Teen Titans

Annual #1

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Issue #11



FDC Presents Teen Titans
"The Cydonia Chronicles"
Part Three
"Take Five"

By David Marshall

The Titans were trapped in a holding cell deep beneath the mountains of Utah following a battle with a new group of villains known as the Five. During the melee one of their members, Cerebra, incapacitated the Titans with a psychic blast. They awakened to find Miss Martian missing then heard a blood-curdling scream from deep within the cavern.

“Was that M’gann?” Aquagirl asked.

Ravager stood to her feet but still looked woozy. “No Fish Face, it was Black Canary!”

“Rose, can you at least try to be civil?” Blue Beetle spat. “Lorena’s done nothing but stood up for you since we arrived on this world. The least you can do is act like you appreciate it!”

“And she voted for you for leader too!” Traci added. “For some inexplicable reason!”

“Traci!” Aquagirl shrieked. “That was private!”

Traci tried to apologize. “Lorena…”

“What’s done is done,” Aquagirl sighed. “I’m sure she didn’t mean it. She’s just edgy and itching for another shot at the Five like the rest of us. Right, Rose?”

Blue Beetle was thankful Ravager turned away quietly.

“Need some milk to wash down that humble pie, Rose?” Traci jeered.

With the taunt still hanging in the air, Ravager charged across the holding cell and grabbed Traci by the throat, slamming her against the cavern wall. “We’re miles from civilization, witch! You really want to do this here?”

Traci gritted her teeth and grabbed a handful of Ravager’s long, white ponytail with one hand. With the other, she slapped her teammate’s face so hard it left a big, red handprint on Rose’s cheek. “I don’t need magic to deal with a bully like you!”

“Girls, stop!” Blue Beetle demanded.

The girls didn’t listen. Incensed by the slap, Ravager swept Traci to the ground and pounced on her chest. She raised her fist to strike her fallen teammate but Aquagirl caught the blow in midair. Ravager tried to break free but Lorena was too strong.

“Release my arm, Lorena!” Ravager demanded as she tried to tug loose. “A vote’s only worth so much to me!”

Aquagirl jerked Ravager off Traci’s chest and drug her kicking and screaming to the other side of the holding cell before releasing her. “You two idiots listen to me! We don’t have time for temper tantrums! Beat the hell out of one another later if you like but right now M’gann needs you so act like we’re on the same team! Got it?”

Static’s eyes grew wide as he looked to Blue Beetle for a reaction or perhaps a confirmation his eyes weren’t fooling him. “Holy… did she just… did she just… holy!”

Blue Beetle had never seen Lorena take charge before. Perhaps she wasn’t a wallflower after all. He locked eyes with the stunned Ravager. “Yeah, what she said!”

Ravager’s seething breath was short and angry as she stood and dusted herself off. She eyed Aquagirl with puzzled respect, as if seeing her as an equal for the first time. “You’re right.”

Aquagirl turned her attention to Traci. “And you! What the hell were you thinking picking a fight with Rose? She’s one of the best fighters in the world! You’re lucky she didn’t beat you senseless before any of us could get to you!

Traci propped herself up on her elbows and sneered back. “It would have been worth it for that slap alone!”

Blue Beetle reached to give his girlfriend a helping hand. He didn’t like seeing her get her butt kicked but she did have a habit of seeing how far she could push Rose. Did she expect him to take up her fights? “She’s right, you know. You have to be careful.”

Traci slung his hand away and stood on her own. “Shut. Up.”

“Sorry guys,” said Aquagirl sheepishly. “But M’gann’s life is in danger.” Ravager nodded. “Let’s find Greenie and take out our frustrations on the jerks that put us in here.”

Traci scowled at Ravager and stepped toward her again. “This isn’t over!”

“Yes it is,” Blue Beetle replied, holding her back. “The longer we fight each other the more those creeps hurt M’gann! We need to get out of this cell and we can’t do that if we have to worry about you two slugging it out for the title belt!”

Static sized up the force field that held the Titans captive. “A good electromagnetic jolt on the right frequency should short it out.”

