Jinx scowled as she spotted the lime tiger standing among the teen heroes, moving into a ready stance. “So, you guys decided to take your little pet out for a walk, huh? How nice.”
Beast growled angrily, flexing out his large claws and allowing them to clink against the ground. His nostrils flared and his ears twitched as his senses raked the room for the other two members. He located the first one quickly, the small guy snickering as he punched in the last digits needed to hack into the security system and remove the artifacts’ protection. The larger one however was nowhere to be seen, and he was either upwind or too high for Beast to scent him. His whereabouts were a mystery until there was the faintest sound of movement from behind them.
He whirled, spotting the Mammoth just as the large teen jumped from a ledge, directly over Raven. With a snarl Beast pounced, pushing Raven and himself out of the way as Mammoth lunged, creating dents in the floor as he missed his target. The muscular villain roared in anger and Jinx scowled worriedly. Now, instead of the usual three on tree match they would be outnumbered by two. However, she let little of her unease show as pink magic flashed in her hands and Gizmo appeared from the back of the museum. Mammoth grinned and stood, flexing his muscles and the teens attacked.
Green, pink, and black meshed as the two female Titans faced Jinx, Gizmo and Cyborg circled one another, each attempting to beat the others tech. Robin and Beast were left to fight Mammoth, who whirled upon the green boy who had bested their team before. Turning into a small bird he darted away from the huge villain just as Robin jumped into the air and delivered a powerful kick to the back of Mammoth’s head. As the muscular teen whirled on him angrily Beast shifted into a cougar and scraped his claws in the back of the boy’s legs, unfortunately he could barely pierce the flesh of the thick-skinned teen and caused more annoyance than pain.
As Mammoth turned away from Robin once more, obviously growing frustrated by the double teaming, Beast turned into a ram and charged, aiming his rock-hard horns at the large boy’s stomach. However he went flying past as Mammoth side-stepped and crashed into Robin. The boy wonder growled, extracting himself from Beast’s – now human- limbs to lead an attack on his own. Beast stood, shaking his head and running to flank Gizmo with a growl. The small boy was nearly in perfect position to attack Cyborg, though the larger teen seemed not to notice. Spider legs retracted into the green backpack, instantly replaced with a hovercart as the Hive member lunged for the teen, software in hand.
Beast lunged, a lime wolf, and knocked Gizmo right out of the sky, narrowly avoiding the blue ray that Cyborg had been aiming at his tiny opponent. “Opps, sorry B.” The Titan offered as Gizmo let loose with his personal brand of cursing from under Beast’s light emerald paws. Before Beast could answer there was a startled yell from above as Robin’s skill lost to Mammoth’s brute strength and the boy wonder went flying.
Beast jumped to attention, whirling as the new threat bore down on him, jumping out of the way and nearly causing Mammoth to destroy his own teammate as the large teen’s shot fell short. Beast flew into a falcon, diving to the large enemy and shifting into a hippo as he prepared to flatten the threat. However, he met only empty air as a sonic Blast from Cyborg sent Mammoth flying out from under Beast’s feet. The green boy nearly whined in frustration. He didn’t know how to fight in a group like this, he’d only battled alone and the Titans had never practiced as a group. He had no clue what he was doing and he kept on getting in everyone else’s way and they got in his. He wasn’t trained for this. He’d been trained to be a weapon, not a Titan.
Raven grunted as Jinx knocked her back under the replica of a spaceship from the science wing, and with a flash of a wrist pink coated the rocket and a snap resounded as the cables holding it broke. Without a thought Beast rushed to help his teammate, transforming into an elephant and towering over the girl to shield her from the replica. Raven rose, sending Beast a grateful glance before joining the fight just as one of Starfire’s bolts struck Jinx and cast the girl towards them. Yet even as the large pachyderm Beast was no match for the heavy replica and collapsed under the weight.
He changed into a gopher under the rubble, but by the time he emerged the Titans and Hive teens had shifted into their normal battle groups. It was as if they had forgotten he was there. A low grin slid upon his lips. It was exactly like they had forgotten he was there. Silently sliding out of the rubble he crouched as a small lemur into a hiding space and awaited the perfect moment to use the coveted element of surprise. After all, it wasn’t like he was doing much help out there.
His moment came when a large portion of the roof gave out, weakened by sonic blasts, exploding bird-a-rangs, Starbolts, and finally broken completely by a well-timed blast of pink magic. The rubble covered the Titans, the Hive three standing over proudly though they knew that it was only a manner of seconds before Raven would use her powers to free them all and that there was no way that the villains would be able to stand up to the answering volley.
