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Teen Titans Fan Fiction Jeweled Eyes: Emeralds (C(Rated for safety))

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by Anima, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    Hey people! I finally got this chapter hammered out. I think the ending is awkward as crap, but hey, maybe that's for the best. But, I wanted to say that I've tried hard to make up for the lack of action in this chapter by pumping it with clues as to what is comming up. So this chapter is like my forshadowing experiment.

    Enjoy.
    ---


    Chapter 9 : Define Out-of-Bounds:

    Blackfire was enraged. She had all but commanded that Galifore and Starfire come with her into a private room along with the Titans and Keenyara. It was there that they congregated, as the crowd that had gathered in the palace left and returned to their own homes.

    Blackfire paced before them in a towering temper. She kept making a kind of huffing sound, like she was about to breath fire at any moment. Galifore was sitting in an armchair, stroking his beard, thoughtfully. He had not said a word since the meeting adjourned. Cyborg had decided to remain standing, his arms crossed. Beastboy had picked a spot on the floor to sit, cross legged, while Raven levitated next to him. Starfire was sitting with Robin by her side. Blackfire seemed to like glaring in their direction second best. Her favorite direction was toward Keenyara, who was lounging on an elaborate couch, surveying her nails as if they were the most interesting and attention-commanding things in the world.

    Starfire finally spoke. “Blackfire, you must calm yourself or you will soon be wearing a hole through the floor,” she said. Blackfire seemed to have been waiting for someone to say something like this and immediately rounded on Starfire.

    “What did you mean by it, bringing them here while we are on the brink of war? Do you realize what you have done? You have handed her a weakness with instructions on how to use it! You have sealed Tamaran’s doom with a kiss!” she raged. Starfire narrowed her eyes and she leaned forward angrily.

    “You know the untruth of that statement! It would not have mattered if I had brought them or not. You know that of all people, she is not the one to make a decision on a whim. This move was planned and executed. If I had left them on Earth she would have found a way to get Keenyara at least here. You will not blame me for this!” she retorted fiercely. There was a time when Starfire would have been intimidated or timid around her big sister, but since their fights, first on Earth and then on Tamaran, she had abandoned her need to be worthy in her sister’s eyes. She could see surprise in Blackfire’s eyes as she defied her. This, however, did not stop her rampage.

    “I suppose it would be easy to think that,” she sneered, “But know, if Tamaran should fall, it is your own fault.”

    “Well actually, it would probably be your fault. After all, what kind of leader leaves any inch of a planet unprotected during a war crisis? Definitely your fault,” Keenyara piped up, still not looking up from her careful inspection of her nails. “Oh, this one is chipped,” she murmured in disappointment. Blackfire growled.

    “And who are you? Some wannabe hero who mouthed off to the villain of the day? What makes you think you have the right to help us save our planet,” she snapped. Keenyara pushed herself up on her elbows and gazed levelly back at her.

    “What makes you think that I would lower myself to lending out my talents to every needy planet that comes knocking? Maybe I don’t want to save your planet,” she replied acidly. There was a shocked silence as Starfire’s mouth opened and closed as words eluded her. Blackfire stepped up to Keenyara and pushed her face close to hers.

    “You can’t do that. We don’t have a choice—”

    “Exactly!” Keenyara exclaimed, as the wind gusted over her shoulder and pushed Blackfire back. “You don’t have any choice. So you can cut the ‘how-dare-you-presume’ act, because quite frankly, your dumb choice to not take care of your business has left us with this ‘no choice’ where I have to break my back for you.” She rolled her eyes and lay back down, shooting a glance at Starfire. “And you calm the hell down. I was making a point. No need to get delicate.”

    Keenyara casually went back to ignoring everyone in the room while Blackfire sneered and turned away from her. She stiffly went to the last empty chair in the room and dropped into it, her eyes narrow, but not as wild as they had been. The time to vent her frustrations had calmed her and she knew that she was not acting with her usual thought. She needed to be calm in order to fix this.

    Starfire pinched the bridge of her nose, feeling a headache slowly developing. Of all the people she knew should not get into a fight, Keenyara and Blackfire were at the top of the list. The two were too unlikely to be the first to back away and it was even worse with Blackfire so close to her breaking point.

    “That’s enough, Keenyara. You do remember that little talk we had about instigation, don’t you?” Robin said, annoyance edging his voice.

    “I remember how it ended,” Keenyara answered innocently.

    “Emperor, I hope we are not intruding.” The authoritative voice quickly shattered the tentative calm that had been steeling over the room. Two Tamaranians entered, first approaching Galifore and bowing fully to him and then nodding respectfully at Blackfire and then Starfire.

    Galifore looked surprised at the disturbance, but smiled graciously anyway. “Not at all, General Rutian. We were in the process of… trying to find a solution to the problem.” Galifore cast a weary glance toward Blackfire.

    General Rutain was dressed in what looked like his best uniform, with the medals on his right shoulder and the left side of his chest gleaming brilliantly. His bottle green eyes were hard, like polished stone, and they glinted dully. He had finely groomed, shoulder length inky black hair that showed just how long it had been since he had been in battle. He surveyed the occupants of the room coldly and calculatingly. He was a general after all.

    “It is not a problem that I have brought my son with me, is it? I am currently training him to take my place one day and thought that it would be beneficial to him,” General Rutain said, gesturing toward the other Tamaranian, a teenager by his look. He had black hair like his father, though it was cut short, and dark green eyes. He was built thin and dressed in fine clothes, and he stared at all of them with a sharp interest, especially Starfire. Robin sat up straighter upon noticing this and subtly wound an arm around Starfire’s waist. Her words echoed softly in his ears.

    ‘My rights when it comes to love are rather foggy and bendable, in my favor and against, however there is no stricture on how… adamant my love interest may be in my well being.’

    He knew that at the time she had thought that he did not understand what she meant, but he was beginning to understand more than she knew. He was starting to realize more than ever that Tamaran was not Earth. The things on Earth, or rather in America, that he often took for granted, treating everyone the same and the freedom to love whomever one wanted, he was beginning to notice were not as casual on Tamaran. And so, he decided to make it a little more obvious that his arm was around her waist.

    “Again, it is no intrusion. Why have you sought me out?” Galifore answered. The general turned his gaze first toward Blackfire and then Starfire. It was not an assuring look.

    “I wanted to have a word with Princesses Blackfire and Starfire about the Peace Talks tonight. Really, your highness, I do not believe that you should trouble yourself by staying. You should obtain at least a few hours of sleep before sunrise,” Rutain answered curtly. Galifore’s eyebrows shot upward.

    He was torn. On one hand, the General was a hardened war veteran, one who would not bother with pleasantries and gentle words. On the other hand, both Starfire and Blackfire were older now, wiser and eventually one of them would ascend to the throne. They would have to learn to deal with the War Council and Core Leaders. The fact was that he had no more reasons to shelter either of them from the leaders that they would one day lead.

    But, once again, Galifore was first and foremost, Knorfka iy Koriand’r, the Caretaker of Starfire. He could see the lines of apprehension and exhaustion etching themselves on both princesses faces. He leaned forward and stood.

    “No, General. Now is not the time. Perhaps tomorrow, when everyone has had their few hours of sleep, but for now, I wish for the princesses to have their rest. They have done a tremendous job in leading this planet toward safety, despite these complications. Your discussions may wait, I think,” he announced. He nodded toward Blackfire and then Starfire who bowed back. “I will be in my quarters. Goodnight.” He exited the room without another word, confident that he would not be disobeyed.

    Annoyance flickered through the General’s eyes, but he only pursed his lips. “The emperor speaks,” he muttered tersely. “Tomorrow then, I will send a servant for your highnesses and the other girl, what is her name?”

    Keenyara raised her hand and waved it a few times. “She’s over here. No need to act like she’s not,” she proclaimed. “It’s Keenyara. Don’t butcher it.”

    “Keenyara, fine. We will send for you three in the morning after breakfast. Come, Lirain.” He lowered his head courteously toward the two princesses and left. Lirain rolled his eyes, a seemingly universal gesture, and followed. There was a simultaneous sigh from Starfire and Blackfire as the door clicked shut.

    “Is that all that’s going to happen? Seems like kind of a let down to me,” Beastboy commented. Keenyara shook her head.

    “Sadly enough, I agree. I figured you two would at least get told off. How disappointing.”

    Starfire closed her eyes and let her head rest against the back of the couch. “I am not disappointed in the least. Although, I do regret that we must do anything having to do with the Core Leaders tomorrow,” she sighed.

    “Why? I mean, I know they must be pretty boring, but they do, essentially, work for you, don’t they?” Cyborg questioned. He had not been the only one to pick up on Starfire’s weary tone. Blackfire laughed mirthlessly from her chair.

    “There was once a time when the Leaders did work for the royal family. They were loyal servants and consultants. Now, they are just power-hungry fools. They have been too close to the Emperor’s power without being able to have it themselves. You would know that were you to spend any time with them, to hear the questions they ask. I suppose they treated you too as if you were the naughty girl who they would soon have to bail out of some trouble,” she said with a raised eyebrow. Starfire did not respond, but her frown was answer enough. “I thought so. They overstep their positions.”

    Starfire groaned and pressed the heels on her hands to her eyes. She suddenly felt as if something inside her would soon burst. “I would not care in the slightest had they refrained from dragging my name through the Elgnorph’s dung they way they continue to!” she exclaimed suddenly. “Even that I could tolerate without the continuous snide comments I get about my team!”

    The silence that overtook the room suddenly felt oppressive and unbearable. Starfire blushed furiously and rested her hands in her lap, peeking shyly at her friends. Some eyes that looked back were wide, some were narrow. She sighed again.

    “What do you mean by ‘snide comments’?”

    “Yeah, what have they been saying about us?”

    Starfire shook her head and stood sharply. “It does not matter anyway. It is frustrating, but…” she paused and ran her fingers through her hair. “Perhaps I am simply tired from today. I do not believe that any of us have slept properly since yesterday. We should all go to bed.” She smiled tiredly at them all before leaving the room. Robin looked toward Blackfire, who seemed reserved but accepting.

    “What’s up with her?” he questioned softly. Blackfire smiled ruefully and also stood, taking Starfire’s place on the couch and draping an arm lightly across Robin’s shoulders. Robin pushed her arm away quickly, but Blackfire seemed nonchalant.

    “I’m starting to think that sister dear decided to not tell you anything about Tamaran and everything about her life before you all. Am I right?” She looked around the room and took the guilty glances and frowns as an ‘Of course you’re right Blackfire. Please continue.’

    She sighed. “You all really are so cute. Well for starters, that guy that just walked through the door, that is Koriand’r’s former betrothed.” Robin resisted the urge to snort, but Cyborg did not.

    “That skinny dork? You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, with a sideways glance at Robin. Blackfire’s grin widened as she shook his head.

    “Who, Lirain? Oh, no, no, no, I believe that he was contemplated for me. No, Starfire was to be paired with Lirain’s father.”

    Robin choked on the air he had been inhaling. He coughed for a few moments, his eyes watering. He had not been the only one. Keenyara too had breathed wrong, though no one was sure if she was laughing under the cover of her coughs. Raven simply raised her eyebrows in disbelief.

    “The general? He looked like he was about three times her age,” she exclaimed softly. Blackfire laughed again ruefully.

    “Four, actually. He is so very old, but you must remember he is a general, a war hero in fact. I was first born and so first in line for the throne. If he was to marry my sister, the second in line, should I be assassinated, he would be the one with the knowledge to take control of the planet. It was smart thinking on the Leader’s part.”

    Beastboy tilted his head. “They decided to make Star marry that old guy? Was he, like, one of them then?” he asked suddenly. Blackfire nodded.

    “Exactly. You see what I mean about power-hungry fools? It was a good strategy, but I’m sure that the usefulness of it was just a coincidence. He wanted my sexy little sister.”

    Robin suddenly noticed that the lazy drawl that usually colored Blackfire’s speech was drastically muted. He looked at her critically. The cocky gleam in her eye was also stifled some. Blackfire was being serious. Could it be possible that Blackfire knew what Starfire was going through and was even sympathizing with her some?

    -!-

    ‘I remember the words so clearly,’ Starfire mused silently to herself, ‘A princess shall never shed her tears.’ How long has is been since I cried?’

    It had been a while. With the Titans, an event such as Terra’s “death” and Robin’s joining with Slade had pushed her to tears, but in all, tears were not a common occurrence in the Tower. They were superheroes. They took blows full force from fifteen-foot-tall cement-block men as a living. They learned how to take such hits without complaints (regardless of whether they decided to or not).

    Starfire ran her hand along the railing on her balcony almost wistfully. This was the balcony that Robin had scaled for her, desperate to dissuade her from marrying a “giant green booger.” This was where she had almost lost everything that made her life livable. And for what, for the throne? For the opportunity to lead her people and help them to prosper? She was certain that she could make Tamaran great with the knowledge she had acquired on Earth. Or maybe she almost gave it all up for the chance to have the Core Leaders in her face every day, tearing her down in every way possible.

    Starfire rubbed her face tiredly, conflicting thoughts running through her mind. Before the Peace Talks, Starfire had not really thought about the Leader’s words that much. Yes, they had upset her greatly, but no where near as much as they did now. The back of her throat felt hot.

    Suddenly, the world went black as warm hands covered her eyes. She felt a small smile tugging at her lips.

    “Guess who,” someone teased, though Starfire already knew, without a doubt, who it was. She pried his hands away gently and turned to hug her leader tightly. ‘Perhaps though,’ she thought, ‘He is my boyfriend now. Maybe there is a difference.’

    “Hey,” he murmured softly into her hair, feeling the desperation in her hug. “What’s wrong?” Starfire tried to smile for him.

    “I do not even think I know. It is just that something feels wrong. I- I feel as if I am feeling things that are wrong,” she said softly. Robin looked down at her, shocked. He stepped back and hopped up to sit on the balcony’s rail. He motioned to the spot next to him. Starfire looked at him questioningly, but Robin just shrugged.

    “It’s a nice night. Come on, talk to me,” he said with a reassuring smile. Starfire smiled back and sat next to him, leaning carefully against his shoulder. She tilted her head back, looking up at the night sky. Of course, Robin was not being completely truthful. Nights on Tamaran could never compare to the nights on Earth. That atmosphere was too foggy and the stars too blurred. But the moon was still a beautiful sight to behold, it being much bigger than Earth’s.

    “I feel as if… I am losing something here, on Tamaran I mean,” Starfire began slowly. She blinked, trying to arrange her thoughts enough to speak them. “I feel as if Tamaran is turning away from me or,” she twirled her hair nervously around her fingers, “Maybe I am turning away from Tamaran.” She looked up at Robin with wide eyes. “Robin, you should have heard the things they said to me when I was in the meeting with the Leaders. They treated me like… as if the choices I have made would one day kill us all.” Her words tumbled over each other as she remembered the indignity of the moment. “I was scolded about just about everything, from my decision to hand the throne to Galifore to my decision to involve myself with…” she coughed suddenly, her cheeks red. “The Titans,” she finished lamely.

    She suddenly looked away from him, toward the floor. Robin’s eyes widened once again and he wondered what to do next. It was easy to tell that “The Titans” was not what she had intended to say. He suddenly acquired a sly look.

    “Catch me,” he declared suddenly and bluntly. Starfire looked at him, confusion clouding her eyes.

    “Wh—”

    Before she could finish her question however, Robin had let himself fall backwards, being careful to push off enough to get away from the balcony’s edge. He was plummeting down the side of the castle before Starfire knew what was happening.

    “Great X’hal!” she gasped before sailing off of the terrace and willing herself faster than gravity would normally allow a person to go. She caught up with the Titan leader quickly and caught him about halfway down. She lowered them both to the ground, in a large beautiful garden, though the beauty was decidedly lost on Starfire as she swung toward his shoulder. Robin was grinning largely as he backed away from her.

    “Quit, Starfire. What are you doing?” he laughed as he continued to dodge her wild blows. Starfire growled.

    “I am trying to instill sense into your mind! What could you possibly have been thinking? What if I had—?”

    “What if you had dropped dead at that moment and then my Bird-a-rangs magically disappeared? Kind of unlikely, don’t you think?” Robin interrupted with a smirk. He could not say what was causing his sudden urge to tease her and see her angry, but the desire was so intense.

    He ducked another of Starfire attempts to hit him and maneuvered around her, snaking his arms around her waist. He smiled as she pretended to try to pull away from him. He was smart enough to know that if she really wanted him to let go then she would make him.

    “Enough of that, hmm?” he murmured in her ear. Starfire crossed her arms and huffed, making Robin chuckle quietly. He rocked from side to side, once again wondering where he was getting all of these moves from, and lead her in a simple dance to no music. Starfire sighed and placed her hands atop his, relaxing fully against Robin. “Star… Kori.” Starfire felt a shiver go up her spine at the long forgotten nickname. She remembered back when he and the team had decided to attempt to call her by her native name. Kori was usually as far as any of them got. She found that she liked the way Robin said it.

    “Yes, Robin?” she hummed gently. He squeezed her around the waist briefly.

    “You know it doesn’t matter to us what they think of you here. We don’t care what they think of your decisions about Galifore or even your decisions to be with… the Titans. In fact, I think that the Titans would go crazy without you. The Titans love you, not the Core Leaders or Tamaran or whoever,” he said with a grin. He nuzzled her ear. “The Titans wanted me to tell you that.”

    Starfire bit her lower lip, trying to hold back her own smile. “Richard Grayson, I do believe that you are making fun of me,” she accused, her voice barely above a whisper. Robin gasped, feigning indignity.

    “Me? Never,” he said resolutely. She giggled and fell silent, suddenly registering upon where they were. Running water splashed and trickled around them and melded with the sound of the gentle breeze flowing through the grass and flowers. The garden had been planted specifically to be beautiful to multiple senses. Not only did the flowers seem to glow softly in the yellow moonlight, but the fragrances they issued blended and complemented each other skillfully.

    “It’s nice out here. Does this place have a purpose?” Robin asked, releasing her gently to sit and pull her into his lap on a stone bench. Starfire tilted her head in thought.

    “Relaxation, I believe. My grandmother, when she was Grand Ruler, she used to have a hard time sleeping and so she had this garden built so that she would be able to think at least when she was up. It is said to be the most magnificent in the palace.” She paused to smile in reminiscence. “I remember playing here as a child.” Robin nodded and looked around curiously.

    Robin looked at her suddenly, remembering the things that he heard as he walked the Palace halls. The occupants of the palace never seemed to think that is was necessary to lower their voices when they saw him, thinking that he did not understand their language. He did understand it, but he had found that there were certain words that he heard often, usually in the same sentence as the word “Koriand’r” and an excess of giggly tones.

    “So, you never did tell me why you think I understand Tamaranian,” he said, enjoying the way her cheeks reddened. She shook her head and spared him a sideways glance.

    “I had hoped that you would simply accept it and not question the ‘why,’” she sighed. Robin took the opportunity to steal a quick kiss before continuing.

    “Not a chance. What do you think? You mentioned a few theories.”

    Starfire grinned and threaded her fingers through his. “I did. Two.” Robin nodded, a gesture that she took to mean ‘continue.’ “Well, you know that languages are acquired by lip contact, do you not?” Robin nodded with a sly look that told Starfire that he remembered when she revealed this to him. “Well, it is possible that because we, you and I, have been engaging in lip contact,” she paused to brush her lips lightly over his, “ much more often and I have long ago learned English, my body has begun to give you the Tamaranian language.” Starfire began to blush again suddenly.

    “Much more likely, though, is that I was not supposed to perform the motions of transferring language more than once and that day that I showed you the difference I also provided you with Tamaranian. You are only able to understand it because your mind has yet to process the information. I believe that with time you will be able to not only hear it as Tamaranian and understand it, but you will also be able to speak it fluently.”

    Robin nodded. “So why are there words that I don’t understand now?” he asked. Starfire smiled.

    “For the same reason that I was not able to fully understand everything that I was told when I first came to Earth. Slang terms and idioms you will not fully understand, the same way I did not understand them in English.” She laughed suddenly. “I have been away from here so long, I would not be surprised if there were slang terms that I did not understand.”

    Robin smirked. “Well, you could still try to translate for a tourist,” he said beseechingly. Starfire giggled and kissed his cheek daintily.

    “For you, anything,” she murmured, a popular Tamaranian saying.

    “Alright, then. A lot of the women say this one when they see me, I’m not exactly sure if it’s a compliment or not, ‘al’grahn’?” he said, looking expectantly at her. Starfire giggled suddenly. She met his eyes mischievously.

    “What exactly was the context?” she asked haltingly, through her giggles. Robin raised an eyebrow, but did not comment on it.

    “Uh, stuff like, ‘That earth boy is so,’ and things like that.”

    Starfire giggled harder. “Um, well I believe the closest translation in English I can think of is ‘sexually pleasing to the eye.’ Perhaps you would call it ‘Sexy.’”

    Robin gaped at her. ‘Hmm, that woman did not look my age,’ he thought. Starfire continued to laugh at him and he narrowed his eyes playfully at her.

    “Alright, alright, fine. I think we’ve had enough of the laughing at Robin, don’t you?” Starfire quickly tried to stifle her giggles and tried to look serious.

    “Of course, Robin,” she said, smiling. “You have more questions?” she asked. Robin nodded.

    “Yeah, I do if you don’t mind,” he snapped teasingly. Starfire nodded, straight-faced for a few seconds before breaking down into a grin once more. Any tension that she had retained from her meetings with the Core Leaders, Luand’r, or Blackfire, had melted away and she relaxed against him as he ran the tips of his fingers up and down her spine. He wondered if they would need to venture back to her room soon.

    Honestly, the two of them did not often have ‘make out sessions’ as Cyborg called it. Light, but casual kisses were much more common between them. Robin attributed it to the amount of time the two of them had spent with each other before becoming a couple. He found that they often got too wrapped up in a conversation to move on with the physical. That was not to say that the two did not enjoy the physical side of their relationship. It just meant that they simply were not pressed to do anything.

    “Alright, another word I don’t know,” Robin muttered as he thought. He kissed her shoulder gently. “There was one; I think it was pronounced ‘Haglotii.’ ” He did not expect her to stiffen so suddenly the way she did. While she had been smiling lazily before she was now frowning horribly and Robin knew that she was hurt by something and perhaps even angry. She faced him slowly, with a pale face and wide eyes.

    “Wh-where did you hear that?” she asked with a tight voice. Robin shrugged, his eyes narrowing at her stricken look.

    “Just around the palace. Why? What does is mean?” he asked.

    Starfire’s jaw clenched tightly before she slid sharply from his lap. She walked away from him a few steps, but then paced back, not wanting to leave him so abruptly, but then turned away again. Soon she was pacing stiffly before him, cursing angrily in Tamaranian.

    Wide eyed, Robin stood quickly and caught Starfire by the shoulders. She pulled away from him sharply, but stopped pacing. She refused to look at him, however and her breathing was heavy. Robin was sure that he could see her tears welling slightly in the corners of her eyes.

    “Star what—”

    ‘Haglotii,’ is the name the Core Leaders have decided to brand me with, unofficially of course. I have heard them whispering it in the palace hallways also. In English I believe it would be a mixture of your terms ‘gold digger’ and more prominently ‘slut,’” she declared, emotion coloring her voice. Robin opened his mouth to say something, but Starfire pushed past him roughly and continued.

    “That is what they believe of me, of us. They believe that I was unable to assemble my own team on Earth and so I found you and the Titans and gave myself to you in order to obtain power. And you gave it to me. They think that you and I are nothing, Robin. Nothing but a way for me to feel the power I left behind on this damned—”

    Robin caught her again, but this time pulled her tightly against his chest and held her there tightly. Starfire grabbed hold of his shirt and resisted the urge to scream as loud as she could. She felt she would do anything to release the pressure in her chest, as if her heart was too big to fit inside of her. She gulped down air haltingly, fighting back her tears.

    “It’s okay, Starfire. It doesn’t matter what they think of us, I don’t care…” he trailed off, feeling her shaky inhalations. He was, of course, furious that anyone, especially someone who did not know him(or Starfire really) in the least, would make such accusations about either of them, but he was more worried about Starfire and her reaction to them.

    More than just worry, Robin was confused. Though he had always tried to avoid making any kind of comment on her unusualness on Earth, she never seemed to him to be the type of person to concern herself with others’ opinions. Of course, as a ‘celebrity’ there would always be people who criticized her for no reason at all, but Starfire always seemed to take it all in stride. Indeed, she had learned the word ‘slut’ from a Starfire-hate site that she had promptly joined after learning exactly what is was. She delighted in reading the petty complaints the members posted about her and returning with overzealous moans of her own. But now…

    ‘This isn’t Starfire,’ Robin thought dazed.

    Starfire shook her head. “No, you do no get it. This is not the way it is supposed to be on Tamaran. It is not the way I or any of my guests are supposed to be treated. I know it may seem conceited to you or presumptuous, but you must understand,” she pleaded, looking up at him desperately. “Bad things are happening on Tamaran, and this is a symptom of how much and how drastically things are changing. Only twenty years ago if they had even hinted at the things they say now when they know I can hear them, they all would have been put to death. No one would dare. But here I stand with the man I love, accused of whoring myself away to him for the cheap thrill of power!”

    Robin shook his head, “I can’t say I understand it here, Starfire, but what I do understand is that you can’t let them get to you like this.” He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, looking worriedly at her. “This isn’t like you,” he murmured.

    Starfire laughed mirthlessly, a different sound to come from her. “Robin, please understand me. This is different from the websites on Earth, the people who cannot stand me for any reason. The Leaders have power and if they choose to formalize their accusations…” she broke off and met Robin’s eyes, wondering.

    ‘Could I tell you that my planet is in danger? Would you understand if I said that Tamaran is too unstable to withstand such a scandal?’ she thought desperately. She suddenly shook her head, pulling out of his embrace.

    “This battle, I believe that maybe X’hal guided my here for more than just a fight with my past. But… it is just… so different,” she finished lamely. “I must find a way to restore this balance, I know, but I have not even a whisper of an idea how.”

    There was silence as Robin battled with himself, a thousand answers and questions running through his mind, but none of them found their way out of his mouth. Starfire smiled apologetically, cupping his face in her hand.

    “We… we should both rest. It will not be long before the sun rises and we must be up a few hours after that. Goodnight, Robin.” She kisses his lips lightly and rose slowly back to her balcony and returned to bed. Robin watched her go, just as silently. She disappeared onto the balcony. The light from her room extinguished.

    Robin sat down on the bench that had once held him and Starfire. He gazed at the beautiful garden before him, wondering dazedly what kind of work went into its up-keeping. Did anyone really use it all that much?