“And then what?” Traci asked between deep breaths.

“I use the armor to pinpoint the source of M’gann’s scream,” Blue Beetle explained. “It should lead us straight to her.”

Ravager shook her head. “No need, leader man. I have it already.”

Traci rolled her eyes. “Faster than Jaime’s armor?”

Ravager’s eyes narrowed. “Super-acute senses, courtesy of dear, old Dad.”

“That leaves me free to analyze what we know about the Five and devise a strategy for making a better showing for ourselves this time,” said Blue Beetle. “Blow the door, Static.”

Static gestured for everyone to move behind him. Satisfied his teammates were safe he unleashed a series of electromagnetic pulses into the force field. It crackled like frying bacon then dissipated with a dying flicker. “Catwoman’s got nothing on me!”

“Catwoman?” Traci laughed. “I thought we were the good guys?”

Static shrugged sheepishly. “Just saying I can pick a lock, that’s all!”

Aquagirl looked unsure about stepping out of the cell. “This is too easy. I don’t like it.”

“It wasn’t designed to hold us,” Static replied. “The goal was to slow us down.”

“To what end?” Traci replied.

Static shook his head. “I don’t know but we’ll find out soon enough.”

Being the only Titan with a personal force field, Blue Beetle was the first to step into the vast cavern where the Titans fell in battle earlier. Once he ascertained the cavern was safe his teammates followed suit.

The network of mostly dark catacombs offered the Titans many choices in how to proceed but three routes stood out as the most obvious. A row of generators hummed on a rocky ledge along the northern wall. A well-lit tunnel opened beneath the ledge but a wide underground river separated the Titans from the tunnel. The entrance to the cavern was half a mile due east at the top of a steep incline but leaving without M’gann wasn’t an option. The final choice was to follow a walkway that meandered alongside the water and disappeared into the imposing blackness to the west.

“Well Rose?” Blue Beetle asked. “Which way?”

“West, a little over a mile,” Ravager replied. “It’s no easy trip though.”

Blue Beetle double-checked Ravager’s assessment with his armor. She nailed it. His sensors indicated M’gann’s scream came from the west and reverberated off multiple surfaces and even travelled through some tunnels to reach their ears, making it difficult to track even with alien science at one’s beck and call. Tracking the screams with human ears was incredible! For all her faults Rose Wilson was a hell of a teammate when she wanted to be.

Another scream pierced the blackness.

“We’ve got to hurry!” Traci cried. “They’re hurting her!”

As Traci’s boyfriend, Blue Beetle knew better than to point out they’d already be on their way if she hadn’t picked a fight with Ravager.

“Want me to lead?” Aquagirl asked. “Being accustomed to the ocean depths I can probably see better than any of you.”

Ravager shook her head. “My sense of hearing can guide me.”

“No need to stumble around in the dark,” said Blue Beetle, illuminating the path with a bright light. “My armor’s handier than a pocketful of Swiss Army knives!”

The path lit, the Titans ventured into the black void and wound single file through a narrow, earthen maze that snaked along a gentle slope. Progress was slow and they were sitting ducks for an ambush. A loud roar in the distance made Blue Beetle even more uneasy. They eventually reached a stalactite that had fallen from the cavern roof and wedged into the narrow passage, blocking their progress.

Ravager ran her fingers over the stalactite. “Clean break. It’s been cut loose to block us.”

“Dragonfly’s handiwork,” Blue Beetle whispered. The winged fairy was tiny but her weapons were deadly. She claimed to be an honest-to-goodness pixie from the Raths of Ireland, cast out from among her gentle folk for delving into the science of men. She eschewed magic for advanced weaponry.

“I could blast it,” said Static.

Ravager shook her head. “You could cave in the walls if you start blasting. There may be enough space underneath to squeeze through one at a time.”

“Holy Thermopylae, Batman,” Static replied. “They could pick us off one by one!”

Blue Beetle nodded. “It’s a chance we have to take.”

“Oh joy! We get to crawl though tiny spaces in the dark!” Traci complained. “Claustrophobic much?” Static asked.

