Issue #131
Issue #132
Issue #133
Issue #134
Issue #135
Issue #136
Issue #137
Issue #138
Issue #138.1
Issue #138.2
Issue #138.3
Issue #138.4
Issue #139

Annual #12

First Wave

Second Wave

Third Wave




Pain… Dark… Where… Kory… got to… OW! Need to… focus… head is throbbing… Come on Grayson get it together. We… we were on Cyborg’s ship… just left Hawk wedding… We were trying to… trying to cheer up Donna. Kory… somebody transported Kory off the ship. Tried to stop… caught in transporter effect… I guess. Branx. There were big, purple, four-armed Branx where I appeared. They hit me… some kind of pain stick… or was it a rifle butt… went black… still black. Got to wake up. Hurt’s bad… hard to… no, can’t move. Come on, Grayson, focus! Can almost hear… come on, Nightwing, focus! Sounds like… Kory. Crying, can’t make out… FOCUS! Got-To-Wake-Up!

“…my dear sister? After all these many years, you can still ask me that? You are a fool!”

Voice… familiar. Not Kory’s… Her Sister… $#*^! … in trouble.

“I’m not at all surprised to find you hiding back on this back-water, mud hole, Koriand’r. That it is so precious to you will make its destruction at our hands all the more satisfying.”

“Content to server as Mongul’s lapdog now, traitor? I should have known you’d survived when the Sun-Eater destroyed our new world.”

Kory… Good, she’s still alive.

“You’d be shocked at how many of us survived, little princess. Not your dear, dear husband of course, but several hundreds of us are still around. Shocked even more to see how many of them serve me, I’d wager. As for Mongul, we are allies in this endeavor. The risen warlord approached me, among others, to see if we’d like to provide support in this latest campaign to destroy this meddlesome Earth of yours.* As supreme Empress of the reborn Citadel, I decided to aid him. When we spotted that little ship orbiting the planet, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to reunite our happy family. Capturing your favorite Earthling before we blew that ship out of the stars was an unexpected bonus. Oh look, dear Koriand’r. He’s starting to wake up. Can’t have that, can we?”

(* It’s true, check out the other sections of our Cold Armageddon crossover event to see what havoc Mongul and company are reeking on our poor planet)


FDC Presents...

Issue #136, Nov., Yr.1
By Clay Arceneaux

It’s not the fall, it’s that sudden stop at the end you need to watch out for.” Changeling’s words still sounded in Grant Emerson’s head as Damage opened his eyes. It was the last thing Grant remembers hearing after Arsenal had told everyone to brace for impact and just before the awful crunching sound and everything going black. He opens his eyes to see the shimmering bird-like soul-self of Raven hovering before him.

“Aaaahh!” Damage cries as almost involuntarily lurches backward away from the glowing empath.

“Whoa, whoa. Easy there buddy.” Changeling’s voice comes to him from just over his shoulder. Damage turns in his chair to see the bemused look on Changeling’s green face. “I understand the reaction, but Raven’s just fixing you up. Your head bounced on that consol in front of you pretty hard when we crashed.”

“Crashed…” Images flash through Damage’s mind. Nightwing and Starfire vanishing, the deck lurching beneath their feet, the desperate efforts to save the ship and themselves. “We made it then? It worked?”

“A little battered, but we’re okay.” Changeling smiles. “Nothing Raven couldn’t fix.”

“I am sorry to have startled you, Grant.” Raven’s haunting voice issues out from the bird-form.

“It’s okay.” Damage rises to his feet, embarrassed by his reaction. “I kinda over reacted, but… I mean…”

“You suffered much under my evil self’s machinations. It is understandable that I frighten you.” Raven’s soul-self coalesces into a glowing image of her now gone human form. “But please believe me, I am not her. She and all of my father’s evil are destroyed.”

“I’ll try, Raven, thanks.” Damage still eyes the empath warily. “Where’s everybody else?”

“Still on what’s left of the bridge.” Changeling replies. “They’re up there trying to find out how bad bad is out there. And from what Raven says, it’s pretty darn terrible.”