    Robin looked upward once more with a sad smile.

    “Wonder how I’m supposed to get back up to my room.”
    ---
     
  2. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Hmm...interesting. Tamaran really is an odd place: they're on the brink of destruction, a crisis so severe they've recalled one of their most vicious criminals, and yet they still find it wise to mire one of their leaders in a petty scandal. I mean, it's good to keep authority figures on their toes, but this ain't exactly helpful.;)

    But from a story point of view, it's certainly a good development. Anyone who's encountered Teen Titans for more than five minutes would know that Starfire is no gold-digger, but thinking about it, I can understand why she would be seen that way. And it's an interesting perspective to take on her actions: in fact, it's one I might just have to use myself at some juncture.;) More to the point, it also adds much to the drama at this stage, by not having Tamaran united in the face of a greater evil.:)

    On a more specific note, I also liked the other hints at the non-working of Tamaran politics. Their royal family seems to be much like the ones Earth has seen throughout our history, with scheming courtiers, self-important generals and dodgy political marriages abound. Okay, so power is always appealing, but being in that job does not sound fun.:eek:

    There's a few other things I can say here, but I'm starting to ramble, and I'm running out of time. So I shall leave with two final thoughts:

    One: I liked Robin's little high dive off Starfire's balcony. Risking a messy death just to demonstrate her power and loyalty is so him.:D

    Two: This has got to be one of the best lines in the world:



    Long live blatant hypocracy.:p

    Well, that's all from me this time. This was an interesting little chapter, with plenty of cool moments and thought-provoking tidbits. A nice read.:D

    -Matt A-
     
  3. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    Whoo!! I am on fire!! I thought that this chapter would take me muuuuuch longer. It hasn't even been a month!! I am goood!

    ---

    Chapter 10 :Fate Holds Your Attention:

    “You can glare at me like that as long as you want, you bunch of pissy b*tches, but I’m sure as h*ll not going to stay around and watch you. You wanna say something say it before I get too bored with all of this.”

    Starfire almost laughed, remembering the way Keenyara had addressed the Leaders upon learning that none of those present spoke English. At the time, she had been in a panic, struggling to translate out Keenyara’s rude language without drawing attention to her tone. She had been almost furious with her as she refused the train to her fullest and to demonstrate her power to the committee selected to oversee their training. Now she prayed that the temperamental wind manipulator would not perish by her mother’s and, indirectly, her hand.

    “Listen up, Starfire. Listen and remember. This fight is bigger than you and me, and it sure as hell is bigger than your little smart-mouthed friend. So think before you choose to save anyone’s life, I don’t care if it’s mine, or Windy’s, or even your own. Are any of us bigger than Tamaran?”

    Starfire bit her lip as she remembered her sister’s harsh tone. She had been almost as passionate as she had been the night after the Peace Talks. Starfire had been confused then and still was. She had thought for the longest time the Tamaran meant nothing to Blackfire and still she had found nothing to contradict this theory. Perhaps, it was just the thought of someone other than her ruling the planet that she had envisioned at hers for so long. Maybe her sister really did care about Tamaran and its people.

    Nevertheless, her words had branded themselves in her heart. Though Blackfire could be coarse and brutal, she was also clever and calculating, just like her mother. She knew what could win a fight and what could lose one. Once again Starfire wondered at the irony of her teammates: Blackfire, deliberate and cunning, and Keenyara, seemingly brutal and without emotional attachment. Then there was Starfire, with a soft heart and the will to save everyone and everything. She marveled at how similar Blackfire and Keenyara could be, in fighting and possibly in everything else. Starfire was the odd one out.

    She prayed that Tamaran would not be lost, that she and Blackfire would not be condemned to the hell that they had already escaped once, just because she was not strong enough to sacrifice a life or to take one.

    There was not a doubt in her mind that should they lose, Tamaran would fall. Galifore was too attached. He was too emotional. Perhaps that was another reason Rulers refrained from bonding with their children. Love could cloud your judgment. For should Tamaran’s only princesses be taken once more to the Psion ships, Starfire had no doubt that he would follow with every war ship available and two-thirds of the population would agree whole-heartedly.

    “It’s a weird feeling, huh?”

    Starfire wheeled around suddenly, breaking her eye contact with herself in her mirror. Keenyara was leaning casually against her doorframe, arms crossed and her braid pulled over her shoulder. Her eyes were lazily half-lidded and Starfire wondered if she had possibly forgotten what was to happen in no more than a few hours.

    “What?” she asked, her voice scratchy and throat dry. Keenyara pushed away from her spot and strolled to her side.

    “The weight of a world on your shoulders and the fate of thousands in your hands,” she answered loftily. She smiled ruefully. “So I guess you’d be thinking about exactly how many mistakes you could make in order to bring your planet to its knees.” She offered her hand to Starfire to help her up.

    Confused, Starfire took her hand and stood. She gave Keenyara a questioning look to which Keenyara simply shrugged. “They told me to come get you so you could eat something. Commander Woodpecker wanted to come get you, but your big, fluffy king thought it’d be a bad idea if you were all hot and bothered before you started fighting. So, of course they sent the one you met an entire week ago.” She laughed suddenly. “Maybe they expect us to bond,” she snickered.

    Starfire smiled. It was almost comforting. When the rest of the world was spiraling downward, at least Keenyara was still as surly and rude as ever. As always, she ignored the boorish connotations of her words and returned them with the same cheery kindness she did everyone else.

    “It is interesting that they would actually send you. Truly, I would expect Raven to come for me,” she returned. To her surprise, Raven rounded the corner at that moment, looking as apathetic as ever.

    “Don’t say anything. Let’s just say that Keenyara is not the best choice for emotional support, should you need it,” she stated. She took the spot on Starfire’s other side as the three continued their journey to the Dining Hall.

    “I didn’t tell you two yet?” Keenyara asked, shooting them both a sideways glance. “I’m not exactly here for emotional development and support. I’m purely here for your physical self. Don’t die for a few decades and my job has been fulfilled.” Starfire looked at her strangely.

    “And what exactly is supposed to be happening by then?” she questioned curiously. Keenyara rolled her eyes and finally looked at the two of them fully.

    “Well I tell you that and I might as well kill you now for all the good it’ll do the cosmos,” she snapped. Raven snorted.

    “Way to be cliché. Really, bravo,” she deadpanned.

    Keenyara sighed. “You know, I usually try to be above some things and to use my power for… no, never mind. I usually use my power for personal gain and entertainment. Alright,” she nodded as she continued to talk to herself. “Yeah, I can do this without moral qualms.”

    Raven arched an eyebrow in irritation. “Spit it out, Keenyara. Points are quite important to some of us,” she snapped. Keenyara nodded.

    “Fair enough,” she said and huffed suddenly, motioning toward the ceiling. Raven’s cape suddenly flew up and over her head. True, the trick was immature and nowhere near as cruel or violent as one would expect from Keenyara, but it also was as far from the dignified veneer that Raven maintained as she could manage.

    Starfire giggled despite herself as she watched Raven try to replace her cape and salvage her shattered self-respect as it was scattered into the breeze. Her hands were crackling with black by the time Starfire could lay a hand on her shoulder pointedly. “It is not really worth it, is it Raven?” Starfire asked, trying in vain to hide her grin. “Perhaps you could save it up, at least until my planet has been saved.”

    Raven scowled and let the magic fade from her hands. “After all the crap you spew, you had better win this fight, Keenyara,” she retorted. They had come to the Dining Hall and all three turned in, Raven glaring daggers at Keenyara, Keenyara glaring back and Starfire grinning cheerfully between them.

    She could forget her fate, if only for a minute.

    They headed toward their normal table, the one they had sat at since their arrival on Tamaran. Raven and Keenyara returned to their previous spots, right alongside each other. Blackfire was missing from the lunchtime table. Cyborg, Beastboy, and Robin greeted her warmly.

    “Princess! You have decided to join us at last!” Galifore exclaimed with a wide grin. Starfire blushed lightly, but recovered quickly as she took her seat next to Robin. He shot her a look, which she returned with an apologetic smile. He shrugged and continued to struggle with the long, thin, spaghetti-like food before him.

    Beastboy was doing the same on her other side and Starfire giggled. “Perhaps I should help,” she offered, smiling, and pinched the foodstuff firmly. The “noodles” gave a quiet squeal and wrapped around Beastboy’s utensil enthusiastically. Green(er)-faced, the vegetarian slowly lowered the utensil, suddenly feeling a bit full.

    Galifore took a large bite of the living noodles before looking toward Starfire slyly. “I wanted your friends to seek you out for more than just nourishment and treats. You have been hiding in your room for long enough. I have arranged a surprise for you,” he announced. Starfire straightened instantly as the Titans, minus Robin, exchanged knowing looks.

    “What is it, Galifore? What have you done?” Starfire asked with affectionate suspicion. Galifore only winked mysteriously and took another bite of his lunch.

    “I will say only one thing about it. It is a surprise that you and Robin will share,” Galifore half whispered in Tamaranian, shooting a devious look toward the masked teen. Robin suddenly began to cough over his drink. Galifore looked toward him questioningly. Starfire blushed suddenly.

    “Um, Galifore, I do suppose I did not mention, Robin has begun to understand the Tamaranian language,” Starfire stated quickly. Galifore frowned dejectedly.

    “Oh, then I have ruined the surprise then!” he exclaimed. “But what a strange occurrence. Humans do not generally just begin to comprehend a language, do they?” he asked. Starfire sipped at her own goblet, trying desperately to calm herself.

    “Um, no, not generally,” she answered. “So, my knorfka, what is this surprise?” she asked brightly, hoping to steer the subject in a different direction. While Galifore did know about her relationship with Robin and thought that she was making a suitable choice, Starfire still did not feel comfortable discussing exactly how Robin had acquired the Tamaranian language. Galifore seemed to take the change in stride and looked around the table, checking the plates of his guests.

    “Well, I suppose, since you have finally ventured from your room… come,” he said and stood from the table. The Titans and Keenyara followed suit and the group quickly left the Dining Hall.

    -!-

    A young Tamaranian girl, no older than fifteen on Earth, wrung her hands nervously as she perched on one of the overstuffed couches in the Princess’ room. Her pure white hair had been done up in a high ponytail with ribbons and things weaved into it. She wore her finest clothes; shimmering, sheer white fabric formed into a loose, long-sleeved shirt over the crème-colored sleeveless belly shirt and flowing pants in the same crème color. Her eyes, pale and white, yet still able to seem alive, regarded the outfit critically.

    Her caretaker told her constantly that white was the color X’hal had blessed her with and she should show this proudly. She personally thought that it was a bit overdone. White hair, white clothes, white eyes, white, white, white! The only thing on her that was not white was her skin, which stood out vibrantly against the absence of color everywhere else on her. But, her caretaker knew more about such things than she did. Perhaps it made her look pure. Or clean.

    The doors opened suddenly, and the girl stood with a start. Quickly entering was the Emperor and Princess, followed by their guests, the Titans. The girl bit the inside of her cheek and forced a smile. She had not expected them to come so soon. Or maybe she had not wanted them to come. One or the other.

    “Are you surprised, my bungorf? One of the ladies-in-waiting suggested it to me!” the Emperor said, waving a hand at her, regally. She quickly executed a hasty bow and kept her gaze downcast. She heard the Princess laugh delightedly.

    “Well Galifore, I see that you have brought me a young girl? What is the surprise?” she giggled. The Emperor laughed back and turned to stand by the girl, clapping an enormous hand on her shoulder. She lost her footing momentarily, but quickly stood straight.

    “Of course not!” he admonished jokingly. “This is Lady Kilaani. She is the youngest Palace Seer in Tamaran’s history and has agreed to a group reading for you and your friends!” The princess squealed and flew upward to hug her former knorfka. Kilaani chanced a look up, seeing that while the princess seemed excited, a few of her friends seemed skeptical and a few of them reluctant.

    “So he wants us to let some psychic into our heads?” whispered the one called Robin. Kilaani had seen him wandering the palace a few times and the ladies-in-waiting gossiped about him nonstop. They said that he could defeat twelve fully-grown, armed Tamaranian warriors single-handedly and without a weapon. Many of them did not believe that he was really a human. They thought he was a hybrid of some warrior race. Absolutely all of them knew that he was off limits. Property of Princess Starfire.

    The tall, cybernetic, dark-skinned man elbowed him sharply. He was the Cyborg. Kilaani was sure that she had heard him called simply “Cyborg”, but the ladies insisted that the “the” was imperative. His power, more than his strength, was widely known throughout the palace. There were rumors of him possessing a power similar to the mysterious “starbolts” that the two princesses had. The Cyborg shushed Robin quickly. The Emperor, however, had not heard his grumbling. He was too busy listening to the gratitude Princess Starfire was lavishing on him.

    “You are such a thoughtful knorfka, Galifore! It is wondrous that you would do such a thing for me!” she exclaimed, hugging the large Tamaranian tightly and then settling herself back on the ground where she beamed at him. Her friends agreed behind her, giving enthusiastic thanks. Of course, there were a few who were less enthusiastic, the two females notably.

    Really, it was these two who had the very least information surrounding them and so the most wild rumors. The short, caped one, Raven, was said to be a fallen angel turned for good. Others said that she was a demon sent to destroy our galaxy, but had switched sides when the time came to betray us. The other, known as Keenyara, was shrouded in mystery. No one knew anything about her (except for her fierce temper) and no one even suspected anything of her. She was said to have only recently joined the princess’s team and had not accompanied the Titans to the betrothal that had almost taken place.

    Though all of his friends were heavily rumored and whispered about, that was not the case with Beastboy. Everyone knew Beastboy or they knew of Beastboy. He was friendly(almost overly so) and was sure to speak to each Tamaranian girl and a small number of the boys. Though very few of the girls spoke his language, his animation was easy enough to understand. Of them all, he was the best accepted, by the women at least. Kilaani knew that the some men, however, were slightly annoyed by his flirtatious ways.

    “Well, you are all welcome. It is the least I can do for the Teen Titans of Earth, who have supported our princess and our planet in its most vulnerable time. I will leave you. Kilaani is one of the most proficient Seers of Tamaran I have ever met. She will take care of you.” The Emperor bowed and turned to leave.

    Princess Starfire turned also to see him out. Kilaani heard, once Emperor Galifore was just outside of the doorway, “Galifore, please, why did you say that is was a surprise for Robin and I? It seems like a surprise for the entire team, no?” she asked. Galifore winked.

    “Well, I am sure that no one would object to a lover’s reading, am I right? Have fun princess.”

    The door snapped shut and Kilaani was left alone with a room full of aliens and a blushing royal.

    Kilaani was not a shy person, or at least she never had been. Ever since her transformation, which had drained the color from her hair and eyes, leaving them pure white, she had been much more secluded from the world. Socializing was a hard enough, but it did not help that one of the most powerful people on the planet was present and looking expectantly at her.

    Kilaani started and quickly kneeled, stood, bowed, and waited for permission so stand at ease. The princess seemed to blush even more and murmured, “oh, no!” She rushed forward and touched Kilaani’s shoulder, coaxing her up. “Please,” the princess began, “I really do not like all of those formalities.” Kilaani stood and dipped a small curtsy.

    “O-of course, princess,” she stuttered nervously. The princess grinned.

    “Starfire, please, call me Starfire. And you are Kilaani, correct?” she asked. Kilaani finally released a small smile.

    “Yes… Starfire. I am Kilaani, that is right.” She stepped back and seated herself on the edge of one of the couches. “And you are the Teen Titans. Please, sit and be comfortable,” she requested. She tried to be inviting and friendly, despite her nerves. The Titans all looked at each other and seemed to give a collective shrug. They made themselves comfortable on the group of couches and armchairs. They laughed and joked with each other as they did and the tension was quickly dissolving.

    Kilaani tucked her feet underneath her and a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “So… do you have questions?” she asked awkwardly. Her clients usually were plastering her with questions from the time that they came into the door. These Titans seemed not to know exactly what to do.

    Beastboy jumped up, excitedly. “What am I gonna do in ten years? In twenty years? Am I gonna have a beard? My hair’s still gonna be on my head right?” he asked, all in one breath. Kilaani giggled softly. This was what she was used to in her line of work. She blinked softly and the place where her iris should have been became paler and lighter if possible, defining her eye better.

    “You will have hair on your head. You do not have a beard, but, um, you will,” she thought hard for the correct word in English. Finally she simply looked toward Starfire. “Parrnglo?” she inquired. Starfire ‘ahhed’ and nodded.

    “Shave,” she supplied. Kilaani nodded in confirmation as Beastboy ‘oohed’, mesmerized by the imaginary image of himself. Raven shot him a disdainful look.

    “I have a question,” she proclaimed, eyeing Kilaani. “How old are you? I mean, Galifore said you were the youngest Palace Seer in Tamaran’s history.” Kilaani blushed and began to twist her hair around her fingers.

    “Oh, I celebrated my seventeenth birthday a few months ago,” she answered. Starfire wrinkled her nose, trying to do the math in her head.

    “On Earth, that would be about fifteen,” she concluded finally. Raven hummed in acknowledgement.

    “That’s notable, to have honed your art enough to get this position in that amount of time. I’m impressed,” she admitted. Kilaani smiled and looked down for a moment.

    “You are also a Seer, not in the Tamaranian sense of course, but you have experienced Knowledge, I know. Perhaps, before you leave, we may get together and share techniques. It would be interesting,” she invited. Raven allowed a small smile.

    “It would be interesting,” she said finally. “We’ll set something up, I guess.”

    Cyborg grinned. “What’s this? Raven’s actually socializing? The universe will either collapse or world peace’ll be next,” he joked. Raven rolled her eyes and ignored him. Cyborg looked Kilaani over briefly. “So, really, what’s with all of the white?” he asked. Kilaani laughed.

    “I think that sometimes also. My caretaker, she is also a Seer, but much older than I, she tells me that X’hal provided me with this color and that I should show others that I am not ashamed of it,” she responded, shrugging. Cyborg raised an eyebrow.

    “You mean you weren’t born with white hair and stuff?” he questioned. Kilaani’s eyes widened and she pulled her bundle of hair over her shoulder, petting it mournfully.

    “Oh no! I remember when I used to have the most vibrant black hair and green eyes. My transformation left me looking like this, however.” She sighed, staring wistfully at the bunch on hair lain in her palm. Beastboy waggled his eyebrows.

    “I think it makes you look white hot,” he proclaimed, attempting to smooth his hair back charmingly. Kilaani giggled and blushed before suddenly looking guilty.

    “Oh, my. I am here to give you glimpses into the future, and yet we are here talking about me and my wants,” she admitted guiltily. She turned her gaze to Robin, who had been observing the others with a smile, but still not saying anything. She knew that he and the princess were in a relationship of some intensity. An idea suddenly occurred to her. “Give me your hand, please?” she requested. Robin gave her a skeptical look, which she returned with a gentle smile. “You also, Princess, if you please.”

    Starfire looked at Robin before extending her hand with a smile. Robin sighed with faux exasperation, but also held out his hand. Kilaani smiled at them both, before taking both of their hands and pressing them against each other. She pulled back and laced her own fingers together. “Like this,” she instructed, holding her hands up for them to see. The couple looked at each other before doing as they were told. Kilaani nodded firmly and slowly ran a finger along the groove between their hands. She smiled.

    “You are so happy together,” she almost laughed. She knew her empathy was overdriving some, but she did not regulate herself. While the Princess was open enough, she could feel Robin holding back quite a bit. She would need to be more sensitive. She traced the dips between their knuckles simultaneously. “But you are also tense. With worry for each other.” She shrugged. “But one day,” she wrapped her hands around their hands and began to open herself to the powers that gave her Knowledge. She had intended to take a quick peek into their future, the normal blink of a look of a happy moment so that she could say that they would be happy together. It was potentially untruthful, but she had been taught that most people did not want the truth, just the convenient.

    She always had to give up at least a little control when looking into the future. She usually held most control, but she suddenly knew that this would be different. She was no longer opening herself, but being opened, wider than she had ever gone. Time slowed until it seemed to stop, frozen in the moments right after she had spoken. She could not see the Titans or the Princess’s ornate bedroom. She was lost in the darkness, in a fire. The power of X’hal gripped her and ripped a prophecy from her throat, though she never spoke a word.

    She will be marked, though she is marked.
    She will feel the pain, she must feel the pain.

    She will lose his love for he will lose his life.
    There will be death, in his heart and in her soul.

    The pain of death, without death’s release,
    That is her fate.

    WE WILL MAKE HER SUFFER.

    Kilaani opened her eyes fully, slowly, as if nothing had ever happened. “O-one day you will be safe and h-happy,” she said almost automatically. “Ahh,” she exclaimed softly, snatching her hand back as a searing pain shot up her right forearm. She inspected the spot with wide eyes. Even as she watched the scarlet marks, Tamaranian characters spelling out the prophecy, faded into her skin. Starfire was staring concernedly at her.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked worriedly. Kilaani forced a smile, still dazed from her experience, and forced out an excuse involving a l’ru, a small bug almost like an ant. She stood hastily, and kneeled low before the princess.

    “Your highness, you must excuse me for leaving so suddenly, but I feel my caretaker calling for me. She feels that it is imperative.” She did not leave just yet, but waited for the Princess to dismiss her.

    “It is perfectly fine, Kilaani, but please, there is still no need for all of the formalities. We shall be Starfire and Kilaa—”

    She could not finish her sentence, for Kilaani was already up and halfway out of the door.

    -!-

    Keenyara surveyed the Titans neutrally as she braided her hair with care. They had gathered around the two princesses, wishing them luck and bantering nervously. She could hear the fear and uncertainty in their voices as they tried to assure the two warriors of their skills, as they tried to assure them that they were confident and certain of the victory that was to come. Keenyara rolled her eyes in annoyance.

    Humans were so dramatic.

    The Tamaranians had offered her traditional fighting clothes and she had accepted them, making it clear that she had done so only because she absolutely abhorred the T-shirt she normally wore. The outfit she wore was pure white, the shirt exposing her stomach and no sleeves. She had forced them to give her the pants to a male’s outfit and they fell baggily around her. She had refused the metal plating and neck plate that went with a warrior’s uniform and kept her sneakers on, as she had grown attached to them. As she had said, she would do this, but she would do it her way.

    Starfire and Blackfire were both dressed in the traditional warrior’s garb, both in black. Starfire smiled nervously at her friends as her sister smirked condescendingly. They both seemed unafraid of the approaching fight. Keenyara saw straight through their act. The air around them vibrated wildly with their heartbeats and she noticed easily the slight tremors in them.

    Robin was holding Starfire’s hand, letting her lean against him as they spoke to their friends. The gesture was meant to seem casual, but it was easy enough to see the tightness of his grip. Cyborg laughed raucously at one of Beastboy’s jokes, louder than he should have. Only Raven and Blackfire could manage to maintain a semblance of composition.

    “Starfire.”

    The Titans looked up in surprise to see Keenyara staring steadily at Starfire. It was rare to them to hear her call anyone by their given name. Keenyara seemed to know this and was sure to use its potency.

    “Come talk to me. And leave the Frantic Four over there, huh?” she said, softly. For once, her voice held no contempt and minimal sarcasm. Her face shone with grim sincerity. Starfire drew her eyebrows together in confusion and pulled gently away from Robin.

    “Okay…” She went to Keenyara who pulled her out of the room and into the hallway. She motioned for her to follow and began walking. Starfire, still confused, did as was expected of her and the two of them began down the hall.

    Before long, Starfire began to hear the dull roar of a huge crowd. They kept walking. She soon began to discern separate words and voices. They kept walking. Suddenly, she recognized one of the voices and the words he was saying. It was General Rutain. He was speaking to the crowd, instructing them to not interfere with the fight that was about to take place. He was speaking of the importance of their belief in their Princesses. He was encouraging their courage in this time of uncertainty.

    Starfire stopped walking.

    Keenyara turned to her, her eyes rhythmic for once, and took a deep breath. Starfire surveyed her new look with slight awe. Keenyara’s eyes were open and gazing at her levelly. They were not narrowed with spite or half-lidded with boredom. Her arms hung loosely at her sides instead of crossing before her chest or with her hands propped on her hips.

    “Listen to me, Starfire,” she started, and stepped forward. “Listen and look at me too.” Her voice was almost monotonous, or maybe the absence of mocking was making it seem that way. “I’ve heard the things your sister says to you.” Starfire tilted her head.

    “What in particular?” she asked.

    “The one where you are less valuable than the well being of this planet,” Keenyara answered promptly. Starfire quickly grew still. She too stopped fidgeting and regarded Keenyara calmly. They were now two diplomats, sizing each other.

    “I would agree to that bit of advice. Does it not make sense that more than a million lives would be worth more than a single one?” she reasoned. Keenyara rolled her eyes suddenly. Her respectful facade deteriorated quickly and she scowled.

    “Alright, reasonable Keenyara is gone, that took way too much energy anyway, but please take a second to note that I tried,” she snapped and grabbed Starfire’s arm, pulling her farther into the hallway and closer to the noisy arena. They only made it a few more steps before Starfire pulled her arm away. Keenyara circled around her until her back faced the direction they had come from.

    “Keenyara, what is this about?” Starfire asked finally. Keenyara stepped closer and leaned in close.

    “This is about my purpose here, the reason I have been shoved into this dimension and into your life.” Keenyara’s tone was weighted heavily with deadly severity. “Take a careful look around you, Princess, because not everything that smiles is an ally around here.”

    Starfire’s eyes were wide as she stared with alarm at Keenyara. “Keenyara, what are you saying?” she asked, anxiety starting to get to her. Keenyara swore and pushed Starfire farther toward the arena. She kept glancing over her shoulder, apparently trying desperately to keep from being overheard.

    “I’m saying that you are meant to live through this fight. I don’t care what you are threatened with, what you are promised, what you think you can do to save your sister, your friends, your people. There are bigger things at stake here than just Tamaran. There is a universe at stake here,” she hissed vehemently. Starfire took hold of Keenyara’s shoulder and shook her slightly.

    “You are not making any sense! I do not have the power to affect the entire universe. I am not that essential.”

    “Wrong.” Keenyara cocked her head to one side, apparently listing hard. She swore venomously. “There’s someone coming. You’re strong, Starfire, and smart for the most part. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

    She turned and stalked away, leaving Starfire alone with her unanswered questions. Not five seconds after she left did General Rutain turn the opposite corner. He stared silently at her, appraisingly.

    “Now, it is time.”

