Back to Beast
The man worked with surgical effectiveness, yet even so by the time he left the room was effused with the scent of burning flesh. The green boy’s neck was festering with blisters and burns, though many of these may have been garnered by Slade’s punishments rather than the collar’s extraction. The boy had woken several times as the collar was being removed- roused by the pain- and was promptly put back under. The last thing either of the two villains wanted was for Slade’s new pet to be awake without the pain that controlled it. Slade had dosed the boy heavily as the last wire was cut, ensuring that the boy would sleep through the modifications.
Slade watched with a discerning eye as the modifications were being made, prompting the nervous man to work even faster than normal. In the end it was only a few hours before the enhancements to the collar were done, and the man was working on embedding a new remote onto a panel of armor. Once the last bit of that was done Slade wasted no time in testing it out. It only took a single zap of electricity to arise the nearly waking boy.
Beast’s hands shot to the collar, feeling the new, heavier apparition with growing dread and wincing slightly as it brushed his raw neck. Slade turned and began to make his way out from the room. “Follow.” He commanded and Beast hastily stood, swaying slightly as he overcame dizziness from the many drugs pumped into his system. With a shake of his head Beast followed his Master, not stopping even as his old owner beseeched the masked man.
“I thought I could leave once I fixed the collar. The job is done, let me go.”
Slade didn’t even pause. “Not when it was so troublesome to locate you the first time. What if one of your enhancements backfires and you’re nowhere to be found. No. I believe you’ll be staying here for a while.”
The man let out a barrage of curses but Slade ignored them, calling for Beast to shut the door behind them. The pet obeyed, though the metal door did nothing to block the angry yelling from his sensitive ears. The boy could barely hold back a shudder. He hated the sounds of an angry Master, even if it was a past one.
Remembering his lifelong training the boy kept his head down as he followed his Master, marveling at the gears from the corners of his eyes. Slade led him to a large room, the most prominent feature being a large monitor that took up nearly the whole wall. Slade stalked to the screen and began fiddling with some keys on a panel at its base, Beast standing docilely by his slide. The one-eyed man looked at his new weapon.
“Go back to the van and fetch your cage, bring it here.”
Beast hesitated for a moment, a question pooling in his mind. Could he shift into a stronger form? But Slade was a Master, not a Titan, and Masters didn’t want Beasts to ask questions, simply to obey so he said nothing and disappeared into the hall. He made his way back to the van. It was slow going, though he went as quickly as possible. He thanked his lucky stars for his carrier pigeon instincts, somehow directing him to his cage no matter where it was. He was pretty sure that it didn’t work that way for the actual birds, but he wasn’t complaining. It was also part of his training to memorize his surroundings as quickly as possible and between the two, training and instinct, he made his way to the cage fairly quickly. Then came the difficult part: lugging it back.
The instant the boy left Slade pulled up a window on the screen, showing a GPS revealing the boy’s whereabouts as he made his way back to the van. With a few more buttons the volume of the bug placed on the boy’s collar was amplified. With a swipe upon his enhanced armor the man pulled up a similar, though much smaller, screen. The man smiled grimly, seemed as though everything was in working order. His eyes traced the boy’s path through the halls, listening as the boy mumbled to himself about which direction to use. His finger hovered over the mike button, awaiting the moment that the boy would take a wrong turn so that he could correct him. To the villain’s surprise and pleasure, no such opportunity arose and the green pet was soon carrying the cage into the room.
Beast lowered his head to hide a grimace as he pulled his cage into the room. Strange how something that seemed so small when he was locked inside of it seemed so large now that he had to carry it. His Master grunted, gaining the green boy’s attention, and pointed his head to a corner of the room with full view of the monitor. Beast moved to place the cage in the designated spot, turning to see that Slade was almost out of the room. Beast hastened to followed, only to be met with a backhand and glare.
“I don’t remember ordering you to follow me.” Beast’s cheeks heated with shame, he’d lost so much of his training while with the Titans. While the Before-Beast part of him- the Beast Boy part- mourned the separation from Titans and hated being back with a Master, the small piece of him that had totally succumbed to being Beast and had never felt wholly comfortable with the Titans could only bemoan that he had forgotten so much of his training. It hated that he was failing his Master, even a Master he’d never wanted. But Slade had the controller. He had the control.
Slade sighed angrily. “You would do well to forget all of the… failings those Titans taught you. You will be punished later, after your training. Follow.”
Beast fought the urge to moan. He didn’t want to train, his neck burned horribly, he was sore from the earlier beating, he hadn’t slept well in days, and his brief foray into unconsciousness had done nothing to demolish his exhaustion from fighting villains for weeks. Too bad. He was with Slade now, and would do anything his Master commanded. He had no choice.