Suddenly Gizmo stopped, looking over the Titans with a hint of worry on his face. “H-hey, aren’t we missing one of the crud-nuggets?”
Jinx rolled her eyes. “Come on can’t you count you idiot? We got a-all… four… Hey you’re right. Where did your little guard dog go?”
The Titan’s looked around, equally confused and feeling a hint of betrayal as they realized that he disappeared. Suddenly Robin noticed a streak of green rushing across the room, a Venezuelan jet black guinea pig rushing at the group at 53 mph, none of the villains noticed, still questioning the Titan’s on Beast’s whereabouts. Twenty feet from the group the guinea pig shifted to the form of a rhino, covering the distance in a second and bowling over the Hive students just as Raven shouted “Azarath Metrion Zinthos!” And the rubble was forced away from the Titans, flying in all directions as the Titans took up the battle.
Their opponents, still dazed, didn’t stand a chance, in less than a minute the villainous teens were bound and waiting for the police. The police commissioner gave Beast a strange glance, shooting Robin a look, before taking the criminals away. Robin sighed, citing that he had to talk to the man, and disappeared after the officer as Cyborg began to congratulate Beast on a job well done.
Robin found the commissioner waiting for him when he emerged from the room. The man nodded back towards the rest of the Titans. “So, you got this weapon to work pretty well for you.”
“He’s not just a weapon anymore, he’s a Titan in training.”
“Seems to me like he doesn’t need too much more training.”
Robin thought for a moment before nodding. They had some stuff to work on, but he’d been trained as a warrior long before the Titans came. “No, not much at all.”
The commissioner was quiet for a second, seeming deep in thought. “He seems different, a lot different, than from what he was like in those video you sent me.”
Robin nodded again. “He is. The kid is strong.”
The officer hummed uncertainly. “He’s a Titan now? Then why does he still have that thing around his neck. I’ve seen those videos. I don’t like that collar.”
“It’s not staying for much longer.” Robin turned, his cape splaying back behind him as he left the man. Beast was grinning broadly and chatting animatedly with Cyborg and Starfire, Raven standing nearby and listening disinterestedly.
“Come on guys, let’s get back to the tower. I want to talk with you when we get there. All of you.” He added, eyes locked onto Beasts, knowing that the boy would assume himself excluded from the group.
Beast nodded, though his ears drooped slightly when the leader turned away. This couldn’t be good. He just hoped he’d done a good enough job fighting, that he hadn’t done anything wrong. He’d enjoyed battling alongside his Masters. His good mood deflated as he made his way back to the car. He smiled when Cyborg tried to coax him into conversation, happy with the attention and unwilling to bring down the older boy’s good mood.
As Robin began to follow he jumped slightly as Raven slid up behind him. The girl’s eyes bored into him. “He’s a Titan.” She insisted, her voice leaving no room for argument. Not that there would be any if the way Cyborg and Starfire were doting on Beast was anything to go by. Robin nodded.
It wasn’t long before they reached the tower, Beast settling among the other Titans on the couch in front of the computer as Robin stood to address them. The green boy bounced with nervousness but, as Robin noted happily, none of the fear that used to be so prevalent. Robin locked eyes with the worried boy and pulled out a yellow communicator. “How would you like to be a Titan?”
Beast froze, his eyes wide and locked on the yellow device in the colorful teen’s hand. He gulped and offered the most articulate response he could manage. “Huh?”
Small grins began to steal across the faces of Starfire and Cyborg as they realized what was going on. Even Raven, who had been expecting it, couldn’t stop a half-style from stealing across her face. Robin paid them no mind as he continued. “We’d like to offer you the position of Titans. No more Masters and Beasts. Just Titans fighting side by side. The collar is coming off tomorrow and we’d like you to stay when it does.”
“M-me? A Titan? No more Masters, no matter what?”
“No more Masters, no matter what.”
Beast glanced around at the Titans, his heart beating loudly in his chest. They were offering him the chance to fight alongside them, but not as a pet or weapon or guard dog, as a teammate. An equal. He wouldn’t have to be Beast anymore, an object that could be sold or stolen at the drop of a hat. He wouldn’t have to worry about the Titans looking at him and seeing only dollar signs. He could be their friend, not their pet. He could be human again, brought back to Before Beast.
Slowly, as though expecting it to be a cruel trick, Beast took the communicator into his grasp and clutched it tightly against his chest. Starfire let out a happy whoop, flying up in the air with joy as Cyborg cried out in excitement and offered a metal hand for a high five, which Beast returned numbly. A hint of a smile played around Raven’s lips. “I guess this means we should celebrate… or something.” She monotoned.