    It was then that she realized that she could forget her fate no longer.
    ------------------

    Ok, so I still haven't gotten into the epic battle between good versus evil, I know!! But, may I just say that fight scenes are like my anti-forte. It might take me a while to get it good enough to post.

    Thanks for all of the reviews(Matt A. ...)

    :D
     
  4. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Here's an interesting question. Why is it that every single prophecy ever made is about bad stuff? Why can't someone make one saying, I don't know, "you'll make up in the morning and be showered with rains of chocolate"? I know that suffering creates drama, yada yada yada, but couldn't the prophets lay off the misery and death for just one second?

    Just thought I'd share that with you.:p

    Still, the above doesn't detract from this chapter. As stated way back in the prologue, prophecies form an important part of this story, so it's interesting to finally go back to that. And especially 'cause the Powers that divved out this latest one seem to not be on our side: when they say WE WILL MAKE HER SUFFER, and in such BIG letters, you know that they aren't exactly neutral arbiters. As befits their nature, 9/10 prophecies come true, so it'll be interesting to see just how bad this gets.;)

    Though, key as this is, there's other stuff to talk about. Lady Kilaani seems like an interesting character already, a curious melding of teenage insecurities and calm professionalism: it's a nice irony that, as someone with a direct line to the future, her day-to-day job depends on her not telling the truth. Plus there's the intriguing symbolism of a Tamaranian, usually a colourful race, being almost entirely white...a colour as much about paleness and cold as it is cleanlness and purity.;) Either way, like her prophecy, I'm curious to see what else you do with her.

    On a similar note, Kilaani also gave us an interesting outside perspective on the Titans. Even with rumours of being a gold-digging harlot, Starfire is still the Princess, and whether she likes it or not, she will recieve due deference. And, frankly, can Beast Boy be anything other than a shameless man-whore?:p

    And one final thing. Keenyara's "advice" at the end threw up, if indirectly, quite an intriguing problem: Starfire, an instinctively self-sacrificing person, may be required to burn everyone and everything just to save herself. I wonder, if push comes to shove, whether or not she really has the courage to do that. It'll be fun finding out.;)

    So, yet another engaging chapter, with many things to note and ponder on. Let's hope the next one is likewise.:D

    -Matt A-
     
  5. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    NOTE:: I am currently eating my weight in cookies as a reward for finishing this chapter so d*mn FAST!!! I don't even think it's been more than 2 weeks!

    Thank you, inspiration!!

    -------------------
    Chapter 11 :All in the Eyes:

    Starfire inhaled deeply. When she exhaled, she reveled in the rush of power, of white-hot fire that scorched her veins, yet never burned her. She heard Blackfire on her right side doing the same. Keenyara was breathing deeply also, but Starfire could hardly comprehend what she felt as she called her power to her fingertips. The three of them stood together, facing their opponents, daring them to steal victory.

    General Rutain separated the two forces, standing between them and formally announcing the rules that had been predefined. They were simple enough. When one team could fight no more, be that in unconsciousness or death, the other had won. Any unnatural weapon that used a power source, such as a laser gun or energy cannon, was prohibited. Any hand-powered weapons would have to be self-supplied. Those were the rules. Starfire and Blackfire held their swords at the ready as Keenyara unwound the strip of fabric from her staff and threw it aside.

    Keenyara turned and fixed Starfire with her stoic gaze and then turned away, sizing up their opponents.

    ‘This is not my fight. This is not my planet. This is not even my *****ing dimension. But it is my life and my body that I risk,’ she thought angrily. A brisk wind began to stir the dust from the packed dirt arena. The surrounding arena seemed to be divided in half, one side colored with red, black, and brown heads, while the other half was shaded with pitch black hair and flaky gray skin.

    Blackfire surveyed her people authoritatively. They followed Galifore easily enough, but she knew that that would not last long. Galifore was not royalty in any sense of the word. While her sister spent most of her time among the servants and ladies-in-waiting, Blackfire socialized with the warriors and their assistants. They were unbelievably gossipy and were constantly letting slip the things that they had heard. There were thoughts of mutiny floating around among them. They had lost faith in both Galifore and Starfire. She would rise to power. It was only a matter of time. General Rutain turned to every fighter, asking if there were any questions. No one made a sound.

    General Rutain nodded slightly and bowed before the Psion leaders, causing the Tamaranian side of the arena to erupt in boos and hisses. He then turned and kneeled to the two princesses, resulting in the same effect from the Psions. Done, he stood and strode purposefully to one side of the huge outdoor arena. There was no ‘Let it begin’ or ‘Fight’ or any kind of signal for the match to begin. But it was still just as apparent, though still no one moved.

    Luand’r was the first, strolling leisurely closer to her opponents. All but Keenyara, tensed, as she came closer, her two generals flanking her. A laugh danced on her lips.

    “Well, little Kori and Korma, all grown up with big girl swords. Where do the years go?” she asked, mockingly as she continued to advance. Her smirk became larger. “Allow me to introduce your future conquerors. I believe you know Xuun already, but I do believe my other fighter will give you quite a pleasure.” The second Psion stepped up, turning his face this way and that in the light, apparently finding pleasure in the girls’ confusion. Suddenly though, comprehension dawned on Starfire and it was all she could do to stop the whimper from escaping her throat, even if she could not stop herself from stumbling back. Fear and shock darkened her eyes.

    His name, if she remembered correctly, was Firrn and he was the one who had dragged a knife through the flesh of her back in order to strip her shirt away from her. He had been the one to beat his teammates bloody, insisting that he would be the first to take her, despite the ‘rules’, if one could call them that. His brutality and greed had forced a knife deep into her shoulder, just to the right of her left shoulder blade. She still retained a scar from that battle from her childhood.

    This was her “husband.”

    Blackfire bared her teeth. “You bastard! How dare you show your face here!” she snarled, moving forward a few paces. Luand’r raised her hand, a pearly projectile gleaming there, and Blackfire halted her advance, though her glare never left Firrn’s face. Starfire seemed rooted to her place, whether it be by fear or something else, no one was sure. Firrn turned to Blackfire with a condescending smirk.

    “As…” he paused to let his eyes roam her body appreciatively, “wonderful as you are, I believe I find your sister much more satisfying.” His eyes burned possessively into Starfire, who was breathing shakily. He bounded forward suddenly and leaped over Blackfire’s and Keenyara’s heads. He landed behind Starfire and wasted no time in wrapping one arm around her neck and the other around her waist, pulling her close. Starfire still seemed frozen as Blackfire and Keenyara trained their powers and weapons on the two. Starfire’s breathing was coming in quick gasps.

    “You know,” Firrn whispered, his lips barely brushing her ear, “I never did get my night…” Starfire’s spine snapped straight and she felt sick as a thick, warm tongue probed her ear possessively. Past sensations came flooding back to her; people groping her and kissing and touching her. Firrn bit into her neck and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. She sealed her eyes together in hopes of waking from this nightmare. “What do you think?” he murmured, soothing the spot of his bite with nauseating kisses.

    Starfire’s eyes suddenly snapped open, both of them gleaming with a starbolt’s energy. “I do not like that idea,” she snarled, grabbing Firrn’s arm and flinging him roughly away from her. This sudden movement seemed to be the awaited signal and frenzied movement burst into the arena as Firrn caught himself in time to lunge again at Starfire and Luand’r diving toward Blackfire. Keenyara quickly tried to deflect Firrn’s attack, but she quickly found herself in battle with the last adversary, Xuun.

    Firrn tackled Starfire violently, never having been one to be timid when it came to battle. He pushed her too the ground, straddling her waist and pinning her hands on either side of her head. Starfire growled and released a stream of energy from her eyes, throwing him off of her once more. This time she advanced toward him, starbolt ready in her hand. The two became locked in a rapid-fire hand-to-hand battle, matching each other blow for block. Starfire’s eyes narrowed as she deftly maneuvered around one of his more powerful kicks and took hold of one of his arms, hooking a leg around one of his.

    “I am not ten years old anymore,” she hissed and jerked her foot backward and pushing him forward, sending him toppling over, his forehead meeting harshly with the ground. She looked up briefly, wondering faintly how Keenyara and Blackfire were doing. She was quite surprised when Firrn flung her off of him, catching her in the stomach with his booted foot and sending her four feet in the opposite direction. She coughed violently and wiped her mouth. With a jerk she rolled to the right, barely avoiding Firrn as he dropped from the sky.

    Blackfire had yet to fire a single bolt as her sword clashed again and again with that of her mother. Both called to one another, taunting mercilessly. Blackfire laughed, finding nothing around her funny. She stabbed her sword toward Luand’r, who dodged it barely.

    “My, my. You must be getting old, mother,” she laughed as she continued to fight. Luand’r raised on eyebrow.

    “Some of us, never intend to age or die,” she answered with a smirk, to which Blackfire laughed again. With a grin, Blackfire lunged for her opponent, anticipating her dodge and grabbed a fistful of her mother’s scarlet hair. Her sword flashed and she was suddenly holding a fistful of red locks. She sneered at Luand’r’s wide eyes and slowly let the hair fall from her grasp.

    “Oh, I know there has to be a few grays in here somewhere,” she said mockingly, and charged forward once more with her sword over her shoulder. Luand’r’s eyes narrowed and she swiftly dodged two swipes of Blackfire’s sword before blocking the third. The two of them glared at each other over their crossed swords. Abrubtly, Luand’r broke Blackfire’s gaze with a blast from her eyes. Blackfire bent backward and to the side in a classic matrix pose. It was not quite as effective as Luand’r pulled back to drive her sword into her stomach.

    Blackfire’s eyes went wide as she noticed this and she threw herself into the air, twisting her lower half. She managed to kick the sword from Luand’r’s hand and catch herself in a cat-like crouch, her eyes bright with battle rage. She pulled back quickly and sprang into the air, summoning a starbolt to each hand. Luand’r seemed to follow her example and projectiles began to fly throughout the arena, kicking up dust and rocks.

    Keenyara whipped her staff over her head and the dust around her cleared almost instantly. Xuun, seeing this, wasted no time in attacking with a handful of sharp edged glass disks that whizzed straight for her.

    Keenyara’s eyes narrowed and she moved steadily toward the glass projectiles. Suddenly, as the first disk came within striking range, she whipped her staff upward, deflecting the blow. She moved swiftly and deliberately, knocking each disk out of her way, clearing her path to Xuun.

    “Fight me,” she hissed and lunged toward him, wind carrying a stream of dust around her. He seemed to laugh and dodged the blows Keenyara threw at him and managed to slip far enough away from her to create more of the disks, though these had sharpened points and were fired at a closer range. Keenyara’s eyes widened as she reeled backward slightly and pushed one of her hands forward, palm facing Xuun stiffly. A narrow stream of wind burst forth and scattered the projectiles better. She ducked and weaved through the wave of glassy weapons, her gaze set on Xuun who regarded her almost appraisingly.

    “Well, I see that the Heavens have at least chosen a competent guardian for their little champions,” he derided. While his voice was usually high and pathetic, it was now deep, cold, and powerful. Keenyara’s eyes went wide and she quickly struck the ground with her staff, raising a huge dust cloud around them both. She cleared an area around she and Xuun, surveying him carefully.

    “What are you?” she asked coldly. Xuun smirked condescendingly.

    “Oh please, Keenyara. You can’t possibly think that only the side for ‘good’ would send a protector for their fighter? I was told that you were less naïve.” He almost seemed to grow in stature and breath in the instant that he spoke and in that instant Keenyara realized that she had underestimated her job. Everything was suddenly clear to her, but she continued to play it safely.

    “You’re Luand’r’s guard,” she said slowly. “Luand’r… she is the other side.” Xuun smirked and began to pace slowly while still appearing calm and in-control.

    “She is, though I have to say that she is an infuriatingly needy thing. Attention and praise and assurance, ugh! But her hate,” Xuun’s eyes seemed to glow and darken simultaneously, “her hate is wondrously intense.” Keenyara scoffed and held her staff more firmly, also beginning to move about the cleared out space.

    “Well, we all wish for the full package, huh? But really, shouldn’t you speak a bit nicer about your future ruler. After all, she controls your fate,” Keenyara asked, a trademark sneer gracing her lips. Xuun’s expression colored with anger and a short crystal blade abruptly hurtled toward Keenyara. Keenyara scoffed once more and twisted to the side, avoiding the shot easily.

    “Make no mistake,” Xuun growled dangerously, “I am the one in charge here. Luand’r may show her power and revel in her power, but I believe that even you know that true power is even greater when it is exercised in finesse and manipulation.” He laughed suddenly, a sound that raised the hairs on the back of Keenyara’s neck. “Didn’t you ever wonder what prompted this woman whom you had never met before to include you in a battle on which rides her very future? Surely you all didn’t think that she did this on pure whim.” The pair continued to circle one another.

    “You did that,” she stated and Xuun nodded.

    “It did not take much to convince her highness that it would be wise to add another player to the game, that it would be in our favor to involve someone that the Princess was close to and would sacrifice herself for. Luand’r is a fool, but a powerful fool. And a fool can be profitable as long as she is kept under control.”

    “So why did you insist that I be included? Not that I’m complaining. I’m having a wonderful time.”

    Xuun sobered instantly and he stopped pacing. “Yes well, I can’t be held accountable for all pleasantries,” he answered coldly. He advanced toward her and she held her ground, facing him boldly. “I am not stupid. I know your purpose here.” Xuun launched forward and made a swift grab for Keenyara’s neck, but the teen eluded him and struck forward with her staff. Xuun pushed the blow away as if it were nothing and pushed his hand outward. An invisible force radiated from him and Keenyara was knocked backward, sending her tumbling to the ground. Xuun grabbed both of her wrists, surprisingly strong, and pulled her up to face him. “You are an underhanded, tricky side step of the rules set down for the Last Battle, and I am here to neutralize the playing field once more.”

    Keenyara spat in his face, and was thrown away in disgust. She chuckled darkly. “It always surprises me how Evil is always surprised when I do that,” she snickered and stood. “So what are you saying? That you’re going to kill me? That you’re going to send me back to where I came from?” she taunted. Xuun narrowed his eyes and held up his hand, slowly making a fist.

    “Exactly.”

    Suddenly, the cloud of dust that had been sheltering their conversation dropped as Keenyara fell to her knees, clutching her lower stomach. Her face, for the first time, held vulnerability as blood poured from between her fingers and she cried out as a familiar burning sensation spread throughout her. Xuun stepped forward and took hold of her forearm and pulled her up to eye level.

    “Do you feel that Keenyara?” he asked quietly, his eyes boring into her own. “That is your past.” Keenyara growled and grit her teeth together, intent on keeping her whimpers of pain from escaping her. Yes, theses wounds were her past, with each of them came the memories. And she knew what was next.

    “Keenyara!”

    Keenyara swore, recognizing Starfire’s panicked voice. She heard clearly the whoosh of the Princess lifting into the air, rushing toward her. She wrenched herself from Xuun’s grasp and turned to her, a swear on her lips.

    “Watch your own *****ing back!” she snarled, startling the princess out of the air. Firrn was quickly upon her, along with Luand’r. Keenyara looked around and quickly found Blackfire sprawled on the ground, blood pooling slowly around her head. But Keenyara could hear her rhythmic breathing. She had been knocked out. Keenyara swore again. ‘It would be the one who talks too damn much,’ she thought viciously.

    Keenyara moaned as a searing burn began to twist down her back. Xuun took a firm hold of her braid and pulled her back. He sighed in an exasperated way and tisked.

    “This can be very simple. All I want you to do is give up your duties as guardian of those two little thorns in my side. Do that and I swear that all of the pain will go away.”

    Keenyara laughed harshly. “Sorry, old man. But even if I wanted to help you out, I couldn’t. Crushing isn’t it?” she almost giggled, mocking even through her pain. Xuun narrowed his eyes and conjured a crystal dagger. He sighed again.

    “Always difficult, aren’t you?” he questioned before plunging the knife into her back. Keenyara drew blood from her lip as she refused to cry out. Her knees felt weak and she felt almost limp in Xuun’s arms. “And what do you think of my offer now?” he asked, pushing her away from him. To his shock, a peal of laughter erupted from her as she dropped to her knees.

    “Sorry to ruin everything for you,” she mumbled, a drunken smile plastered on her face as she turned to regard him over her shoulder, “but I don’t play the victim very well.” Her eyes blazed fiercely as she yanked the knife from her back and flung it toward Xuun’s midsection and summoning a strong wind in her direction, forcing Xuun onto the point of his own knife. She maintained the stream as she fell to the ground, making sure that Xuun make solid contact with the opposite wall, his knife protruding from his stomach. He dropped to the ground and remained there, motionless.

    Keenyara’s breathing slowed as she blinked toward Starfire, fighting away her mother and former handler. She rolled over onto her back, sighing as the searing pain on her back subsided. The blood from the phantom wound on her stomach was quickly slowing and soon the wound would be gone entirely. She would live, but she was too exhausted to continue. She blinked blearily as darkness crept into her line of sight and sighed again. “Don’t let me down Starfire,” she mumbled. ‘Don’t let me down…’

    Starfire stared with wide eyes at Luand’r and Firrn as they advanced toward her slowly. Luand’r looked over her shoulder, surveying the three limp bodies behind them. She turned back to Starfire, a mocking smile on her face.

    “Well, your sharp-tongued friend seems to be out of the match, though I believe she eased your burden a tiny bit. Xuun of all people, I really don’t think it’s fair,” she laughed. Starfire’s eyes darted from one adversary to the other, wracking her brain for a plan. Her sword had been dropped a while before, out of her reach. Her eyes were alight, masking her panic.

    “Poor Koriand’r, all alone with a world on her shoulders,” Firrn commented, circling around her, pacing. Her mother remained stationary, and Starfire struggled to keep both in her line of sight. “Tell me, how old are you now? Have you been saving yourself just for me all of these years?” Luand’r chuckled.

    “Oh, do not delude yourself, dear Firrn. She keeps quite a pleasing little boyfriend, the leader of her team,” she snickered. Firrn’s eyes darkened.

    “Is that so?” he hummed. Luand’r nodded, regarding Starfire evilly. The three were motionless, Firrn and Luand’r standing on either side of Starfire, as Starfire trained a starbolt on each of them. “I can’t say that I would expect something so… manipulative of our princess. Is that how you maintain your place on the team?” he questioned. Starfire growled and released a shot toward him.

    Firrn dodged easily and dove toward her, pulling a long sword out as he went. Starfire’s eyes widened and she cursed her quick anger as she began to duck and weave through Firrn’s precise attacks. She grunted suddenly, as she felt a burning force on her back as she was propelled straight toward the tip of Firrn’s blade. Starfire swore and twisted hard, managing to kick an unsuspecting Firrn in the face. She launched into the air, closely pursued by her mother and a veritable wall of iridescent starbolts.

    She was sure she had never flown as agilely as she did then and yet, the ends of her hair suffered, burned to black crisps, and she came close several time to sustaining serious burns to her face, abdomen, all of her really. She fired shots from her hands and eyes with the rapid-fire accuracy that she had been trained with and still her mother dodged all of them and returned them with bolts that were, if possible, hotter and truer in aim. A sheen of sweat quickly covered her, sticky with the light coat of dust that also steeled on her skin. She needed to end this fight soon. It would be impossible for her to continue like this for much longer.

    She stole a glance at the ground, hoping desperately for some inspiration. She noticed Firrn pacing impatiently below them. He could not fly, no Psion could. Xuun was a sorcerer and so had some levitating abilities and powers of sorts, but most Psions relied on their speed and strength to fight.

    Firrn growled lowly and rested on his sword. “I am feeling distinctly left out, Your Highness,” he called into the air. His only answer was a large silver starbolt and a disdainful look from Luand’r. Starfire suddenly gasped with her eyes wide, an idea occurring to her. She quickly murmured a quick prayer. This was her last hope. This was Tamaran’s last hope.

    She suddenly dove low, heading straight for Firrn. Her mother followed, starbolts raining the entire way. She headed for Firrn, still weaving her way. She finally was there, engaging the surprised Firrn in a fierce hand-to-hand battle, all the while dodging her mother’s attacks. It was not as hard for her, as she often had to do the same when fighting with the Titans. Firrn, however, was inexperienced. He was jumpy in the heart of sizzling inferno. Starfire found that the heat hardly bothered her.

    Starfire fought ferociously, her fist connecting with Firrn’s cheeks and jaws more than a few times. But Firrn was hitting her back, not quite as many times, but hard enough to daze her. She continued to fight, however, turning often to release a shot toward Luand’r, who hovered over the fight, always keeping the stream of starbolts steady.

    “What is your plan, little Tamaranian?” Firrn shouted as he pressed her back, his sword flashing intimidating. Starfire growled at the absurd pet name he had given her during her youth.

    “I plan to show you that you could never control me,” she grunted back, releasing her starbolts on him. Firrn almost laughed and managed to maneuver around her until he was behind her. He slashed at her left shoulder, purposely just grazing the skin and making a shallow cut.

    “I remember a time when I controlled you well enough,” he sneered. Seeing his opportunity, he pulled back, ready to end it all, but was shocked and frozen by the glare that Starfire gave him over her shoulder. Her words barely registered to him as she whispered.

    “Never again.”

    Starfire’s hand shot forward, encased in a blazing emerald flame, tendrils of it trailing behind it. To his shock, she quickly too hold of the blade of his sword. A tint of read spread from her touch and the metal bent under her touch. Firrn released the hilt of the sword suddenly, the heat of it too intense. Starfire’s eyes narrowed as she smirked.

    Suddenly, she saw her chance and she grabbed Firrn roughly, and flung him hard into the air. Luand’r had been distracted by the stirring from her other daughter. The two collided with a dulled crack. Starfire flew upward a few feet before gathering her energy and releasing a powerful stream of energy from her hands and eyes.

    Suddenly, a violet blur shot upward, past Luand’r and Firrn. Blackfire hovered above them, her hands trained on the pair.

    “Starfire!” she called and Starfire cut the flow, flying to the side and out of the way. Blackfire shot one bolt at them, separating them cleanly. The sister’s shared a glance before darting toward an opponent each. Blackfire took a firm hold of her mother’s shoulders, ignoring the blows to her face and body. Starfire did the same to Firrn, her eyes boring into his.

    Simultaneously, two large clouds of smoke rose into the air and the two princesses made impact. There was a shout of frustration, one that was silenced almost instantly, and then there was stillness.

    The crowd watched with bated breath as two figures began to emerge from the smoke. One of them paused suddenly and started toward Keenyara. A slow shout began to grow throughout the arena as Princess Starfire knelt next to Keenyara, her fingers pressing against her neck, checking her pulse. The Tamaranians leapt to their feet as Blackfire raised Firrn’s sword in victory.

    “Commander Luand’r swore on X’hal herself that should Tamaran win, there should be no war!” she shouted over her people’s cheers. Starfire appeared by her side and set Keenyara gently on the ground before her, shooting worried glances at her, though a smile still prevailed on her face. “General Rutain, check the representative of the Psion army! They are unconscious and shall be for quite a while. They are unable to fight! They have LOST by the predetermined rules of a committee formed with both their representatives and ours! Victory has come to us, my subjects! Tamaran is free!”

    A shout rose anew through the arena and Starfire smiled once again. Three Psions entered the field, gathering their fallen leaders. They turned their noses up at the two Princesses and scurried off of the field and the Psion half of the mass began to file out of the stadium. Meanwhile, Tamaranian sprang into the air, darting this way and that, singing praises to X’hal and to Crown-Princess Kormand’r and Princess Starfire and Lady Keenyara. They laughed and cried and families, miles away, rejoiced upon hearing the happy sounds from the palace stadium.

    Starfire’s grin grew in size as she caught sight of her friends, her teammates. They approached her quickly, pride shining through their eyes. Cyborg crossed his arms.

    “I told you so,” he stated. Raven rolled her eyes.

    “Yeah, that’s why you were hiding behind your hands half of the time,” she mentioned. Starfire laughed, finding everything funny at the moment. She sobered some and looked down at Keenyara, who Starfire would think was dead had she not checked her pulse earlier. She did not even seem to breathe. Cyborg saw her looking and quickly stooped to pull her into his arms. Beastboy held her staff, looking positively giddy at the possibility of playing with the forbidden object.

    “She has saved Tamaran just as much as Blackfire or I have,” Starfire said softly as she touched her cheek. She looked up at her friends. “There must be a way for us to thank her somehow.” The Titans nodded, regarding the girl who seemed at first to be trying to prove to them that she was untrustworthy, yet had risked her life and sustained a major wound for one of them with nothing in return.

    Raven was poised to say something, but was interrupted by the quick and authoritative burst of Tamaranian from behind her. She turned to see a team of Tamaranians, all dressed in similar uniforms, two of them carrying a stretcher between them.

    One who was not carrying the stretcher said something again and this time gestured toward Keenyara. Comprehension dawned on Raven and she nodded toward Cyborg, who gently placed the teen on the stretcher.

    “Starfire, tell them that I’m coming with them. I’ll heal her, but I need them to carry her to whatever recovery room or bed they have,” Raven said. Starfire nodded and addressed the medical team, gesturing toward Raven. They looked at her and frowned, but did not seem to object.

    Robin placed a hand on her Starfire’s shoulder suddenly. “Hey, maybe you should go with them. You’re bleeding,” he pointed out. Starfire was suddenly aware of the sticky blood that trickled down her back and the fact that her hand had been sliced when she grabbed Firrn’s sword. She blushed suddenly. That move, she knew, was a bit hot-headed and dangerous. She nodded quickly.

    “Of course,” she commented and the Titans began to follow her into the Tamaranian infirmary.

    Not many people noticed them as they disappeared through the stone hallway leading away from the arena. But a very few of them did notice and watched them with rapt attention. And as the last Titan, Robin, disappeared into the hallway, two pairs of eyes reacted.

    Colorless, pale eyes widened in worry and panic.

    Dark green eyes narrowed in pure malice.
     
  6. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    I don't have a lot of time at my disposal, so unlike usual, I shall have to keep this brief.

