Mens rea

Guard Duty 101

Daniel leaned back against the chair. Balancing the wooden piece of furniture on its' two legs, he propped his own legs on the desk. Tilting his head, the low-paid guard spit a mango seed into the metal trashcan, earning a soft ping.

"Dan," the scolding tone of his partner made the latter smirk.

Flashing his white teeth against the dark tanned skin, black eyes glittered with mischief. "What?"

His partner rose from his own chair. Rubbing his blood-shot eyes from staring too long at the surveillance videos, Matt shook his mess of black hair, "We're not on vacation. The Boss would be ticked."

Daniel groaned, flinging out his arms. "Please, it's not like she's watching us. Besides, with the short notice to move the contact point, we earn a little R and R."

Matt punched Daniel lightly on the shoulder, "Whatever. I'm going to do the rounds."

"Yeah, yeah." When the other man had left the small office, Daniel muttered, "It's not like anyone would rob a small travel agency."

"You'd be surprised."

The dark voice was the only warning the guard had before the chair was swiped out from underneath. Crashing hard onto the floor, Daniel saw a burst of stars blinding his vision. Blinking away furiously, his hand reached outto press a button on the walkie talkieto send out a silent beacon to the relay station. But something cold pinned his wrist to his chest breaking thetalkie in half.

Through the dulling lights,Daniel made out a black and orange mask with a single eye penetrating his mind. The heavy weight on his wrist turned out to be a steel boot. Gulping, Daniel let out a small nervous laugh. "Hi."

Slade didn't even react. Not moving his gaze, he addressed the Titans, whom had entered after him through the open door. "Beastboy and Starfire go and get the other guard."

"Why us?" shouted Beastboy.

"Just do it," responded Raven.

Sticking his tongue out, Beastboy waved over his shoulder, "Let's go Star."

"Alright." Softly, the two younger Titans left the office. Cyborg walked quietly after them and closed the door.

Slade waited a few minutes to make sure the two Titans were gone. They were too young to understand what would happen here, but Cyborg and Raven had already proved that they were mature enough. Increasing his step, the resounding crack of a wrist breaking was a mere crunch compared to the scream.

Releasing his foot, Slade stepped the side soaking in the brief angry glare from Raven. Taking his spot, Raven knelt down and encompassed black magic around the whimpering man's wrist. "We would like to ask you some questions."

"Why the hell would I tell you anything after this?" screamed the man, with tears running down his cheek.

Cyborg stepped up behind Raven, "If you don't, we can't stop Slade from hurting you again."

Daniel shot a trembling look at the imposing figure that stood in the corner. With the shadows hugging his form and arms crossed, the guard knew that he had a better chance of getting out of this situation alive if he corporate with the children. "W-who are you?"

"We're the Teen Titans," replied Raven.

"Oh," realization dawned on Daniel's face. "I've heard of you guys." And he had. They were the ones Maura had warned them about. Of course, it would have been a lot easier to drive away the superheroes like he had been ordered too. But, she had never once mentioned Slade.

"Good, cause then maybe you can tell us why your people lied to us about not knowing where Robin is." The stern voice from Cyborg made Daniel chuckle in the inside. So the stories from the other undercover prison guards were true. These Titans were dead set on the impossible dream of saving their hero.

The black magic around his wrist disappeared. Sitting upright, Daniel rotated his now fixed wrist. "Thanks. But the truth is, they didn't lie to you guys."

Cyborg and Raven glanced at each other before sending their gaze to Slade. Slade merely tilted his head down. "You better be telling the truth."

Daniel couldn't stop the shiver from running down his spine. But working underneath Maura for so long made him almost immune to the man's threat. Black eyes fixing their stare at the TV screens, he watched as Matt made his final round. It was all up to his partner to get the word to their Boss that the heroes were hot on their tail.

Matt turned the last corner. He was bored to death but this job beat any day from doing his rounds in the prison. At least with this job, he saw the sun and ate fresh food. Halting, he pulled out a cigarette and was about to light it. In the silence, his ears picked up the small patter of feet. Quickly, he tucked the cigarette and lighter in his pocket. Sliding into the shadows, he crouched behind a massive pot containing a tropical fern. Peering through the leaves,Matt spotted a green dog sniffing along the floor with a red-hair alien behind him.

