"The Jubilee Directive"
"The Final Stanza"
By David Marshall
Opal City, Opal University Campus Outside the Science Building
"Oh Rose, what have you done?" Miss Martian asked.
Ravager’s methods were often questionable but her actions were extreme even by her standards. During a brawl moments before she ran a member of the Symphony through with her sword. The woman lay dead on the sidewalk outside the former Science building in Miss Martian's arms.
"Not cool at all," Static replied, rising on the electromagnetic currents to get a better look.
"What did she do?" Arsenal demanded over the comms. “Repeat that please?”
"Looks like she killed the flute player," Static answered.
"She did what?" Arsenal yelled.
"Killed her dead, dude," Static added. "Ran her through with that big-ass sword."
"I knew this was a mistake!" Arsenal shouted.
"If all you would shut the hell up and let me explain!" Ravager shouted.
"Let me guess, Wilson" Arsenal shot back. "Your family roots are showing!"
"Go to hell, Harper," Rose replied.
"Someone call the cops!" shouted a man who took cover behind a marble park bench during the battle. "That girl killed that woman!"
"I want the details, now!" Arsenal shouted over comms. "Maybe we can clean up this mess before it devolves further."
"Hate to interrupt the trial," said Static "but there's enough residual energy left from the teleport that I believe I can reopen the portal.”
Ravager wiped her sword clean. "Then we follow."
"Belay that!" said Arsenal. "You guys stay put until the police arrive and take your statements. The senior team will be there within the hour."
"I don't know how much longer I can maintain contact with the residual energy," Static explained.
"Doesn't matter," said Arsenal. "You guys are sitting this one out."
Blue Beetle scanned the woman's body then looked up at Ravager. "Happy? You have some explaining to do, Rose."
Ravager sheathed her sword. "I’m no killer!"
Blue Beetle stood in Ravager's face. "The evidence says otherwise."
"You still don't trust me, do you?" Ravager asked. She looked her teammates in the eye, one by one. "None of you do."
"I do," said Aquagirl. "I trust you with my life. I don't know your reasons but I trust you knew what you were doing."
Ravager nodded and cracked a slight smile. "Thanks, Lorena."
Traci turned to Aquagirl "Are you nuts? There's never a reason to kill! That makes us no better than the villains!"
"Aquaman taught me to trust my teammates," Aquagirl replied. "Until I see a reason not to then that's exactly what I'll do."
"But she killed a woman!" Blue Beetle shot back.
"Um… guys," said Miss Martian. "Something's happening to the body."
The woman's left leg fizzled and blinked from existence. Her right arm followed suit. Then her head disappeared with a burst of light blue energy and a pop.
"What the hell?" Static asked.
"Has anyone ever seen a computer monitor recorded on a video camera?" Ravager asked. "It flickers because the camera is slower than the refresh rate on the monitor. My heightened senses saw the same thing with our "victim" here just before she summoned Poseidon."
Blue Beetle scratched his head. "You mean…"
Ravager nodded. "The Symphony members are constructs themselves, all but the old guy waving the baton."
"Constructs creating constructs?" Arsenal asked over comms.
"How's that crow taste now, Harper?" asked a defiant Ravager.
"Look Rose, I'm big enough to acknowledge when I'm wrong," Arsenal replied. "You could have clued us in though."
"And miss the joy of watching your self-righteous butt backpedal like a crooked politician? Not a chance," Ravager replied. "You made your feelings known. Live with it, Harper."
The last of the fading construct finally lost its form and faded away.
"So what now?" Miss Martian asked. "Is the portal still open, Static?"
Static closed his eyes and strained to find a trace of it. He shook his head. "Gone."
"So where does that leave us?" Traci asked.
At that moment a man wondered from the ruins of the Science building. He looked to be in his early fifties with graying hair at his temples. His glasses were missing the left lens but still in place on his nose. His white lab coat was in tatters and appeared to have been on fire at some point. Despite his shell-shocked appearance he approached the Titans. "I can help you."
"Excuse me?" Blue Beetle asked.
"I can help you," said the man. "I’m Doctor Paul Graves of the Energy Research Department here at Opal University. The man you're after is a former employee of the university."
"You know him?" Beetle asked.
The man nodded. "His name is Amadeus Grimm, a bitter, eccentric fool who taught liberal arts and music appreciation. He was assisting us with a project. The blue stone in his baton is a meteorite donated to the university a little over a year ago. I've been in the energy research business for over thirty years and that stone is the most awesome power source I've ever studied."