    Simply put, that was a textbook case of how a fight scene should be done. Brutal, frantic, spectacular, emotionally-charged and with insanely high stakes, this set-piece had everything needed to set the pulse going, which it most certainly did. Our heroes were victorious - it would've been interesting to see the fallout if they'd lost, but never mind - but such were the odds against them, they had to work for their win. They could've been smacked down at any second, and that is a sure-fire way to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.:D

    Particular credit needs to be given to the two supporting villains in this scene. Rather than just being stock hechmen, Firrn and Xuun were given their own roles to play, adding so much extra drama to the piece that they almost upstaged even our own heroes. Firrn is perhaps the most utterly evil bastard I've ever seen in a work of fan-fiction, or even a work of fiction full-stop: boorish, depraved, domineering and with a years-old grudge still a bonfire in his heart, and that's just the nicer bits.:eek: And whilst not quite so evil, Xuun produced an even bigger effect, choosing this highly tense moment in which to spring one hell of an insano plot twist on us: Luand'r is his plaything, not the other way round. I sure didn't expect him to be one of the Big Bads here.:eek:

    Oh yes, and on a similar note...you've finally given us the impossible, and have Keenyara almost get her arse handed to her. You already know how much I detest that woman, so you can imagine how much of a happy that gave me.:D:evil: More to the point, it makes Xuun most hardcore indeed, perhaps too hardcore for the Titans to deal with. And it'll be interesting to see how Keenyara takes to not being the most powerful creature in our universee any more.;)

    There's a few more things I can say, but as I said, time is against me, so I shall have to end here. That was a grade-A chapter, a true stand-out even in a story where nearly all other chapters have been grade-A. There was much to enjoy, much to think about, and much to be proud of. Good work.:D

    -Matt A-
     
  7. Atoragon

    Atoragon *random sound effects*

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    I concur with Matt A whole-heartedly.
     
  8. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    AN:: ACK!! I swear I have a good reason why I dropped off of the face of the earth. THIS CHAPTER GAVE ME HELL!!! Plus once I had it halfway done my flashdrive broke... like in half. I don't know how. So... I'm really nervous about this chapter in particular so any comments and criticism is VERY appreciated. I want to add more to this but read the chapter first. there's an end note too so... that should explain what the h*ll I was thinking.

    (oh, and it got kind of complicated, trying to keep the speaking-in-english vs. speaking-in-tamaranian think down. So it's basically a context clues things. Sentences that are all in italics and spoken by someone who speaks tamaranian(basically everyone but Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Beastboy, Keenyara) are most likely in Tamaranian.)

    Chapter 12 :Temporary:

    “Fu**!”

    Someone in the room inhaled sharply while another giggled quietly. Keenyara disregarded this and continued to mutter obscenities as coherent speech came back to her. Flashes of memory assaulted her and she groaned, rolling onto her stomach.

    “Is she undamaged? Perhaps she is hallucinating,” a timid voice offered. Keenyara remembered the girl’s face clearly, but her name eluded her. This thought was followed immediately by the notion that she did not care in the least and the horrible throbbing in her lower stomach was what she did care about.

    “Actually, Kilaani, it’s the fact that she’s spouting off like it’ll save her life that tells us that she’s perfectly fine,” answered Cyborg’s smooth voice. Keenyara’s head felt like it would explode and she found that she had no energy to flip him off. She quickly substituted the next best thing.

    "Fu** you, you God-d*mned *sshole. I swear, if you’re not silent in the next few seconds I’ll shove my staff so far up your fu**ing USB port that ‘Booyah’ will cease to be a happy sound,” she snarled. Beastboy laughed, punching Cyborg’s shoulder lightly.

    “Ah, she got you good, dude!” he taunted. Robin crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow in Keenyara’s direction, something that she disregarded completely as she forced herself to sit up, surveying the room.

    “It’s kind of hard to tell she just dropped into the dimension a few days ago, huh?” he commented. Keenyara rolled her eyes and leaned her head back against the headboard of her bed. The room she was in was white, not the golden, sandstone-like color of most of the palace, and held two other beds like hers. The sky outside was dark, but the stars were not yet out, making her think that the sun had just recently gone down. The Battle for Freedom, as Tamaranian bards had begun to call it, had happened around noon. Keenyara had been unconscious for around seven or eight hours, yet still bangs and pops could be heard from surrounding towns. The planet was still in celebration.

    “Sh*t,” she swore once more, mostly because it bothered somebody present. “What the h*ll did I do?” she groaned, pulling her shirt upward and poking her stomach critically. Starfire flitted forward instantly and Keenyara had the distinct feeling that she would be very tired by the end of their conversation.

    “Friend, you have made it possible for Blackfire and I to save ourselves and our planet! My gratitude and debt to you is immeasurable!” she answered breathlessly, taking Keenyara’s hand and holding it tightly. Keenyara rolled her eyes and jerked her hand back, waving her lavish praise away.

    “Yes, yes, I know I’m wonderful. Get over it, as I have,” she muttered, looking away. “Like I said, I’m bound to serve you and cranky *ss over there. Anyway, what I wanted to know was, what did I do to make my stomach feel like there’s a fu**ing hole in it,” she added, taking deep breaths.

    “Well, Keenyara, what did you say to Xuun to get him so p*ssed at you? Because he’s the one who sliced you open,” Raven snapped. Keenyara sat up straight suddenly, wincing slightly.

    “Get it right! That decrepit old *ss couldn’t hit me if I were tied to a target. I never got hit,” she spat. She leaned back once more, still glowering. “He did some kind of witch sh*t. You know,” she adopted a low, masculine voice, raising a hand. “I’m going to eliminate you,” she imitated, closing her hand. Once done, she blew out a breath, flicked her hair over her shoulder and began to unbraid it. “Someone want to tell me what’s up with that?”

    Starfire bit her lip suddenly. “Xuun does have that ability, both to make you relive the pain of past wounds and also to literally reopen them. Although, I know that to reopen wounds causes him to loose quite a bit of energy and power and leaves him very weakened. He must have found a huge reason to hurt you,” she said slowly. Keenyara’s eyes darkened.

    “And how long does it take for the pain to stop?”

    Starfire shrugged uncertainly. “It depends upon the severity of the original wound,” she answered.

    Keenyara swore… again. This time she caught sight of Kilaani’s slight wince and allowed herself a small smirk. “You could have told me all of this before now!” she exclaimed. Starfire frowned.

    “Keenyara, unless your wound was fatal, I am sure the pain will fade eventually,” she said confusedly.

    “Perfect. I’m going to drop dead.”

    Raven rolled her eyes. “Stop being such a child. You aren’t dead, which means the wound wasn’t fatal, which means you’ll get over it,” she deadpanned. Keenyara crossed her arms.

    “In case you left your clue in your other leotard, this is not my dimension! In my dimension, I’m pretty sure I’m dead. As in, I’m buried in the ground at this very moment, dead. From this sh*t up in my stomach right now! So excuse me if I’m a little p*ssed about the fact that someone could have informed me of this before now!”

    Starfire blushed which made Raven cross her arms back. “Uh uh, Star. She’s not even really mad at you. She’s just trying to deflect the fact that she got wounded, bad. Get over yourself, Keenyara. Nobody cares,” she said, turning her gaze away. Keenyara balled her hands into fists.

    “You fu**ing demon! Get the fu**out of my head!”

    “I don’t have to be in your head to feel your emotions! Although, I guess it’s beyond you to exercise a little control!”

    “Oh, control, control, control! Like you’re such an expert on controlling yourself!”

    The Titans turned from one enraged female to the other, following their quarrel like a tennis match. Both women, who normally held a superior and higher-than-thou attitude, seemed to diminish in size until they were reduced to two bickering children. The simple argument quickly advanced to a fight and the Titans and Kilaani were stunned into silence at the vicious personal attacks the pair launched, and the image of children was shattered by the vast vocabulary both seemed to have.

    Robin was finally forced to step in once the battle got physical; launching a bird-a-rang at the lamp Raven had deflected back at Keenyara. Starfire and Kilaani winced simultaneously as the lamp shattered inches from Keenyara’s face. The remnants were blown away instantly and Keenyara moved to get up, eyes hard and throbbing fast enough to almost be a continuous light. Raven moved toward her also, her eyes black and crackling. The Titans glanced at each other before springing into action.

    Beastboy went to Raven, grabbing her hand. “Rae, get a grip!” he exclaimed, surprised by her actions. Raven turned to him, before slowly releasing her energy. The darkness faded from her eyes, leaving behind a lethal glare. She wrenched her hand away.

    “I’ve got a grip already! I’m perfectly calm!” she exclaimed, just as one of the decorative vases erupted in midnight flames and slowly collapsed on itself, eliciting another wince from Starfire and Kilaani.

    Starfire went closer to Keenyara, laying her hand on her shoulder. “Keenyara, do not attack Raven,” she said firmly. Keenyara’s muscles relaxed suddenly and she slumped back down on the bed, glowering. With a growl she threw herself out of the bed and stalked into the small bathroom that adjoined her bathroom, slamming the door with force enough to shake the walls slightly. The click of the lock was fairly loud.

    “I’m so tired of you bunch of asses b*tching at me for no reason!” Keenyara’s voice was muffled, but still easily understood. Raven stood suddenly, her armchair launching into the air behind her and shattering on the ceiling.

    “Kilaani, are we still doing this or what?” she snapped as she reached the door. Kilaani jumped and grinned, sliding from her seat.

    “Of course,” she almost laughed, hiding it unsuccessfully. “I shall see you later, Titans,” she said as she disappeared before Raven in order to lead the way to her room. Beastboy jumped up.

    “Hey wait! Can we come?” he asked quickly. Raven turned her deadly glare on him, though it had little effect.

    “No,” she bit out. “Psychics. Only.”

    Beastboy pouted. “Hey, that’s superpower-ism!” he shouted. Raven’s jaw clenched and she turned on her heel, ignoring him. Beastboy scrambled after her, shouting indignantly. “Raven’s a superpower-ist! She discriminates against non-psychics!” Cyborg hopped up.

    “Oh, this one is gonna be a good one!” he snickered. Starfire laughed as she darted forward also, getting to the door just in time to see Cyborg turn the corner. She turned, about to say something to Robin, but then she caught sight of the bathroom door, which remained closed resolutely. Robin followed her gaze and shrugged, giving an “after you” motion.

    Starfire sighed and went to the door, knocking swiftly. There was silence from the other side. “Keenyara!” she said imploringly. She was sure she heard Keenyara respond, but her voice was drowned out by shouts in the hallway.

    “Beastboy! Go away!”

    “No! Not until the rights of my non-psychic brothers and sisters have been—”

    “BB, duck!!”

    There was a crash, a pop, and a shrill scream. Robin and Starfire shared an anxious look before rushing out the door and around the corner. Suddenly there was another pop and a Tamaranian servant girl appeared, crying and screaming shrilly in Tamaranian as Kilaani tried in vain to calm her. Raven stood off to the side, looking much more calm than she had when she stormed from the infirmary room and Cyborg sat in the middle of it all, shaking his head wearily. Beastboy was nowhere.

    “Oh no,” Starfire gasped and rushed forward, rapid Tamaranian pouring from her. Robin stalked toward Raven, annoyed.

    “What happened?” he snapped.

    “Nothing,” Raven replied calmly. “I was trying to teleport Beastboy out of my face, but I missed and got that girl over there. I don’t see the problem. I brought her back, didn’t I?” she added defensively.

    Robin took a deep breath, trying to block Starfire’s conversation with the Tamaranian out. Trying to keep both languages straight in his mind when he heard both as English was giving him a headache. “All right, well where did you send her?” he asked, forcing himself to think and act rationally. Raven raised a single eyebrow and crossed her arms.

    “I don’t think it matters,” she answered, turning away. Robin’s jaw clenched and suddenly Starfire’s shocked voice burst forth.

    Ru Tamaran iy ra bin’thor??” she gasped, her voice alarmed. Robin rounded on Raven.

    “You sent her to the center of the planet?” he growled. Raven did not answer, just stared back at him boldly. “Raven,” he began, his voice deadly. “Get Beastboy out of Tamaran’s core! Now!”

    Raven rolled her eyes and waved her hand. There was another pop, which made the servant girl scream. Beastboy plopped down in the center of it all, rubbing his head.

    “Wow,” he coughed, looking up at Raven. “That place was kinda cool!” Raven rolled her eyes.

    “That was not the point,” she muttered. She turned away. “Kilaani,” she said, and began walking.

    Kilaani glanced sympathetically at the Tamaranian girl, though she seemed to be recovering from the shock quickly enough. She hurried to Raven’s side. The sounds of the panicked Tamaranian girl faded significantly as they rounded the corner and quiet began to regain its place. Kilaani regarded Raven carefully from the corner of her eye.

    “What?” Raven snapped, not sparing her a glance. Kilaani shook her head quickly, biting her lip to keep from grinning.

    “Nothing,” she answered. “You just look as if you feel better and…” She trailed off, thinking better of it. Raven finally shot her a look as they rounded a corner.

    “And?” she prompted. Kilaani scratched her chin nervously.

    “And, well, you seem to be the kind of person that maintains a calm aura. Why does Keenyara irk you so?” she asked carefully. Raven pressed her mouth in a thin line and was silent, and Kilaani gave up on an answer. She jumped slightly when she did.

    “Honestly?” Raven asked as they came to a set of stairs. Kilaani nodded and led the way down. “I don’t think she really does bother me, actually.” Kilaani glanced at her questioningly. Raven sighed. “For as much as we snip at each other, I know that we’re basically the same person. She’s just a lot more straight-forward in the way she expresses her personality. But when Keenyara starts with me, it’s like there’s something in her voice that’s encouraging me to lose control, not just to be sarcastic.” Raven shrugged. “I mean, I know we were mad at each other, but really it wasn’t so deep. It was almost like some kind of weird game.”

    Kilaani nodded. Suddenly Raven frowned, though. “Plus she’s d*mned b*tch.” Kilaani laughed to herself.

    -!-

    Starfire sighed, exhausted as she leaned her forehead against Robin’s shoulder. The two were perched on one of Starfire’s overstuffed couches. Robin chuckled and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer.

    “It took me an hour,” she mumbled into his shoulder. Robin grinned and tugged her into his lap.

    “I know.”

    “Raven and Beastboy and Cyborg, even Kilaani! They just left!” she continued, gazing at him with wide eyes.

    “I remember,” Robin answered. He pushed her hair out of her face affectionately.

    “The poor girl was practically hysterical.”

    Robin leaned forward and rested her forehead on her shoulder, sighing lightly.

    “I was there,” he answered, laughing slightly.

    The couple had decided that Keenyara would need time to rest and to wind down after her fight with Raven. They had ushered the poor girl into Starfire’s room, or rather, Starfire had while Robin followed, not having much else to do. Starfire, however, had put him to work, making some sort of tea-like drink while still jabbering on in Tamaranian. After an hour of sympathetic looks and apologies, the girl had left, still a bit shaky on her feet. The couple was left alone, Starfire almost exhausted and Robin fairly amused.

    “How’re you feeling?” he murmured, pressing his forehead against hers, his hands resting around her hips. Starfire shifted, settling herself so that she was straddling his lap. She draped her arms around his neck, fingers playing gently in his hair.

    “What do you mean?” she asked, tilting her head. Robin leaned forward to snag her lips gently. Finally he pulled back.

    “Well,” he began, “you got out of battle a while ago. I know you felt fine before, probably from the adrenaline rush or something, but I bet it’s kicking in by now.” Starfire blinked blankly at him and shook her head, leaning forward to nuzzle against his ear.

    “‘Kicking in’?” she murmured, threading her fingers through his. She started slightly when he pinched her side lightly.

    “It means, pretty soon you’re going to be really sore,” he answered and kissed her knuckles. Starfire gave him a stern look.

    “You worry about me too much,” she stated, pulling back to cross her arms disapprovingly. Robin smirked and ran his hands down her arms before gently prying her arms apart and placing them around his neck once more. Starfire gave him a sly look and looked away resolutely. He pulled her closer, kissing her cheek and then her neck.

    “You give me too many reasons to worry,” he retorted, running his hands down her frame. Starfire shuddered slightly as he returned to her neck, kissing and sucking alternately. She bit her lip, feeling his hands wander her hips and legs. “Answer the question,” he prompted between his kisses. Starfire shrugged rolling her shoulders slightly.

    “I am not so sore now, but my shoulders are slightly tight,” she answered. She tugged on the hairs on the nape of his neck, getting him to look at her. “However,” she added, pressing her forehead against his, “My lips are not sore.” She winked impishly at him as he grinned and nipped at her lower lip before kissing her firmly. She started slightly at the rough affection, but responded in kind, trying to press herself even closer. Her tongue ran along his bottom lip and he accepted her eagerly, pushing his own tongue into her mouth.

    Starfire groaned and tangled her fingers in his hair, rising on her knees over him. Robin growled and gripped her hips, pulling her back down to him. “Stop that,” he mumbled before kissing her again. Starfire giggled slightly, but the sound was lost in Robin’s mouth. The Titan leader fell backward onto the couch, drawing his girlfriend down with him. His hands caressed some before finally coming to rest, one on her butt and the other on the back of her head.

    Starfire pulled away some, catching her breath and wondering faintly what kind of trouble she would be in should someone walk in on them. True, Galifore had approved her relationship with Robin, but that did not necessarily give them license to do whatever they wished. It was the same as if a father on earth approved of his daughter’s boyfriend. He still would be pissed should he find the two making out as passionately as Robin and Starfire were.

    “Robin,” Starfire mumbled, her thoughts jumbled, “you are feeling quite,” her breathing hitched as he kissed her briefly, “Um, playful?” she finished, uncertain of her wording. Robin chuckled.

    “Yeah, well, you’re sexy when you’re speaking Tamaranian,” he whispered into her ear huskily. Starfire smirked slightly.

    “Eerob?” she whispered.

    “Yeah, really.”

    Starfire kissed him back and leaned forward, nuzzling his ear and beginning a stream of Tamaranian, low and just for him. Robin hummed his approval, listening to her voice waver whenever he caressed her just the right way or massaged the right spot. Suddenly, he registered upon what she was saying, not just how it was being said.

    “I know that is not really why,” she murmured intimately to him. Robin did not answer, just squeezed her bottom briefly. The hand she had lain on his chest twitched and she bit back a moan. “Tell me, please,” she breathed. For a moment, Robin considered ignoring the question and drawing her thoughts away. He knew that Starfire was unlike him in the way that if he avoided a subject she would back off. But Starfire seemed to read his thoughts and pulled away suddenly, crossing her arms over his chest and gazing evenly at him. Robin sighed wearily and cupped her cheek gently.

    “I hated the way that *ss kept manhandling you,” he stated vehemently. Starfire frowned sadly and looked away. Of course she had hoped that maybe he had not been paying attention during that part of her battle. Of course, she had known this was foolish absurdity.

    “I know,” she answered simply.

    “His hands were all over you!” Robin continued. Starfire shivered slightly, though her fear of Firrn had diminished amazingly now that she was with Robin.

    “I remember.”

    Robin pushed her hair off of her neck, revealing a small bruise, Firrn’s doing. “He kissed you.”

    “I was there.”

    Robin shook his head and leaned forward to kiss the offending mark softly, careful not to hurt her. He then kissed his way upward finally tugging on her ear with his teeth. “I am the only one who gets to kiss you,” he finished forcefully, rolling so that he was over her and melding their lips together once more.

    Neither was sure how long they remained that way, but both were very aware of when it ended.

    Robin looked up swiftly as Starfire’s door slammed open and a male voice shouted a Tamaranian swear. Starfire only had time to catch a glimpse of identical dark green eyes and black hair before the pair sprang forward. The first took hold of Robin, slamming him viciously against the opposite wall as the second, the one who had shouted, grabbed Starfire’s upper arm, jerking her up to face him.

    Starfire’s eyes widened in confusion as she recognized Lirain, General Rutain’s son, who glared at her in disgust. “You,” he spat, “are nothing but a worthless slut.” Starfire narrowed her eyes in anger, still just as confused. She grabbed his wrist, summoning a starbolt to that hand.

    “Let go of me!” she snapped, releasing only a fraction of the heat she possessed. Lirain hissed in pain and threw her back towards the door, though she pushed off of the wall easily, rocketing back to him. She shoved him back onto the couch and kept going, jerking Lirain’s twin off of Robin who fell easily to his feet and glanced back up at her.

    Robin’s eyes narrowed as he rolled her shoulder slowly, hey eyes never leaving his opponents. He recognized Lirain easily enough to know that he was the son of a general. He essentially worked for Starfire. He had attacked Starfire. “What’s going on here?” he asked as the two brothers stood side-by-side looking livid. Starfire shook her head and lowered herself gently to the ground. She stepped forward, her eyes alight and her features terrifyingly smooth.

    “I do not know, but I will find out,” she muttered crossly. “What is the meaning of this?” she said louder, in Tamaranian. Her voice was cold. Robin stood and crossed his arms, surveying them calculatingly. For the moment, he knew his role. Hold your own. Lirain grabbed a vase and hurled it at the wall, letting it shatter.

    “I will tell you what it is about!” he shouted. “Disgrace yourself as often as you wish, for as long as you wish. My brother and I may have even come to watch! But now you are disgracing Tamaran with your filthy Earth boy!” Starfire darted forward, kicking Lirain’s legs out from under him before he could blink. She slammed her fist against the floor next to his head, a move that was common in Tamaranian sparring matches. Starfire remembered it even after her years of absence. When she was little, the older warriors did it all the time and the youngest would often imitate it. She never before could grasp its significance. Now she understood. It was meant to intimidate, to demand respect. Starfire glared down at him, her knee planted in the center of his chest.

    “You will show respect to the leader of my unit!” she snarled, outraged. “And I will not be disrespected before him.”

    Robin’s eyes were wide with surprise, but he remained silent. Tamaran was a complex place. Something was telling him that it was getting more complicated by the second.

    “And yet, you allow your ‘leader’ to grab and grope you like a common whore?” spoke the second man, identical to Lirain, but with a softer more malicious voice. “I have seen girls from the lower harem conduct themselves with more dignity.” He pulled an official looking envelope from his robes and held it out toward Starfire, whose eyes began to burn brighter. He sneered. “The fact is, Koriand’r, that Tamaran will no longer allow you to disrespect the title of Princess of Tamaran, Second in Line for the Throne.”

    Starfire swiftly and gracefully pulled away from Lirain and approached his brother. She rose into the air slightly to hover over him as she pushed her face close to his. “Insolence!” she hissed. The man also began to hover, snarling.

    “Have I forgotten my manners?”

    “Do not push me, Forain!”

    Forain suddenly took her by her shoulders and slammed her into the opposite wall. “Oops,” he murmured, laughing drunkenly. Growling, Starfire kneed him in the groin and shoved him away. Lirain, however, was quickly shooting upward to take his place. He was cut short, however, when a red and yellow bird-a-rang grazed his side, freezing him in shock. Starfire looked down to Robin who caught the returning weapon effortlessly, his blank mask burning into Lirain. She dropped to his side as the two brothers began to circle the couple.

    “I asked you what this was about!” Starfire shouted, her anxiety getting the best of her and turning to rage. This was not Tamaran. These were boys she had grown up with, had sparred with, learned with. She and Lirain had been playful rivals. She and Forain had been bitter enemies. But even through all of the enmity, a level of respect had remained constant. Because no matter her personality, she was royalty and they were not. Respect was the only thing keeping Tamaran from complete chaos. And the twins’ behavior was going quite a way past disrespect.

    Forain crossed his arms. “That letter is directly from Rik. It explains everything. Read it.”

    Her fingers trembling slightly, Starfire tore open the envelope, her eyes darting furiously across the paper. Robin spared a glance at it over her shoulder, but did not recognize the strange characters before him. Starfire’s finger’s clenched suddenly and she dropped the paper to the floor. The light from her eyes had been extinguished and her face was pale with shock. She pressed her lips together in a grim line.

    “Get out,” she whispered. Lirain swooped forward and glared down at her.

    “We have been ordered to escort you to them!” he snapped back. Starfire lowered her head.

    “Robin, step back, please,” she murmured in English. Robin’s eyes remained fixed on Lirain, but he stepped back hesitantly. Starfire looked up at Lirain, her eyes fiercely bright. The air around her began to shimmer with heat and her hair swayed softly. Robin knew what was coming and took another step back.

    “I said get OUT!” she shouted and released a bright flare from her hands in eyes, releasing low voltage, but bright starbolts around her. Lirain and Forain started and retreated out of the door.

    As they disappeared Starfire powered down and angry, desperate, and anxious tears sprang into her eyes. “And tell the leaders that I will not be treated like a criminal. I am still a member of this royal family,” she shouted.

    An obnoxious laugh sounded from the hallway as Robin’s arms encircled her waist, trying to protect her from whatever crisis was clawing at her now.

    “For now,” they heard Lirain laugh. Starfire shook her head, pulling away from Robin.

    “Indeed,” she whispered shakily, sinking weakly to the floor. “For now.”
    --------------------------------

    PleasePleasePleasePleeeeease don't think that's I'm making Starfire into a conceited "I'm-the-Princess" kind of character. I was trying to bring out the fact that this is her life and her culture and her planet and it is all crumbling right in front of her. And she's stuck right in the middle. Essentially, she IS the princess and that amount of dissrespect is not due to a princess.

    Does that make sense?

    Well anyway, everyone will find out what was in this mysterious note by next chapter!! I'll try not to take so long this time, though...
     
  9. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    First up, sorry for taking six days to write this. I was hoping that a three-week Easter holiday would allow me to not be busy, but sadly, no such luck there.:sad:

    Anyway, I'm here now, and I must offer my thoughts on the chapter. That, it must be said, was kinda random: zero-kelvin cool, of course, but still kinda random. We started out with some blackly comic antics between Raven, Keenyara and Beast Boy, which only got funnier as they got more savage; then we turned to an intimate moment between Robin and Starfire, equal parts romantic, cute and poignant; then, finally, there was a very abrupt cut to Starfire's confrontation with Lirain and Forain, with its startling tension and ill omens. A hell of a lot covered there, I think.