Narrowing his eyes, Matt immediately recognized the Titans. Pulling out, he pressed his walkie-talkie waiting for a reply from Daniel. When nothing but static greeted his ears, the man frowned. He would just have to guess that Daniel was out for the count. Switching frequencies, Matt send out the Morse code sequence to the prison.

Beastboy morphed back to a human, "Hey, dude, we know you're in here."

"Come out please, we mean no harm!" encouraged Starfire.

Matt stepped out from behind the fern, raising his gun at the two Titans. "Don't move."

Beastboy and Starfire turned, both raising their hands at the same time. Uncertainty at the turn of events passed over their faces before hardening into an expert mask. Matt nodded, keeping a steady grip on the gun. All he had to do was wait for a response.

A small fisherman's hut on a small island hid a powerful secret underneath its' floor boards. The mid-way relay station between the prison and the contact point at the travel agency came alive with a loud beeping. Three men immediately sprung from their bunks and typed up on the commands on the computer screen to translate the Morse code. A minute later, the chief walked into the room.

"What's going on?"

"Message from Matt. Breach at the agency and it seems to be the Titans. What should we relay to him?"

The chief leaned forward, reading the message on the screen, "Anything from Daniel?"

"No response."

Running a hand over his stubble, the chief pondering his choices. "Alright, tell Matt to take it easy on the Titans. Become their captive if needs be. He needs to buy us some timeto relay the message to Maura."

"Right, sir."

The man on the left moved and began tapping down a metal lever, sending the message back to Matt.

Matt listened closely to the sequence of beeps that transpired from his earpiece. It was mandatory for every guard that would be stationed off the island to learn the sequence of Morse codes that would be used as communication in case of an emergency. Taking a deep breath, Matt lowered his gun, switching the radio off to kill any communication links between him and the relay station.

"You're the Titans, aren't you?"

Starfire smiled as she too lowered her arms, "Yes, we are."

Matt frowned, "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for Robin, which you guys lead us on a wild goose chase," replied Beastboy, "I mean come on. I still got sand stuck in my hair!"

"Well, I can't help you in that department."

"Better directions would be better," mumbled Beastboy.

Turning on his heel, Matt walked back down the hall. Starfire reached out and grabbed his arm. "Where are you going?"

Matt fixed his dark eyes on the alien, "To the office to give you better directions."

An uneasy look darkened those green orbs. Matt frowned on the inside. It seemed that they wanted to hide something, something that had happened in the office. Beastboy stepped up, "Sure, back to the office."

Walking between the Titans, Beastboy in the lead, Matt braced himself to the sight that would greet him in the office. It didn't seem to be part of the Titans' personality to beat up on someone, but who knew what resources they would use to get their leader back.

Robin shook his head, his eyes blazing in retort. He wasn't buying this argument. "It's just wrong."

Maura shook her head, "Why is it wrong if it works?"

"It just is," snapped Robin. "You scare people not use them as a punching bag."

"And scaring them by hanging them off rooftops is not as traumatic?" Maura pointed to the bleeding prisoner strapped to the metal chair.

The pair was standing inside a tile-lined chamber that was hidden behind one of the many standard doors on the isolation wing. At first, Robin thought he was going back into the box but when Maura opened a door and walked into the room, he let out breath he didn't even know he had held.

By the time they had arrived, the prisoner had already endured a couple rounds of the interrogation. The two guards on duty merely saluted Maura before resuming their reign of punches to get the man to talk.

In a matter-of-fact voice, Maura informed Robin that they were trying to get information out of the mass murderer of where he buried his victims and why had he selected them in the first place. None of the standard starvation or confinement methods worked, so Maura had given the go ahead on the usage of phyiscal interrogation methods.

Picking up a bamboo rod, Maura handed it to Robin. "You haven't answered my question?"

Robin reached out reluctantly and took the bamboo rod in his small hands. Bending it, he measured the potentiality of what could be a weapon. Slade had given him the lesson earlier today while he was forced to practice some painful stretches. "Fear makes people talk easier. You don't give them any bodily harm in the end while catching them by surprise. Batman always made sure that no harm came to them…"

"But is it always successful?"

The dark look that befell the young face was all the evidence Maura needed to know that the method did not alwayswork. Snapping the rod in the air, Robin winced slightly at the loud crack. A guard wiped his hands on his uniform as he stepped up to the boy.

"May I?"

Robin glanced at Maura, not sure what he was suppose to do. "What's this got to do anything with being a hero?"