"How's it work?" Miss Martian asked.
Dr. Graves shook his head. "We're not exactly sure. That's what we were working on, but it seemed to respond only to the language of music. Whenever we whistled it would light up and emit heat but wasn't hot to the touch. It wouldn't respond to any other stimuli but our childish whistling."
"Which is why you brought Grimm in," said Blue Beetle.
Dr. Graves nodded. "Exactly. His involvement was a game-changer, I must admit. Music can be broken down into a complex series of mathematical formulas and Grimm seemed to get that. He was soon able to make the Jubilee Stone, as he called it, design constructs that became increasingly more complex. We weren't interested in the constructs as much as we were the potential for tapping the stone as an energy source."
"Which brought you at odds with Grimm?" Traci asked.
Again Dr. Graves nodded. "Is the story that obvious?"
Traci waved her hands to highlight the trail of debris and destruction of the campus. "Osiris and I are all that's keeping the Science Building from collapsing into a heap of rubble while emergency crews search the place. Kinda obvious he didn’t win Teacher of the Year."
"The more Grimm worked with the stone the more outlandish his behavior grew. He began to refer to it as "his" and made it increasingly difficult to keep our research on track by pursuing his own agenda," Dr. Graves continued.
"What kind of agenda?" Ravager asked.
"I'd rather not say," Dr. Graves answered. "The university wishes to keep it quiet."
Miss Martian looked into the man's eyes. "If you won't say it then I will! Grimm believed the stone was a living entity so he stole it after the university fired him and threatened to turn it over to STAR Labs."
Graves looked confused. "How did you…"
"Telepath," Miss Martian replied.
"How dare you!" said Graves. "I didn't give you permission to go poking around in my head!"
"I didn't have to," Miss Martian shot back. "You were trying so hard to hide it you were practically screaming it! Furthermore, some of you were beginning to believe his claim as well."
Dr. Graves sighed and nodded. "God help us all, but yes. I was among those considering the possibility but didn't want to believe it."
"Why not?" Blue Beetle asked. "It seems to me that would be quite a discovery to attach your name to."
"But not as lucrative as discovering a power source that could fuel America's power grid for generations," Dr. Graves countered. "Alumni donations poured in with buzz of the discovery. The school had much at stake."
"So much so that you captured an alien being, held it prisoner, and forced it to obey your whims so the university could profit handsomely? I'm all for cheap energy but next time buy a Prius if you want to help the planet," Static argued.
"And I'm supposed to be the bad apple," said Ravager.
"Ask what he knows about the nature of the constructs," said Arsenal over the comms channel.
"What do you know about the constructs?" Blue Beetle asked.
"Very little," Dr. Graves replied. "Grimm once explained they were composed of hard light and fashioned from a combination of sound and his will and imagination."
"Jubilee Stone is a strange name for something responsible for so much damage," said Aquagirl.
"It's named after Jubal from the book of Genesis in Judeo-Christian religious text. He was a descendant of Cain and known as the father of all music," Traci explained. "It's the root for the word "Jubilee".
"You have to get the stone back to the university," Dr. Graves implored. "Too much is riding on it."
Ravager huffed. "I'm not sure who the real villain is here."
"Excuse me?" Dr. Graves asked. "You may have seen through the elaborate constructs but that gives you no right…"
"You're out of line," Blue Beetle said to Ravager.
Ravager put her finger in Graves' face. "Gives me no right? By your own admission this hunk of rock may be a living entity and you want it returned so the school can make a buck? Now you tell me who the villain is."
Dr. Graves stretched his arms out to the scene of destruction all around them. "I would say the madman responsible for all this!"
"Your madman may be another's activist," said Ravager.
Blue Beetle stepped between the quarreling foes. "Being right is irrelevant in this case."
Both Ravager and Dr. Graves stopped arguing long enough to turn to Blue Beetle. "Excuse me?" they fired in unison.
"If the stone is just a rock and a valuable power source then it rightfully belongs to the university. If it's a living being then it shouldn't be forced to serve Grimm's and his jones for revenge."
"So what now?" Aquagirl asked.
"Static, you're sure you can't get a read on the portal?" Blue Beetle asked.
Static shook his head. "If any residual energy remains it's too small to detect."
"What if we used an amplifier?" Blue Beetle asked. "Perhaps the T-Jet's sensors could boost your power."
Static nodded. “I’m game. Let’s do this.”
The Titans loaded into the T-Jet and took to the skies.
