The three Hive members shared a glance; grins began to steal across the lips of Jinx and Mammoth. Jinx laughed, shrill and conniving. “Oh this is just great. The Titans leave us with an enemy locked in their tower. Excuse me, our tower. They won’t win it back so easily this time, not with this mystery villain on our side.” She turned with a flourish, walking towards the hall. “Let’s go get him.”
The other Hive members quickly followed suit, greed written across their faces. Surely this prisoner would be nothing but grateful that they had released him and would join with them to defeat their shared enemies. The Titans Tower would be theirs forever, a testament to their superior force. Arriving at the doorway, Gizmo quickly set to work decoding the security password, shouting in victory as it blinked green. They were in.
The door slid open to reveal: an empty room. The teens gaped at the space, Jinx walking in and checking under the bed to make sure whoever it was wasn’t hiding. “Well this bites.” She grumbled, swatting at a fly that buzzed around her head. The insect avoided her flailing hands, making it out to the hallway beyond.
“Yeah.” Agreed Gizmo. “Those poop-heads must have already moved him.” It was obvious the room had recently been inhabited, the bed wasn’t made, crumbs littered the floor, and a ball lay on the floor. Jinx picked up the ball, eyeing the gouge-marks that littered it.
“Whatever it was, it had teeth.” She mumbled, tossing it to herself. Mammoth eyed the movement as though wanting to chomp on the ball himself, but with a flare of pink energy the toy crumbled. “Well, that was a colossal waste of time. Come on, I wanna see if they have any good movies I can snitch.”
The trio left the room, never taking note of the green fly landed on the opposite wall, staring at them intently. Beast had been taught many things. Always obey the Master, always listen to what they say and do your best to please and obey. Stay in the cage, don’t go against Masters orders. But what he learned the most was: If Master or their property was in danger, you fight. No exceptions, no other rules. And that was what he planned on doing, no matter where his Masters were now. Even if they would probably be mad at him for leaving his cell.
However, as he looked on the trio, all obviously very commendable foes if they were able to defeat his Masters, he knew that he was in for a difficult battle. He would have to be smart, employ strategy. He whimpered, the sound barely registering in his insect form. He was never really good at that. But he would have to be, for his Masters. The only Masters he had ever liked. He would protect their property and, if necessary, avenge their death.
Taking a deep breath the fly became a lime hummingbird, flying down the empty hall to a set of downward stairs. Beast was sure he’d seen a fuse box in the garage, even if Cyborg had been too focused on his car to point it out. He was glad he’d paid so much attention earlier on that tour. He wouldn't have stood a chance otherwise. The boy made his way to the garage, finding the electrical box precisely where he thought it would be. He grimaced when he saw there was some kind of security lock to dissuade villains from sneaking in and turning off the security system.
The grimaced turned into a smile that was grossly warped as huge fangs and whiskers appeared on his face. In an instant a powerful Saber Tooth Tiger had replaced the boy, its bulging muscles and ferocious claws cutting through the metal and wires with only a few measly swings. Finally the entire tower was ascended into darkness.
A fleeting thought flashed through the boy’s mind that his Master’s wouldn’t be happy to come back and find that they needed to replace the electricity or whatever, but then he remembered that because of these intruders they may never come back and the thought left. He shifted into the form of a bat, flying up the stairs and completely at home in the darkness of the halls.
Gizmo had finally broken through one of Robin’s firewalls to his more personal files, revealing a movie the boy wonder had downloaded labeled ‘Beast’. “Wonder what kind of videos Robin has that he feels the need to hide.” The villain laughed. He was just about to press play with the power went out. Jinx, who had been modeling one of the outfits she’d found and almost decided that they were in fact for boys, let out a frustrated shriek. Mammoth, who having eaten all of the titans food had decided to take a nap, simply grunted.
“Great,” Gizmo complained. “Those crud-muffins must be back.”
Jinx shook her head. “No way, did you see Cyborg? I’d give ‘em another hour at the earliest. Maybe two depending on how hard Mammoth nailed Starfire.”
“Two and a half.” Mammoth grunted, sounding proud.
“Then we musta blew a fuse or somethin.”
“Probably all your stupid tech.” The pink haired girl said, idly kicking some large machine that the younger boy had been charging.