Traci shook her head. “I just don’t like small, enclosed spaces.”

“You say tomato, I say tom-ah-toe,” Static replied.

One by one the Titans snaked through the tiny opening. Aquagirl was the last to wriggle through. Static and Blue Beetle each grabbed a hand and helped her from the opening. The roar intensified as the incline grew steeper.

“This keeps getting better all the time,” Traci yelled over the cacophony.

Ravager continued along the path. “We can’t turn around now! We’re almost there!”

“Are you sure this is right?” Blue Beetle shouted.

Ravager nodded. “The sound waves came from this direction! The refractions are…”

The ever-present rumble drowned her out as her lips continued to move. Blue Beetle caught a word here and there but with Rose leading the way and him in back it was futile to attempt to hold a conversation. There was nothing to do but trust her and hope they wouldn’t pay for that choice with their lives. Even a group of super-powered teens weren’t safe from the pitfalls of Mother Nature deep within the earth’s bowels.

The incline eventually leveled off then descended into the earth and rounded a bend to reveal the source of the deafening rumble – a magnificent underground waterfall! It emptied from an opening about a hundred feet above the river and crashed into the dark waters with a mighty roar. Its misty vapors left the path a slippery mess and forced the Titans to account for each step carefully. Traci reached for Blue Beetle’s hand as they filed past the scenic wonder. The feelings he developed in his dream for the imaginary girl named Aelita haunted him as they locked fingers. Was it guilt or something more profound? As the Titans moved away from the falls they were able to hear one another again and made small talk about the breathtaking marvel so far underground

“Sorry gang, but this is where I ditch you!” Aquagirl yelled. She ran for the river and plunged into the dark waters.

“Lorena, what are you doing?” Blue Beetle shouted, releasing Traci’s hand. “You have no idea what lurks in those waters! We do this together!”

Aquagirl shook her head. “Sorry big guy, but I can reach M’gann faster in the water than you can on foot and if we do see those creeps from the Five again, I want to be at full strength!”

The strategy made sense but Blue Beetle didn’t like letting Aquagirl go off on her own. He sighed and waved her off. “Go on, but be careful! Don’t engage the Five until we arrive unless it’s to save M’gann’s life! Are we clear?”

“As the windshield on a shiny new car,” Aquagirl replied before she disappeared beneath the black waters.

“And then there were four,” said Static.

“Not funny, Virg,” Blue Beetle answered.

The walkway veered sharply away from the river and into a dark tunnel. The Titans soon reached a swinging bridge that spanned a wide chasm. It was wide enough for a single person but did have rope handrails.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” said Traci.

Ravager stepped out onto the bridge.

“Rose, what are you doing?” Blue Beetle asked. “That thing could snap! Virgil and I can fly you and Traci over.”

“Then grab your girlfriend and meet me on the other side,” Ravager replied. “I can’t afford to take me ears off the acoustic scent.”

Blue Beetle flew Traci across with an escort from Static and waited for Ravager. He held his breath and watched as his teammate took one tentative step after another. He didn’t breathe until she stood at their side again.

The passage grew narrow again and forced the Titans into single file once more.

“I don’t like this,” said Static. “We’re the slowest cavalry in the history of man.”

“I wish I hadn’t let Lorena go off on her own,” said Blue Beetle.

Ravager turned to Blue Beetle and placed an unexpected supporting hand on his shoulder. “Don’t beat yourself up, leader man. It was the right call. Lorena can get to M’gann faster than us, is more at home in the water than on land, and with Osiris powerless back at the tower (issue #3 – David) we’ll need her at full strength to face the Five again.”

“Thanks, Rose,” Blue Beetle replied. “I needed that.”

At last the Titans saw light ahead.

Blue Beetle rose into the air. “I’ll go first in case Lorena’s in trouble. The rest follow and assume a battle is waiting for us.” He left his teammates and shot toward the light at the end of the tunnel. He hoped it wasn’t a metaphor for his team’s second encounter with the Five.

