detective knew that every little factor should be considered. Learning who was behind their relocation and the games might help the Titans discover how to take the villain down before anyone was physically harmed. Robin's thoughts were broken up by the next Titan being called on to answer their question. "Starfire! Your turn!" Nodding, the alien princess indicated her readiness. She had been fairly pleased with Raven's answer. Delicacies from her planet were difficult to create, and for her dark friend to compare Starfire's food to such meals was an enormous compliment. Raven, on the other hand, was just grateful that Starfire hadn't caught onto her sidestep of the question. The voice spoke. "Do you really enjoy spending time with all the other Titans as much as you say?"
Immediately, Starfire nodded. "Yes, very much so! I have much of the fun with my friends! Meditating with Raven is most enjoyable, and I love doing the lifting weights with Cyborg, as well as watching Beast Boy eat the tofu and doing the sparring with Robin! It is especially wonderful when we all do activities together, such as-."
The voice cut her off before she could continue. "Okay, thank you for the… thoughtful insight to that." By his tone, the mystery person had obviously expected a different answer, like something about how she wasn't the cheerful person she seemed to be. The Titans knew Starfire better than that; she was an honest and open person through and through. Now Robin approached the screen, prepared for his question. The voice from the screen let out a low laugh. "Robin, your question will be a little taste of what's coming in the difficult future for your team. What-," he paused dramatically, "-is your secret identity?"
As soon as the voice had described the "games" his team would endure, Robin had been anticipating this question; not that that he meant he wanted it. Even though he trusted his team with the person he was when he wasn't wearing the mask –he'd revealed it the Titans a few months ago– there was no way he was about to tell an anonymous person who could use it against him and the ones he loved. Behind the leader, his team tensed, but Starfire spoke before anyone else could respond.
"That is not for your ears to hear!" she exclaimed, clenching her fists. If she had still retained her starbolt abilities, Robin was certain that the alien princess's eyes would be glowing green.
"It's not your question," the villain retorted. The person leaned forward, a dark shadowed island filling up the screen. "Now, what is your answer, Robin?"
Robin glared at the inquirer. "Starfire said just what I was thinking; I'm not going to tell you. I'm not an idiot."
"Are you sure?" the voice stressed.
"I'm positive," Robin declared.
The figure shrugged, the effects on the television making the movement look strange. "Have it your way, but remember that I did try to warn you." The ground underneath Robin rumbled, and before any Titan could move, the floor rose up around the startled Titan's leader, concealing him from view. Moments later, the surface fell flat again, and Robin was gone completely. Starfire let out a cry of alarm, dropping to her knees. Her teammates could only stare at the floor in shock. Behind them, a door appeared in the wall and opened with a quiet swish. "Poof," the voice said, laughing. "When you're ready, the next task awaits." A chuckle came from the screen. "The mighty Robin fails the first and simplest interrogation of all. You really think that you can make it through the rest?" With those ominous words, the television screen flashed black.
Beast Boy was the one to break the long silence that followed. "Dude, he's just… Gone."
Starfire turned on him, her eyes shining with tears not yet spilt. "No, he is not! How can you say such a thing?! I refuse to believe that Robin is gone! He will come back for us! He has vanished before, and Robin returned then, just as he will now!" She was nose-to-nose with Beast Boy, anger plain in her expression, and Beast Boy felt drops of sweat forming on his forehead.
Cyborg placed a hand on her shoulder, and the alien girl looked at her friend. "It's okay, Star; I'm sure Rob will be fine. For now though, we should focus on the next 'game' that's comin' up. We'll need all our strength and confidence to handle questions like the one Robin got." When Starfire bit her lip uncertainly, Cyborg added, "Besides, Robin'll want us to keep goin' while he finds a way out."
Sniffing, Starfire nodded. Wiping her nose, she looked back at Beast Boy. "I offer the apologies, friend Beast Boy. I simply fear for Robin."
Beast Boy smiled a little, rubbing the back of his head. "No problem, Star. I don't blame you. We're all worried." With a grateful nod, Starfire and Cyborg started to make their way toward the door nearby, and Beast Boy joined Raven. They started walking too, and the shape-shifter glanced at the dark girl beside him. "How you doing, Rae?"
She glanced at him with a confused look, answering in her usual monotone manner. "Fine. Why would I be otherwise?"
Beast Boy shrugged, massaging his neck with one hand. "Well, I mean what just happened with Robin… Aren't you worried?"
"Of course I'm worried, Beast Boy," Raven replied, "but Robin is… Robin. I doubt he was killed without a big show from the villain who is putting us through all of this. If you haven't noticed from the years you've fought them, criminals tend to show off." She told the truth. Robin held a status for escaping from sure death traps, and the Titans had grown used to being convinced of his demise before he'd pop right back up again. It was for this reason that the team wasn't in despair over Robin's vanishing act.
Beast Boy laughed somewhat. "Yeah, I have noticed. It's one of the mistakes they usually make, because we take them down right after!" He punched his hand into his fist, and then, smirking, looked at her again. "But, uh, that's not what I meant. I wondered if you were worried about yourself." This surprised Raven, and it must have showed on her face because Beast Boy added, "I mean, no one likes having questions asked about their personal feelings and stuff all the time, and I wouldn't blame you if that's how you felt."
Raven lifted an eyebrow at him. "That's surprisingly insightful of you."
Beast Boy grinned, tapping his head. "Hey, it's not all empty up here." He stopped as he walked into the wall, smacking his nose hard. The shape-shifter covered his face with his hands, blinking away pain tears. "Ow!"
Raven observed her friend with the trace of a smirk. "I was about to say something to prove you wrong, but I think you did that fine without any help from me." Beast Boy was too busy rubbing his nose to respond, and Raven rolled her eyes, continuing through the doorway. Beast Boy hurried to tag along behind her. In truth, Raven had been slightly concerned about what was to come, seeing as she out of all the other Titans had good reason to keep secrets to herself. While she'd revealed most -if not all- of her confidences to her friends, Raven still didn't see the need to expose every single little aspect about herself to anyone, and especially not to a villain who wished to use the information against her. Even though she'd never tell her teammate, Beast Boy hadhelped her feel better, and she was grateful that the green boy had taken the time to speak to her about it.
"So, what should we call this dude behind the screen?" the shape-shifter asked, pulling her and the other Titans out of their thoughts.
"Why do we gotta call them anythin'?" Cyborg questioned, adding afterwards, "You know what we've told you about namin' stuff, BB. Don't-."
"Yeah, yeah, don't give them a name because you'll get attached." Beast Boy waved his hand like brushing off the comment. "I learned that from Silkie anyway. But no dude," he continued, "I don't want to keep referring to this thing as the mysterious person that we don't know anything about who will probably kill us." He faltered upon Starfire's sad glance in his direction. "O-or make us disappear. Or something like that. Y'know."
"Then why don't you just refer to it as the Voice?" Raven asked, lifting an eyebrow. "It's a lot shorter and doesn't involve pointless facts which we are already aware of."
Beast Boy tapped his finger against his chin, considering it. "Hm… Simple, but sweet! You're a genius, Rae!"
Raven rolled her eyes. "Sure."