“Be careful with that!” He shouted, then grumbled to himself. “Now we gotta try and find a fuse box. Come on.” He said, making his way down the hall. Jinx rose an eyebrow after him.
“Why do we have to go?” She asked, making herself comfortable on the couch.
“What else are you gonna do? Sit here in the dark and stare at nothing?”
The girl considered her options. “Fair enough.” She said, but moved in front of Gizmo to lead the way, lighting one hand to cast a pink glow. “Let’s get this over with.”
The three left the room, heading randomly along one of the tower’s many halls. Beast cursed to himself as they left the room. He’d been hoping they would go separately so that he could get rid of them one at a time, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Unfortunately his cure turned out to be a bit more audibly that he would have liked, coming out a high squeak that had all the tense Hive three whirling at the noise. Say what you wish about not fearing the dark, but when it’s nearly pitch black and you hear a noise that isn’t supposed to be there; you react.
Jinx reacted, shooting a flurry of curses into the air around Beast, leaving the wall a small pile of rubble. The boy could hardly evade them, despite the fact that none were actually aimed at him. When the girl’s panic had subsided and the barrage stopped he stayed still, silently noting that this was a formidable foe, one he would have to watch out for. As they turned to leave, muttering about a false alarm Beast decided that paranoid enemies, ones jumping at every little sound, may give him a broader choice of options. He knocked over a piece of rubble, creating a clattering sound across the room. The smallest member reacted this time, shooting a laser at the noise.
“S-somethings there.” Jinx mumbled and the small boy nodded.
“Y-yeah. Mammoth, go check it out.” The largest boy jumped.
“Come on!” Jinx said exasperatedly, “What are ya, scared? What’s the worse it could be?"
The large guy shrugged. “What about that room?”
“It was empty!” The girl said. There was a tense silence. “Wasn’t it?”
“It looked empty but what if… what if it wasn’t?” Gizmo asked, a hint of fear slinking into his voice and Beast found it hard not to snicker. It was almost like a scene from that Wicked Scary movie Cyborg had told him so much about. “What if we let something loose? Something bad enough for the Titans to want to lock away.”
No one moved for a good minute. Finally Jinx shook her head. “C-come on guys.” She said, putting up a brave front despite her wavering voice. “We’re being ridiculous. It was probably a mouse or something.” And with a brave squaring of the shoulders she walked amid the rubble and began to poke around to find what had made the noise. The boy’s shared a glance before following her.
Each used their own method of checking for the creature. Mammoth punched through walls and lifted chunks of plaster, using his superior strength. Jinx used her powers, lighting the way and casting a jinx on any shadow that seemed to shift. Gizmo used tech and sensors, but none picked up Beast, now nothing but a nymph hidden far from view. He was feeling supremely proud of himself. Little did he know when he dropped the rubble that this was the best way to discover the powers that each of his foes possessed.
Finally Jinx stood, having searched each piece of rubble, her eyes still constantly roving as though expecting something to pop out of the woodwork. “See guys? There’s nothing here.” But it was obvious that the lack of tangible person did nothing to take away their worry. Still the group pretended. Gizmo nodded, about to say something, but at that moment Beat, much farther down the hall, turned into a green-black cat and pounded on the wall. He was rewarded with a light thump that made each of the Hive kids jump.
“P-probably nothing.” Gizmo stammered. “Let’s just go find a way to get the lights back on.” Because nothing was as scary in the light. Beast wondered how long it would take before they started to question whether it was an electrical problem at all or if the “mysterious creature” they had let escape had somehow plunged the tower into darkness.
The group began to walk and Beast began to plan his strategy. Just scaring them wasn’t going to last long, he had to actually fight. He looked back to the rubble, now suitably pulverized, and gulped. These people were strong. And fast. They had destroyed a whole section of wall in seconds, turning it into a pile of rubble big enough to bury someone in. He started and purred, not loud enough for the Hive teens, much farther along the hall, to hear him. Silently he piled the rubble, turning into a dog and digging a large hole at its center, one certainly large enough to hold a small boy, even if he had a large backpack.