The tunnel opened into a large, great cavern cut in half by the river but the bridge spanning it was a clear, permanent structure and not a rope one like the team crossed earlier. Blue lights lit it from underneath and made the water glow. A large power generator hung from the ceiling above it like a futuristic chandelier and hummed softly. Computer servers lined the back wall. Water and sewer pipes snaked through the cavern wall and into the darkness beyond. Steel-grated mesh flooring made the footing on the other side more sure. Blue Beetle guessed that some of the machines he saw were climate control and alarm systems.

Aquagirl was already locked in battle with the Five. She unloaded a haymaker on the ninety-eight pound powerhouse known as the Mighty Melvin. He was all of five and a half feet tall and as thin as a toothpick but possessed super-human strength. He wouldn’t stand a chance of going toe-to-toe with Superman or Wonder Woman but could easily give such powerhouses as Mammoth or Congorilla a run for their money.

The blow sent the villain flying across the cavern but left Aquagirl open for attack from behind. Khansin blew on her hand and whipped the slight breath into a powerful gust. She slammed the concentrated gale into Aquagirl but also took out Copperhead, who was the only one of the villains from the Titans’ own earth and a one-time member of Clock King’s Terror Titans. He had wrapped Aquagirl in his serpentine tail and was trying to crush her but Khansin’s burst freed her.

Copperhead recovered quickly and stood but Aquagirl wasn’t so lucky. She thrashed about the mesh floor, struggling to breathe. The serpentine villain’s tail was powerful and could easily crush someone’s rib cage if left to toil in his coils. Blue Beetle didn’t give him time to attack again. An energy blast from Beetle’s right hand exploded against the serpent-costumed villain’s chest. “Hey Aquagirl! Looks like you could use a hand!”

“About time you guys got here! Pick a villain, any villain!” Aquagirl cried as she stood.

Blue Beetle didn’t have time to reply before a blast seemingly from nowhere dumped him into the river. Thanks to his armor the unexpected attack hurt only his pride. He swam to the surface and spotted at a tiny glow above the water. “Good to see you again too, Dragonfly!”

“That was a love tap,” the diminutive villainess replied, hovering about three feet above the river. Her wings beat like those of a hummingbird.

Blue Beetle rose out of the water. Their first meeting didn’t go well for him. Dragonfly looked like Tinkerbell but her weapons were deadly and her maneuverability in their first battle left him swatting after her like a pesky fly while she blasted him relentlessly. He wouldn’t underestimate her again or trust his eyesight alone. “Keep a lock on her, armor.”

“I hope we’re not too late for the party,” Ravager called as the rest of the Titans finally entered the chamber.

With Melvin and Copperhead back in action and him occupied with Dragonfly, Blue Beetle was happy to see his teammates. “Better late than never! I hope you brought some nice housewarming gifts for our hosts!”

Ravager raced across the bridge with her sword drawn. “I do but I left the gift receipt at home!”

Copperhead swatted at her with his tail. Ravager leaped over it and caught him in the jaw with a flying dropkick.

Aquagirl locked hands with Melvin and jockeyed for position. Lorena took the upper-hand initially, forcing the nerdy lad in the schoolboy uniform to one knee but he found a reserve and evened their contest. Soon he was on his feet again.

Cerebra wasn’t around so both Traci and Static teamed up against Khansin. The woman in the white Egyptian tunic looked the part of ancient priestess. A golden belt wrapped around the waist of her tunic matched the inlay around its neckline and hem. Matching accessories such as wrist-guards and sandals completed the ensemble. Green eye shadow shaped her lids like a cat’s eyes. The caramel skin of her bald head glistened in the artificial light.

Blue Beetle’s skirmish with Dragonfly intensified. A deadly blast seemingly erupted from the glowing trail of pixie dust she left in her wake and exploded against the chest plate of Blue Beetle’s armor and slammed him into a stalactite. It crashed into the water with a thunderous splash. “Why don’t you fly back to Neverland like a good little pixie?”