“What’s going on?”

“We’re being invaded. The whole darn planet. Again.”

Any other time Roy Harper would have been taking a moment to ruminate on his never-ending luck. They had after all just survived being shot down from high Earth orbit. But right now there was only one thought running through his mind: his daughter, Lian. He had let her go to the “lost city” of Fetheria with her “Aunt Dinah”, the superhero known to the world as the Black Canary. They, and about half the known super hero community, were going to the wedding of Hawkman and Hawkwoman there. Hating weddings, and most formal occasions for that matter, Roy had chosen to hang out on the starship of his friend and former teammate Cyborg. In fact, when his fellow Titans had beamed aboard the ship from the reception, he was about to call Dinah to see when she would be ready for him to pick up his kid.

Then every alarm on the ships bridge lit up, and before he or Cyborg could react, the ship was pummeled out of orbit and sent spiraling down toward the planet below. The rest gets blurry in his memory, crunch situations often did. He remembers Vic, Cyborg, saying he needed more power. Changeling whisked Damage down to the engine room, where Damage was supposed to channel his explosive power into the ships engines. Why Cyborg and Changeling had that kind of equipment in the engine room of this the ship they’d spent the last few years adventuring through space in would be a question for another time. The point was it worked. Grant was able to kick start the engines enough for them to change their nose-dive into a more level descent. So instead of making a crater in upstate NewYork, they skipped like metallic stone across the Pacific before running aground on the coast of California. Troia had used her recently restored powers to help shield the ship from impact, her mystic force field strengthened by Tempest’s own magical energy. So once again, teamwork had saved the Titans.

But the team had awoken to find a world gone mad. Raven, who had been missing after their battle against Brother Blood a few weeks earlier, appeared and healed the few injuries they had sustained with her empathic powers. She also told them of the full-scale invasion underway across the globe. Like the last time, a broad array of alien races made up the invasion force, but this time it was the monstrous Mongul leading the charge and the attacks were much, much more vicious. Apparently an entire city had already been blown off the map, and that was in the opening hours of the attack.

That’s when the panic for his daughter’s safety entered the young hero called Arsenal’s mind. While Raven went to aid the injured on the lower decks, Roy had strapped on his quiver and weapons belt over his tee shirt and jeans. Now he stands over Cyborg’s shoulder as the big man’s silver metallic hands desperately try to splice the wires together that will bring the battered ship’s communications and sensor systems back on line.

“This ain’t gonna go any faster with you breathin’ down my damned neck, Harper.” Victor Stone growls in frustration as his last connection causes the already dim emergency lights to flicker. “I’m goin’ as fast as I can.”

“Roy…” a female voice comes from behind him. “I’ve found her.”

Sitting there on the floor in obvious meditation is one Lilith Clay, the black, red trimmed robes she wears as Omen hastily draped over her shoulders. Her lover, the broad shouldered, bird winged alien known only as Azrael, stand beside her, looking down on her with worry plastered across his handsome face.

“Where Lil?” Arsenal turns and hurriedly makes his way to his old friend’s side. “Where’s my daughter?”

“I’m not exactly sure. There’s so much panic, so much raw emotion in the air that it’s hard for my telepathy to get a very clear picture. I was able to scan Black Canary’s mind some, enough to know she feels sure Lian’s in a safe place. And Lian’s more worried about you and not feeling particularly threatened either. I think she’s in Gotham… at a safe house Canary’s partner recommended. Past that, I can’t get an exact location.”

“Okay,” Roy sighs a little. “If Dinah thinks she’s safe, I can trust that… I think. How bad is it out there?”

“It’s bad, Roy. Worse than it’s been in a long time.” Omen opens her eyes and stares right into Arsenal’s. She floods his mind with images of the invasion she’s telepathically gleaned from around the world. “And Garth and Donna have got the topside hatch open.”

“You weren’t kidding when you said this was bad.” Arsenal tries to shake the images from his mind.