The smallest male would be his first target. The boy was dependent on his tech while the other two were dependent on nothing. If he could separate or destroy the tech, the boy would be nothing more than a helpless teen, and a really tiny one at that. The problem was getting to him. The group was huddling even closer now that Beast had scared them, peeking into each room cautiously. One of them actually screamed when they looked into Raven’s room. Still they walked the halls, not knowing that what they were looking for lay stories below.
Beast stalked up to them silently. The silence was making them more paranoid than the small noises had. They now jumped at the sound of their own breathing. They were arguing, growing cross with one another as the fear became too great. It was perfect and a horrible inconvenience at the same time. Beast crouched to think. He needed a creature mysterious enough to keep them afraid, large enough to knock the big guy down, dangerous enough to destroy the backpack in one go and lithe enough to avoid the pink stuff.
Suddenly the perfect creature came to mind and a large jungle cat lay in the shadows behind the teens. Its green fur was nearly black, the closest to a panther that Beast could become. He would never be a true panther, for its definition was a leopard of midnight fur, something the lime shapeshifter could never achieve, but now with the darkness, fear, and glowing pink light he would appear as nothing more than a dark shadow. A dangerous dark shadow.
He turned human for a moment again, tossing a piece of rubble he had kept far in front of the enemies. As they all spun to it he leaped from behind, shifting in the air. Mammoth grunted as an unfamiliar and unexpected weight pushed him to the ground and Gizmo screamed as claws raked down his backpack, narrowly missing pale flesh. Jinx shrieked, blasting at the shadow with pink curses but the deft creature narrowly avoided them all and disappeared into the shadows again.
Beast breathed as deeply as a spider could as he clung to the wall watching them. He couldn’t believe that had worked, but it did. The small male was now weaponless and all three were terrified. His tail hurt a little where the girl had grazed him but it was no matter, it just reminded him how formidable these foes were.
Mammoth was just getting to his feet, his voice shaking. “What was that?” He asked and the other two shook their heads.
“I don’t know.” Jinx admitted, a slight tremor to her words. “But I don’t like it.”
“It destroyed all my stuff!” Gizmo lamented, gazing at the mauled bag.
Mammoth’s eyes moved to both sides of the dark hall. “I don’t like this. I think we should go.”
The other two looked like they would like nothing more than to agree, but Jinx’s pride wouldn’t let her. “We can’t leave now. We finally got the tower. This is probably just some trick they set up as security.”
“Pretty good trick.” Gizmo grumbled, holding up the bag. Suddenly he gulped, eyeing the shadows. “W- when I was on the computers earlier, r-right before the lights went out I was about to read one of Robin’s files. Something about a Beast.” His last words were spoken in a whisper and the entire group looked to the darkness, as if expecting a ghoul to show itself. Finally Jinx spoke, her voice wavering and breaking even as she attempted to hold up her brave façade.
“Come on, let’s just find the lights. And keep alert. No more surprises.”
True to the girl’s word, they were much more alert. Beast found no more openings to attack, not unless he wanted to be filleted by magic and strangled by gorilla man. He was just growling in his mind about it as he flashed past an adjoining doorway that he caught a lucky break.
“What was that?” Gizmo asked, the only one small enough to see the nearly black cat shoot by.
“I don’t know and I don’t care.” Jinx said decisively. “If we ignore it we can find the lights sooner. Maybe it won’t pay attention to us.” She and Mammoth walked right past but Gizmo remained, staring into the shadowy depths for a moment before realizing that it wouldn’t be smart to be hanging around weaponless and alone. He hurried after the group, but luckily for Beast he remained in the back. It was child’s play for Beast to, completely silent in a female form, sneak up behind the small boy and turn into a gorilla, plucking him up off the ground, keeping a tight hold over his mouth, and disappearing back into the hallway behind.
He had stuffed the boy into the hole in seconds, leaving his head exposed but fastening a gag across his mouth. He was able to keep the boy silent the entire time, a squid tentacle over Gizmo’s mouth as Beast tied the gag. As a finishing touch he disconnected one of the bowl-shaped overhead lights, covering the boy’s head and completely hiding him from view.
He was so swift in fact, that he was back before the other two noticed that their youngest member was gone. It was a few seconds after he started tailing them again that they noticed.