“Sorry to disappoint ye, Titan but I’m not that kind’a fairy,” Dragonfly replied in her shrill alto. “I’m more the weapons of mass destruction type o’ gal.”

Blue Beetle wasn’t sure how to best fight the pixie. Should he pull his punches? Would it be lethal to unload on her like he would a threat his own size? Was it even possible to kill her? He simply wasn’t sure. Afraid to injure her too badly, Blue Beetle opted for a different kind of attack. A disk emerged from the chest plate of his armor and erupted with a blinding flash.

The fairy stopped to paw at her eyes and yelped in pain.

It was the break Blue Beetle needed. He swiped her into his right hand. “Gotcha!”

The fairy tried to wiggle loose but was unable to break free.

“I’m not sure what to do with you now though,” Blue Beetle added.

“Turn me loose and I’ll sever ye ‘ead from ye useless body,” Dragonfly shouted.

Blue Beetle shook his head. “Now see, such talk leaves me little choice but to do this…”

He cocked his left middle finger against his thumb and flicked the fairy beneath the chin. She went limp in his hand. “Down goes Frazier! Down goes… well, Tinkerbell anyway.”

Aquagirl’s battle with Melvin heated up. The pint-sized dynamo slugged her into the rock wall behind them. It rained loose debris down on her but spending so much time in the pressure of the ocean depths left her nigh-invulnerable and she shook off the blow easily. She careened toward Melvin and kneed him in the groin. The blow doubled him over and Aquagirl hammered him to the ground with both fists. He grabbed Aquagirl’s left ankle and hurled her toward the river. He lunged for her but she caught him in the gut and flipped him into the middle of the river.

“Help!” Melvin shrieked in horror as he popped up. “I can’t swim!” Once more he sunk beneath the black waters. His head bobbed to the surface once more. “My blood will be on your hands if I die!”

“Aquagirl!” Blue Beetle cried. “You can’t let him drown!”

“I won’t have to,” Aquagirl replied. “You should have seen some of the fish I saw down there!”

Blue Beetle rolled his eyes. “You’ve had your fun now get him out!”

Aquagirl stuck out her tongue and dived into the water after her foe. “Spoil sport!”

“Hold still, damn you!” Copperhead screamed at Ravager. Again and again he swung his massive tail at her and each time she either ducked or jumped out of the way.

“I could do this all day,” Ravager replied. She swung her sword at the underbelly of Copperhead’s costume but if failed to penetrate it. She stared at her sword in disbelief. “Didn’t see that one coming!”

Ravager’s surprised reaction to her blade’s failure to penetrate Copperhead’s suit was the pause he needed to finally catch her with a clean blow from his tail. The strike knocked her off the mesh flooring and onto the cavern floor where she crumpled a ventilation duct.

“Now I’m pissed,” Ravager huffed as she stood and sheathed her sword. She climbed back onto the mesh flooring and leaped at Copperhead.

An evil, gleeful smile spread across the villain’s lips as he cocked his tail like a baseball bat. “Out of the park this time, little girl! Out of the park!”

Just before Ravager reached the range of Copperhead’s tail she flung a handful of dirt into the villain’s eyes.

“My eyes!” Copperhead cried as he tried to rub the dirt out of them. His tail swung wildly but missed his target. “You fight dirty!”

Ravager delivered the battle’s final blow with a roundhouse kick to the back of the villain’ head. Copperhead fell unconscious at her feet. “I’m the daughter of Deathstroke, idiot. You want a fair fight pick on Nightwing next time.”

Khansin wasn’t so easy to handle. Though she battled two Titans her ability to manipulate even the smallest winds was enough to keep them busy.

Static ripped a steel panel loose from the power generator on the ceiling and sent it hurtling toward the Egyptian villainess. She flung it into the darkness before it reached her.

“I am unbeatable,” Khansin bragged. “Who can stand against the power of Mother Nature?”

“I’ve got news for you, lady,” Static replied. “Electricity is another of Mother Nature’s gifts and even more powerful!”

Khansin cackled. “Nonsense! The wind is her most powerful armament! Allow me to demonstrate, Titan!”