Minutes later aboard the T-Jet in the skies over Opal City
"I need more," said Static.
Blue Beetle increased the sensor controls. "I can give you more sensitivity but it narrows the sweep."
"Won't matter how narrow it is if I can't lock onto the signature," Static replied.
"Point made," Blue Beetle replied as he inched the sensitivity higher.
The comms unit blared to life. Arsenal's three-dimensional image hovered at the fore section of the aircraft. "Any luck?"
"Not yet," Static replied, "but if there's a trace of that portal's energy signature floating around out there I'll find it."
"Good man," Arsenal replied. "I have the election results. Congratulations, Jaime. You're the leader of the Teen Titans."
"Me?" Blue Beetle beamed. "Really?"
"Like you're surprised," Ravager taunted from her seat in the back of the jet. "Harper was practically campaigning for you."
Traci turned in her seat and propped herself on her knees so she could peer over the back of the seat. "Would a simple, “congratulations” kill you?"
Ravager rose from her seat and approached Traci. "Fight all your boyfriend's battles for him?"
"Why can’t you just act like a normal person?" Traci asked. "Are you so miserable you have to bring everyone else down to make yourself feel better?"
Ravager smiled coyly as she leaned into Traci’s face. "You want misery? I can show you misery."
Traci stood to meet the challenge. She raised her hands and energy crackled on her fingertips. "You don't scare me, Rose."
"You're a terrible liar," Ravager replied.
Blue Beetle got between the two girls. "Come on, ladies! This isn't the time or place. Remember we're aboard a plane."
"A simple teleportation spell will take care of that," Traci replied.
Ravager raised her fist. "Want to see if the hand is truly quicker than the eye?"
"There will be no fighting aboard the T-Jet," Blue Beetle yelled over the fracas. "Rose, get it through your head. I'm team leader. And Traci, I can fight my own battles."
"Fine," Traci huffed as she sat down and crossed her arms. "Watch your own back!"
"Now come on," Blue Beetle pleaded as he took the seat beside her. "There's no reason to be that way."
"That's got to be some kind of record," Ravager chuckled as she moved back to her seat. "Leader for two minutes and already alienated his significant other."
"Hey, guys! I think I have something!" said Static.
Blue Beetle rushed to Static's side. "The signature?"
"It’s getting much stronger," Static replied. "I could probably lock onto it even without the T-Jet's help."
"That makes no sense," said Blue Beetle. "It wasn't there a minute ago."
"This isn't good," said Ravager.
Traci rolled her eyes. "There you go again! Why do you…"
"Oh my god!" Aquagirl cried as she pointed to the cockpit window.
Everyone turned in time to see a glowing buzz saw headed right for the T-Jet.
"That's what I mean," said Ravager. "Everyone away from the middle of the jet!"
"Maybe my force field…" said Blue Beetle.
But it was too late. The buzz saw sliced through the T-Jet like a log in an old-fashioned sawmill. The sound of shredding metal filled the cabin before the Titans were sucked upwards by the sudden loss in cabin pressure. For a brief instant they floated at near-weightlessness. The plane's discarded fuselage halves fell away.
"M'gann, grab Lorena! Osiris, get Rose!" Blue Beetle ordered as he grabbed Traci. "I take it the rest of us are well enough to fly on our own?"
"Lorena's out," said Miss Martian. "Must have bumped her head when we were sucked out of the T-Jet."
"We'll check on her when we get to the ground," said Blue Beetle. "Osiris?"
"Ravager is fine," said Osiris.
Their descent halted, the Titans regrouped in the air.
"Looks like we found him," said Traci. “Or more accurately he found us.”
"Gee, you think?" said Ravager. “We may have another Batman on our hands!”
"Stick together guys," said Blue Beetle. "Last thing we need is you two to start bickering again.”
Static locked onto the fuselage halves. “Hey guys, think we can finish the conversation below? I’m strong but no Superman.”
Blue Beetle nodded. “You heard the man everyone. Let’s regroup below.”
Moments later the Titans were on the ground. Static brought the damaged fuselages to rest with Osiris’s help. Miss Martian laid Aquagirl in a seat in the less-damaged fuselage section.
A loud trumpet blast riveted everyone’s attention skyward. Grimm was back or at least his constructs were. The sky was filled with angels. The heavenly host formed two columns with their long trumpets crossed like sabers. Grimm descended from the skies beneath the arch. When he touched the ground he waved the Jubilee Stone and the constructs disappeared.