Cyborg let out another happy cry before babbling something about a breakfast extravaganza with extra waffles, but Robin interrupted him before any true plans could form. “Not yet. We have a lot to do first.”
“Like he can’t keep fighting in whatever outfit he finds in his closet?” Raven intoned as she caught on to the problem, eyeing the rips and tears along his jeans and T-shirt.
“Right. Like that. I know someone who can hook him up with a uniform so that isn’t much of a problem. She doesn’t like capes, but a cape wouldn’t really suit B anyway. We can send over pictures and his preferred color scheme later tonight. Not that it would really matter, crazy old Edna’ll do whatever color she feels like no matter what we say.” He mumbled the last bit, irritation hinting across his face. “I was thinking more about a name.”
“Name?” Beast asked, finally digging his way out of his shock.
“Most of us don’t really go by our real names. Cyborg and I both had completely different identities before and even Starfire’s name is just a translation. If you wanted to change your name, get rid of any ties to your time as Beast completely, now would be the time to do it.”
“I could change my name? To anything I wanted.”
“Sure, there are a lot of good names you could choose from.” Cyborg said, his voice taking on a teasing tone as he continued. There’s Green Bean, Grass Stain, Broccoli Boy…”
“Rougnatoff!” Starfire cut in brightly. The Titans cast her a strange look before Robin began offering a few.
“What about Animal lad? The Shifter?”
Even Raven had a suggestion. “Changeling?”
“Beast Boy.” The green boy said, a note of finality in his tone. The Titans watched him dubiously.
“Are you sure?” Robin questioned and Cyborg nodded.
“This is your chance to put everything behind you, do you really want to keep the Beast?”
The shape shifter nodded, his words coming out slow as he worked through his thoughts. “I am Beast, I have been for years and I can’t ignore it. If I try, it’ll eventually just make everything worse. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I’d never been Beast I wouldn’t be as useful to you guys, as prepared to be a Titan. I probably wouldn’t even be in Jump if I’d never been Beast. But… but it wasn’t a good thing either. This way though, as Beast Boy, even if I know that I am Beast I’m also reminded that I’m human.”
The room was silent for a moment. Each Titan eyed the boy, surprised as his unusually serious answer. Finally Cyborg spoke. “Beast Boy. I like it, has a nice ring to it. Of course it could never be as nice as Cyborg but…”
Beast Boy suddenly grinned. “Whatever you say, tin can.”
“Glorious, Friend Beast Boy is now a Titan! May we now commence with the joyous celebration?”
Robin smiled. “Sure, why not?”
Slade snarled as the pink haired girl delivered her news, dismissing her with a wave of his hand as he stalked up to a large monitor. It had taken him much longer than he’d thought to find the collar-maker. The man, an arms and merchandise dealer, had been on the run from some villains he had made a bad deal with and seemed to be well practiced in the art of hiding. Slade had searched for weeks, but one could never hide from someone such as him forever. In the end he had found the man, right under his nose and staying with Doctor Chang, but it had taken too long. Much too long. Now the boy- his weapon, his prize- was already fighting with the Titans. If he didn’t act soon it would be too late.
The problem was it wasn’t enough to simply have the boy; Slade needed to get the remote as well if he wanted to get complete control of the child. The only problem was discovering where it was. It had to be in the tower somewhere, but he wasn’t sure where. He would have to figure it out soon though. If the boy was already fighting with them then the collar wouldn’t be on much longer.
He smiled grimly beneath his mask. Then again, if it’s maker was to be trusted (which he probably wasn’t. Slade trusted no one.) than the Titans would find it much harder to remove than they would have intended. Still, the man thought as he idly eyed his computer with a sickening grin creeping up his hidden face, it couldn’t hurt to keep them… occupied. He could see if his investment was really worth it. The man leaned forward eagerly and began to plot, his favorite activity.
Beast Boy shifted slightly on the table, eyeing Cyborg as the large teen continued to draw out tool after sharp tool. He gulped nervously. “I’m not sure I want you with those near my neck.” He wheezed, though the laugh at the end showed that he wasn’t truly worried. How could he be? This was his best friend. Cyborg wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him, right? Then again, amended the newest Titan as said best friend pulled out a large saw, he wasn’t exactly a scholar concerning what friends did or didn’t do.
“Come on BB, do you really think I’d let any of this stuff get ya?”
“Depends, how much meat do we have in the fridge?”