She inhaled deeply and created a powerful vacuum that sucked the breath instantly from Static’s lungs. He fell to his knees and barked like a dying seal as he struggled in vain to draw breath. “It is child’s play to collapse your lungs within your chest!”

Traci rushed to check on her fallen teammate. “Virg! Come on, take a breath, man!”

Blue Beetle’s armor kicked into Medical Evaluation and Diagnosis mode even as he moved to help. Within moments his fallen teammate’s vitals flickered on the virtual screen before his eyes. Jaime was no doctor but the prognosis didn’t look good. Static was unconscious. His lungs were failing and his blood pressure dropping rapidly. Cardiac arrest was imminent. “Hang on, I’m coming!”

He didn’t make it. An angry crosswind slammed him into a ledge above the point where the river entered the massive chamber. The rock crumpled into the river beneath. Blue Beetle righted himself and headed back into the fray.

Traci stood to face Khansin. “Enough of this nonsense!”

A wind funnel shot from the villainess’s hand and pinned Traci against the computer servers. “You hope to defeat me, witch? You, who are powerless in the absence of an urban environment?”

Despite being pinned Traci smiled confidently. “I am Homo Magi, earth elemental! I am never powerless! !esruoc esrever dniW”

The powerful wind reversed course and slammed into Khansin. It knocked her off her feet and smashed her into a heating pipe so hard it broke clean through and showered her in hot steam. The combination of hot steam and the unrelenting wind finally did her in. She lost consciousness and the wind, now in Traci’s control, bounced her around the cavern like a human pinball.

“pots ndiW!” Traci commanded. The winds died as abruptly as they formed and the villainess slumped to the rocky shore on the other side of the river.

The Titans gathered around Static. A stethoscope emerged from Blue Beetle’s armor. He placed the large diaphragm of the chestpiece against Static’s chest. “He’s not breathing.”

“He has to,” said Traci.

“What about the bad guy?” Ravager asked. “Her injuries are probably life-threatening also.”

“She can go to hell,” Traci shot back.

Ravager stepped away. “And they call me the vicious one!”

“Move!” Aquagirl ordered as she pushed Blue Beetle aside. She tilted Static’s head back and began CPR. Despite her valiant effort Static didn’t respond.

Blue Beetle tore Static’s uniform and placed his gauntlets on his teammate’s chest. “Clear!” he shouted. He waited for Aquagirl to move back then jolted his unconscious teammate. Spasms rocked his body as electricity shot through him but Static still didn’t breathe.

“Will that work on him?” Ravager asked. “With his powers electrical based?”

Blue Beetle shook his head. “I don’t know but we have to try.”

Aquagirl and Blue Beetle alternated treatment between defibrillation and CPR until Static finally sucked in a deep breath on his own.

“Gracias a Dios,” Blue Beetle whispered then turned to Aquagirl. “I suppose we should do the same for Khansin over there.”

“My fallen teammate’s fleeting life is the least of your concerns,” a voice announced from behind. Cerebra slipped into the cavern and that was not good news. She was not only the most powerful of the Five but also the nastiest.

Blue Beetle’s head began to pound. “Armor can you block this mental attack?”

A series of characters and symbols flashed before Blue Beetle’s eyes as the armor flitted through millions of possible defenses in nanoseconds. In the end it failed to register Blue Beetle was under attack at all.

Somehow Ravager found the fortitude to look past her agony and crawl toward Cerebra. Blue Beetle hoped she would end the brutal attack but Rose fell short and collapsed at Cerebra’s feet.

Cerebra cackled like a madwoman at the sight before her. “Yes, Titans! Kneel before me while Doctor Thorne finishes his work on your Martian teammate!”

Blue Beetle assumed the Doctor Thorne in question was the underworld surgeon, Dr. Matthew Thorne , a madman who sometimes called himself the Crime Doctor and got his jollies dissecting and torturing his enemies. If he was involved M’Gann was in serious trouble.