    Because I can, I'll go with the last incident first. It's already been established that Starfire isn't Tamaran's favourite daughter, not to mention that Rik is pursuing some very unhelpful domestic policies, but I wasn't expecting these two plot points to collide so quickly and so drastically. I mean, Starfire helped save the entire planet not even twelve hours ago, and its ruling figures think that now is the best time to impeach her. But even without the dodgy timing, this is a pretty serious turn of events...and sometimes tells me that it's about more than just Starfire's style of personal relations.;)

    On a similar note, I have to agree with your after-note. I think Starfire's problem here is that she's having to be two completely different people: with the Titans, a colleague, friend and now girlfriend; with the Tamaranians, a princess, warrior and guardian of morality. That kind of clash isn't easy anyway, but what makes it extra tricky is that being a princess, and having the authority of one, depends on receiving due deference, and the people who's respect she needs won't give it to her. Whether because of her role in the Titans, or because of something more sinister, it isn't yet 100% clear, but that's still gotta be rough.:sad:

    But, important though this may be, there are other things in this chapter to comment on. And so I must turn, as I invariably do, to Keenyara, and her immeasurable coolness: even with Raven and Beast Boy, those consummate scene-stealers, hanging around, it's impossible for her to say or do anything without flinging herself onto centre-stage. In particular, genius points must go to her opening swearing binge: I find that kind of thing funny anyway, but announcing her coming-round through a string of obscenities was just a classic.:D And I also have to express thanks for these two comedic gems:

    Class.:D

    Funny Points also have to be given to Raven's teleportation trick: sending Beast Boy and an anonymous Tamaranian (the latter by accident, no less) to the centre of the planet is a move so insane as to be its own special brand of genius.:D And I have a feeling it might also be more than a one-shot gag, too: seeing as the two victims didn't die a horrible death, there has to be something other than the usual super-super-heated lava down there. The question is, what? And what role will it be playing?;)

    Then last, but by no means least, we have Robin and Starfire's "intimate moment". This could've easily been, as Lirain and Forain believed, just an excuse for some fan-service pornography...and indeed, such scenes are often exactly so. But you're a writer of far greater intelligence, and far greater creativity, than those kinds of cheap tricks: the conversation Rob and Star had whilst "making out" (God, I hate that phrase) was of a not particularly romantic nature, mainly about Robin's ever-typical obsession with her safety. Combining these two aspects, the happy physical and the serious emotional, demonstrates very well the shaky ground on which their relationship rests. In particular, I really liked the mirroring of "I know"/"I remember"/"I was there", turning a cute gag into something very poignant: that Rob and Star still can't truly understand each other. Sad, but very effectively written.:)

    Well, that's about all from me. As always, that was a cracking read, with lots to enjoy and think about. Now to see where all these developments go next...;)

    -Matt A-
     
  10. paranoidguy103

    paranoidguy103 Getting more paranoid everyday

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    Good work as always

    This chapter was great! I like your entire fanfic, and your story has taken an interesting shape. When does your next chapter come out, I can't wait for it. Interesting that Starfires homepeople are trying to... disown or disgrace her? The plot has taken an interesting turn, and is keeping me guessing at whats going to happen next. Keep up the good work.
    Paranoidguy103
     
  11. r/s4ever

    r/s4ever The pizza is MINE!

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    i really did not understand it very well. could you explain it to me?:confused:
     
  12. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    Hey there, everyone! r/s4ever, I'll pm you in a minute. OK, this chapter has no Keenyara(;) ) and virtually no Titans. All about Starfire and Tamaran. And in case someone wasn't sure, Starfire=Koriand'r and Blackfire=Kormand'r. I made up the last names.

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    Chapter 13 :Choose:

    ‘Remember your lessons. Remember where you are. You are no longer on Earth. You are Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne.’ Starfire took a last look at her friends, searching for a hint of support in their eyes. But all she saw was confusion and apprehension. Frowning, she instead turned to the large door before them, flanked by three soldiers. Starfire inhaled deeply as they approached it, trying to calm her thin-stretched nerves.

    The soldiers exchanged weary glances as the Princess and her friends approached. Starfire stood straight before them, her gaze moving from one to another and each time it was a soldier who looked away first.

    “I am here, responding to my summons. Rik is present already, I assume,” Starfire stated quietly. The soldiers exchanged looks once again. Finally one of them stepped forward and bowed to her.

    “Your highness, we were instructed only to admit yourself,” he said respectfully. Starfire tilted her head.

    “My team will accompany me,” she said simply. The first soldier seemed to look toward his comrades for help, still uncertain. Starfire narrowed her eyes and moved forward, making no response as the soldiers moved aside at her approach. She laid a hand on the door handle and looked back, giving the Titans a significant look. She turned to the soldier who had spoken with a respectful look. “I am sorry, sir, but I was not making a request.” She pushed the doors open without another word, ignoring the part of her that was itching to turn and apologize for such rudeness.

    ‘But I cannot be Starfire here. Just for now, Starfire… Starfire must wait,’ she told herself firmly.

    Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, was not meek, was not a coward. For years she had been taught her place, lessons that thrilled and excited her and lessons that left her swooning and nauseous. And no matter how much Starfire protested, insisted that no one person could be above another, Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, knew. Her place was above that of Rik.

    Koriand’r was sure to take measured steps into the large open space that opened up before them. She stared straight ahead of her, not making eye contact with any of the leaders, but neither looking feebly toward her feet. The floor around her was wide and circular. Sitting above it all on a raised platform at one end of the room was Rik, glaring solemnly down at her. Lirain and Forain stood below them, at attention. Koriand’r came to a stop in the center of the room and heard the Titans do the same a few feet behind her.

    Suddenly, a pang of guilt passed through her. She continued to question herself even as she stood there. Should she have involved them in this? Would they suffer because of her? Would Earth suffer because of her?

    “Please understand me,” she had pled with them. “I am… I am most likely on trial against Tamaranian warriors. We are no longer on Earth. If you are pushed, you must push back. If you are fought, fight back. Do not worry about me, or what your actions will mean for me. Just remember yourselves. Do you understand? This is not Earth.”

    She hoped her whispered and rushed warnings would be enough to get them all through this.

    “What exactly do you think you are doing here?” The harsh question rang out suddenly from one of the older leaders. Koriand’r could not remember his name. She lifted her chin defiantly, staring boldly at the leaders. There were seven in all. All she had to do was show reason to two of them, just two.

    For Rik alone, it took a six-to-one vote to dethrone a princess.

    “I was unjustly ordered here and told to let myself be escorted like a common criminal. That is what I am doing here.” She was sure to keep her voice even. Cold. She knew her place. She had to show them theirs.

    One of the Leaders clenched his jaw angrily, though he did not reprimand her. He only pointed toward the door she had just come through, back toward where she knew the Titans were standing. “Fool,” he sneered. “I know why you are here. Why are they? Your orders were to come alone.”

    Koriand’r narrowed her eyes. She had not changed into one of her more formal gowns, the way that Rik had instructed her to. She had refused to put on the heart-shaped crown that was her birthright. Her hair hung down, not arranged in the elaborate style of such a heavily solemn meeting. She had brought the Titans along with her while her orders had been to come alone. The meaning of all of this defiance was quite clear.

    ‘I am not your’s to command and control,’ she raged silently, still outraged by this blatant disrespect. At least in the beginning the remarks had been whispered, measured. None had been so bold as to speak such insolence to her face. That was changing. Koriand'r narrowed her eyes. ‘It is the other way around!’

    “Until you all have charged me formally with whatever nonsense you have made up and announced a verdict against me, I remain a part of the royal family and may have anyone I choose accompany me anywhere I like. My teammates shall remain,” she answered quietly and vehemently.

    Another of Rik’s members gave her a sticky sweet smile. She remembered him, General Thr’om. His clear indigo eyes and red hair were often thought of as handsome. He was possibly the most insincere and fake of the entire council.

    “Please understand, Princess, we only want your friends to be safe. We all know how delicate humans can be,” he said, a wide, condescending smile plastered onto his face. Lirain stooped suddenly and grabbed a small stone.

    “A Tamaranian trial is nowhere for a weak Earthling!” he snapped as he darted into the air, flinging the rock forcefully at the Titans, probably hoping to scatter them. Angered, Starfire’s eyes and hands ignited, but Raven seemed to be quicker. A cloud of darkness sprang upward and enveloped the projectile, flicking backward before hurling it straight back toward Lirain, who dodged it deftly. Koriand’r saw with satisfaction that a few of the leaders looked shocked, impressed with such a simple trick. Raven’s hands lowered slowly, her eyes still black with gathered energy. The Titans’ faces were stony.

    Koriand’r gave Rik a withering look. “You would do well not to refer to my teammates and friends as anything less than noble, courageous, and strong,” she said. “They stay.” Her voice became hard and finite. General Thr’om gave her blank smile, though his eyes burned angrily. Yet another member, named General Ryer’n, gave her a hard glare, leaning forward. His eyes were green and his hair red, the traditional look of a Tamaranian. He was known also to have the traditional temperament of a Tamaranian.

    “Let the humans remain,” he ordered impatiently. “If you are so eager to have them here then know that any harm that befalls them is your fault. And we shall begin the trial, because you seem so damn ready.” Koriand’r clenched her jaw to keep from saying anything. The general pointed to the small hole on the far wall, made by Raven and the rock she had pitched. “Why is it that you were not able to destroy that? You do, after all, posses this mysterious and destructive power,” he sneered. General Thr’om folded his hands neatly before him.

    “You see, Your Highness, a warrior princess must be prepared at all times. We feel that perhaps, Earth has been less than beneficial to you and—”

    “Together we battle monsters and villains that make you all look like children in comparison! I had no reason to think that they were in danger because this idiotic bastard tossed a rock!” Koriand’r snarled, advancing a few steps. General Rutain, who had been watching the trial quietly until then, stood suddenly. Lirain and Forain’s hands curled into fists, but General Rutain extended his arm curtly.

    “Princess,” he began, “You will control yourself! May I remind you that the father of that ‘bastard’ you speak of is present? Tell me that Earth has not erased the etiquette that we worked so hard to instill in you,” he said with a quiet intensity.

    Koriand’r’s face flushed, not from embarrassment, but from anger. She wanted to scream at them, ‘And what of your manners, your respect? What has life envying the Emperor done to that lesson?’ But it was a complicated game that she played with Rik and instead she dipped her head. “I apologize, General,” she ground out, keeping her body rigid and trying to keep herself under control. “Forgive me.” General Rutain nodded and sat down once again.

    “Now, Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, we believe that your time on Earth, under the leadership of mediocre commanders, has made you unfit to rule our great Tamaran. We also believe that your time on Earth, with the Psions, and with the Gordanians have skewed your sense of honor and dignity. Your reply to these accusations?”

    Koriand’r’s hands and eyes ignited instantly and she dropped into a fighting stance on instinct. She had no idea why they continued to insist on insulting not only her boyfriend, but her leader. They of all people could understand loyalty to one’s commanding officer. They knew the weight of insulting one’s leader. It was unacceptable in the Tamaranian military, in life in general, and it was still unacceptable to her.

    Behind her she heard a rustle and Robin’s angry intake of breath. But he did not move. Koriand’r was not sure why and after a moment of thought she was grateful. She had to keep things simple, between she and Rik. The Titans had to be strong, it was true, but they did not have to be so bold.

    “You will retract that statement!” she barked. General Rutain looked as if he were thinking of just ignoring her her, but a member on his left gave him a look and he nodded graciously.

    “Granted, I was out of bounds. However, it cannot be disputed that the leadership that you have previously been under is nowhere near our standards. You have suffered under his guidance,” he loudly accused. Starfire angrily drew herself to her full height.

    “Your lies sicken me,” she spat. “Robin is an exceptional leader and teacher. I am X’hal-blessed to have the opportunity to serve under him!” Forain dove at her suddenly, pushing her to the ground and trying to pin her there. But she used his momentum to her advantage, flipping them both and slamming Forain viciously to the ground. But she did not have time to gloat her victory because Forain grabbed the wrist that had been pinning him to the floor and yanked as he twisted, switching them once more. As they rolled he took hold of her other arm and crossed them both over her chest, holding her down. He smirked spitefully down at her, pushing his face uncomfortably close to her’s.

    “Under him, you say? Tell me, princess, do I teach you the way that he does?”

    Koriand’r drew a sharp breath in shock that such a comment would be made in Rik’s presence. She wanted to believe that no matter how unruly the leaders had become that they would still condone such an audacity. She almost thought of waiting and letting Rik deal with him and saving her energy.

    Until she heard a soft chuckle, not from the Titans and not from Lirain.

    With a cry of outrage, Koriand’r let her power explode, literally, throwing Forain off of her and startling the elders, though the Titans seemed as if they knew this was coming. Robin was breathing harshly, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. Koriand’r almost seemed to mirror him as she advanced toward Forain and Rik slowly.

    “That is all! You are finished! By X’hal, I swear that is the last time I let you share your little joke. That is the last time you will stick your noses into my personal business and judge the decisions I have made by your standards! I swear it by X’hal, do you hear me?” she shouted, her voice heavy with emotion. Her hands were trembling slightly no matter how hard she clenched them, trying to hold them still. Silence reigned in the large room, too large. Finally though, General Rutain laid his hands flat on the table and leaned back in his seat.

    “Fine, Princess, since you have brought it up yourself, we shall address that issue. Your courting of the Earth Leader, Robin. What is your explanation?”

    Koriand’r sneered. “I owe you no explanation. You explain yourselves to me. Not only have I heard these rumors, but my team has heard and inquired them. I want you to explain to them how the great Tamaran that I am repeatedly telling them about has reduced itself to petty name-calling and gossip. Tell them, for I am too ashamed of you to tell them myself!”

    General Ryer’n slammed his palms onto the table, rising from his seat. “Hold your tongue, child! How dare you presume to know of Tamaran’s glory! How dare you presume that we are the ones to be ashamed of here while you go gallivanting throughout the galaxy, whoring your body to X’hal knows how many repulsive creat—”

    The general’s words were cut off as Koriand’r darted forward, pinning him against the opposite wall. Her eyes were almost white with her fury and General Ryer’n felt the heat from her eyes and hands wash over his face.

    “It is possible, my general, that you did not hear me. I said that I would no longer allow you or anyone, no matter their species, to defile my honor in such a way,” Koriand’r whispered, her voice deadly. “Now, if you have a problem with my travels through the galaxy, perhaps you should have fought a bit harder to take me back from the Psions and my mother. Rik, after all, was in charge before Princess Kormand’r took back the throne.

    “Perhaps that is why I am being met with such hostility here. For years, the Emperor’s power was yours, but my sister and I came and took the power back, restored the bloodline! Tell me, great General, is the real reason of my trial my behavior, or your greed?” She was almost shouting by the time she finished, still pinning the General there. With narrowed eyes, the general threw her off of him and attempted to slap her. Koriand’r pushed his blows away, once, twice, but he caught her on the third try, throwing her viciously to the ground.

    The stone floor cracked upon her impact, but she was up within seconds, watching her opponent with weary eyes. Ryer’n landed before her, stalking forward slowly and blatantly ignoring the protests of his fellow generals. Koriand’r had been waiting tensely for him to strike her again, but he instead reached out swiftly and grabbed her by the upper arm, pulling her close.

    “I am being quite gentle with you right now, brat,” he hissed as Koriand’r refused to look away. “But be forewarned. If you challenge me once again, I will accept. Earth may have made you bold, but do not make the mistake of thinking that your pet earthling can teach you to exceed your elders. I advise you once more: hold your tongue!” Koriand’r snarled and twisted hard, kicking toward the general’s head, but he took the blow with his shoulder, sliding back a few feet. The pair proceeded toward each other, until there was suddenly a tall, muscular woman between them, giving them both withering looks.

    “Enough of this!” she snapped. General Sinture was the only female member of Rik, and for the reason of sheer rarity, the most respected. Ryer’n glowered but did not move to disobey her. Koriand’r had the urge to sigh in relief, but she held it in, resolving instead to step daintily out of her fighting position. She gave General Ryer’n a glare before inclining her head to General Sinture. The woman only sniffed disdainfully in her direction. “You both behave like children. You disgrace you positions. Now, if the princess had no more arguments in her behalf, then I suggest that we make our final vote,” the woman snapped.

    General Ryer’n harrumphed and flew back to his seat. Koriand’r stood straight backed, hoping that she had played the game as skillfully as she thought she had. She had stood up for herself, she had sustained in a physical fight between herself and a Leader, and most of all she had refused to back down. Her large green eyes, a perfect example of a Tamaranian woman’s eyes, burned intensely into the members of Rik. “I have no objections,” she said finally.

    General Sinture nodded her approval and took her seat once more. General Rutain, who was one of the head council members, took a sweeping gaze over his fellow members.

    “We, the members of Rik, Council to the Emperor, do accuse Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, of abandoning the principles and lessons of Tamaran. We accuse her of swearing allegiance to an institution other than the Tamaranian Empire. We accuse her of becoming unfit to rule.” He turned his sight on her, the official speech booming throughout the room.

    “Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, you have deemed these accusation untruths, correct?”

    “Correct,” Koriand’r answered stiffly.

    “And have you found this trial fair? Have you been permitted to defend yourself as is the law of Tamaran?”

    Koriand’r narrowed her eyes. She could not say no. She could not say that this hearing was rigged against her and that it was an uphill battle from the start. She could not say that the disrespect she had received throughout the hearing had made the entire thing a joke, with her as the punch line. She could not say this because it was not in the script.

    “It has.” Her insides trembled as she said it, an ominous feeling passing over her. General Rutain turned his gaze away from her.

    “And you, council members, have you each come to a decision, one made of your own accord and influenced by nothing other than the arguments made here?” Each member made a gesture of confirmation and General Rutain nodded. “Now, will you please stand upon your turn should you find Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia, Second in Line to the Throne, innocent of the crimes we accuse her of.”

    Because he was the furthest left, General Rutain was expected to go first. He sat and turned his face away. A guilty vote.

    The next, one she did not know, also turned his head away.

    It came to General Ryer’n. Guilty.

    And the next voted guilty.

    The next was General Thr’om. Koriand’r fully expected him to turn his face away, like all of the others, but he gave her a calculating look before standing. “You have done wrong, Princess, but I believe that a second chance is in order,” he said with an inviting smile. Koriand’r suppressed a shiver. She could see his true intentions in his eyes. He just wanted her punished.

    The next council member seemed not to share General Thr’om’s opinion. He sneered in her direction and turned away. Koriand’r’s eyes were wide with fright by then, no matter how much she told herself that she had to maintain a semblance of calm. The possibility that she had ruled out more than once throughout the trial became very real to her. She would be dethroned. She could be banished or disgraced. They could effectively end her life on Tamaran.

    The last voter was General Sinture. If she turned her face away from Koriand’r in shame, it was over and Koriand’r would be at the mercy of the court to find her sentencing. But if she stood… if only she stood.

    It seemed like the General stared at her for an eternity, her critical gaze unreadable. And then, agonizingly slowly, she stood.

    The council members who had voted before her erupted in a fit of shouting. Accusatory fingers were pointed angrily toward Sinture and at each other. For a moment, Koriand’r thought her knees would buckle with the relief she felt. She knew her face betrayed her, for the general gave her a stern look.

    “Do not misunderstand my vote, Princess,” she said sternly. Her eyes were hard set on Koriand’r and she ignored the shouting all around her. “You will have to work to regain our trust.” Koriand’r gazed upward at her, having regained the calm facade that she was forced to maintain. She nodded evenly and turned her gaze on General Rutain who had conducted the entire affair.

    The general’s face was splotched red with anger and his lips were pursed furiously. He stood stiffly, taking great breaths slowly through his nose. “I… you have earned your innocence, Princess,” he said slowly. Koriand’r narrowed her eyes.

    “Then exonerate me formally,” she answered. She could see the general’s fists clench and he looked as if he were barely restraining the foulest of curses.

    “As is the law,” he muttered furiously to himself. “Princess Koriand’r iy And’nia your innocence—”

    “—Has yet to be assured, if you ask me.”

    Koriand’r’s blood turned to ice in her veins as she turned to face her sister, who stood framed by the light of the hallway. Kormand’r’s hands were propped on her hips as she smirked cockily at the scene before her. All of Rik behind her dropped into simultaneous bows, but Koriand’r and the Titans remained upright, shocked. Kormand’r sighed softly and approached her sister. She did not acknowledge the generals above them or the Titans. Her eyes remained locked on Koriand’r.

    Softly, Kormand’r touched the princess’ shoulder. Koriand’r’s eyes were wide with uncertainty. Kormand’r’s words had been accusing, yet her actions were surprisingly soft, almost caring. Biting her lip, Koriand’r touched her hand on her shoulder, conveying her silent question.

    Suddenly, Kormand’r’s soft and gentle touch tightened painfully and she threw Koriand’r mercilessly to the ground. Koriand’r cried out, more in surprise than pain. Kormand’r refused to look down at her and flicked imaginary dirt from her outfit.

    “Remember your manners, dear sister, and learn when to bow,” she said lightly, disinterested. She turned her attention away from Koriand’r and to Rik who were still caught in their bow. Kormand’r sneered. “Relax, we are all friends here, right?”

    Koriand’r stood, catching Kormand’r’s arm as she moved away from her. “You know, your highness, no matter how I would have appreciated the support before now, I am innocent now. To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence?” she asked, her eyes bright and narrow. No matter how agreeable Kormand’r had been since her arrival on Tamaran, Koriand’r was still wary of her.

    Kormand’r chuckled musically, her laugh, though infatuating, was dark. “Yes, well, my visit is professional, darling.” She pulled her arm away and stepped lightly around Koriand’r. She began playing in Koriand’r’s hair, braiding and unbraiding and gathering it into a bundle. “You see, my dear,” she began as she leaned in close to her and wrapped her arms around her affectionately. “I have come to find you guilty.”

    Once more, Rik began shouting, accusing, and cursing. Kormand’r silenced them with a wave of her hand. “As is my right as Crown-Princess of Tamaran,” she finished authoritatively.

    “Of course, the rights of a Crown-Princess!” General Ryer’n shouted angrily. “This is an affair of Rik. Stay out of it!” he commanded. Kormand’r’s gaze turned icy and a pair of starbolts appeared at her hands.

    “Take caution, general! Challenge me and I will make certain that all know who deserves power more,” she snapped. A begrudging silence fell over the group. “Now,” Kormand’r said as she began to pace, her gaze lazy, but deadly nonetheless, “Rik has done the accusing, as is their privilege alone, but it is my right to…” she sighed, “step in when I feel that Rik has made a mistake.” She turned to gaze stoically at Koriand’r. “And you have made a mistake.”

    Anger rushed through Koriand’r suddenly and she advanced toward Kormand’r. “It is not enough that I have risked everything for my planet! I am innocent, as Rik will tell you. You are too late!”

    Kormand’r shook her head, smirking. “You will find out that a Crown-Princess is never too late.” She lifted off from the ground, leaving Koriand’r behind. “And I, Crown-Princess Kormand’r iy And’nia, First in Line to the Throne, find you guilty of these crimes you are accused of—”

    Koriand’r cursed, recognizing the beginning of the official conviction. There were many things on Tamaran that were flimsy and uncertain, but there were some things, like the conviction, that were absolutely final. Once it was recited before Rik, there was no retrial, no appeal. It was done. “Kormand’r!” she shouted, but her sister forged onward. Rik had become strangely silent, straining to hear every word of such an official dialogue.

    Kormand’r ignored her. “You have declared this trial fair and lawful by the laws set forth by our Emperor and those who went before him.”

    “You know the ritual, I had no choice!” Koriand’r interrupted, getting more and more desperate by the moment. Still, Kormand’r ignored her.

    “And in finding her guilty, I will sentence her as I see fit. But I am not a cruel ruler. Seeing as Earth seems to be the cause of these problems, her disloyalty, her promiscuity, her lack of respect to her superiors—,”

    “That is a lie!”

    “Princess Koriand’r should be permanently banned from leaving Tamaran!”

    For a moment after was said, Koriand’r almost thought she forgot to breathe. Shock froze her to her spot, cleared her mind and she suddenly could not understand what was being said to her. She stumbled backward, as if she had been hit, shaking her head weakly. She was speechless, but Robin seemed not to be.

    “No! No, you can’t do that!” he snapped furiously. Kormand’r’s smirk seemed to get even wider, if possible.

    “Or,” she began slowly, teasingly, “She should be banished, stripped of her title, and discounted before our allies and the leaders of Earth.”

    This seemed to have the opposite effect on Koriand’r and comprehension darkened her eyes at once. She flew forward, taking hold once more of her sister’s arm. She glared hard at the woman before her, no longer a sister, not anymore, not after all of the trials they had faced against each other. It had torn them apart.

    “Blackfire!” she exclaimed, feeling pathetic, pleading as she was. But Blackfire was dangling her happiness before her, ready to snatch it away at any moment. “Do not do this, Blackfire!”

    Kormand’r shook her off of her, her gaze cold. “I sentence the Princess to choose. Which will it be, Starfire? A life without your precious Earth: your beloved Teen Titans? Or will you be banished in disgrace? I give you the choice that you yourself denied me.” Blackfire’s eyes narrowed and she turned away, heading out of the room the way she came. The Titans saw her clearly as she passed them. Her eyes were bitter and detached.

    “So choose.”
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    NOTE:: Whoo!! I made it to a hot thread!!! My little envelope is RED now!!! Everyone gets cookies and punch(since if you're reading this YOU contributed!!!)! YES!!!
     
    #32 Anima, May 5, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2007
  13. paranoidguy103

    paranoidguy103 Getting more paranoid everyday

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    Loved this chapter. I like the whole Blackfire betrayel thing, it's a good twist to the story.

    Paranoidguy103
     
  14. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    I'm out of school for the summer!!!

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    Chapter 14 : Duties:

    “What kind of crap is this? She can’t do this, can she?”

    “Isn’t Starfire a princess too? Can’t she overrule her somehow?”

    Starfire closed her eyes tighter, desperately wanting their frantic and confused outbursts to stop. She bit back a whimper and massaged her temples helplessly. “I cannot overrule her,” she said slowly, keeping a tight reign on her tone. With slow deliberate breaths, she clung to what feeble ray of composure she retained. She refused to be weak now, now that she needed her strength so desperately.

    She flinched slightly when she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder, Raven’s silent encouragement. Blackfire had left a bruise there while her fight with General Ryer’n had left her with two more bruises and a small cut. Starfire found it bitterly ironic that she had been marked just as much by her own people as her mother and the Psions. Raven felt her flinch and pushed back the strap of her shirt, frowning down at the small bruise. Starfire shook her head, sensing her thoughts. “It will heal on its own,” she muttered.

    Raven was motionless for a moment, before she nodded, sitting down next to her friend. “But why can’t you overrule her?” she asked, trying to keep herself calm for Starfire’s sake.

    “Because Blackfire is first in line and I am second. She is more vital, and so more powerful. If it had to be her word against mine, hers would win every time. I am the dispensable one,” Starfire snapped, though she instantly regretted it. She bit her lip. “I am sorry,” she whispered, as an afterthought.

    “Galifore, you’re above Blackfire, aren’t you. Why can’t you reverse her decision or something?” Robin asked, his voice subdued from the other side of the room. He had held himself back from the others ever since their exit from the trial. None of the other’s dared to try to speak to him. His masked gaze had somehow become harsh and angry. Galifore shook his head, his large shaggy beard whipping back and forth.

    “Because Rik accused her first and then Blackfire confirmed it, the decision made carries the weight of them both. There are some things that even a Grand Ruler cannot do,” he answered gravely. He turned his solemn eyes toward Starfire, who refused to look at anything but the opulent rug under her booted feet. “But Koriand’r, why did you not come to me as soon as you received your summons? I could have helped you, I could have done something!”