“Hey! I got some of the sensor net back up.” Cyborg smiles briefly for the first time since regaining consciousness. The metal on his hand slides away and Victor Stone plugs one of his makeshift bundles of wires into the now exposed data port so he could control the system through his own. “Let’s see what we can see. Hmmm, looks like we’re… Whoa! Big fracas in LA! Picking up multiple energy signatures. Looks like the GL Corps kicked open some kind of bee’s nest over there.* I’ve got what looks like Thanagarian hawks already on the ground, but multiple drop ships on their way down. Branx, Gordian, Kund, a who’s who of deep space slime balls.”

(* check out GL#211 to be exact.)

“Branx and Gordian, huh?” Arsenal rubs his chin. “That means the Citadel’s involved, which mean’s it’s a safe bet what happened to Dick and Kory.”

“Her sister got ‘em,” Cyborg growls. “That witch Blackfire. Some ho’s just won’t stay dead.”

“I am sorry if that troubles you, Victor,” Raven answers as she, Changeling, and Damage enter the bridge.

“Naw, bird-lady, I meant a different witch.”

Raven’s form begins to shimmer more brightly as the unliving empath seems to momentarily loose her balance.

“Raven?” Gar Logan tries to catch the falling form only to watch his green hands pass through her immaterial body.

“The fighting… too close… The Thanagarian,” Raven’s voice trembles, her face twists in almost physical agony. “They’re plan was frustrated, they’re turning their weapons on the crowd. Too much pain… I must… I have to stop it!”

Raven’s form assumes the familiar bird-like shape of her soul-self and flies soundlessly through the upper bulkheads and into the open sky above. Her departure does not go unnoticed by the two founding Titans who have just minutes ago stepped onto the ship’s outer hull.  Donna Troy watches as Raven’s shimmering form shrinks into the horizon.  Tempest is still dressed in his suit pants and dress shirt from the wedding. Troia on the other hand is decked out in her new/old costume. It has a black body suit going from her neck and disappearing into her boots, decorated with a twinkling star pattern that seems to shift of it’s own accord. The armored shoulder pads, arm guards and boots of her first Troia costume are present, but appear made of a silvery metal this time, not their earlier gold.  An eagle shape medallion hangs from her neck. It was by clutching that medallion that Donna Troy had willed away her formal dress and changed instantly into her Troia battle garb.  Now she stands peering into the warm evening air after her fast fading from view friend.

“Garth, that looked like Raven,” Troia turns to her seated companion. “And she looked like she was in an awfully big hurry.”

“Hmm? I’m sorry, Donna, I was checking on Dol.” Tempest replies, kneeling on the deck plates.

“Checking on… Wait, are you telling me your telepathic powers have returned?” Donna kneels beside her long time friend. “Garth that’s wonderful!”

“Well they’re not what they used to be,” Tempest tries to keep his balance as Troia gives him a big hug. “But I guess whatever I injured battling Mento all those years ago must be healing. I can at least communicate with sea life again, and I can contact certain people, like Dol, or Aquaman, from just about anywhere, with a lot of effort. She’s okay by the way. Wally dropped her off before any of this fighting started. She’s swimming for Atlantis now.”*

(* but will she find an Atlantis she recognizes? Check out Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas #7 for more details!)

Garth. Donna. Raven said something about needing to stop some nearby fighting. Vic’s got some signs of battle on his sensors, but can’t be sure how widespread. Roy wants you two to go back Raven up, we’ll catch up in a minute.” Lilith’s telepathy voice rang in their heads.

“Getting into this leader thing it’s he?” Tempest smiles at Donna as he strips off his dress shirt, and kicks off his shoes. “Let me get a quick drink and we’ll be on our way.”

“Garth and Donna are on their way.” Lilith relays back to the Titans’ acting leader.  “But why aren’t we going with them?”

“We will be, but we’ve got something else to take care of too.” Arsenal answers, his brow creased with worry. “Vic, point your scanners skyward, we need to find which ship Nightwing and Starfire are on. Lil, I know teleporting people that far is tough on you, so do whatever you need to do to get ready to try. This would’ve been easier if Raven hadn’t left, I know she could both find them and get a rescue party up there pretty easily. But she wigged out on us again, so now it’s on to plan B.”

