"CYBORG! ACTIVATE THE MONITOR! MAYBE WE COULD—"
"ALREADY ON IT!"
The Titans were pacing back and forth in the Ops Room, Starfire on the ground, her head between her arms and Raven brushing her back with a healing hand. Beast Boy asked questions and questions, shut up by Robin with a bark! Starfire snatched the samples of the tower and scanned the appearance. The burn marks were still warm…burning? Burning. Yikes, she dropped it back into its container.
“Starfire, sit back down!” Robin shot his finger from her to Raven and she complied. He paced below the massive screen, trying to distract himself, something, anything! Back and forth, he ran, his knuckles fastening and separating with each moment.
"Robin! You need to calm down!"
"Easy for you to say, Raven!" Robin lashed back in anger, "The Justice League raised me! For all I know—t-they could be-!"
"ROBIN!" Starfire interrupted, her hands falling from her head, she lifted her eyes and let them fall on his horrified expression. He was having a good day today, she grieved. “Please—please listen to Raven.”
“Robin,” Started Raven, steady, as he collapsed on the couch, “You, out of most others on this planet, know what the Justice League can do. They are the strongest people we know.”
"INITIATING THE COMPUTER SEQUENCE!" Cyborg yelled, queuing the screen.
Robin shot back up: "Justice League! Come in!" The screen fuzzed with black and white particles, overwhelming the room with fizzing sound. "Batman! Come in! Bruce!”
"…Batman is always at the computer…" Beast Boy murmured from the table.
Robin lashed back around to the control booth, "Cyborg! How fast can you activate the T-Ship?"
"You’re going into space?!"
“You are not going into space!”
"I have to! They're my family!" He drew up his cape and threw his gaze at the elevator, clenching his fists, and he walked a mighty stride—suddenly stopped by Starfire at the ground, wrapping her arms around his legs.
“Let go, Star.”
She was crouched over; pressed her nose against the fabric of his dirty uniform and all its grease and murmured a simple, “Please.”
“Star,” he jerks, “let go!”
“You cannot go alone, please!”
“We are your family too!”
She peaked up at his face five foot something above her and saw his bare hands clasped at his eyes. His chin pointed at the ceiling; his head fell back. He pushed his forearm to his eyes, and pointed a blind finger to the elevator.
“Fine.” Mindlessly he shook his head, “Let’s go then, Titans.”
At the launch sequence’s beginning, there were shouts, furious typing, fingers racing across keyboards and activating keys and codes from individual portals. “Main power online? Oxygen tanks? Defense systems? Engine? Attack mechanisms? We don’t know what we’re going against Titans! Give me affirmation!”
They shouted as the ground above them opened up, letting in an invasion of sunlight—boom! The shuttle erupted, leaving contact with the earth by the fire blasting from the engine. Suddenly, it plunged into the sky! Starfire had rarely left the Earth—only once for her Tamaranean transformation and a few other times to just fly in the sky.
Within the minute, the Earth had disappeared—the Earth almost like hands releasing the ship to the stars and planets in the sky above. The shuttle cruised forward and it was silent—the silence drowned the Titans. Starfire watched the team from the camera. There was a time before her residency on Earth and that was a time that no one had been eager to share. She remembered the day as dreadful—a dreadful day to meet the Teen Titans. Dread was another strange concept.
"Cyborg! How much longer 'til touchdown?"
"About two minutes. Prepare yourselves, Titans."
Starfire placed her hands on her head, remembering, remembering, thinking about how the most glorious of outcomes come from the Dread.
Then, Beast Boy’s eagle eye spotted something—something in slow orbit, and shuttered, "Duddee…"
Titan’s craft slowly sifted through a poisonous dust that smoked the scene in a deathly haze. Dead forward and to the right, a ruin hovered, the remaining pieces scattered within the hundred yards of the tower. The three stories of windows were all shattered and crisped, its shards in a sharp, hovering trail littering the space. The smashed needle suspending it in a hover now had the tower mindlessly spinning. Its top was gone—struck Jump City’s bay that morning.
"…the watchtower…" Starfire bellowed.
“This can’t be the tower.”
The ship maneuvered into a landing upon the tower and the team shoved on their breathing masks and with an exhaust-like snap, the windows of their compartments opened. In her alien custom, she did not need to breathe the air the ship provided. Out of her compartment, she glided, and stepped onto the surface that faced Earth. Behind her, the team jumped out, making contact with the battered metal. Robin came to the floor, his hands grazing the gashes in the surface that threatened to tear the remainder of the tower a part at any moment. He kept his footsteps steady and did not speak a word.
“No sign of life.” Cyborg spoke, “no bodies either.”
“Is this a good thing?”
"What was this?" Beast Boy sunk to the ground. “A rogue meteor maybe?”
Starfire's walked the distant edge, leapt into a flight, and touched base with the loose chunk of metal floating farther and farther away from its base. More burn marks—a dragonfly blue imprinted upon the metal, uneven and unleveled, like a gash writhing with violent, white veins spreading throughout the mark.
A blast of blinding light—
The Titans ducked for cover. The smoke cleared around Starfire, standing there, eyes wide, hands pinned under her, watching her starbolts melt the metal into that deadly blue. She cupped her mouth, gawking down at the burn marks she made. Suddenly, the epiphany hit her, she flinched and threw herself to the ground. She huddled upon the floor, her hands hiding her face, "X'HAL!"