    Starfire felt anger flare inside of her and at the same time she also felt confusion at such intense anger at someone she loved so dearly. Rigidly, she controlled herself. “Come to you, Galifore? And what message does that send Rik then? That I am incapable of fighting my own battles? Or that I will do nothing without the input of the Grand Ruler himself? You know as well as I, my knorfka, that I would have been announcing my own conviction,” she stated softly. Galifore rubbed his face and groaned harshly.

    “I do not care! There must have been something I could have done!”

    Beastboy glanced around the room incredulously. “Why does everyone keep talking like we can’t do anything now? Starfire put Blackfire down once before, didn’t she? Why can’t you just fight her like you did before and kick her butt? You can kick her out again!” Beastboy argued vehemently. Galifore growled suddenly.

    “They have truly left us with no other choice. Rik declared that fight, Princess Starfire’s challenge for the throne, invalid and that was how they allowed Crown-Princess Blackfire back on Tamaran. They had to do quite a bit of bending around the rules in order to let her back without removing me from the throne.”

    “So it is not possible for me to fight Blackfire over this. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, for me to do. I have to choose.”

    There was silence in the room for a moment, before Galifore stood resolutely. “I am going to do something! There has to be something; hope cannot be beyond us,” he said, heading toward the door. He paused before leaving and cast a sympathetic look in Starfire’s direction. “Wait for me, princess,” he muttered and left swiftly. Starfire’s eyes went wide and she stood just as the door closed.

    “No, Galifore…!” she began, but she sensed the determination in his voice and fell back hopelessly. Shaking her head, she began to pace about the room, straightening things mindlessly. It had suddenly occurred to her that she had better start do anything and everything, lest she begin thinking about the situation at hand. No matter what hopelessness she offered her friends, how final she tried to make it seem, she could not accept this.

    She could potentially become her own jailer.

    Finally, taking a shaky breath, she addressed her friends, “Please… I think you should go also. I must think,” she muttered. The Titans shot each other worried glances, none of them brave (or heartless) enough to object the helpless-sounding request.

    She was still faced toward the bookshelf as she heard the silent shuffling of her best friends in any world. She heard a couple of them draw loud breaths, as if they were about to say something, but each time they stopped short. They could think of nothing to say. Finally, she heard her door creak open and close and silence became her only company. Or so she thought.

    “So that’s it then? You’re just going to pick? Us or them, huh?”

    Starfire froze momentarily in the act of replacing some old books, but then resumed deliberately. When she had finished her task, she stood straight and combed through her hair with her fingers.

    “Robin, you intend to be angry with me over this? Do you truly?” she asked without turning around. She stared hard at her bookshelf, filled to bursting with books, but with none of them read. She had been too young. The thought of her stolen childhood suddenly surged her mind and she felt her eyes moisten. Only pure obstinacy kept the tears at bay. “Do you honestly think that I would put myself through this?”

    Robin tried to soften his tone, but all he managed to do was produce a horribly dead and light sounding voice. “Hey, who’s angry? I’m just trying to get it here, Starfire,” he answered. “You’re not going to fight this, are you? You’re just going to roll over and let them tear you apart?”

    Starfire tensed and turned, finding Robin standing there, leaned casually against the wall by the door. She stared questioningly at him for a moment, but his own gaze was turned away resolutely, focused instead on the view outside her balcony. Next to him was a vanity, beautiful in craftsmanship and the best money could buy. Of course, no one had ever really used it. She went to it then and began touching the things there, picking them up and moving them to somewhere else. She bit her lip as she did, watching Robin out of the corner of her eye.

    She knew him, maybe more than he thought she did, and maybe less. What she did know was that Robin did not, would not, or could not understand the choice she faced. She bit her lip. “I do not wish to be rude, however, as selfish as it may seem, I do not need this right now, Robin,” she retorted quietly.

    Robin’s jaw clenched suddenly, holding back the first angry reply that came to his mind. “Then answer the question!” he snapped finally. “Yes or no, do you intend to let this go and let them make you do this?”

    Starfire’s hands clenched around the brush she had been fiddling with and the delicate porcelain cracked with a soft chink. “I have told you before that I cannot fight them! My only choice is to choose!” she snapped, slamming the brush down on the vanity. Robin shook his head and grabbed her shoulder, turning her to face him.

    “You always have another choice!”

    Starfire shoved herself away from her boyfriend (though she could hardly think of him as that at the moment). Under any other circumstances, she would have taken to the air, if only to gain a few inches on him. It was an intimidation tactic that had been drilled into her until it was second nature. But she had nothing to fuel her flight. Her eyes were easily alight, though.

    “No, Robin! You always have another choice on Earth,” she snapped back. “Stop it,” she hissed, “because you are not helping me. I don’t know what you think you are doing, but it is not helping.” Her voice was waveringly vehement.

    Robin cupped her cheek in his hand, not hurting her, but pulling her closer almost commandingly. “I think I’m trying to get you to wake up!” he answered as Starfire pulled away angrily once more. His hands clenched into tight fists and his brow creased into a frown. “You’re right, okay? I don’t know anything about Tamaran, but I do know you. I know how you think, Starfire!”

    Starfire spun on her heel and stormed toward her balcony doors, growling to herself, “I have had enough of this. You know nothing of me or the responsibilities that I carry; the people that depend on me!” she spat. “I knew you could never understand.” Robin surged after her, grabbing her arm just as she reached the open air of her balcony. He forced a dark laugh.

    “You see? That’s what I’m talking about!” he chuckled humorlessly. Starfire tried to pull away again, but he held tight and pulled her closer, keeping up his tirade. “You’re thinking about what you’re expected to do, right? What’s good for Galifore? What’s good for Blackfire? What’s good for all of ****ing Tamaran—”

    “And who am I suppose to concern myself with then?” Starfire snarled. “I am their princess! I am supposed to make sure my planet is taken care of! Tell me, since you seem to know all things, who else then should I be thinking of?”

    “How about YOURSELF?” Robin shouted finally. His voice dropped down to barely a whisper and he leveled a hard glare at her. “Your duty may bind you to Tamaran, but you and I both know that you could never be happy on Tamaran. I don’t care who you used to be, how happy you used to be here, you are not that girl anymore!”

    A tremble began in Starfire as she faced the reality that she had been shying away from. She should have expected it to be Robin to jerk her around and force her to face the truth. Because that had been Blackfire’s point all along; she had said it plainly enough. Her choice had never been between one planet and another.

    It was her duty, which she had always taken great pains to fulfill, and her happiness.

    Slowly, Starfire lifted her head to meet Robin’s harsh gaze. Her eyes were narrow and guarded, because she knew he knew and he knew she knew he knew.

    “There is more to life than what makes me happy,” she stated simply and without anger. But instead of calming him, as she had hoped it would, the statement seemed to upset him even more.

    “And there is a difference between taking responsibility and being manipulated and guilt-tripped into making a bad decision, a decision that could tear you apart and leave you with nothing,” he snarled back at her, releasing her forcefully, pushing her away in the process. “Those guys in there? They couldn’t care less about you! Damnit, Starfire! Look at what they’re doing to you!” Starfire turned away, unable to face that.

    “They do not understand what they are doing. They think you are bad for me— for Tamaran— and—”

    “Get over that! They know we’re not about that! They’re trying to get you out of the way, but Blackfire got you an out! I swear it, if you pick them they’ll find another way to get rid of you. I don’t want that for you!”

    This seemed to make Starfire angry. “They are trying to do their jobs! They want what’s best for Tamaran, as any would expect me to!” she snapped. “This has nothing to do with me!”

    “This has everything to do with you! They know how you are, Starfire! They know the way you’ve been raised!” Starfire shook her head once more and turned away. Robin growled and followed her, cornering her against the balcony rail. He stepped closer, trapping her by leaning on one hand on either side of her.

    “Don’t you get it? They’re trying to break you, Starfire,”

    Starfire twisted away in an almost helpless way. “Stop it!” she shouted back. But Robin continued.

    “—and you’re letting them!”

    Starfire’s eyes alighted and she shoved him away and forced herself to fly, darting away, to where, even she did not know.

    Robin clenched his jaw and stormed out of the room, taking no notice of the single tear she had left behind.

    -!-

    Of course, none of the Titans had laid eyes on Keenyara since her fight with Raven and they were all in varying degrees of relief for that. The girl in question had been wandering aimlessly throughout the palace, and had finally come to rest on the Western Tower, the palace’s highest peak. For hours, she had sat there, thinking about everything, and yet, nothing in particular. Her fight with Raven had annoyed her, though. No matter what she turned her thoughts to, the same question continued to plague her.

    Why’d that jackass angel choose me?


    Keenyara crossed her arms over her knees and placed her chin on her arms, gazing at the sky thoughtfully. More than ever the weight of her task, to protect and guide two children in a setting where it would be in her best interest to cooperate and become part of a team, never mind that she was somewhat of a child herself. Each of her “friends” had been with her in the Heavens when the ArchAngel had made his assignment. She had no problem admitting that she was in no reality the logical choice, when one companion had such a persuasive demeanor, and another had enough patience to last an eternity. So why on the Earth and Heavens above had she been picked when so much was counting on this success?

    Suddenly, Keenyara rolled her eyes, sighing in annoyance. The nighttime air, which had at first been so still and calm, began to ripple furiously, alerting her to someone approaching.

    The tower on which she rested had a cone-shaped point that slopes shallowly before dropping off to form the walls of the structure. It was there on the very rim that Keenyara perched and watched at Starfire touched down lightly on the very tip of the roof, apparently unaware of her presence.

    Starfire groaned and massaged her temples almost angrily. She could not remember her last full night’s sleep. For what seemed like an eternity there had been one obstacle to overcome after another. Before, she had known she could always count on her friends to stand by her, no matter what. She could not fool herself this time, however. She knew if she chose Tamaran, her connection with the Titans would fade and eventually disappear.

    All of a sudden, revelations began to pour into her mind, making her light-headed. What if she left and some villain resurfaced? She would not be there to protect her friends, and there would be no guarantee that she would be permitted to go back to them if they needed her. What if Slade came back and she was not there to help, or even to pull Robin out of the maddening obsession that claimed him ever so often? Suddenly, a block of ice dropped into her stomach as it occurred to her that perhaps that was really what took her away from the Titans. What if this was the catalyst that made the future that she had witnessed possible? As many obligations she had to Tamaran, she had just as many toward the Titans.

    Suddenly feeling sick, Starfire crouched down to sit, but was startled when Keenyara spoke.

    “You’re not looking so chipper up there, Princess,” Keenyara commented, a single eyebrow arched. She chuckled when Starfire jumped slightly. “What’s with the despairing demeanor?” Starfire turned to her and gave her one of the most forlorn gazes the wind elemental had ever encountered. This piqued her interest. “You look like ****. Did someone die?” she asked as she turned away, motioning to the space beside her.

    Slowly and with a sigh, Starfire floated down to sit next to Keenyara. ‘It may help me to discuss this with someone objective…’ she thought and began to recount what happened after Keenyara had her tantrum.

    “And now, Robin is surely furious with me and I must choose between Earth, my home and where I have built the only life I know, and Tamaran, my planet, my culture, the place that I can come back to if anything should go wrong!” Starfire finished breathlessly, staring with wide eyes at Keenyara. To her surprise, the girl had turned out to be an adequate listener and did not interrupt her more than a few times to ask surprisingly insightful questions.

    Keenyara nodded slowly and then shot Starfire a sideways glance. “And then, there’s the little problem that you tend to favor what’s best for everyone else in the universe rather than what’s best for you,” she commented. Starfire looked away.

    “Am I that obvious?”

    “Yep.”

    “Is that so wrong?”

    Keenyara tilted her head thoughtfully. “In this dimension and the kind of life you live, no. It’s called noble around here. But there are times when ‘selfishness’ pays more for you and for everyone around you.” Starfire bit her lower lip and sighed.

    “And in your dimension? What is such a philosophy called there?” she asked quietly. Keenyara snorted and a dark look overtook her face.

    “A death wish,” she answered with a kind of dark humor. Starfire gave her a questioning glance. Keenyara smirked and leaned back, letting her legs dangle over the edge of the rooftop. “Sit back, Princess, and let me tell you a story. Hopefully you’ll learn something.

    “Back where I come from, Erra its called, there are two kinds of people. There’s people like me,” she tipped her head toward Starfire, producing a gentle breeze that encircled them both, “who were born different from everyone else, and there’s everyone else, who are, for lack of a better word, identical. Everyone was basically the same, same eye color, hair color, height, ideals, everything. It was monotonous as he**, in case you were wondering. And of course, the ones who were different were in short supply so we were alienated to say the least.

    “So, I grew up and they taught me tricks and gave me to a princess to amuse, all of that ****. Oh and they taught me sciences and math and everything, mostly out of spite I think. I grew up with mindless a**holes going ‘Don’t leave the princess alone with the Freak, she’ll kill her. You know all of those Imperfects are the same vicious and hateful all around’. Mind you, this was all before my powers began to kick in. I was quite a pleasant child back then actually…” she trailed off thoughtfully, for a moment before snapping back to the moment.

    “But anyway, so, that went on for about fifteen years. Then, I hit sixteen and my elemental side made an appearance. I pretty much stopped being human and I started being the wind and the sky. Needless to say, my kind of life clashed with that personality. The fact that everyone kept saying that I was all ***** without even knowing me started to p*ss me off, so I decided to show them exactly how much of a ***** I could be. It came naturally enough.”

    Keenyara shrugged and turned to Starfire, beginning to unbraid her hair. “So, yeah, I was mistreated and I did some **** that was pretty vile and uncalled for, you could even call it downright evil. But I’d go back to that hell-hole, and I’d do it all again.”

    Starfire bit her lip. “So, you are saying that I should remain on Tamaran because no matter how unpleasant it is, it made me who I am and I could learn from it?” she interrupted. Keenyara gave her a withering look.

    “Well that’d be stupid seeing as you make it sound like life everywhere else but Tamaran made you who you are. What I was going to say before you interrupted me is that no matter where I was my life got exponentially better the minute I decided to take control of me and be who I wanted to be. Get it?”

    Starfire blinked and then nodded slowly. “Yes, I do. But what if I don’t know who I want to be?” she asked. Keenyara shrugged again.

    “I can’t tell you who to be, Princess, but I do know this. If you pick the person you think you’re supposed to be instead of who you truly want and need to be,” she took an exaggerated look at the ground below them, so very far away. “There’s only one way to right that kind of mistake.”

    Starfire turned her gaze upward to the moon. More and more was starting to count on this decision. After a few moments of silence, she shot Keenyara a sideways glance. “You know, you are quite helpful when you wish to be,” she commented with small smirk. Keenyara humped.

    “Yeah, well, if you start getting sappy I’ll shove you off,” she grumbled. Starfire’s smile broadened and she would have laughed had her mind been a bit less burdened. With a sigh, she stood and cast a look around.

    “I have more thinking to do, but… thank you,” she said quietly, “For your advice and for your help during the match we were forced to fight. Maybe it will not have been in vain.” Keenyara snorted and gave Starfire a hard push in the middle of the back. Starfire yelped as she dropped a few feet before catching herself.

    “That was sappy.”

    That got Starfire to laugh.

    -!-

    Kilaani winced and wiped away the sweat that had begun to bead her forehead, gazing down at her right forearm with glazed eyes. Her breathing was heavy, ragged, and her vision was clouded, as if she were gazing through a filter.

    Starfire was wandering aimlessly through the palace hallways, her hand trailing the cool, stone walls behind her. She bit her lip almost wistfully.

    Her head felt as if it were about to split in two, but she grit her teeth and continued the best she could. She knew she was liable to pass out soon if she kept this up, but she had to keep an eye on the princess until she could fully understand the prophecy. She knew she was not meant so see two realities at once, but she could see no other way, without asking for help and potentially putting someone else in danger.

    “She will be marked, though she is marked,” Kilaani mumbled, ignoring the slight burning that lingered in her forearm where the scarlet marks had reappeared. That made limited sense to her. She was convinced that Princess Koriand’r was the subject of the prediction. Therefore, it must have meant that some kind of mark would be left on her before the end of the ordeal.

    She wrote these notes down on the pad of paper next to her, though her handwriting was wavering from the pain in her head. “She will feel the pain, she must feel the pain.” That was the part of the prophecy that interested her the most, this great pain that “she” was supposed to feel. It seemed to be emphasized that this pain was to be emotional, mental, but not necessarily physical.

    Starfire paused at the beginning of the hallway that held her friends’ rooms. She touched each of the doors as she passed them. It was so late, too late for them to be awake. But she shied away from Robin’s door, only gazing mournfully at it.

    ‘What has happened between them?’ Kilaani wondered to herself, but she quickly shook this thought away, concentrating on her most prominent problem.

    “She will lose his love, for he will lose his life.” She jotted this down in her notepad. “Then… someone the Princess is close to, someone she loves, will ‘lose his life’,” she muttered to herself, trying to keep herself alert. She pondered that phrase briefly: “lose his life”. That could mean a variety of things. Most prophecies were vague and for one to mean “lose his life” as literally as to die was unlikely, but still more likely than she liked to think.

    “She will lose his love…? As if this will be a result of his loss of life.” She wrote this down. “Who could this lover be, though?” she wondered and tapped her pen gently against her head in thought. She bit her lip for a second before abruptly changing her secondary vision and delving into it fully.

    Robin paced his room restlessly. It was almost destroyed with most of the ornate vases laying in pieces and a few of the plush chairs and such overturned. He looked as if he had calmed himself since destroying these things, but he still looked livid.

    “Why won’t she just understand?” he mumbled, running his hand through his hair. It was no longer standing in all directions, making Kilaani suspect that he had been doing this throughout the night.

    “Because she doesn’t want to understand.” Kilaani jumped and then berated herself for being so inattentive. She had not noticed that Raven was also present in the room, perched Indian style on his bed. “I don’t think you fully understand her either.”


    Robin turned to her sharply. “Funny, that’s right along the lines of what she said,” he answered darkly. Raven gave him a stern look, a look that clearly said, ‘Shove it, I know you.’.

    “Well then you weren’t listening the way you should have been. I know you think that you know how she’s thinking right about now, but let me can tell you how she’s feeling,” she answered harshly. Her eyes began to glow softly. “She’s scared. Starfire is scared. She knows who she is and she knows that Koriand’r is a part of Starfire. She feels like if she turns her back on Tamaran, she’s turning her back on Koriand’r. And who will she be then, once she’s turned her back on something that’s a part of her? This isn’t anything like what you did, Robin, when you left Gotham. If she does this, there is no going back, no making amends with Tamaran. If she picks us, that’s it. We will be all she has.”

    Robin’s gaze had softened during all of this and he dropped onto the bed next to Raven. “Why isn’t that enough for her though?” he asked quietly. “This place… This place is bad for her and I know you know it. They don’t care about her here. All they want is to use her and her power. If we have to leave her here, alone…?” He shook his head helplessly. “They’ll destroy her.” He stared levelly at Raven. “Starfire is my life, our lives. Why can’t she trust us enough to make us hers?”

    Kilaani gasped as she released the vision, returning once again to the half trance she had been maintaining. She took a moment, gasping, trying to catch her breath. But she had discovered what she needed to know. “Starfire is my life,” Robin had said. The prophecy was starting to reveal itself. Kilaani was confident that she knew the who, but she had yet to fully discover the what.

    “There will be… death? In his heart and in her soul…” She could make no sense of that, except that the prophecy was reiterating the fact that there would be pain for both parties. The next line supported this, “The pain of death without death’s release. That is her fate.” Kilaani bit her lip and rubbed her temples wearily. “So dire… even for a prophecy,” she mumbled. Her glazed eyes glanced down at her arm and widened instantly.

    It suddenly felt as if someone were dragging a razor through her skin, both searing hot and icy cold. She gasped and clutched her arm, watching with wide eyes as the spidery, blood red writing that had marred her arm began to extend themselves and the prophecy along with it. She whimpered and suddenly could see nothing of her room of her reality. All there was left was her view of the princess.

    ‘Why does it hurt so?’ she thought desperately as she broke into a cold sweat and she felt needles over her skin. She could hardly breathe through the pain.

    There was a tremendous boom from some part of the castle and Starfire turned suddenly toward it. She had wandered far away from her teammates’ rooms and was alone. She could hear shouting coming from a few halls away and they sounded frantic, some angry. There was another boom, this one louder.

    ‘Tamaranian Seer, heed our warning.’

    Kilaani’s colorless eyes widened and she scrambled backward in her chair, though she could see nothing of where she was going. This was not what she knew. This was deeper, darker than what she knew. Bad things were happening.

    Suddenly, the explosion was drawn closer as the wall next to her exploded outward and dozens of hazy figures stepped through the hole made in the wall. Starfire stumbled back and called her power to her hands and eyes, wary of what might be happening now. She narrowed her eyes, fully expecting to see a gang of Psions staring her down as the dust cleared away.

    ‘Your side has been chosen, but hers has not.’

    A triumphant cry went through the shadowed figures and one of them stepped forward; Starfire stepped back again. But she recognized the voice and the language was decidedly Tamaranian.

    “There! There she is!” one of them exclaimed and Starfire relaxed to a limited extent. It was Lirain at the forefront of the gang and he smirked at her in a way that she could not really understand.

    “What is this?” she snapped. Suddenly, there was another explosion further down the hall. Starfire watched with a suspicious gaze as Lirain exchanged a look with one of his cohorts. There was an enraged shout from the end of the hall. Starfire took a step forward curiously, annoyed at the sudden commotion, and worried by the way they were all acting.

    “X’hal save me!” Kilaani gasped. But whatever forces had taken a hold of her seemed not to want to let her go.

    ‘Know what we do to those who interfere; ask your wind witch.’

    Lirain lunged forward suddenly and grabbed her wrist, yanking her forward until she jerked her hand back from him. Her eyes were narrow and she pulled her power to the surface once more. She had yet to forget his treatment of her earlier that day.

    “Stop it! What is going on?” she questioned harshly. Lirain was about to answer, but he was cut off by a cry from the end of the hall.

    “There! They have the princess! Stop!”

    Lirain snapped something at the rest of his gang. Three of them, all dressed in a soldier’s armor, nodded curtly and turned on the spot sprinting to meet the ones at the other end, all dressed in the same soldier’s garb. For a moment, she did not understand why they ran at each other so viciously, why they drew swords and staffs as they drew near.

    She understood as soon as the first strike was made. Suddenly she felt sick and she started toward the mayhem almost angrily.

    ‘Stay out of our way.’

    “What is going on here?” she snapped, her nerves far past their breaking point. Lirain shot forward once more, this time his grip was iron tight.

    “For once in your life, Koriand’r, listen to someone else, someone who knows better than you,” he snarled at her as he pulled her along. “There has been a mutiny, the army has been divided. The Grand Ruler has already been taken by the rebels, as has Crown Princess Kormand’r. Disgraced as you are, you are next on their list.”

    Kilaani felt her eyes go wide once more. ‘A mutiny?’ she wondered. But something was not right. Something in Lirain’s voice, his demeanor was disconcerting. She could see the deception in his eyes.

    Starfire’s eyes went wide and she almost stopped running, but Lirain pulled her along. Soon they had left the battle between the two sides behind, far behind. He pulled her up two or three flights of stairs. Finally, she forced her hand away once more.

    ‘Before the sun’s rise, we will see her awakening.’

    “What awakening?” Kilaani called suddenly, though her throat ached and her head was sure to be cleaved in two. Suddenly her head was filled to bursting with images of a horrible battle, one last pivotal battle. She heard the echo of a voice, low, gravelly, but so intense. ‘Now rages a war… heaven… hell… three champions…’

    ‘Before the sun’s rise, we will see her destruction.’

    “Lirain, what do you mean a mutiny?” Starfire gasped, eyes wide. “What happened? Where is Galifore? Blackfire? Have they been harmed?”

    Lirain shook his head and pulled her out of the room, onto an adjacent balcony. “I do not know,” he answered. He strode away from her, peering over the balcony’s rail. Suddenly, he barked something into the night air in Tamaranian. “She’s here, I have her.”

    Starfire huffed in annoyance and followed after him, grabbing his arm to turn him around. “Listen to me!” she demanded. “What did they want with me, those other soldiers back there?”

    Suddenly, she felt arms encircle her waist and someone’s teeth scrape roughly against her neck. Just as suddenly, she felt her rage and disgust leap in level and she jerked away in revulsion, turning with her eyes alight. But then her hands were captured, held above her head in a grip that made her wince as Lirain nibbled lightly on her ear. He chuckled darkly as she tried in vain to pull away.

    “Stupid girl,” he hissed. “They wanted to save you from us.”

    Kilaani cried out in pain, in frustration, in anger, but the pain was the most intense. It felt as if her very bones were on fire. She could not breathe through the pain. And when whatever force that had held her captive released her, it was all she could do to collapse onto the floor weakly, breathing deeply with only her whimpers to comfort her.

    ‘Stay out of our way, or you too will suffer.’

    Forain grinned sickeningly at her as her grabbed her hips and crushed his lips against hers as his gang of rebels hooted and cheered. Starfire thrashed violently, but Lirain held her arms securely. Her anger grew exponentially and the released a sudden of star fire from her hands and eyes. To her disgust, however Forain pulled away in time to be unharmed. Jerking toward him, she gasped as she almost dislocated her own shoulders in her fury.

    “You! What did you do to them? Where are they? I swear, X’hal I swear! You will pay dearly if you have hurt Galifore, I will make sure!” she snarled as she struggled.

    Lirain grunted as she pulled him forward an inch or two with her struggling. With a growl he grabbed her by the roots of her hair and, before she could react, he slammed her head viciously against the balcony’s cement rail. “More trouble than she’s worth, that one,” he muttered as Starfire collapsed to the ground. He kneeled quickly while she was still dazed and reeling from the blow and secured a pair of durable metal cuffs, in the same fashion of the ones she had first arrived on Earth in, around her arms. They did have one difference.

    Starfire winced as she felt something in the cuffs pierce her wrist. She her eyes began to droop, but she fought the fatigue angrily. The band of rebels around her laughed mockingly at her sluggish jerks. Finally, one of them bent down and grabbed her by the waist, lifting her up. To her surprise, it was a woman who slung her across her shoulders. “Make it easier on yourself, Koriand’r,” she laughed disdainfully.