"Everything." Maura shifted so that she could both look at Robin, the guard and the bleeding convict. "As a hero, do you have an obligation to the guilty? Did you make a promise to keep them safe, even from those who want justice? And further more," motioning at the rod, she continued, "If the lives of many laid in the convict's mind, would you resort to mere fear games or take it a step forward and draw blood? Cause I can tell you this, Rob. From all our research, the pure guilty and evil men do not fear such tactics Batman uses. They only break from pure pain, not pure fright."

Robin soaked in Maura's words, still trying to find fault with it. This was going against everything he was taught by Batman. Staring hard at the rod, he tried to figure out today's lesson. Throughout the time, since he had learned patience, Maura had taken up her lessons from mere debates to studying old classic heroes and cases. But today, she had brought the lessons to a whole other level.

Gripping the rod, Robin realized what Maura was slowly shaping him into. Maura's version of a hero was notthe knight in shining armor. It was a person who was able to cross lines, to kill when necessary yet protect the innocent. Her hero was a twisted form of the vigilante. A prime illustration would be a Batman who killed, not swearing the oath that he would never cross that line.

"You can drive that rod straight into her face, Robin," whispered Slade.

Robin could hear man's hunger to make the woman bleed. With all the moves he had learned and the practice he had gained from Kyle, Robin knew that he could make her bleed. Driving the rod hard into her face, the material would splinter making her blind. Then with a swift kick at the guard's shins and throwing the rod at the other's guard's back, he could break out.

"With the doctor busy, it would be the perfect time to escape," pushed the villain. "We could make it to the surface and then with time to spare, find that secret walkway and get the hell off this island. Just do it boy, do it!"

Tightening his grip harder on the rod, Robin lowered his arm. His body was poised to attack. But his mind was still reeling. Would he be able to fight Maura and run off like Slade wanted him too? Should he listen to the man? Or, should he forsake his training and stay. Closing his eyes, Robin fell into that calm center where he had shattered his guilt. He already had forsaken so much and was almost a blank slate before his teachers.

"Robin, now is not the time to soul search," yelled Slade. "Attack now before she becomes impatient."

"No," whispered Robin.

"What?" hissed Slade as he materialized in Robin's mind. "Must I do everything for you." The black wall of the box shot forth but crumpled when the boy smirked.

"Sorry, but being locked up in that box for so long kinda overkills the fear."

If Slade was proud that the boy finally had strengthen his mind from some unknown source of resolve, he didn't show it. "Robin-"

"No," shot back Robin. "I won't escape, not now at least. Just look at her eyes and you can tell that this is another one of her tests. She doesn't trust me fully yet. You just have to be patient a little while longer."

Slade was about to lunge forward, angry that the boy was talking to him like he was a child. But an ankle shackle appeared out of nowhere, bounding the man to his spot. "What?"

Robin seemed just as surprised but had no time to reflect on it when he felt a cold hand rest on his cheek. Blinking, the boy found himself staring straight into Maura's glacier eyes, her hand lowering itself from his cheek.

"Well?" she whispered.

Robin bit his lip and handed the rod to the guard. "A hero has to take into account the benefit of the many verses the few." The soft, resigned tone somehow had washed out the whimpers of pain from the other prisoner.

Maura nodded, seeming to be a bit surprised at theboy's choice. Feeling a rush of both Slade's anger of letting an opportunity to escape go and a wave of sickness of being the cause of a man's pain, Robin quickly added in a quiet hiss. "But interrogation is still a last resort."

Sensing the stubbornness now burning brightly in those blue orbs, Maura smirked. "Glad to see that you're not buying everything I'm teaching you. Here is another lesson." Leaning to the side, so Robin could clearly as the guards snapped the bamboo in half and drove them underneath the man's fingernails, Maura let the cries drive home her point. "Just keep in mind that a hero makes many enemies and allies from his choices, more enemies with an attitude like that."

Slapping Robin hard in the back of his head, Maura watched Robin stumbled forward. Whipping out a pair of handcuffs, she locked the boy to the tool table in one shift move. "We're done for today. Escort him back to his room when you are done."

"Yes Boss," answered one of the guards.

Without a second glance, Maura left Robin there to soak in the screams of his choice.

Matt licked his lips as Beastboy opened the door the office. "We're back," quipped the boy. Starfire floated next to him and smiled warmly. "There is nothing to fear."

"Hm," scoffed Matt as he walked into the room.