“Who’s going?” Grant asks, rolling up the tattered sleeves of his tux shirt.

“We since we don’t have the manpower from a frontal attack without abandoning innocent people down here, we need to sneak our way in again.” Arsenal replies.

“And that worked sooo well last mission.” Changeling laughs.

“Keep laughing, gaquacamolie breath. You’re one of the ones going.”

“I figured.” Gar smiles at the surprised looks on his friend’s faces at his response. “What? We’re sneaking onto a Citadel vessel, right? Can any of you guys imitate a Gordian?” With a flash of light, Changeling assumes the shape of one of the barrel-chested, reptilian humanoids. “I didn’t think so. Hey Vic? That Gordian armor still stashed on here from the last time you and me tried this trick?”

“Yeah, man. Grab my stuff to while you’re down there.” Vic can feel the eyes of his friends staring with a mixture of confusion and bemusement at him as Gar hustles off the bridge. “Oh come on gang. Gar and me tramped around space together for a good long while. You think this is the first time we ever snuck into dangerous territory as a Khund cyborg and a Gordian slaver?

“Um, no. Of course not.” Arsenal scratches his head. “Where’s Terra?”

“Blondie II went to find something other than that blue dress to wear.” Cyborg turns back to his jury-rigged scanners. “The fellas might be able to fight alien nasties in their tuxes, but she thought fightin’ an’ satin pumps didn’t mix. Go figure.”

“Cool. Soon as she gets back, Grant, you and Rocky get going after Troia and Gill-head.” Roy turns from his young friend to the purple haired alien standing behind Lilith. “Feathers, you an’ me will hang here till Lil finishes dropping off Vic and Gar. We’ll keep an eye on her while she save up the strength to bring all four of them back.”

“Save it. You just get us there, Flower-child, Gar an’ me can handle gettin’ out.” Vic replies.

“You sure?”

“Trust me, Goldie an’ Bird Boy are as good as home.” Cyborg replies, wishing he were as confident as he sounded.

“Troia!” Tempest cries as his teammate flies them over the outskirts of Los Angeles. “We’ve got company!”

Descending toward them rapidly are a quartet of Gordians wearing their golden armor and pink flight packs. They open fire with their blast-sticks, but Troia erects a force field around the two Titans.

“Drop me off,” Tempest winces at the blasts even though the bounce harmlessly off Troia’s shield. “I’m going to slow you down up here if you don’t.”

Before Donna can offer protest, the Atlantean Titan wriggles his arm free from her grasp and falls toward the ground below. Tempest hands glow as he brings his mystic powers to bear, causing a spout of water to erupt from a water main beneath the street below.  The spout bends to catch its master and lower him safely to the ground.  Then at Tempest’s unspoken command, the jet of water hurls itself at one of the attacking Gordians, becoming boiling hot as it washes over the screaming green invader.

Troia dives upward and straight into he chest of another Gordian with a frightening crack. Her restored Amazon strength knocks the creature’s helmet from his head with her second blow. As her unconscious foe falls to Earth, she turns her attention to the remaining two attackers.  With anger boiling in her beautiful eyes, Troia streaks toward the stunned reptile men, grabbing one in each hand and slamming them together. She held them in front of her as she arcs her flight downward, smashing her stunned foes into the side of a building. Tempest cannot help but notice the savagery of his old friend’s attack. 

A laser blast whizzes past his ear, breaking the young hero from his thoughts.  Tempest drops to one-knee and fires twin beams of pure mystic force from his eyes in the direction of his attacker. He strikes another Gordian squarely in the chest with them, driving the creature backward, knocking over some of his fellows in the process. But there are more of them. Though his Atlantean eyes let him see better in the fading sunlight than most, Tempest still can’t make out how many.