    Kilaani swore as she sensed, rather than saw, the darkness creeping in on her vision. She had seen everything, and she knew she had to get to the Princess before the Prophecy could be carried out in the way that the darker side of things intended. But she knew she did not have a chance. She had overexerted herself and she was drained of everything she had. But she had one hope left. Her contact with such a powerful force for so long had left her with knowledge that she knew was not intended for her. With the last of her strength, Kilaani called out mentally.

    To her surprise, it was not worry that Starfire felt as she yielded to the darkness. It was not the righteous fury she was so familiar with. As she closed her eyes, Starfire felt betrayed, hurt, and afraid of such an extreme unknown. It was this that sparked her feelings of rage, disgust, and an extreme thirst for revenge. Feeling these emotions so strongly, finally, Starfire closed her eyes with only her determination to count on.

    Somewhere on the other side of the castle at that exact moment, Keenyara yelped suddenly and bowed forward, clapping her hands over her ears. The raw intensity of the cry deafened and pained her momentarily. Finally though, she sat up shakily and stood, looking toward her right. She had faintly heard the echoes of explosions, but she had discounted it all as none of her business. Now she knew better.

    Sweeping her arms around her, Keenyara abandoned subtlety as the wind howled around her and seeped into her, converting her energy. She disappeared in a gust of wind that took shingles off of the ornately designed roof, the echoes of the anonymous cry still ringing in her ears.

    ‘You, Protectress of Champions, it is time to do your duty!’
     
    #34 Anima, Jun 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2007
  15. paranoidguy103

    paranoidguy103 Getting more paranoid everyday

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    First comment, sweet:cool: . Anyways, great chapter:D . The way the two brothers betrayed Starfire and Tamaran is a great twist to the story. Keenyara gave good advice to Starfire, hopefully she'll take it to heart. The end of the chapter was great, and left me on the edge of my seat. Can't wait to find out what happened to Starfire, and how Keenyara is going to kick a** next chapter:evil: .
    Peace,
    Paranoidguy103
     
  16. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    A/N: Arg. Writer's block has set in, along with pre-highschool jitters. I'm trying to keep up with the updates, but ya'll are gonna have to bare with me for a while.

    Chapter 15 :Race to Sunrise(Pt.1):

    “Hey… hey!”

    Kilaani groaned and turned away, her head pounding dully. There was a sound like a growl and she felt someone prop her up, tapping her face lightly.

    “Oh come on, wake up!” a female voice asserted, the taps to her face becoming more insistent. Kilaani felt her eyelids twitch for a moment before squinting her eyes open. At first, everything was hazy and undefined, but her room was becoming clearer by the moment. That and the girl who had come to rouse her.

    “Keenyara?” Kilaani muttered thickly, squinting against the glow of Keenyara’s eyes. “What are you…?”

    The memory of everything, the prophecy, her visions, the mutiny, returned to her like a slap to the face. She suddenly shot to her feet, dashing to her desk and scattering the papers there in search of the notes she had taken. For a second, she forgot Keenyara was there and shoved her sleeve back, staring in disbelief at her forearm. The skin there was smooth and orange-gold as it should have been. Her notes were gone. All evidence and clues she had had were gone.

    “Damn it all, where are they?” she growled to herself, hardly registering the fact that she was not one to curse. She did not know how long she had been unconscious. She did not know where Lirain and Forain had taken Princess Koriand’r or the rest of the royal family. She did not know what the rebels intended to do with them, or even if it had already been done.

    All she knew was she had until sunrise to figure it out.

    Suddenly, she felt Keenyara’s cool touch on her arm and she turned, impatient and still on edge. She was about to snap something at her, but stopped cold as she realized and registered exactly what she was seeing.
    She had never noticed that Keenyara was a tall girl, not by Tamaranian standards, but Kilaani had always been short for her age. But it was not exactly her physical height that make Keenyara seem so big, but also her posture, her attitude. She stood straight and tall, finding a way to make the mere inch she had on Kilaani seem like feet instead. Her eyes were icy and accusing, almost threatening and she was sporting a shallow, but painful-looking cut on her right cheek. She also held a small notepad in her hand, filled to bursting with Tamaranian characters.

    Those were her prophecy notes.

    “Those are mine!” she exclaimed and made to snatch the notes away from her, but Keenyara was faster and pulled away, taking hold of Kilaani’s wrist with her other hand. She narrowed her eyes and moved closer, her blue eyes glowing brighter threateningly.

    “No, until I have my curiosity satisfied, these are mine. And you can calm yourself down, too. It’s not like I can read it,” she snapped back. Kilaani snatched her wrist back and tried to take the notes again. This time, Keenyara shoved her back, not hard enough to make her fall, but with enough power to definitely move her. Not for the first time, Kilaani regretted the fact that she had foregone combat training as a child in order to pursue the Art. She was awkward and not very strong when she fought and she had seen Keenyara’s skill as a fighter. Overpowering her was not an option.

    “If you cannot read them, why do you want them?” she asked, hoping that reason would earn her the notes back. Keenyara narrowed her eyes and flipped through the pages slowly, her eyes never leaving Kilaani’s. When she found the page she had been looking for she gave Kilaani a hard gaze before showing her the page.

    “Where’d you get this little design idea from?” she asked softly. Kilaani’s eyebrows drew together in her confusion. Keenyara was pointing to a small drawing in the lower right hand corner of the page. It looked like a bolt of lightening; one that curled in on itself twice and gradually emerged as what looked like a gust of wind. It was a simple, but elegant little design. Kilaani did not remember drawing it, but did remember seeing it in the sudden flash of information she had gotten during that captive vision. She bit her lip.

    “I do not know, I just made it up,” she said quickly and she knew it was hardly convincing. Keenyara rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, looking skeptical.

    “And I guess that this,” she rolled down one side of her sweatpants, revealing her right hip and an exact replica of the drawing, “is just a spooky coincidence, huh?” Kilaani was speechless. Keenyara was not. “Cut the bulls**t and be straight with me, because I don’t want to have to hurt you, though just I might end up having to. You called me, didn’t you? You called me, ‘Protectress of Guardians’, right?”

    “I called you?” Kilaani exclaimed incredulously. When she had called out, she had called out only to a specific mental profile, almost like an address or a mental identification number. Truthfully, she had expected Raven to receive her message, to do something to help her find the princess. The idea that she was calling out to Keenyara had never crossed her mind. “You are the Servant who touches Good and Evil, the Undivine Protectress, the Murderer —”

    “—of Keikan?” Keenyara finished with a snarl. “Spare me, b***h, and call me Keenyara, because you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” she hissed, her hand tightening perceptively around her staff. Kilaani shrunk backward, alarmed at Keenyara’s sudden rage.

    “I— you— I’m s-sorry,” Kilaani stammered. “Those are the names I was given to indicate the Protectress…”

    “Well forget them, because that is none of your damned business,” she snapped, cutting Kilaani off once more. She moved closer to her, leveling her staff at her throat. “Tell me the truth. How do you know me and whose side are you on?”

    Kilaani gulped audibly and wracked her mind for something, anything to prove her benevolent intentions. If she had learned, unconsciously, the mark that would indicate the Protectress, she must also have learned the way to disarm her or earn her trust, or maybe even both.

    “Wait, wait! I’m on your side!” she exclaimed, holding her hands up to her. “I learned what I know from a vision, one I had earlier. I don’t know how long ago. But… I just… look, the important thing here is that the princess, Starfire, she is in grave danger! She is your charge, am I wrong? If she is not saved, before sunrise of this very night, she will be destroyed, or worse, turned to the other side!” Keenyara’s eyes went wide.

    “She’ll be what??” she exclaimed, her grip loosening on her weapon. Kilaani took her opportunity and pushed the staff to a less threatening position. Keenyara did not seem to notice, or she just did not care. “It’ll be bad enough if she’s killed, but… I didn’t know they could turn her to the evil side!” she exclaimed and took her staff more firmly in her hands. “You’re lying,” she accused viciously.

    Kilaani stomped her foot in frustration. “I am not lying and she is in such danger! Just listen to me; I have to know something that will make you trust me…” she tried to ignore Keenyara’s presence, which was distracting enough when she was being passive. Now, it was almost demanding her attention. Annoyed, she pressed her hands to her eyes, and suddenly a bolt on energy shot through her palm, making her jump.

    When she looked, there was the same raised, red writing, only this time it had shaped itself into a picture, a simple mark. She barely resisted the immense urge to roll her eyes and curse. She was annoyed that some higher power had acquired the sudden urge to write and draw over her very body.
    There was a quiet, barely-there chuckle in her mind, one that did not alarm her. ‘Now you are marked, and she cannot deny it,’ the presence, almost said, though the sensation was too little to be described as true saying. With an annoyed huff, Kilaani thrust her hand out, palm presented to Keenyara resentfully.

    “There, is that proof enough?” she asked stiffly, still a little upset with the nerve the universe seemed to have. Keenyara blinked, inspected the small mark briefly, and then laughed ruefully. The mark consisted of arrows, three or four of them that began as a single base. One of the arrows seemed bolder than the rest.

    “Haha, well, excuse me. You’re a Guide now, huh? Welcome to the world of a thousand names,” she snickered as she dropped her staff. Kilaani gave her hand a confused look, as if trying to have the same understanding of it that Keenyara had.

    “Guide…?” she began questioningly, before Keenyara simply waved this away, handing her back her notes.

    “Forget about that for now. Basically, you’re just about as involved in this f**ked up plan as I am which, I might add, is not quite as fun as you might think it was. You said Starfire was in danger, that you had a vision. Tell me about it quickly,” she commanded. Kilaani nodded grimly and tucked a strand of pale hair behind her ear, steeling herself to what seemed was now her destiny. She quickly outlined her vision, only the part about Starfire’s abduction, and then recited what she could remember of the second prophecy of her lifetime. Once she was done, Keenyara’s eyes were narrow with her anger and frustration.

    “How long ago? Where did they take her?” she demanded as the room’s still air began to circle with her restlessness. Kilaani too was upset that so much time had been wasted earning the suspicious girl’s trust, but she knew better than to say as much. She only shot Keenyara a grim look.

    “I do not know! I called out to you for help as soon as I saw them take her, but I passed out after that. And I may have sent the message to you immediately, but it can take from seconds to years for someone to realize a mental message sitting around in his or her head! We have until the sun’s rise to do something!” she almost snapped, but managed to control her tone.
    Keenyara scowled. “Can’t you feel her or something? You’re the witch around here!”

    Kilaani narrowed her eyes and Keenyara would have been pleasantly taken aback to see such boldness from the quiet and polite young woman, but she was too frustrated to notice something like that. “I am a Seer! I tell and reveal the future! You’re looking for an empath, which I may be, but quite a mediocre one. We need someone who had trained his or her empathetic powers almost solely. And everyone I know and am in touch with is a Seer.”

    Keenyara thumped her staff of the ground in irritation. “Well then, see! Tell me the future of this palace, of Starfire at sunrise!” she snapped. With a growl, Kilaani took hold of Keenyara’s wrist and felt her pupils flash. To her relief, the experience was familiar, this time there was no presence to write something else on her or rip a prophecy from her tired soul, or even simply to rip her soul out. It was her normal view of the future that she had trained hard and long to sustain. She saw what she needed to in moments, and when she was done she released Keenyara slowly, her mood sobered.

    “What? What did you see?” Keenyara questioned impatiently. Kilaani’s colorless eyes were foreboding

    “The palace. The entire palace…” she looking into Keenyara’s eyes sincerely. “She’s going to destroy it.” Keenyara frowned, debating just how much that had to do with her and her job. She could not say. But Kilaani was moving, taking her notes and shredding them carefully before throwing them into the fire.

    “What are you doing?” Keenyara asked, as Kilaani thrust some of the papers to her, indicating that she should do the same. Keenyara simply threw her few into the air, manipulated the air in a few specific places to expand and channeled the remaining slices into the fire.

    “The princess, she would only destroy the palace if the rebels won, right? If that is true, I do not want anyone else to know what I know,” she said as she threw the last shred into the fire. When she had done this, she faced Keenyara seriously. “We need to find her. An empath is our best bet.”
    With her dour and serious look, the answer came clearly to Keenyara and she took hold of Kilaani’s arm, shoving her out of the door.

    “Come on,” she grunted, peeking around the corner before turning it. “We need to find Raven.”

    -!-

    Robin awoke with a start. For a moment he just lay in his bed, breathing and wondering what had woke him up so suddenly. His answer came quickly enough. There was someone on the other side of the door, rattling the knob impatiently and knocking insistently. It was only a few seconds before he decided that he did not care and rolled over to return to sleep. After watching someone he loved first have to fight not only for her life, but the life of everything she loved, then participate in a trial that had him fighting to keep his own temper, and now faced with a decision that could effectively tear all of them apart, he deserved some peace, quiet, and rest (if he ever got back to sleep). Whoever it was could wait until morning, he determined and pulled his pillow over his head.

    ‘BOOM!’

    Or apparently not,’ Robin thought grimly as his door was blown inwards with a tremendous thud. He bolted upright, snatching three bird-a-rangs from his belt on the bedside table and listened, waiting for someone to enter the room. There was a muffled comment from outside the door before someone stepped in, a girl. Luckily for Robin, her attention with still outside of the door. She never noticed when he flung the weapons at her, quickly pinning her to the opposite wall.

    Robin sprang forward and yanked his bird-a-rangs from the wall, pinning the girl in place with an arm across her collarbone, the other arm putting a slight pressure on her windpipe. He narrowed his eyes, unable to recognize the young woman in the dim shadows of the room and hallway, but he assumed she was a soldier, seeing as she had all but destroyed his door.

    “Who are you and what do you want?” he snarled quietly, leaning close. The girl yelped, gagging and coughing in broken Tamaranian. With a gasp, she reached up, touching both of his temples with the tips of her fingers and closed her eyes as Robin tried to pull back.

    Suddenly, Robin reeled back, clutching his head as a horribly high-pitched wail filled every corner of his mind. He staggered away from the young girl he had been holding who coughed, massaging her throat, and then waved her hand, banishing the pain through that movement. Suddenly, the room was flooded in light and Robin squinted up at Kilaani, who had recovered from his attack and was stooping to help him upright.

    “I sincerely apologize,” she murmured to him as she helped him stand. Robin shook his head furiously and pulled away from her.

    “What the hell was that?” he snapped to her. “And why’s my door in pieces over there?” He pointed to the remaining scraps of wood that had formerly been his door. Kilaani bit her lower lip.

    “I could not breathe to answer you! I am sorry. You surprised me,” she answered hurriedly. She did not tell him that that was pretty much her only defense against the world. Robin seemed to be about to say something, but Keenyara cut him off as she poked her head in the room.

    “Hey! You’re the one who insisted we get the rest of these b**ches. If we’re gonna have time to get them, then you need to haul some ass!” she snapped, still a bit bitter from her fight with Raven. Kilaani nodded curtly and grabbed Robin’s arm gently, but very firmly, moving him with her alien
    strength.

    “She’s right, we have to move quickly,” she murmured to him as she maneuvered them both out of the room and hurried to the next door. Robin touched her shoulder, catching her before she could move away.
    “Wait! What is this about?” he asked. Kilaani bit her lip again and shrugged his hand away.

    “I would rather have to tell this story only once. Time is limited,” she said and moved toward Beastboy’s door. Keenyara snorted in frustration.

    “No, I said haul ass! Just— just move, all right? Just get out of the way!” she sneered as she pushed Kilaani to the side with a strong just of wind. Kilaani scowled.

    “Fine, Keenyara, just don’t make too much noise. It’ll attract—”

    Keenyara’s eyes flitted to each door, quickly counting the doors she had to destroy. She inhaled slowly, before thrusting her arms out before her and then rapidly once toward each door. Each imploded noisily as she gestured toward them. Kilaani sighed in defeat.

    “—the guards.”

    Keenyara seemed about to reply, but was interrupted by a ferocious roar and
    the appearance of a huge emerald tiger. The tiger bounded forward and had pinned Keenyara before any of them could move. Cyborg skidded from his room, his arm already transformed into his sonic cannon. From behind them skittered an immense shadow that swerved toward where they were all standing and came to a halt. The shadow contracted and swirled and leapt into the air, revealing Raven who glowered down at Keenyara. Keenyara lay still and gave Beastboy an icy glare.

    “You people are unable to just walk calmly through the door, aren’t you?”

    The tiger’s growling halted suddenly, and Beastboy backed off of Keenyara before transforming back into a human. He grinned sheepishly. “Heh, sorry. Instinct,” he offered lamely. Keenyara only sniffed haughtily and stood up, brushing imaginary dirt from her pants.

    “Gyurig! Gyurig’h ru Teen Titans!” The excited sounding cry came suddenly from the head of the hall way and the group turned to look, shoulders tense. Kilaani groaned and cast a frustrated glare at Keenyara. They had finally attracted the guards’ attention. Unfortunately, they had no hope of identifying them as loyal or rebels, and the soldiers had the same problem, although if they were rebels they would probably assume the former.

    “Uh, Kilaani, why are they looking at us that way?” Beastboy asked as a gang of Tamaranians, clad in the metal armor of the palace soldiers, strode purposefully toward them, some of them drawing weapons. Before the Titans could even think about reacting, they were standing face to face with them, fifteen Tamaranian warriors who stood in a cluster behind what looked like their leader, a black-haired woman, short even by human standards, with sharp, no-nonsense indigo eyes. She scanned the Titans swiftly before uttering a single word.

    “Robin,” she commanded simply, her eyes fixed upon him. It was obvious that she knew exactly who he was and fully expected him to come forward. Robin narrowed his eyes and moved forward without a word, standing directly in front of her and crossing his arms impatiently. The woman’s jaw clenched and her eyes narrowed just as Robin’s had. She seemed to be struggling internally with something and was silent for a few seconds that felt like an eternity.

    Finally, through clenched teeth, she uttered a single unintelligible syllable. With a disciplined thud, the soldiers behind her simultaneously dropped to one knee, the ones who had drawn weapons throwing them at Robin’s feet. They kept their heads bowed submissively, though some of them seemed to be muttering angrily under their breaths. A short tap of her toe silenced this grumbling instantly, however.

    Taking deep breaths through flared nostrils, the woman began to speak in halting Tamaranian. Her hands twitched at her sides, as if she wanted to make a fist and thrust it somewhere. When she finished speaking, Kilaani turned slowly, cautiously to Robin, unsure of exactly what she was hearing.
    “She says—” she began to translate slowly, but Robin cut her off.

    “I know what she said,” he said, ignoring Kilaani’s taken aback look. Galifore was the only Tamaranian who knew that he understood the language. Raven frowned, not liking the look Robin and the woman had on their faces. “She wants our help,” he said to his team without turning to them, “She says she formally requests our assistance in a matter of the utmost priority to the Tamaranian Empire, on Galifore’s behalf. She’s offering her unit to my command as a sign of loyalty or something.” He turned to look at Keenyara. “What do you know about this?” he asked curtly.

    Keenyara crossed her arms. “I know that Starfire is not safe, or happy at the moment, and if you people don’t get the rocks out of your asses—” Robin turned to Kilaani, cutting Keenyara’s angry rant short.

    “How bad is it?” he demanded. Kilaani did not answer, but her eyes said it all. Pursing his lips, he addressed Kilaani again, turning back to the woman. “Ask her just what kind of matter this is,” he commanded suddenly. Kilaani related this question back to the woman who turned to bark something at her group. Swiftly and stiffly, one of the soldiers straightened and came to her side, standing at attention. The woman began speaking once more, but this time, the soldier translated as she went.

    “Rebel forces have taken the royal family, whether for ransoming or in order to commit three political assassinations at once, we are not sure. We do know, however, that you and your team harbor an emotional attachment to the princess. She thought that you would be grateful for the chance to come to her aid,” he related. The Titans’ eyes widened at the word assassination, suddenly struck by the seriousness of the situation. Only Robin did not react and instead nodded calmly.

    “Tell her we accept, but she should keep her troop under her command. Our two teams will work together,” he suggested as Kilaani translated quickly. The woman nodded and her eyes lost some of their hostility. She nodded her thanks and scanned the group again. Finally she pointed at Beastboy, asking something of one of the female soldiers who blushed and nodded.

    “Beestbuya,” the woman commanded slowly, unable apparently to pronounce the changeling’s name correctly. Beastboy gulped and moved closer, apprehensive.

    “That’s me,” he answered and forced a chuckle. Quickly, the woman asked a question that had Robin’s eyes popping out of his head and sputtering. The woman paid no heed and hooked an arm around the back of Beastboy’s head, yanking him close and kissing him firmly. Beastboy’s eyes went wide and then drooped dazedly as the woman pulled back abruptly.

    For a few moments, his mind was static with something like ‘HotChickKissHotChickKiss,’ blaring repeatedly. Cyborg’s jaw dropped and he grumbled something about never being used unfeelingly for linguistic purposes by kick-ass alien women. Keenyara quirked an eyebrow questioningly as Raven sighed and commented on the fact that at least she had not shoved him on his butt like Starfire had. Kilaani seemed unfazed and looked at them questioningly, wondering at their distress.

    The woman ignored all of this and said something more to her troops in Tamaranian, who stood at her apparent command. When she finally turned back, she seemed unflustered by her actions and held out her hand to Robin. “I am Capitan Vel’sura, General of Tamaran’s Elite Unit. This is my Second in Command, Corrai’n. We are the best of the best that Tamaran has to offer. We thank you for your help,” she said with a small smile. Robin shook her hand.

    “I am Robin, leader of the Teen Titans. This is my team, Raven, Cyborg, Keenyara, and I guess you know Beastboy already. I have been told that there is limited time before the royal family is killed—”

    “We have roughly five hours,” Kilaani interjected suddenly, suddenly feeling the urgency of time wasted. Vel’sura’s eyebrows drew together in confusion.
    “How do you know this?” she asked. “And who are you?” Kilaani bowed her head briefly.

    “Kilaani, Child of the House of Tr’eena. I am the palace Seer. I know this because X’hal blessed me with a vision. Unless there is some intervention, the Royal Family of And’nia will be dead by sunrise, about five hours from now. In addition, some of your unit needs to evacuate the palace. It will also be destroyed by sunrise,” she said, drawing herself to her full height. She wanted to look official or wise, but she had a feeling she fell a bit short. Luckily, Vel’sura only nodded and told her soldiers about the time limit.

    “An evacuation is unnecessary. Anyone who would normally be in the palace is out in the nearby town, celebrating the victory of earlier,” she informed them. Robin nodded and turned to his team.

    “Cyborg—”

    “I’ve been trying since you said it had something to do with Starfire. According to her Comm. Unit she’s been standing here with us the entire time…” Cyborg said with some confusion showing through his human eye. Vel’sura tilted her head and reached into her pocket, pulling out Starfire’s communicator.

    “Is this the ‘Comm. Unit’ you speak of? We found this in the Princess’ room. We thought it could help you find her,” she said, giving it to Raven who held out her hand.

    “Not if she doesn’t have it with her, it won’t,” she said grimly. Her eyes began to glow darkly. “But I can try to contact her. It’ll be hard, but I can try.” Raven closed her eyes with these words, whispering her mantra. She muttered it again. Finally, she said it loudly, raising her arms and throwing her eyes open, revealing them to be crackling with black energy. She heard one of the soldiers gasp and mutter something that sounded suspiciously like ‘witch’, but she ignored it, looking with her mind’s eye for the emerald flame she was so accustomed to sensing.

    The world had gone an eerie grayscale to her and mostly shapeless, but it did not bother her. Looking around, Raven bit her lip in disappointment. Starfire, or what she had learned to associate with Starfire and her presence, was nowhere that she could see. Taking a deep breath, Raven pushed more power into the spell, extending her view to a mile and a half in each direction. What she discovered alarmed her, but it was definite. With a blink, Raven released the spell, sagging slightly, but not noticeably.

    “Did you locate her?” Vel’sura demanded.

    Raven nodded. “She’s about a mile away from us,” she said slowly. “That way,” she finished.

    And pointed straight down.

    -!-

    “I don’t know who the f**k you think you are—”

    There was the sharp clap of a hand striking another’s face. Starfire winced unconsciously and groaned, blinking the haze away from her mind. But she was still so confused.

    “Shut up! You are no longer the one in power!”

    Her head ached unbearably as did her shoulders. With a quiet groan, she tried to reach up to cradle her head with her hands, but her arms were being restrained by something.

    “Pathetic coward!” The voice that spat such vicious insults so vehemently grunted suddenly and there was a muted thud. She coughed violently. But her voice returned, rough from her apparent pain, but strong as ever. “Does it burn, your highness?” she spat. “Is that the point of this torture? Does it hurt you to know that royal blood,” Starfire cracked her eyes open just in time to see Blackfire lean forward seductively toward her captor, “superior blood, is so close? Just think, you can draw it from me, you can touch it, bathe in it, hell, you can even drink it. But it will never run through your veins, as it does mine. You will never be worth what I am.”

    The mutiny. Lirain’s deception. Her capture. It all returned to her within an instant, but Starfire remained still, taking time to breathe deeply. Whatever they had used to drug her was strong and still in her system. Any movement she tried to make was difficult and there was a drugged haze still heavy on her mind. Starfire blinked, sternly commanding herself to pay attention to what was happening.

    Lirain whipped out a small knife and pressed it against Blackfire’s neck, pushing down hard enough to draw blood. Blackfire, however, instead of cringing, laughed instead.

    “Taking my advice already?” she sneered. Lirain growled and leaned closer, clearly wrestling with his self-control.

    “More like contemplating your death, “ he snarled in reply. Blackfire leaned forward slowly, forcing the blade deeper into her own neck. Her eyes never left Lirain’s.

    “Do it,” she dared him, her voice a malicious hiss. Lirain’s eyes narrowed in hatred and his hand shook against her throat. Finally, he pulled away, throwing the knife to the side. Blackfire smirked. “That’s a good little underling. I knew you were too stupid to be pulling the strings.” Lirain’s hands shook as he turned to the men who stood on either side of Blackfire, restraining her.

    “Take her back to the holding cell,” he snapped. Without a word, the men took hold of each of Blackfire’s arms, steering her toward the door.
    She went easily enough, and only dropped the words, “I guess the ground will have this anointment today,” over her shoulder.

    Starfire blinked in amazement at the pure daring her older sister was capable of showing. She wondered silently if that was the cause or the effect of being in a higher status than Starfire was. Was Blackfire so hard because she had been prepped for the life of a ruler, or had she been chosen for first-in-line because she had shown an extra toughness as a child that Starfire was simply void of?