The ones called Cyborg and Raven where up at the desk searching the paperwork and computer database. A large, imposing man was standing off in the corner, his single eye narrowing in on him. Breaking the stare, Matt stared down at the tied up form of Daniel.

"At least the idiot is alive," thought Matt.

"Please sit, sir." Starfire gestured to the spot next to Daniel. Nodding, Matt did as he was told. "And can we have your weapons as well?"

Matt handed the alien his gun, knife, talkie and anything else. It was impeccable that he not cause a scene but instead appear to be like the good guy. "Hope that covers everything."

"Yes it does. Thank you!" chirped Starfire.

The guard continued to watch the alien, ignoring the heated gaze Daniel was shooting at him.

Cyborg turned and smiled. It was nice to see a guard willing to help them. He had hoped they wouldn't have to resort to Slade's methods.The methodsdidn't seem to work, particularly on the one guard that they tied up. But, the temporary leader didn't want to take any chances. It would be all too easy forSladeto use one guard as leverage to make the other talk. A memory of Robin's ordeal of blackmail to save their lives flashed through his mind. Never again, Cyborg swore that night would someone have to make such a sacrifice for him. He was the hero. Sure, Robin was a superhero too, but unlike the Titans, Cyborg remembered constantly that he was only a human teenager. Throwing the kid in their attacks always reinforced that fact every time he had to make sure his metal hand didn't crush the small wrist underneath.

Shaking his head, Cyborg pushed the train of thought away. This time, he and the Titans would save their leader. It was the least they could do,towards thetremendous debt they owed Robin for turning their lives into something meaningful. "What are your guys' names?"

Daniel shifted his eyes so that they started to burn hole in the floor. Matt sent a confused gaze at his partner before answering. "I'm Matt and this idiot is Daniel."

"Shut up!" snarled Daniel, his eyes flashing with anger.

Matt completely ignored the tied up guard. "Your friends told me that you are searching for your friend, Robin. And I will tell you what I told them, we did not lie."

Starfire nodded eagerly, "He said such and promised us better directions as well!"

Cyborg's face jerked back slightly, surprise radiating off of him. "Really?"

"Yep," confirmed Beastboy.

"You said this?" questioned Raven.

Matt nodded, "I did."

Raven grabbed a hold of a chair and pivoted around. "Then do it, please."

Matt rose from his feet and sat down in the chair. Scooting closer to the consol, he gazed at the screen. "So what did we tell you last time, I wasn't there."

Starfire hovered over his shoulder, her chipper voice not hiding the rising hope of Robin. "Well, you didn't tell us anything useful, except that he was on some island. But then we talked to another man and he told us it was in the south."

Cyborg shot a warning glare at the alien, his mouth tightening and his hand making a small cut motion. The princess didn't see him though. Thankfully, Raven jumped in and interrupted Starfire.

"We know the resort is a prison," stated Raven. The witch sensed a short wave of shock from her answer. Yet quickly, the guard coughed and pushed down the feeling. Raven narrowed her eyes, knowing that he was hiding something. "I'll know when you're lying."

Matt lifted his gaze towards the dark-haired noticing a flash of red in her eyes. "That was strange." Realizing the rising danger, he went back to work.

"Look, we don't know squat about a prison!" yelled Daniel. Right when the words left his mouth, the guard squawked when Slade stepped forth.

"Slade," growled Beastboy.

The criminal merely continued to walk forward, past the Titans. "You have forty-hours to make them talk."

As he stepped out of the office, he heard Starfire calling out to him. "Where are you going?"

"Out for a walk." Nothing more to say, Slade disappeared from the group.

Each of the four Titans faced each other, caught off guard from Slade's actions.

Beastboy sighed with relief. "And here I thought, he was going to start beating the guys up."

"He will if the guards don't start cooperating," whispered Raven in a cold tone, her face devoid of any emotions.

Daniel drew up his legs, a defiant expression on his face. "You won't get anything out of me."

Matt hit the enter key. A few seconds later, the computer screens went black.

Starfire gasped and pointed at the screens, "The screen of the computer went black!"

Beastboy ran up to Matt, his voice not at all hiding the surprised tone "What did you do?"

"He crashed the system," Cyborg exclaimed frantically as he tried to type in commands to reboot the computer. "Any leads might be but probably are gone for good."

Raven frowned, her pale hands clutching at the purple cloak sleeves, "Why?"

Matt squared his shoulders and looked straight into the half-demon's eyes. "Like he said, you won't get anything out of us."

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