A scream of fury echoes through the sky as Troia launches herself into the reptilian horde. To the Gordians’ credit, they unleash a hellish volley of blaster fire to try and stop the avenging Amazon, but it all bounces harmlessly off of her near invisible force field. In moment, gold clad green bodies are being strewn about the streets as Troia cut a wide path through the assembled Gordian strike force. For his part Tempest does his best to keep up with her, mopping up any stragglers she misses. Again, he takes note at the brutal force Troia’s employing against these creatures.

All the hurt, all the loss, all that pent up rage for everything Donna’s been through these past few years is just boiling out tonight.” Tempest thinks as he strikes a Gordian into unconsciousness with his sea-spawned strength. “And Father Neptune help me, but I don’t know if I should stop her or not.”

The Pain. The Violence. It is everywhere. The glowing remains of the empath called Raven soar through the concrete canyons of L.A. She can feel the people’s fear clawing at her for comfort, the malicious pleasure of the invading hordes, the pockets of frustration growing through out the alien ranks at the arrival of so many interfering heroes. Raven does what she can to help. She uses her empathic powers to try to calm the frightened people and heal their wounds, and to try and pacify the attacking creature into submission. She has lost track of time in her haste. Though more powerful than she has ever been before, Raven is exhausted. Weary to the core of her spirit.  Her empathic gifts allow her to absorb the hurt, the anger, the fear of others into her glowing soul-self, where it dissipates over time. But in a situation like this, Raven is absorbing these things faster than she can easily dispel them, and though she no longer needs fear her late father’s evil rising inside her, the struggle to purge herself of what she’s taken wears on Raven’s entire being. Yet she cannot stop.  Being what she is, she cannot ignore the fear and pain of those below her.

Raven feels waves of anger from near the center of town. Her glowing white bird-like form soars even faster as she’s drawn to the source of the emotion. A group of young men, gang members she believes, the colors indicating at least two factions, are trying to wage a counter attack on a group of Branx warriors. Though they weld an impressive amount of firepower by Earth standards, the four-armed Branx are bigger, stronger, and light-years better equipped.  With bullets bouncing uselessly off their orange tinted armor, the purple aliens casually aim their weapons at the assembled young toughs.

As the Branx unleash hell upon the gang members, Raven’s bird-shaped form swoops down from the sky and expands to block all of the aliens fire.  Then Raven sweeps towards the aliens like a glowing tidal wave, her soul-self engulfing the whole lot of them. Straining her powers, she manages to render all of the Branx so calm they border on insensate.  Her glowing from shrinks back into an image of her once living body. Raven kneels there in the street, her form quivering. She needs to rest, needs to leave here and recover her strength. But she cannot, what she is will not let her. Again she feels the irresistible pull of someone else in danger.  On trembling “legs” she rises and hurls herself into the sky again.

As her flies away, the gang members rush their would be butchers.  Taking full advantage of Raven’s attack, they fire their guns at the Branx’s all too vulnerable heads. They kill all of the comatose aliens and take the Branx’s more advanced weaponry for their own. Bolstered by their “conquest”, the now extremely well armed young men continue their sweep through the city, looking for more alien invaders to kill. Raven’s empathic senses tell her all of this as she soars away, and a great burning guilt tugs at her tired heart.

 “Well, We’re here.” Changeling sighs in his Gordian form, and adjusts his golden chest plate. “And we’re not staring down a dozen blasters barrels so I think we’re undetected. Lil looked a little wobbly when she warped out. Hope she made it back okay.”

The ‘Gordian’ turns to his partner, who thanks to a quickly reconfigured weapons pack and some advanced holography looks every inch the Khund armored officer.

“Guess ‘portin’ into orbit is a bit much, even for a… whatever Lil is.” Cyborg’s Khund features grimace. “Now all we gottah do is find the Princess, break her an’ Dick out quiet as we can, and get outah here.”

“And us without a Wookie prisoner,” The ‘Gordian’ smiles. “Well according to the movie, we need to find you a computer jack, ‘Artoo’.”