"Starfire!" Raven rushed to attend to her friend. "What's—?" She examined the effects of Starfire's bolts. A match—
“How’d you know—?”
"Starfire!" Robin ran over.
“Robin, stay back!” She cried.
She quivered back, holding one hand out to stop him, her other hand hiding her face, “I don’t deserve to be in your presence!”
A boom! A hundred shooting stars encased in blinding white flames gallivanted through the space and descended down towards the Titans. The light evaporated away to reveal aliens of purple and black armor, marked furious speed—their strength: no less. They shot through the open space and swept the Titans from their stances and onto the ground—tumbling, tumbling, fighting, a punch, a hit, a swing—with a quick dance, they bonded the heroes, two men to a Titan. The arms of Robin were captivated behind his back in such a position held by great strength—arms about to break. Slammed down to his knees, he shouted orders for Starfire that she couldn’t preform.
“Get away from her!”
She was still and let the arms of the aliens take her, only slowly, effortlessly drawing her arm up above her, igniting a starbolt above her head, and shooting to the sky as a message to her people—it’s me. All went quiet and still, the aliens around her stopped and trembled, backed away, and bowed, affirming that she was indeed was the daughter of their Grand Ruler, the princess of an unusual power—now more fearing in its iridescence—who had become the prize for the Citadel that ended the worst war in their history.
They spoke her name, mumbling “Koriand’r, Koriand’r, Koriand’r.”
"Star, your starbolts?" Cyborg gasped, hitting the floor at his captor’s release.
"Starfire, do you know these people?"
"Are these Tamaraneans?"
“It is best if you stay quiet." Hushed, she said nodding mindlessly, eyes watering, the light fading from her fingertips. She gripped her mouth in pain and refused to look at the alien before her in a firm stance. He was cladded in stacked armor and a stiff brow that refused to show much mercy.
“Of all Tamaraneans,” he said, “You must know that Tamaran always sends a revenge squad when we’ve been attacked.”
“You’ve been attacked?”
“We’ve,” he corrected, “been attacked by them.”
“By them?!” She spat.
“The Earthlings! Responsible for the death of one thousand aboard a ship carrying information about the Milky Way’s sun.” He looked at the ground, his expression sinking. Then, he withdrew his composure, sharpened his posture, and returned his dead gaze to Starfire who had come to her knees.
He was the leader of the Tamaranean army—one Starfire had not known, except from a distant memory she was too young to retain. It was a cheerful memory, filled with people and laughter. Yet, it was also horrible, filled with screams and shattering glass. The memories of Tamaran were never happy ones, but the girl’s fall to Earth had ruptured her memory of the most horrid. In this man’s eyes, she remembered her planet’s white sands; his skin, the planet’s bright glow; his armor, the purple tapestries that adorned the arched hallways that towered hundreds of feet above the throne room.
He approached, standing over her. Though, he kept his chin locked high and never took his eyes off the Titans who crouched in their place on the ground, stopped from inching closer to their friend by the alien spears pointed at them. “The Citadel—they had told us a long time ago that you had made it to Earth. I never believed them. You are well, Princess?”
“The Citadel?” She shuddered. The Citadel—the Citadel.
“Starfire! What does he mean?”
"You’re their princess?!”
“Why—” She broke to her feet, eyes bursting with energy, hands igniting. “Why is Tamaran communicating with The Citadel?!”
“You were the ransom.” The leader lightly pushed her hand away and glared down at her small frame with a sobering expression that slapped her like a misbehaving child. The ice of the sadness crept onto her, now frozen by his biting scowl. “You were the treaty. Has their ransom not escaped from them?”
“What if I returned? Surely, I can speak for Earth!”
“What has been done is done.” He turned away.
“General Karras, please—I shall return and all will be—”
He shifted his chin over his shoulder and threw a gaze escalating with hate and anger and biting sadness, and she received it with tears, “Your return will be your imprisonment—by the latest treaty you know just as well as I do: Princess Koriand’r has been sold to the Citadel. If she has escaped, she has escaped. But if she returns, she must be handed over.”
He spoke his planet’s tongue, recalling his troops. Between the moving bodies, they scampered to their feet, Beast Boy on the run to his friend standing at the far end of the ruin. Swinging his body left and right to avoid the rushing soldiers who marched their way to flight, Cyborg followed just behind him. Raven hovered over. Far behind her, Robin stood.
Watching them take to the skies, Starfire found herself in between calling them “her people” and “the Tamaranean Army” and those two identities belonging to the same thing never seemed so different. My People, My People—she stepped towards them—My People! She jumped into flight with a heart in a deep homesickness aimed straight for them—to fly with them, to commune with them—
A hand caught her tight on her wrist—Robin. A quiet Robin, eyes relaxed, yet horrified, looked up from the middle of his friends. His chest packed in a space suit grows and shrinks as his breath planted a fog upon the surface of his mouth piece. She floated down, sank to the floor, and clutched her head in shame, “"I… friends… friends I am so sorry."
"Please, Robin." She huddled her head to the ground, eyes shut tight. "I do not deserve to be in your presence! Your family, their gone and—"
"We are family too.” He said.