“Hey Gizmo,” Jinx called, looking ever forward for the strange creature. “You’re being awfully quiet.” Silence was her only answer. “Gizmo?” She turned, but the boy wasn’t there. “Come on this isn’t funny. I’m sorry I didn’t look into whatever you saw in the hall okay? I just wanted to find the fuse box sooner. Gizmo? Gizmo?” With each word her voice rose higher, her expression more panicked. Finally she shared a horrified glance with Mammoth and ran back down the hall, past where Gizmo had seen Beast, past the remains from the ambush, past the pile of rubble the small boy was so expertly hidden in. She ran all the way back to the great room, shouting for her missing teammate all the while as Mammoth ran behind her.
Running into the room she glanced around wildly, desperately. Mammoth stood in the doorway, panting and terrified. Beast made his move, flying over the larger teen. The Hive member looked up at the creature floating above him, looking horrified. Beast dropped, transforming into a large python and wrapping around the large teen as he fell.
“Jin-” Mammoth began to yell, cut off as the air was driven from his lungs. Jinx whirled and screamed, flinging curses at Beast. The snake uncoiled at precisely the correct time, the curses flashed past him and instead landed on the terrified girl’s teammate. Mammoth grunted in pain as the curses landed mark and the girl halted her attack. As the large boy struggled vainly for breath, staggering to the couch and using his remaining strength to ram his body and the snake into it, Jinx could do nothing but scream. Suddenly the door to the main room was crashed opened, the automatic panels useless without the power. Jinx whirled, gasping as the Titans rushed into the room.
“Thank goodness!” She called, running up to group. “W-we let your prisoner out. You gotta catch it. I-it already got Gizmo and now Mammoth is-“ There was a loud thud from behind as Mammoth finally lost the battle of consciousness and fell to the floor. A low growling sounded from the spot where Mammoth fell. Jinx let out a strange, strangled sound. “P-please! I’ll go quietly, anything! Just take care of that- that thing.” The girl insisted, not understanding why the Titans didn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation and were just staring at her confusedly. Finally Robin acted, turning to the couch.
“Beast.” He called curtly, commandingly. A wolf head popped out from behind couch, staring at the teens in what could almost he called amazement. “Heel.” The canine leaped over the couch rushing past the flinching Jinx and stopping in front of Robin. Jinx gaped, for when the wolf halted it was a wolf no longer but a boy, skinny and short but around their age with pointed ears. In the little light gained by the room’s large windows and glows coming off of the Titans’ hands the boy’s skin seemed to be tinted a greenish color.
Cyborg moved forward with relief evident on his face but Robin barred his path, glaring at the green creature sharply. “I thought you said you weren’t going to kill.” Jinx’s heart fell. Her eyes grew wide and her breath seemed to stop at the implications of that sentence, but Beast shook his head.
“I didn’t.” The boy answered, once again happy that he was with these Masters. Anyone else would have been disappointed in him for leaving them alive. “I hid the small male and the large one is just unconscious. I was really careful to squeeze the right amount.” The boy said, like a child desperate for approval on some project or part in a play. Jinx’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. This time Cyborg managed to slip around the Titan leader, ruffling the green boy’s hair.
“Way to go B, taking on the Hive all by yourself.”
The child grinned, leaning into the touch. Jinx continued to gape as she watched the scene. This was the creature that had been terrorizing them for the past few hours? This small, skinny, ginning boy? She took a step back and shook her head.
“Wait a minute, you mean that we just spent the past two hours running from your pet?” She asked, sounding incredulous and livid. Cyborg looked as though he were about to dispute the term but Beast smiled all the wilder. “Ugh. I’m out.” She said, about to make her escape. Robin gave an almost imperceptible nod and a flash of black and green flew past her leg. Whirling the girl came to face the same wolf face as earlier, this time no longer innocent and amazing but furious and snarling.
She gulped, but pink light flared up her arms and she readied herself to attack. Before she could however, she heared from behind the steady whirring of Cyborg’s cannon along with the metal clink of Robin removing bird-a-rangs. She saw a green glow out of the corner of her eyes on one side, and a swish of blue cape on the other.
“Now, you said something about going quietly?” Robin said, all confidence and smirk almost audible.