A large metal door along the cavern’s back wall swung open and Thorne joined Cerebra. He held a brain aloft in his right hand. “The procedure is complete! We have extracted the tissue our mutual employer requires and I have this fascinating trophy to study.”

“Is that M’gann’s…” Traci asked.

Thorne’s deep, evil cackle filled the cavern. “Why yes it is! Care to guess what your Martian friend has in common with the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz?”

Cerebra feigned wiping tears from her cheeks. “Alas, not a yellow brick road in sight.”

Aquagirl sobbed uncontrollably for her fallen friend. “You monsters!”

“M’Gann?” Blue Beetle whispered. His worst nightmare was a stark reality. He lost a teammate on his watch and Cerebra’s awesome power prevented him from giving her justice.

Thorne made his way to Cerebra’s side and gloated over the grieving Titans with M’gann’s blood still dripping from his hands.

“It’s a shame my teammates aren’t conscious to savor our victory,” said Cerebra.

“Teammates should share in everything,” Thorne replied.

Cerebra shot him a confused look. “Doctor?”

Dr. Thorne delivered a hard right hand to Cerebra’s jaw. The shocked villainess crumpled to the floor.

Blue Beetle felt Cerebra’s mental hold dissipate immediately.

“What the hell?” Traci asked.

All the Titans but the still-unconscious Static stood and surrounded Thorne.

“If you think helping us will save you now…” Blue Beetle warned.

Thorne morphed into Miss Martian. “And here I thought you’d be happy to see me!”

Aquagirl threw her arms around their Martian teammate’s neck. “M’gann! You’re alive! But how?”

Miss Martian returned Lorena’s hug and smiled. “Thorne brought Cerebra into the room to keep my telepathy in check but occupying the five of you weakened her control over me so that I was able to communicate with Jaime through images in his dreams. I knew Cerebra would monitor him closely because he was our leader but he was a decoy all along. While she fought to restrict my contact with him, I worked out my real plan… with Rose.”

“Rose?” Blue Beetle asked turning to his sometime nemesis and least cooperative teammate. “But you said you dreamed of your brother’s death?”

Ravager’s eyebrows raised underneath her mask. “I lied in case Cerebra still monitored us. M’gann showed me in my dream where she was being held and guided me through the cavern to her location. That is why I couldn’t allow you to fly me over the bridge. I was afraid I’d lose the telepathic breadcrumbs if I veered from the path M’gann revealed to me. You guys didn’t really believe my senses were superior to Jaime’s armor did you?”

Traci crossed her arms defiantly. “Not for a second.”

Blue Beetle and Aquagirl shrugged sheepishly.

“When it comes to you I never know what to expect, Rose,” Blue Beetle laughed.

Ravager seemed pleased with his answer. “Good.”

Blue Beetle thought he saw a sly smile at the corners of Ravager’s lips but wasn’t sure. “But what did they want with your brain, M’gann?”

Miss Martian shrugged. “I don’t know. I tried to get them talking before they began the procedure but they were tight-lipped for villains.”

“How did you survive the procedure, M’gann?” Traci asked.

“They were so concerned with my telepathy they overlooked my shape-shifting ability. I simply altered my cells to appear as if the procedure was working properly. I could have also rendered myself intangible at any time but I hoped to uncover more of their plans.”

“Like who they were working for?” Blue Beetle asked.

Miss Martian nodded. “But loose lips sink ships and they weren’t talking.”

Aquagirl hugged Miss Martian again. “We’re just glad you’re safe.”

“What about her?” Miss Martian asked, pointing to Khansin. “Shouldn’t we assist her?”

Blue Beetle scanned the fallen Egyptian’s body. “No internal injuries and her burns are first and second degree with the exception of her back where the steam hit her. She’ll live.”

“So that’s it?” Traci asked.

Miss Martian nodded. “I guess so.”

Traci grabbed Blue Beetle’s hand. “Then let’s get Virgil and head home.”

Blue Beetle took his girlfriend’s hand but locked eyes with M’gann accidentally. Maybe it was the freckles and the red hair but…. “Yeah, let’s head home. We’re overdue for some quiet time.”

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