    Starfire was still contemplating this as she winced against a sharp pain in her neck. She started, realizing she had been gazing blankly into space, unaware of Lirain as he had approached her and shoved her head to the side, injecting her with some other kind of substance. Silently, she cursed the drug that had kept her so inattentive. But suddenly, the haze lifted and her limbs ceased to be weighted down with lead. Lirain chuckled as her first move was to swing her cuffed arms at him with all of her might. She had not noticed how much the drug had been suppressing her mentally, at least, not until this antidote of sorts shaken her out of her reverie, returning all of her anger.

    Lirain sidestepped her wild swinging and pushed her back. “Be still” he snapped as she stumbled backward, falling into her two guards who took a firm hold on each of her arms. He turned and motioned toward a woman on the other side of the room. Starfire had not noticed her before and wondered if she had been there the entire time. “Come, Daerra, see if we will have more luck with this one.”

    Daerra came forward quickly, looking Starfire over. She turned to Lirain. “The same for her?” she asked, pacing in a circle around Starfire. Lirain nodded.
    “Hopefully, she will have something more valuable to offer us,” he answered, leaning casually against the opposite wall. Starfire watched Daerra warily, not knowing what kind of harm this woman could mean her. Dearra stared hard at her and circled a few more times before stopping in front of her suddenly.

    “Unshackle her hands,” she snapped at the guards. Lirain rolled his eyes from his spot.

    “You know, that may be where you went wrong with Blackfire,” he muttered. Daerra ignored him.

    “Just do it,” she said to the guards, who shrugged and unlocked the cuffs around Starfire’s arms, but moved their grip to her wrists. Starfire scoffed and rolled her eyes before throwing the two larger men off of her like rag dolls. The pair collided with the opposite wall with a thump and did not get up. Starire massaged her wrists while surveying Daerra wearily.

    She was a tall Tamaranian, with red hair and brown eyes. Her face, long and elegant, had been clawed with four parallel cuts that ran down the right side of her face. She smiled, noticing Starfire’s eyes on the still fresh cuts.
    “Your primitive of an older sister did this to me. Tell me that you will behave yourself better than she did, darling,” she said sweetly. Starfire narrowed her eyes, unswayed by the older woman’s sweet tone. She had encountered such tactics before.

    “Who are you?” she asked briskly, still focused on her wrists and forearms. There was a small red sore on her wrist where she had been initially injected. The spot was small, but it stung like a tiny flame on her skin. There were numerous marks from the tight cuffs still visible. Daerra narrowed her eyes at the princess’ tone.

    “Do not be a brat,” she snapped back at her, stepping closer. Starfire saw this and raised her hand sharply, summoning a starbolt.
    “Donot come any closer to me,” she commanded. “Tell me who you are and what you want from me,” she said sternly. Daerra held her hands up, palms outward, in a sign of peace. Lirain rolled his eyes.

    “Get on with it, witch!” he snapped. Daerra shot him a dirty look, but otherwise ignored him. She advanced slowly on Starfire, giving her a disapproving glare.

    “I still do not approve of that tone, but I will answer your question to calm you down. I am Lady Daerra. I am advisor and care giver to the Palace Seer, Kilaani. You know her, do you not?” Starfire stilled momentarily, surprised by this information. This woman, who was clearly involved with the rebel forces, was the care giver Kilaani was constantly talking about? Daerra noticed her momentary distraction and bounded forward suddenly, catching Starfire’s wrist in one hand.

    Starfire growled and drew an illuminated fist back instinctively, but Daerra reached upward instantly, pressing two of her fingertips into the center of Starfire’s forehead. Starfire’s eyes grew large and round and she uttered a chocked gasp as she stood straight involuntarily, her hands immobile at her side. Daerra smirked and brought her other hand up to hold the back of her head, strengthening their mental connection. She looked over at Lirain.

    “She has a strong front, but it is just that. A veneer. I am confident that she will yield more information than her sister,” she muttered, skimming the contents of the teenage princess’ mind. Lirain nodded.

    “See that she does. And by all means, do not hesitate to pain her,” he added. Daerra chuckled darkly.

    “As you wish,” she answered lightly and moved her touch from Starfire’s forehead to her temples. She leaned downward staring hard into Starfire’s eyes. She smiled sweetly once more. “Let us see here,” she whispered, gathering her strength. “Both you and your sister have quite a phobia of losing the things you love the most.” Starfire’s body flinched suddenly, momentarily breaking the spell, but Daerra clamped down. She smirked. “Anger? Well, I believe you should be angry. We are going to make that fear reality.”
    ----------------------

    STAY TUNED!
     
  17. paranoidguy103

    paranoidguy103 Getting more paranoid everyday

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    WOW:D !!!!!!!!!!!! Great CHAPTER! Ok, i need to calm down...*stops drinking coffee* Writer's bloke sux, whenever I get writer's bloke writing essays for English, it takes me hours to write just a paragraph. This new character Daerra is pretty evil:evil: . good stuff... It was a little confusing who kissed BB; the Tamaranian-in-charge, or the girl the Tamaranian-in-charge talked to:confused: . Kilaani's role is getting bigger. She's a good addition to the story, and brings another person who has some otherworldly knowledge at their desposal. Till next chapter...
    Peace,
    Paranoidguy103
     
    #37 paranoidguy103, Jul 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2007
  18. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    Oh, my goodness! I'm so sorry about the long wait, but seriously? High School is no joke!! I've had five quizes already and I just finished the second week! Anyway, I'm getting a concrete schedule hammered out and I plan on setting aside time just to write. In the mean time, enjoy this!!



    Chapter 16 :Race to Sunrise(Pt.2):

    “Where are you now, brother?”

    Forain rolled his eyes, absentmindedly-cracking open the glass display case in front of him. Normally, he and his brother got along suitably. Since they were children, they had shared similar interests and personalities, though Forain was undoubtedly the more laid back of the two. They often were paired together in combat simulations and honestly worked best when they were working together.

    All in all, Forain knew, though he would never admit it out loud, he did love his brother. His only fault would be that Lirain was annoyingly meticulous about everything he did, from training to dating to cleaning, even to treasonous coups. Since the very beginning of the rebellion, he had been tracking everyone’s location and barking out orders and schedules through the tiny two way communicator the two of them shared.

    “I’m in the main hall, acquiring additional funds,” Forain replied and threw the jewel-encrusted decorative mask into a large box. He heard a snort come through his earpiece.

    “By that, I assume you mean that you are looting through the palace?” Forain smirked.

    “You make it sound so cheap!” he replied, scandalized. He could practically feel Lirain’s disapproving frown.

    “That, my brother, is because it is cheap.” Forain snickered and moved on to a display case that enclosed a beautiful jeweled necklace. “Listen, finish up and return with your men to base. Believe it or not, Daerra is actually becoming useful to us.” Forain straightened suddenly, surprised.

    “You can’t be telling me that Kormand’r was susceptible to mental snooping,” he asked skeptically. Lirain scoffed.

    “I wish. All Kormand’r did was destroy all of my future children,” Lirain grumbled back. Forain blinked in confusion for a moment before he burst into hysterical laughter, doubled over and clutching his sides.

    “Ah, Kormand’r. You should have known better, Lirain,” he chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye. Lirain harrumphed and Forain went back to his stealing, though not before relating his brother’s misfortune to his companions. They seemed to find it just as amusing as he did.

    “Oh, go to hell,” he snapped back. “Anyway, Koriand’r is proving much more lucrative. We will have what we need soon.”

    “What do we need her for anyway? I say we slit all of their throats, hers, Kormand’r’s and Galifore’s, and just be done with it all. We are asking for trouble by drawing this out longer than necessary,” Forain said seriously. His brother sighed.

    “That is not to be discussed now, not when anyone can hear us. Gather your men and return to base. You will be debriefed then.” Forain sighed and waved this command away, forgetting that his brother could not see him.

    “We will be using the entrance behind the throne, am I right?”

    ”Yes, that one is secure.”

    “Okay. We are almost done. We will be there,” he answered and cut the link between them. He glanced around him. His comrades, of whom there were about eight, had already cleared the room of anything valuable. They had enough to return with at the moment and it would be easy enough to come back out later. “Come, men!” he commanded with a smirk, slinging his bag of goods over his shoulder. “Let us return before Kormand’r makes a woman of my brother!” There was a general laugh from the group and a bit of a clatter as they too packed their things and prepared to leave. The palace was eerily silent, most of its occupants being drunk and happy in any of the nearby towns, still celebrating Tamaran’s victory, blissfully ignorant of the situation their government was currently in.

    He snorted, hoisting his sack over his shoulder and heading toward the exit, blissfully unaware of the narrow indigo eyes burning into his back. The band of rebels turned and headed noisily through the big doors to the throne room. It was a few minutes before they were gone and the room became silent.

    Gracefully, two figures dropped from the ceiling into the shadows, surveying the room cautiously. Slowly, Keenyara stood, and then Vel’sura did. Keenyara looked up to one of the ceiling’s corners.

    “They’re gone. I can hear them filing out of that room over there,” she called. No sooner had she said this than a swirling black portal appeared and a group of silhouettes dropped from it, quickly becoming the Elite Unit, the Titans, and Kilaani. Vel’sura cursed vehemently.

    “Of course! They are using the Refuge!” she exclaimed. Raven closed the portal and turned to her.

    “The Refuge? Is that where Starfire is?” she asked.

    Vel’sura nodded. “Most likely. The Throne Entrance is only one of many. There are three others that I know of and I sure that one of my soldiers knows three others. Of those, we are sure to find one that is not guarded,” she replied, pacing. Keenyara tilted her head, shifting restlessly.

    “How do we know that all of them aren’t guarded?” she asked. Vel’sura waved this question away nonchalantly.

    “No one person knows all of the entrances. That is the point,” she said matter-of-factly. Keenyara bristled at being spoken to in such a way and was surely about to say something, but Robin cut her off, sensing a potential conflict.

    “Alright. Take us to one of the less well known of the entrances. Once we get there, we get in, we get Starfire, Galifore, and Blackfire, and we get back out.” Vel’sura nodded her approval of this plan. “Let’s go.”

    The group began to move, though one of them, Corrai’n hung back. Vel’sura gave him a questioning glance. “What are you waiting for, Corrai’n?” she asked. Corrai’n smiled waved them on.

    “I will wait to make sure we are not followed,” he answered. Vel’sura nodded with a smile and led the rest of them on, leaving Corrai’n alone in the room. Once he was sure they were gone, he pulled out a small headset, flipping a tiny switch and listening to the static before being connected.

    “Report.”

    “They are coming in through one of the more secretive entrances. I will send off a trace once I know which one.”

    “Good work. And do me a favor?”

    Corrai’n gave a small smirk. “That depends, does it not?” he replied.

    “Save the Princess’ little concubine for me.”

    Corrain’n chuckled. “Of course. Out.”

    -!-

    Her hands were enveloped in one of his as he used his other hand to cup her cheek, caressing her face lightly. He was grinning at her, teasing her lightly for something she had said. She pulled her hands away mockingly and pouted, turning away. This did not go on for long, however, before rolled his eyes and lunged forward, locking his arms around her shoulders and taking her down with him, both of them laughing as they collapsed. Still giggling, she rolled over him and leaned forward, locking her lips with his…

    ‘Of course, we know about the human. Show me something new…’

    She was flying, soaring over the ocean, laughing gleefully at what she saw below her. The sun was starting to set in the distance, enough for the sky to be streaked with red and purple, all of it reflected in the water below. Life teemed below the waves; she delighted in the pod of dolphins that had taken to following her (or was she following them?). She halted in her flight, staring around her in rapture. How long had it been since she had called any one place home…?

    ‘The planet? Earth? Well, you are a sentimental fool, after all. There is more…’

    She was younger, so much younger, a child with hopes and dreams bound in naiveté. The words of her superiors, the instructions and harsh training regiments, she drank them in and rose eagerly to the occasion. She stretched herself to the limit, sleeping less and fighting harder and doing everything in her power to become worthy. At night, when she was unable to sleep and tired of studying, she snuck out into the nearby towns, seeing what the planet was really about and learning to know the people. She knew, without a doubt, that she would do anything for her planet…

    ‘And Tamaran. That is expected. That still is not all, however. You are hiding something still, tell Lady Daerra all of it…’

    She zipped upward, into his enormous arms, reveling in his deep, rumbling chuckle. A few warm tears slipped past her defenses and she tried to catch them, to hide them, but he seemed to sense them. He did not, of course, mention them, it was considered a shame to cry. Instead, he held still for a moment, allowing her to gather herself before setting her back on the ground. Ruffling her hair with a grin, he winked as he suggested a raid on the dessert wing of the kitchens. Zorka berries could make anything better…

    ‘The Emperor…’

    Starfire emerged from the guided trance shaking and sweating. She slumped, holding her stomach as she resisted the urge to be sick. She felt embarrassed and violated and naked. Daerra had known and felt everything Starfire had in those memories, had experienced them as if they had been her own. She knew of the desperate need she had once fostered, the need to be an able queen, and of the vulnerable kind of joy that came from being close and intimate with Robin. Daerra knew it all, now.

    Daerra slackened her hold on her, apparently not thinking of her as a threat, though she did not remove her fingers from Starfire’s temples. “You were wrong, Lirain,” she said thoughtfully. Lirain looked up from his new spot. He scowled in Daerra’s direction.

    “In what way?” he asked cautiously. Daerra turned away from him and back toward Starfire, peering steadily into her eyes. Neither Starfire nor Lirain was completely sure what she was looking for.

    “You told me that she would probably have many accessible loves that could be exploited. But you were wrong. She, like her sister, resisted the pull of loving anything. Koriand’r’s heart houses but four loves: Tamaran, Earth, her leader, Robin, and the Emperor; and we cannot really take Earth or Tamaran—”

    Daerra had begun to tilt her head in different ways, staring critically at her, before Starfire’s bubbling fury pushed her to act. With a snarl, she broke from the spell, clamping her hands over Daerra’s and securing them there.

    “Maybe the secrets you seek lie in darker memories?” Starfire snarled, reaching through the mental link Daerra herself had established and using it to hold the older woman hostage.

    Her body was collapsing, slowly shutting down from exhaustion, malnutrition, and starvation. Despite this, she fought on, pushing her body to impossible limits and enduring treatment that was slowly but ever so surely killing her spirit…

    ‘Stop it! Release me!’

    Blood flooded her mouth and down her chin as her teeth sank deep into her lip. She refused, stubbornly to cry out as the blows to her mind rained down again and again. If she cried out, it was possible that they would stop, but then it was also possible that the sharp shooting pain would only get harsher…

    ‘You wretched wench! L-let me go!’

    She was screaming. Not whimpering, not groaning, but fully screaming with the pain that was literally pumping through her veins. Hotter than fire, hotter than a bolt of lightening, a star’s core was running through her, taking hold of who she was and had always been, and turning her into someone (or rather, something) completely different. In the beginning, she believed that she would survive, if she were lucky. Now, as one of the doctors turned away in disgust, and another spat the word “abomination” at her writhing form, she knew that if X’hal held any favor for her at all, death would claim her, and then peace…

    “ENOUGH!”

    Starfire hit the ground glaring hatefully up at Daerra, her cheek stinging from the strong slap she had just given her. Both of them were breathing heavily, though Daerra seemed badly startled while Starfire looked only furious.

    “Take- take her to the holding cell!” Daerra breathed unsteadily, her eyes still wide. Immediately, the two guards that Starfire had so easily thrown away came forward and took hold of her arms once more. They looked to Lirain who nodded, his eyes stuck on Daerra curiously. Roughly, they pulled her to her feet and rushed her out of the door, hurrying back toward the room where the two sisters were being held. They were rushing, knowing that once the princess regained her strength, it would take nothing for her to overpower them. As they left the room, Starfire wanted to smirk, but kept her face blank and woozy looking. They had forgotten to replace the handcuffs.

    Perhaps she could be cunning and deceiving after all.

    It was easy enough to dispatch them; they continued to underestimate her strength. Once again, Starfire massaged her wrists as she surveyed the two unconscious guards. If any other rebels saw them they would know immediately that she had escaped. Casting a glace around her, she quickly spotted a door. She peeked inside it and found it to be a pantry of sorts, full of dried foods. Instantly, she knew where she was.

    The Refuge. It was an underground hideout, constructed so that the Royal household would have a place to turn to should the castle become under siege. The place was stocked for hundreds of people for three months. It was a logical choice for a rebellion.

    Starfire pulled the pair of guards into the stockroom and shut the door, melting the handle on both sides. She was not very worried about them. They would find a way out eventually and they had ample food and water until then. That would buy her some time, but not much. She had to find a way out, but first she had to find Galifore.

    ‘And perhaps Blackfire,’ she added as an afterthought as she began walking. Suddenly, she became aware of the pair of eyes piercing her back and she whipped around, arm raised and fist alight. A dark chuckle emanated from around the corner and Blackfire herself stepped out, looking amused.

    “I wondered how long it would take you to get away from those weaklings,” she commented. Starfire locked eyes with her, and the rage and hurt and betrayal that had been flowing just under the surface burst upward and before she knew it, she had slammed her up against the opposite wall, her eyes alight.

    “You!” she snarled. “You made this happen!” Blackfire winced as her head hit the stone wall. She rolled her eyes.

    “Oh, please. Tell me you’re not still on me about your stupid little decision. If it makes you feel better, now everyone will be too distracted to remember,” she drawled, slapping Starfire’s hands away and crossing her arms over her chest. Starfire balled her hands into fists.

    “That ‘stupid little decision’ is the reason all of this is happening! Galifore went to Rik to try to stop it! Somehow, that spiraled out of control into this,” she snapped in reply. Blackfire shook her head pityingly and smacked the heel of her palm against Starfire forehead, forcing her to back up.

    “Don’t be so self absorbed. This little coup was well planned and efficient. The food stocks down here have probably been doubled. Those traitors were planning this for months, Starfire, maybe even years. They picked tonight because everyone is out of the way in the surrounding towns. There is less for them to concern themselves with now.” Starfire opened her mouth to retort, but Blackfire cut her off. “Now, if you are done, we need to get out of here. In case it hasn’t occurred to you, they are bound to kill us at some point.” Starfire crossed her own arms, surveying Blackfire suspiciously.

    “‘We’? What do you need me for?” she questioned. Blackfire rolled her eyes again.

    “Don’t make a big case out of it, Starfire, it’s not becoming. Come on. Let’s go get your knorfka and get out of here. I assume you refuse to leave without him, right?” Starfire stared hard at Blackfire’s back, taken aback, and then the anger bubbled up again. She stomped her foot childishly, grabbing Blackfire’s attention.

    “Stop!” she exclaimed. “I am sick of being used and manipulated. It will not happen again, Blackfire, not by you, nor Rik, nor anyone else. You tell me where we are going, what we are going to do, and why you need my help. Then I will decide whether or not I will be a part of your plan,” she asserted. Blackfire’s eyes widened and then narrowed and she advanced on her sister.

    “I said not to start this now, Koriand’r,” Blackfire hissed. “You want out of this mess, you’re going to have to trust me, alright?” Starfire held her ground.

    “I am not a fool! I learn from my mistakes. I have trusted you, first on Earth, then again when you were going to have me married, and once more, only hours ago, when you would have me banished! I am done trusting you, Kormand’r, because all you ever do is take advantage of me!”

    Starfire suddenly found herself thrust against the opposite wall, Blackfire’s hand tight around her throat. Her hand was bright and uncomfortably warm against her neck. “Wrong!” she snarled and pushed her face close. “Who was it that purposely lost fights so that you would not be punished? Who was it that made sure that you and Ryand’r had enough to eat in that spacecraft born hell? Who watched her brother driven insane? Who stood by and watched her sister tossed around like some common prostitute and then taken to be raped? Damn it, Kori, who the hell what that? Because I would say that you owe her at the very least, your trust!”

    Silence reigned between them and Blackfire released her roughly. She turned and began walking, sparing not a glance behind her. Starfire did not move from where Blackfire had pinned her, her hand rising shakily to her neck. She blinked back the tears that had been prickling insistently at the back of her eyes for a long time.

    “You do not know how much what you did meant to me,” she said finally, almost meekly. “You have no idea how much you meant to me, Blackfire.” Blackfire stopped walking, though she did not turn. “But what happened to you, to us, it turned us away from what we used to be. You are not the Kormand’r I once knew, and I am not the same Koriand’r. Nothing is the same,” she finished, almost desperately.

    Blackfire sighed and ran her fingers through her hair tiredly. “No, we are not the two young Tamaranian princesses anymore. Now, we are Blackfire and Starfire…” She turned and gave Starfire an appraising look. “Starfire would be wise not to trust Blackfire on normal circumstances. But now is different. Because no matter how honed my skills are or how trained you have become, neither one of us will get out of here alive on our own. So, for now,” she extended her hand. “Trust in Kormand’r.” Starfire blinked for a moment and then gave a small smile, taking Blackfire’s hand. Blackfire smirked back. “Galifore is being held in a room in that direction. You want him out, no?”

    “That would be best,” Starfire answered.

    Suddenly there was a great commotion far down the end of the hall. There was shouting and great explosions and suddenly, a great wave of wind emanated throughout the Refuge, knocking the two sisters to the ground. Starfire’s head snapped up.

    “Keenyara?”

    Blackfire scoffed and lifted from the ground, flying toward the commotion and Starfire quickly followed. “Ha, your cavalry is finally here, I guess. Too late to be terribly helpful though,” she sneered as she flew. Starfire stared forward, ahead of her. There was dread building inside of her. Whatever happened next would change everything, the way everything had been changed by her mother and by Blackfire only this time… she would be the one to change things.

    -!-

    When looking back, none of the participants in the ensuing fight would be able to remember the exact details. The stories that remained were things of myths, images of horror, blood, and heartbreak. Loyal soldiers who had trailed the Elite Unit stealthily, unsure of their side, had pitted themselves against the rebels, soldiers meant to be their brothers and sisters. Corrai’n, the beloved Second-in-Command to the Elite Unit had revealed himself as a traitor. Vel’sura, revered commander, had flown into a rage, destroying Corrai’n and several other rebels before anyone could respond. Some said that it was the other way around and Corrai’n had killed his commanding officer instead. There were stories of the two princesses, and even the Emperor himself joining the fight, fighting off impossible numbers. The speculation went on and on.

    What everyone agreed on, however, was that at some point, there was a blinding flash of light and when the glare receded, the Teen Titans of Earth, Princesses Kormand’r and Koriand’r, Emperor Galifore, a meek palace Seer, and the two leaders of the rebellion, Lirain and Forain, disappeared, and some of them were never seen on Tamaran again.

    It was sometime after this was noticed that all celebration stopped in the surrounding towns. All eyes turned to watch as the Great Tamaranian Palace crumbled slowly to the ground.

    -!-

    His eyes were not the blank scarlet orbs they normally were. His skin, normally pale and unhealthy looking, had acquired a nice color. He was not as thin, not as meek. He stood straight. He was not the minor, rambling lackey of Luand’r. Those power-hungry fools hardly recognized him.

    It was they who had come to him, asking for his help and offering him a place in the new Tamaran. Of course, he had no interest in a place of power in their insignificant little planet. Did they not realize that their planet meant nothing to him, regardless of what Luand’r wanted? Did they not know that the only thing that gave their irrelevant cluster of rock a speck of worth was she, the Second Champion, the only one who had a chance of thwarting their side? He cared nothing for their stupid little revolution. All he wanted was the opportunity they presented.

    They said they had information on her, that she held unimaginable power that could be harnessed if only they could break her in the right way. They were smart enough to know that trying to steal this power from her would be idiotic at best. It was too raw and untamable for that. But they thought that they could break her spirit, take everything from her and leave her with the option of slave. She would become nothing. Just a pretty gun.

    And they could not do it without his help. Xuun smirked privately, watching the battle grow in size and brutality ever so quickly. This was what The Other had really had in mind for him. His attempts to remove the Protectress had been miscalculated. He should have known that if she was not angel, nor any other heavenly being, and neither was she a mortal, that her spirit would behave differently. Her wind manipulation powers stemmed from the fact that her spirit was the wind and sky, and was therefore pure force. If she did not want to be removed, she would not be removed, and nothing as petty as pain would persuade her otherwise.

    No, he should have been more direct, going straight for her when he had the chance. It would have been more complicated, true, but, especially at this point, her soul was weak. The betrayal of her mother, her sister, her leaders, and her very planet had led her into a deadly ring of questions about her worth. She was tearing herself down from the inside out and all she needed was a push in the right place for the walls of her sanity to deteriorate.

    Lirain, the mastermind of the operation looked up at him, giving him the signal. Without a thought, Xuun raised his arms, directing a transit spell to a few specific individuals to a special closed off room. ‘It won’t be long now,’ he thought grimly. The twins’ plan was lusciously wicked and he hoped that they would do his work for him, but just in case, he would be waiting in the shadows, watching them. He would be there if they screwed it up. Suddenly angry, he narrowed his eyes, shooting a fierce mental message to the Tamaranian twins, Lirain and Forain.

    ‘Do not leave her unbroken! By sun’s rise, we MUST see her destruction!’
     
  19. paranoidguy103

    paranoidguy103 Getting more paranoid everyday

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    So you just started high school.. Freshmen year wuz fun. Okay, back to your story... Great chapter as always. There plenty of action and battles on the horizon, which im dying to read. The whole secret bunker is a good idea, and it would make sence that the empirial family would have one. Till next chapter...
    Peace,
    Paranoidguy103
     
  20. JAG

    JAG Active Member

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    Well, I just finished chapter 12 and I must admit, I'm hooked. Everything about this story has been excellent, so far. And I get the feeling that it's only going to get better (or worse, for our heroes) in the near future.

    Maybe I'm paranoid, but I don't think that Luand'r and the Psions are just going to back off without a fight. Though it appears that Starfire & Co. have won the duel and saved Tamaran, I doubt that it was as much of a victory as it seemed to be. Indeed, I think that Starfire was intended to win, as part of some larger scheme. We still really don't even know who the bad guys are, yet. Personally, I don't trust Blackfire at all. She's got some deranged plot in the works, I'm sure. But, of course, this is only my own speculation. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right, maybe a mixture of both. I'll presumably find out shortly...

    Also, I'd like to comment on Keenyara. It's a rare OC that actually proves to be as interesting (to me, anyway) as the Titans. I particularly like how well she and Raven play off of one another. Excellent work.

    I'll most likely get the rest of this story read by tomorrow night. I'd dearly love to finish it now, but I'm starting to have trouble keeping my eyes open, so I guess I'll call it a night. Of course, I told myself the same thing an hour or two ago, which tells you how addictive this story has been. "I'll go to sleep after this chapter...well, okay, the next one..." And the one after that looked promising,too...
     

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