“Or we could try this,” Cyborg replies pointing to a pair of Branx entering the previously deserted corridor. Straightening himself up with a militaristic air, the ‘Khund’ heads straight for the four-armed aliens. “Excuse me. I am Sub-commander Vyk-torr, sent as an emissary of the million times honored Mongul. Our august leader has heard that his ally, the much august Blackfire has recaptured her renegade sister.  I have been sent here to visually confirm the veracity of this report. Can you direct me to where she is being held?”

For long moments, the purple skinned Branx simply stare at the ‘Khund’ before them.  Changeling nervously clutches the long-ago-stolen blast-stick that helped complete his disguise, hoping the wouldn’t have to fight their way all the way through the ship just to find their captured friends.

“Empress Kommand’r had the little tramp and some Earther strung up in the observation deck. Wanted them to have a good view of the planet when it dies,” The larger of the two Branx replies. “Head for the lift over there, three decks up, head toward the bow. Can’t miss it.”

“Thank you.”  Cyborg nods to the tusked aliens and heads for the said lift, his ‘Gordian’ companion following behind.

“Remember to bow when you see the Empress there, Khund.” The Branx calls out. “Blackfire’s picky about that.”

Another curt nod is Cyborg’s only reply as he and Changeling board the lift. As it’s doors close behind them, the two heroes share the same unspoken thought: “What the heck are we going to do now?

Betty Kane awoke from her daily routine to find herself in the middle of a bad sci-fi thriller. The last thing she clearly remembered was working out on the tennis courts of UCLA. Then a strange noise filled the air, numbing her mind and her will. What she did not know was that the star-faring villain Kanjar-Ro had used his infamous gamma-gong to place the city of Los Angeles under his command.  The helpless humans were then being rounded up for sale on the intergalactic slave market by the various invading races. But the Green Lantern Corps had beaten Kanjar Ro, breaking his spell over the city,* leaving the city’s confused populace waking to a living nightmare. Betty is one of the two-dozen or so women being herded down the street by several gray-armored men, who look a lot like copies of the hero, Hawkman. But Betty isn’t just any helpless female. She is the fabulous Flamebird… well… sometimes.  Now was not one of those times. Without her crime fighting gear, she is just a well-trained athlete sporting nothing more formidable than a mean backhand lob.

Well at least I’ve still got my racket in hand.” Betty tightens her grip on its handle for reassurance. “That’s something I guess. I’ll just have to be patient and wait for an opening to strike.  Assuming I get an opening this side of the galaxy. Oh, drat! I wish Robin were here. He’d know what to do. Heck, any Titan would be a welcome site about now.”

As if on cue,  a white, bird-shaped form swoops into view. The Thanagarian spring into action with trained precision. Four of their number take to the air on Nth Metal wings in an attempt to surround the potential threat while the remaining two attempt to keep control of their captives. Raven simply hovers in place, allowing the hawkmen to surround her. Uselessly, they fire their weapons into Raven’s soul-self.

But Raven’s arrival gives Betty the opening she’s been waiting for.  With all the force she can muster, the part-time hero drives her tennis racket into the exposed chin of the nearest Thanagarian, knocking the big alien off his feet. Raven silently expands her soul-self to envelope her assailants.  Betty relieves the unconscious hawkcop of his “nightstick” (at least that’s what it looks like to her anyway) and turns her attention to the one remaining winged alien. For his part, the Thanagarian had almost decided that he could easily shoot the lone female long before she could strike him with her stolen power-staff when Raven deposits his unconscious wing-mates to the pavement and start to float in his direction. Betty can see the sweat rolling down the alien’s face, and the nervous way he keep shifting his blaster from one target to the other, and knows the big man is close to snapping. Raven can sense the depth of panic in the man’s heart, a panic echoed in the remaining girls who had not already fled. Then both heroine’s worst fear is realized as the hawkman’s gaze falls to a young woman huddling in the street less than two feet away. With battle trained reflexes, the Thanagarian reaches out and snatches the girl by her long black hair, swinging her around into his chest.