Cyborg laughed at his response, turning onto his friend with an evil, teasing smile. “You know, now that I think about it we are getting kinda low. Hmm.” He inspected a hack saw speculatively and Beast Boy shuddered.
“That’s it, I refuse to turn into a pig, no green ham for you.”
Cyborg opened his mouth to speak but Beast cut him off. “I’m not turning into a cow either. You want beef go to Wendy’s.”
“Awe man, you know how to take the fun out of everything.” Cyborg chuckled as he laid out some paperweights to hold down some of the collar schematics he’d found in the files. “Now lay down, the sooner we can get this done the better.”
Beast nodded, laying on the table and closing his eyes as Cyborg advanced with a screwdriver and began messing with a panel directly under his chin. They had partied well into the night before, but true to his word Robin made sure that Cyborg took Beast Boy down into the Titan’s lab first thing the next morning to remove the collar. Now Beast wasn’t sure if he was excited or terrified, probably a little of both. His breath caught in his throat as Cyborg lifted the panel off of the metal collar, craning his neck in a fruitless attempt to see the wires.
The metal Titan gently pushed him back onto the table. “Try not to move,” he mumbled as he began to remove another panel. Beast Boy nodded, laying back and closing his eyes again. Cyborg scowled at the blueprints in front of him. They weren’t the originals, which was obvious. Apparently the collar’s creator hadn’t seen it fit to put them in himself, so any information the files had was secondhand observations made by other owners curious about what was keeping their Beast from escaping. None of them cared about taking the collar off though, so there was no information on freeing the boy.
Cyborg continued dismantling the collar until the entirety of the metal cover was removed, leaving the crisscrossing wires bare. He began to follow the wires, looking for their origin and ending points, taking notice to see when they met. Every once in a while he would have Beast Boy turn, shifting the child’s head or craning his neck.
Finally he thought he understood enough about the collar to begin. He first moved to the small sensor that picked up the transmissions of the remote. Folding his pair of wire cutters over the metal, he closed the blades over the resilient-looking bit of wire. The moment the blade made contact with the sensor Beast Boy let out an unearthly howl, writhing on the table as electricity shot through the metal around his neck.
Cyborg immediately dropped the wire cutters, long before his mind was able processes what exactly was going on. As the pressure on the wires ceased as did the pain, and Beast Boy’s screams slowed to heaving gasps. The green child slowly rose his eyes to meet Cyborg’s, hurt, confusion, betrayal, and that ever cursed fear shining in his eyes. Cyborg met his gaze with eyes just as confused and fearful, and twice as horrified. Beast Boy began to calm as he saw the horror in his larger friend’s gaze, realizing that it had been an accident.
“What was that?” The green boy asked, his voice coming out hoarse and gritty. Cyborg frowned, happy that his metallic hands wouldn’t shake like human ones as he examined the slightly bent wire. He gulped lightly, seeing that what he once thought was a single cord was actually a thin bunch of silver strands, a secret trip wire made to activate the collar when disturbed.
“Uh oh.” Cyborg breathed, examining the rest of the collar’s wiring with a sinking feeling in his gut. In the plastic were dozens of minuscule silver strands.
“What uh-oh? Cy?” Beast Boy asked, his panic rising as he attempted to rise, only to fall back as the large teen pushed him back onto the table.
“Wait here, I gotta go get Robin!”
“What? Why? Cyborg!”
But the robotic Titan was gone. Beast gulped slightly, rising a hand to the collar and yelping when electricity shot through him as he brushed against the ruined sensor. The green boy gulped. This couldn’t be good. He cursed his master of long ago, growling low in his throat. Whatever they had done to keep Beast from escaping, whatever was protecting the collar from it’s prisoner, it was keeping even the Titans from freeing him.
Cyborg came back a second later, Robin hot on his heels. The two poured over the collar, opening the remote to find a similar set up. They bustled around the lab, never actually touching anything as they mumbled about circuits and conductivity and a bunch of other babble the newest Titan didn’t understand. He understood one thing though; he wasn’t getting his collar off anytime soon.
The Titans weren’t one to give up however, and gave it everything they got. Robin suggested stuffing rubber in between the collar and Beast Boy’s neck, but the metal was already nearly digging into his skin, no rubber could ever fit. They even considered making him fly, keeping him from being grounded, but it had always worked when he was flying before and the green boy could see no reason to believe that it would change. Finally Cyborg fell back with a sigh, picking up the discarded panel pieces.
“Sorry B, looks like this thing isn’t coming off tonight.”
“We’ll work on it though.” Robin promised. “I’m sure I can find somebody who can figure out what to do.”