Osiris shot toward him like a missile but Grimm met his advance. A shaft of blue light erupted from the Stone and slammed into the charging Titan. The blinding explosion rocked the plaza. Osiris cried out in agony.
When Miss Martian could see again, Osiris was missing. In his stead a young man tried desperately to crawl to safety.
“Do not look up on me in this form!” cried the young man with a voice that sounded like that of their fallen teammate.
The Titans ran to him.
“Who’s the new kid?” Ravager asked. “What happened to Osiris?”
“It’s ok,” said Miss Martian. “Your legs… they appear broken. I didn’t think such a thing was possible.”
Osiris was unable to crawl any further and collapsed to the ground. “No! I am not this broken child anymore! Black Adam!”
The young man looked around like he expected something to happen but nothing did.
“Black Adam!” he cried over and over. At last he dropped his head and slumped to the ground. “Black Adam,” he whispered.
“Osiris, what is happening? I don’t understand,” said Miss Martian.
“You can read minds,” Osiris answered.
“I would never use my powers in such a way on a teammate,” Miss Martian explained. “How did this happen?”
“Intergang,” Osiris spat. “They did this to me, crushed my legs and left me for dead. I would have died if Black Adam hadn’t saved me. I am Amon Tomaz, a pathetic, broken excuse of a human being and nothing more without the magic lightning which transforms me, but I cannot access it.”
“But you were Osiris before you were hit,” said Miss Martian.
“My connection with Black Adam has been severed,” said Osiris.
Static shook his head. “Correct me if I’m wrong dude, but isn’t Black Adam a major supervillain?”
Osiris shook his head. “Don’t be a fool! He’s a complex man above the petty labels of mortals!”
Miss Martian felt sorry for Osiris. He couldn’t look them in the eye. <“Do not look upon him with pity but tread carefully with your words,”> she warned her other teammates telepathically. <“Osiris’ mind is fragile in this state. He finds it dishonorable for you to even see him like this.”>
“We’re still counting on you to contribute to this mission,” said Blue Beetle calmly.
“How?” Osiris asked.
“By caring for Lorena,” Blue Beetle answered.
Osiris’s shoulders slumped. “So I am relegated to play nursemaid?” “You’re a Titan,” Ravager added. “This team has a history of bad breaks but we do what we can.”
Osiris lifted his head and looked Ravager in the eye. “I will protect her with my life if necessary.
Raveger smiled. “Now you’re talking like a Titan.”
Miss Martian moved Osiris to the fuselage by Lorena.
The sound of violins filled the air. The Titans turned to see a mocking Grimm surrounded by a carousel of tiny instruments floating around him.
“Hello? Remember me?” Grimm taunted. “The alleged villain of this brilliant masterpiece of destruction? I hate to interrupt the pity party but it’s time to end this now.”
“Titans Together!” Blue Beetle shouted.
The remaining Titans charged Grimm but the Jubilee Stone was ready. An army of knights leaped from the stone a flank at a time and met their advance. The sheer numbers would have been overwhelming if the Titans stopped long enough to consider the odds, but knowing their opponents weren’t living beings the Titans held nothing back. Perhaps for the first time since arriving on the new Earth they truly fought as a team rather than a collection of individuals with powers.
The ruins on the plaza gave Traci considerable ammunition. Rubble flew toward her opponents with precision. One by one they fell before her onslaught. Blue Beetle favored his sonic cannon. Miss Martian’s strength and invulnerability were too much for the hapless knights. Static also made use of the earlier destruction, taking control of the underground cable Traci uncovered before. Under his guidance the lines slithered among the knight constructs and tangled their feet. Ravager seemed most at home though. She seemed to relish the opportunity to do battle without holding back, as if she were taking out her frustrations on her foes. She would slice one in half, remove her sword and gut the one behind her in a single swift motion before kicking another beneath the chin so hard she would nearly take his head off his shoulders.
In the end it was Ravager who got to Grimm first.
“Impossible,” Grimm stammered.
Ravager shook her head. “Not so much really when I can see moments into the future to guess your every move.”
“Perhaps I underestimated you then, little girl,” Grimm replied. He turned to the broken T-Jet where Osiris and Aquagirl lay injured. “If you can truly see into the future you should have anticipated this!”
A blast erupted from the Jubilee Stone and slammed into the T-Jet’s crippled fuselage. It erupted in flames.
“No!” Ravager cried as she slammed into Grimm. She grabbed his hand and tried to wrest his baton away but it wouldn’t budge.