“That’s close enough.” The hawkman presses the barrel of his weapon into the girl’s pale face. “We’re leaving. You’re not following.”

The Thanagarian spreads his metallic wings, holding the girl, who looked no older 14, tight to his metallic gray chest.  Betty watches helplessly, hoping the empathic Raven can do something as the alien and his captive rise into the air. Raven concentrates, trying to block out everything else the besieged city was feeding her empathic sense and focuses the total of her power on the fleeing hawkman. The alien feels his fear subsiding, and a calm, non-combative feeling sweep over him. He no longer wants to fight; he no longer wants to hurt this girl in his arms.  Slowly the Thanagarian drifts back down towards Raven’s glowing form. But a scant second before he lands, the hawkman’s military mind rejects the emotions Raven is projecting to him. With utter emotional detachment, the Thanagarian replaces his weapon against the girl’s trembling form and fires!

A cry goes up from the assembled crowd, echoing Raven’s own. Callously, the alien drops the girl’s limp body to the ground. Raven rushes forward and immediately envelops the girl in her healing embrace as the enraged Flamebird charges the hovering hawkman. But Betty’s assault is only on empty air as once again the Thanagarian has taken to the skies to make good his escape. But his free flight is short lived. A blast of energy stops him mid-air, followed by a literal flying tackle from another big, winged man. The two winged aliens fall back to the pavement, the Thanagarian taking the brunt of the hit. The eagle-winged Azrael stands over his fallen opponent. Behind him the originator of the power blot, Damage, tries maintain a tight reign of his on building power while balancing on one of Terra’s floating boulders. On board the flying rock with him are Arsenal, Omen, and of course Terra.

“Nice hit guys,” Arsenal calls as the boulder swoops down to the ground. “Make sure he’s out, Feathers.  Damage, Rocky, you keep your eyes peeled. I don’t want a wing of this guys buds swooping in for payback. Lil, you’re with me.”

“Speedy!” Betty races forward and wraps her arms around Roy. “Am I glad to see a familiar face.”

“Betty?” Arsenal stares at the bedraggled blonde in disbelief. “City with millions of people, we end up rescuing one of the few we know. Betty, you okay? What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, I guess these hawk-wannabes used some kind of mind control thing to round up a bunch of girls. Slave trade I guess. Whatever it was wore off a few minutes ago. Then Raven, I guess that’s Raven over there, showed up and she helped me get the drop on these guys.  The last one, the one you got, shot one of the hostages. Raven’s trying to help her. Is Robin… Nightwing with you?”

“No. Long story.” Arsenal pushes past the would be heroine to Raven’s side. “Raven? She going to be okay? Raven? Yo, bird-lady!?”

“Arsenal,” Omen’s voice drifts from the shadows of her black and crimson cloak as she places her and on her leader’s shoulder. “Back off. I sense… I sense great danger here.  The girl…”

“She is dead.” Raven pulls away from the young girl’s unmoving body, her soul-self resuming its white bird-like shape. “I failed her. I have healed her every injury, but her spirit is already gone. She is dead, because I failed. Failed to act.”

“Raven, come on, pull yourself together.” Roy tries to calm his former teammate. “I know you, I’m sure you did everything you could to save her.”

“No… not everything.” Raven’s voice is suddenly colder, full of harsh undertones. “You, Thanagarian. You and your ilk enjoy bringing death and destruction to the world of my birth do you? You think it gives you power to terrify the helpless.” Raven’s form glides towards the dazed killer; it’s color darkening from white to gray as she speaks. “I have had my belly full of your kind this day, murder of children.”

As Raven speaks the red/orange late afternoon sky darkens further as thick black clouds seem to roll in out of nowhere. Lightning begins to arc across the sky and a hard wind whips through the battle-torn streets.

“Oh this can’t be good.” Arsenal mutters as he readies his bow.

“Tonight,” A bone-chilling feral scream irrupts from Raven’s soul-self as it expands in size to around thirty feet high, its color now the pitchest black. “Tonight I will teach you the meaning of terror, little mortal!”

To Be Continued…

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