Beast Boy nodded. “Just make sure they can do it without turning me into green popcorn.”
Cyborg grinned, fitting on the last metal slip. “We’ll try.” He slid the last screw into place, allowing Beast to straighten in his seat. He sighed and looked at the remote grudgingly. “Even if we can’t get the stupid thing off, you’re still a Titan. Here, you keep this.”
He held the remote out to the green boy, only to frown as Beast Boy jumped back as the device neared him. The green boy gulped and scooted up the table. “U-um that’s okay. You can keep it.”
Both Robin and Cyborg frowned. “Are you sure?” Robin asked as Cyborg hesitated.
Beast Boy nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah, I’m sure.”
With an uneasy glance Cyborg stowed the remote in a compartment along his arm, an opening created by the constant downsizing of technology.
the compartment’s cover was slid into place alarms raked the hall, and Beast
Boy found himself rushing with the rest of the Titans into town, preparing to
face a cement enemy as large as a sky scraper.
Slade slipped into the Titans tower, the security not what it could be since the Titans had left in such a hurry. Not that it could have kept him out regardless. The man slipped through the heroes home, heading for the Titans’ own personal evidence room first, searching through the various weapons and newspaper clippings in hopes of finding the small metal remote, but it was not there.
The man continued to ghost through the building, searching various rooms until he finally made it to the lab. His eyes alighted upon the cleared table, one just long enough for a small boy to lay across. Examining the room further he saw the scattered tools and blueprints, but no remote. He scowled, they had already tried to remove the collar. The scowl lessoned. He knew Robin, if he had managed to get the collar off then it would be sitting on a pedestal in the evidence room, a testament to the green child’s change from slave to Titan. If it wasn’t there then it was surely still around the boy’s neck.
He still had time, he just had to find the remote. Unfortunately, Cinderblock wouldn’t keep them busy for long. He would have to save this for another day. He had other things to do today.
Beast massaged his nose slightly as he sat with the rest of the Titans around the center of the table at the pizza parlor. His first fight as a Titan had been amazing, exhilarating, and incredible. At least until the giant cement dude had stepped on his elephant trunk. Oh well, Cinderblock had tripped on the trunk and working together the Titans had been able to restrain him. Now the team was relaxing over a pie at the local pizza parlor.
The green boy knew that he still wasn’t the best at fighting in a group, but he’d done better than the night before. Beast Boy looked around, eyeing the other patrons of the restaurant. The groups were all whispering and shooting glances at the group, especially him. The green boy shifted nervously in his seat. He didn’t mind being the center of attention, but he hated it when people stared. It reminded him how different he was, how beastly. The people had stared at him a lot during his first few escapades into town, but they had become used to his presence after a while. However, it seemed that becoming a Titan gave the people of Jump a new excuse to eye the oddly colored boy.
Beast Boy tried to ignore the watching people, purposely chatting with Cyborg and never letting his attention stray from their table. Because of this when a child timidly approached the group the green Titan didn’t notice until a small hand tapped his shoulder. Beast Boy stiffened at the touch, still not wholly comfortable with human contact, and turned to recognize a young boy whom he had saved from being stepped on in the earlier battle. The boy had light hair and an excited light in his shy eyes; he was wearing a T-shirt with rough illustrations of the four original Titans sitting around the table and a pair of tennis shoes with a copy of Robin’s symbol blazed on the sides.
“Um, hi.” Beast Boy offered, looking to the Titans for support. He hadn’t talked to a normal person, much less a kid, in years. The child, blunt and honest as they come, didn’t bother offering a greeting.
“Who are you? I know all of the Titans, but I’ve never seen you before.”
“Uh…” The newest Titan stammered, glancing around uneasily. A woman who looked like the kid’s mother was eyeing them nervously, her gaze constantly shifting between her son, Beast Boy, and the Titans as though begging the teen heroes to protect her child from the green unknown entity. “Um, I’m Beast Boy. I’m the newest Titan, I guess.”
The child eyed Beast Boy for a moment before turning his gaze on his heroes, as though expecting them to tell him that the shape shifter was lying. When no reveal was forthcoming he studied Beast Boy once more before grinning broadly. “Cool! I met the newest Titan first! That is so cool! Bye Mr. Beast Boy, thanks for saving me!” With another grin and a wave the boy ran back to his mother, chattering happily as she led him from the restaurant. As if ‘Titan’ was some sort of code word the previously worried woman sent Beast Boy a small smile as she walked away.
Though the event seemed insignificant at the time, by the time the Titans got to their tower and turned on their TV it was all over the news, Beast Boy: The Newest Titan.