Slade led him to an intricate track, an area designed to train every muscle, the mind as well as the body. Beast felt his heart sink farther and farther as Slade described each exercise on the course. One tested his strength, another speed, agility, dexterity, arm strength, leg strength, fighting ability, and overall the entire track worked his endurance. After looking over the path once Slade walked Beast to the starter line. “Begin.” He commanded, staying only long enough to watch Beast pass the first obstacle before turning to go back to his main room.
Slade’s eyes trailed across the monitor, the screen split in half. One side showed Beast’s plight as he struggled through the course, the other boasted many pop ups of blueprints and restricted informational articles. Each of the articles detailed information of a series of three computer chips, each one a different color and held inside another deeply protected in it’s own location. He had been working on a plan to trick Robin into stealing them for him, but now he had other plans. He could always use Robin for something else later on after all. After all, there was something in the local Wayne building that he’d had his eye on for a while.
His focus centered more on the screen showing Beast as the green creature neared the end of the track. He smiled to himself, mildly impressed with the boy’s speed. Beast slowed at he reached the end, never fully stopping before Slade deemed it time to finally test out the mike.
It was with immense relief that Beast crossed the last obstacle, assuming that since Slade was gone his training for the day was done. He was still moving when a slight voice, nearly indiscernible to the human ear though it was loud and clear to his superior senses, sounded from around his neck. Beast stopped in surprise. His collar had never done that before. However, he hesitated for only a moment before the command sunk in and he resumed running. “Again.”
Each of the other four Titans slept long and deep that night, relishing their first interruption-free night in weeks. The times at which they awoke were staggered, and as Beast began to awaken later as he grew comfortable with his new life, no one thought it odd when he was missing at the start of breakfast at 10. It wasn’t until the last of the waffles were done without the boy showing up that they began to feel misgivings. They would have checked on the boy immediately had his status between pet and Titan not been so rocky. They were avoiding any intrusions into his privacy, anything that hinted at him being sub-human or that he deserved less rights. Therefore it wasn’t until he didn’t show up to share in a veritable pizza feast for lunch that they decided enough was enough and went to wake him. Of course, Cyborg was voted for the job.
“Hey, you okay in there BB?” He asked, knocking on the door. The teen stiffened in surprise as it slid open easily. Beast almost always closed his door firmly, something to do with having control over his room and who came into it, it was some part of animal instinct about owning a territory. He wouldn’t have left it open like this, especially after how freaked he’d been the night before. Even as the large Titan leaned into the room and called for his friend he knew exactly what he would see: an empty room.
His heart sunk as he ran from the room, racing through the halls and calling for his green friend, though he never received an answer. Finally he had nowhere else to go but the main room, and he found most of the Titans already alter and worried. Cyborg had to simply shake his head, devastation clear on his face, for them to scatter. Raven’s powers raged, searching for the boy as she and Starfire flew to the roof, Cyborg and Robin shared a glance. “The remote.”
“In the lab.”
And they were gone, rushing to the room and gazing with horror when they arrived to find the counter bare. The two pilfered around the room for a moment, desperately searching until they finally could no longer deny it. The remote was gone, and so was Beast Boy. Robin cursed. “I thought you were holding onto it!”
“He came to me last night and asked to see it. I offered to give it to him and he told me to leave it in here. He was scared that something would happen to it in a fight.”
“Do you think that the risk got too much and he just… left?” Robin suggested before scoffing and starting to pace, discarding the notion almost immediately. “Of course not, that’s stupid. He would have just kept it when you offered. He’s terrified of that stupid thing.”
Cyborg shook his head. “He was acting pretty funny all last night. I think Slade freaked him out.”
Robin’s eyes narrowed behind his mask. “Slade!” He spat, fury encompassing him. “I knew he was up to something. He must have taken him.” Robin let out a furious growl as his pacing increased. “We should have figured out how to get rid of the collar sooner, it left him vulnerable and now Slade has him!”
The girls swooped into the room, each looking frantic. Robin didn’t bother waiting for them to speak before bursting out with the news. “Slade captured Beast Boy and stole the remote.”
Starfire’s hands rose to cover her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified and the tools along the back wall cloaked in black and disassembled as Raven glared. Robin continued. “Search the town, see if you can find any trace of either of them. We don’t want to face Beast Boy as an enemy again.”
“We don’t want him to be with Slade any longer then needed either.” Cyborg growled and Robin nodded emphatically.
“Right. Either way we have to find them. Titans go!”
Beast was gasping in exhaustion by his third time around. He had a stich in his side at the fifth. By the seventh he was barely standing. Thankfully, mercifully, as he finished his eighth run Slade’s voice called for him to stop. The green boy halted immediately, leaning gratefully against a wall, forcing his body to remain upright to give his lungs better air access.