“Static! Get Lorena and Osiris out of the T-Jet!” Blue Beetle ordered. “Traci, tap the fire hydrants and put out that fire!”
No matter how much Ravager kicked, clawed, or punched, Grimm held tight to his weapon. Wild blasts of energy shot from the stone.
“Super strength would be a big help right now!” Rose shouted.
With Osiris out of action Miss Martian knew she was next in line in that department. She joined the fray. As soon as she took hold of the baton a rush of information filled her head telepathically.
The Stone’s dark, twisted secrets were laid bare. “Guys! Grimm was right!”
“What do you mean?” Blue Beetle asked.
“The stone is an extra-dimensional traveler! Its home dimension exists in a river flowing with liquid infinite space and is populated entirely by billions of stones sharing a hive-mind. They communicate through song.”
“We still have to stop Grimm even is he’s right!” Blue Beetle answered. “We can’t allow him to tear the campus apart to prove his point!”
Miss Martian shook her head. “The stone tried to introduce individuality to the collective. When they refused a great war ensued and the Jubilee Stone and its followers were defeated. The others were allowed to reintegrate into the hive-mind but he was banished here to a world of lifeless stones choked by crude life forms. I guess he means us.”
“So the Stone is the villain?” Blue Beetle asked.
Miss Martian nodded. “When I reach out for Grimm’s mind there is nothing there. The stone is controlling him!”
“Can you sever the link?” Blue Beetle asked.
“I think so but it’s going to hurt!” Miss Martian replied.
“We’ll deal with his injuries later,” said Blue Beetle. “Just do it!”
Miss Martian sighed. “I was talking about me.” She found Grimm’s cerebrum. It should have contained a nearly-infinite amount of information but was blank. The Stone had stripped him of his humanity! She had to sever the link but what would be left of Grimm? It was risky. Shutting the organ down abruptly would kill him but perhaps she could give it a telepathic nudge and only make him lose consciousness. She took a deep breath and gave his brain the equivalent of a slight mental jiggle. The seconds passed like hours because she knew what was coming. A moment later the psychic feedback overwhelmed her.
Two Hours Later
Miss Martian awoke in a hospital bed and her familiar voices before she could even see. The voices belonged to Blue Beetle, Traci 13, and Ravager. At last she could see them.
“Hey guys. What did I miss?” Miss Martian asked.
Traci sat in the worn, vinyl chair beside the hospital bed and took Miss Martian’s hand. “Look who decided to finally wake up!”
Miss Martian shook the fog from her brain. “Where’s Grimm?”
“Somewhere here in Opal Mercy under police watch,” Ravager replied. “When you severed the link with the Jubilee Stone he collapsed.”
“Is he ok?” Miss Martian asked. “Or going to be at least?”
Blue Beetle shook his head. “We don’t know yet. He may never recover. That rock did a number on him.”
“He’s little more than a shell, dear,” said Traci. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh no…” said Miss Martian. “He’s…”
Ravager ran with the thought and finished Miss Martian’s sentence. “He’s going to vacation in Veg Land for awhile.”
“I feel awful for doing that to someone,” said Miss Martian.
Ravager leaned against the window sill. “The way I see it you did him a favor. If anything he now has a chance to recover because of you.”
“How are Osiris and Lorena?” Miss Martian asked.
“Lorena has a slight concussion,” Blue Beetle replied. “I’m more worried about Osiris.”
Miss Martian raised the head of her bed. “He still hasn’t changed back?”
Traci shook her head. “And he’s taking it pretty hard.”
A nurse came to the door. “Excuse me but you folks will need to let the young lady get some rest. All of your…. people should be able to check out tomorrow.”
Traci took Miss Martian’s hand and squeezed. “That’s our cue. You’ll be ok?”
Miss Martian nodded. “Of course I will. I’m in a hospital. What could possibly go wrong?”
The other Titans groaned.
“Oh crap,” said Blue Beetle. “Someone please tell me she didn’t!”
“Better call in reinforcements,” said Ravager.
Miss Martian was confused. “What did I do? I don’t understand.”
Traci laughed. “You’re a Teen Titan sweetheart. Don’t EVER ask that question again. Fate will gladly supply an answer.”
“Say goodnight,” said the impatient nurse.
After the goodbyes were said, Miss Martian found herself alone. She returned her bed to a flat position and fluffed her pillow. She leaned back into it and closed her eyes.
Seconds later her eyes popped open. She felt the urge to… whistle.
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