The girl shot a glare to the voice but quailed at the prospects of facing all four Titans plus one. She let the pink die and almost immediately her hands were cuffed behind her back, Robin calling the police on their communicators and telling them that the Titans had some trash for them to pick up. Beast was a human once more, standing contentedly beside Starfire as the alien princess assured herself that their friend wasn’t harmed. Moments later Raven used her powers to do the same. It wasn’t long until Jinx was sitting on the couch beside a cuffed and unconscious Mammoth and a dust covered and restrained Gizmo, the Titans clustered around them to keep watch until the police arrived. Cyborg had whistled appreciatively when he saw the state the teen villains were in. “Nice goin’ B, taking down two of the tree Hive members all by yourself. You should get some kind of reward or something.”
“C-can it be a new ball?” The boy asked timidly, throwing a slight glare at Jinx. “She broke mine.”
Cyborg looked at the girl in confusion, before turning to the boy and clapping him on the back. “Of course. Hey, let me go get the lights and you can tell us all about what happened over dinner.”
Suddenly Beast’s grin dropped and the boy looked terrified, his gaze falling to the floor as his shoulders shook. “I-I’m sorry Ma- Titans. When I was fighting I- I broke many rules.”
Jinx watched the scene with interest. This was weird. As was the half the Titans falling over themselves assuring the boy that whatever he’d done, it was okay. Cyborg and Starfire had rushed to the boy’s aid, but Robin and Raven looked to him sternly.
“What did you do?” Robin asked and Beast ducked his head.
“I changed into creatures much smaller than you allowed.” He said, knowing there was no way to hide it. They would see it if they watched the security tapes anyway. “I left my cell. A-and I broke the electricity.”
Cyborg laughed. “B, you can’t break electricity.”
“Trust me dude, the electricity’s long gone.” Suddenly the boy jumped, his hands jumping to his mouth as though he couldn’t believe he had spoken to Cyborg so informally. “S-sor-” He began to apologize, but Cyborg cut him off loudly.
“So what did you do to break it so badly?”
Beast froze, looking to Cyborg with something akin to amazement before mumbling something about saber tooth tigers and tearing the box up. Cyborg looked worried for a moment before promising to check it out and disappearing. Beast turned his terrified gaze back to Robin to await verdict on the rules he had broken. The boy looked as though struggling with two important decisions before sighing. “This was extenuating circumstances,” He finally decided. “You protected the tower and I guess in this case you were right to break the rules. Just don’t make it a habit.”
Starfire swooped next to the boy and grasped his hands. “You were very brave to go against your training and commands to do what was right.” The girl declared, beaming.
“Good job.” Raven intoned flatly, but it made Beast grin all the same. Jinx shared a look with Gizmo, neither could believe that this was what had stalked and frightened them earlier that evening. He looked so timid and innocent now. The police made it to the tower just as Cyborg was walking up the steps. He collapsed onto the newly vacated couch.
“Well I was wrong. B did manage to break the electricity.”
Beast whimpered. “Sorry.”
“No problem, I’ll be able to fix it alright in the morning. Probably fix it up so that it won’t be destroyed so easily too. ‘till then we’ll just have to make do.”
Robin nodded, looking to the destroyed doors and thinking about the pile of rubble sitting in the hall. “We’re going to have a lot of clean-up to do in the morning.” Taking a deep breath he whirled to Beast. “And don’t think that just because you’re used to being locked in that room that you’re gonna get out of it. It’s about time we had you help out around here.” A smile hinted at the corners of his mouth. “And maybe the next day if we have everything fixed we’ll have to see how you spar.”
The police car wasn’t halfway to the prison before the Hive three had escaped. They were gone long before anyone noticed and Mammoth and Gizmo were already safe in a hideout. Jinx had a different place in mind, but the boys had refused. They just wanted to forget that day had ever happened. Jinx however, as always, had bigger things in mind.
That wasn’t to say, when she entered the ominous lair of turning togs and machinery, that she didn’t wish her backup was standing behind her. Still she pressed on, though determination alone wasn’t enough to stop the shudder from rolling through her as a soft but dangerous voice said ‘hello dear’ behind her. She turned to face the two-toned mask. She had information that the man would like and you had to play with a few unsavory characters if you wanted to play in the big league like she did someday. And Slade was as big as they came.
“How would you like information on your favorite teen crime fighters?”