Beast came, praying against hope that Slade was still in the room with the computer. He was exhausted and didn’t want to search all over for his Master. Happily for him, Slade remained in the room, pouring over the screen. A bowl of greens and a cup of blessed water and ice sat on the floor next to Slade and Beast nearly lunged for them, starving and with a dry throat, but before he did a remembrance of his training kicked in and he controlled himself, moving up to stand by Slade’s opposite side. The masked man nodded in approval when Beast slid up to him.
“Good. Then you didn’t completely forget your place.” He leaned down to pick up the bowl and cup and Beast’s heart began to race, assuming that the man was going to hand them to him. However, the sustenance remained tantalizingly in the man’s lap. “Look to the screen.” He commanded and Beast obeyed, catching sight of video tapes of various battles the Titans had fought.
“Who are they?” He asked, and Beast had to force himself to swallow through a dry throat to remind himself never to refer to them as Masters again.
“They are the Titans.”
“And what are they.”
“The enemy.” The green boy forced out, his voice constricting with sadness as he recalled their kindness, their smiles.
“And what will you do next time you see them?”
“Whatever you command.” No. No he didn’t want to. He wanted them to save him again, wanted to be a Titan. But he wasn’t, not anymore. He was a Beast. Only ever a Beast.
Satisfaction slipped into Slade’s tone. “Good.” He handed Beast the cool glass but the boy hesitated before bringing it to his lips, something that only pleased the villain more. “You may drink.”
Beast drowned the glass in two gulps, taking the ice into his mouth so as to not waste a single drop of a liquid more precious than oil. Slade began to hand him the bowl as well, but before he did he struck, landing two swift and powerful jabs to pressure points that left Beast paralyzed in agony, the untouched bowl inches away from his fingertips. Slade knelt down so that his mask brushed the boy’s pointed ear. “I believe you had punishment due for earlier insubordination.” He reached over and pulled the bowl up to him as he stood, obviously having no intention of returning it to the boy. All part of the punishment. “When you can move get back in your cage and sleep. You have an early start tomorrow.”
It took Beast several minutes to be able to move through the pain, and the instant he had crawled into the cramped threshold of his cell he fell asleep.
Three days later and Beast’s life had been nothing but training, sleep, and the occasional meal. The Titans worked day and night trying to find him and Slade, but so far there had been no luck and the green boy had no clue that they were even trying. Not that he had much time to think about them, between training, eating, being punished, and falling into exhausted unconsciousness at the end of the day. Yes, life was back to normal for Beast and he hated it. As he awoke on the fourth morning, cramped in his cage, he had no reason to expect anything different.
However, instead of leading him to the training room the instant he woke up as per the norm, Master simply released Beast from his cage and directed the young shape shifter’s attention to the screen. Slade watched the boy as the green child eyed the articles and images on the monitor. “You have your first assignment today.” With a few clicks on his keyboard one of the three articles disappeared and the other two took up the screen, the pictures proudly showing colored computer chips. “I want these. Soon. Don’t disappoint me.”
He turned to leave when he heard a slight squeak behind him. Beast stood, head bowed with one shaking hand held up for attention. Beasts were never supposed to speak to their Masters without being told, but sometimes a question had to be asked. Beast never knew how different Masters would react to him asking something.
“Speak.” Slade commanded, granting the terrified boy permission.
“W-what is the plan?” He Beast asked. Because Surely Master Slade had a plan, Masters always had a plan. He was just supposed to follow, something he did well. However, Slade just let out one scoffing laugh.
“You figure it out.” He turned to leave. “If I do not have both chips within two days I consider this a failure. And remember,” He called back as he finally left the room, and suddenly Beast let out a pained yelp as Slade allowed the mike leading to the collar to broadcast interference, the loud screech grating upon his sensitive ears. “I’ll be watching you.”
Beast scowled at the door but didn’t dare to mumble angrily or growl at it. Master Slade was always listening after all. He slowly rubbed his pained ears as he made his way to the computers. Slade was determined he learned how to plan on his own, to figure out how to do things instead of just listening to orders. It didn’t make much sense to Beast, after all Slade seemed to love ordering him around. The green boy supposed he could see the merit on a weapon that you could tell to do something and it would do so without having to be instructed every step of the way but he had never really had to plan before. Even with years of practice Beast knew he would likely never get near the man’s strategic prowess, things would go so much simpler if Master Slade planned this out. Oh well, Beasts don’t question Masters.
He made his way over to the screen and began reading about the targets, minimizing the pictures he found blueprints and schematics of the warehouses holding the targets and the intricate security measures protecting them. The boy mumbled as he clumsily strategized, crudely miming shapes with his hands as he attempted to figure out what to do. All the while Slade watched, assessing, amused. He chuckled lowly as the boy left the room, finally putting his half-formed plan into action. He walked into the room shortly after the boy left, turning on the video camera he’d had installed at the collar’s center and sat back, volume high, to watch.