Falling II: The Curse of the Bat: Chapter 30: Regroup
Starfire broke through the wall of the room that had become a city before her eyes. She tumbled onto the floor of the next room, unable to control her flight. Not understanding what was happening to her, she began to sob.
"Robin!" she cried into the bare room, feeling even more alone as the sound bounced off of the hard walls.
What was happening to her? She had been confused and frightened many times before, but she had never felt this cowardly.
She lay there panting, trying to pull herself together, but just becoming more and more afraid.
Then she thought she heard someone talking. She couldn't understand the words, but she recognized the voice. "Raven?" She sat up, listening. Again she thought she heard the voice, but still couldn't quite understand it.
But somehow, even though the words did not make sense, the voice made something very clear to Starfire. She was strong. She was the Princess of the Warrior Race of Tameran. She had been drugged and fooled; that's why she wasn't thinking clearly. But there was no reason she couldn't get out of this.
And she knew she needed to get out of this; there was no way Robin would consider her worthy of his love if she didn't. Not after what she'd done.
Puffing a few resolute breaths, she climbed to her feet. Pushing her hair out of her face, she took a moment to really look at her surroundings. It still looked like a basement. Starfire didn't like basements; the one at Titans Tower made her most unsettled. But despite her fear, nothing bad had ever happened to her in the Titans basement. Well, there was that time she was devoured by rats, but that had just been Raven's powers run amok and she hadn't really been in any danger.
More doors. There were three more doors in this room. Doors meant a way out. She could rip them down if she had to. Gritting her teeth and lighting her eyes, she charged at the closest one, easily knocking it down.
The room she entered looked exactly like the last one.
Undeterred, she plowed through another door. And then another. And another. Each room looked exactly the same. After losing count as to how many rooms she'd been through, Starfire planted herself in the middle of one of them and screamed in frustration. "There must be a way out of this place," she told the empty room. "There must!"
"I might know a way out," a voice sounded behind her. Starfire turned and saw Robin or someone or thing that looked like Robin leaning casually against one of the door frames.
She immediately grew suspicious. The last "Robin" she'd come across hadn't really been Robin. There was something smug about this one that just didn't seem right. Still, she was jumpy and scared and a bit disoriented, so she went with the hope that this actually was Robin. "You do?" she asked, taking a few cautious steps closer to him.
"I mapped my way in," Maybe-Robin replied. "We'll go back out the same way."
That sounded like something Robin would do. Still "How am I to know that you are truly Robin?"
Maybe-Robin snorted out a laugh. "Starfire, it's me. Your leader, your friend." He took a few steps towards her and put a hand on her shoulder.
Starfire stiffened under his touch. Something about it wasn't right. The cant of his head was wrong; there was no barely-contained smile. And, as a step closer confirmed, she couldn't see his eyes through his mask.
"What is my given name?" she asked him in Russian. She had to know if it was truly him.
Maybe-Robin stood very still for a long few moments. "Star fire " he finally stammered out, using the Russian words for "star" and "fire."
Starfire frowned. While that was technically correct her name did translate to "star fire" in her language she also knew that Robin would know that is not what she meant. "What is it in Tameranian?" she asked in said language.
Again, Maybe-Robin stood very still, longer than the last time. "Robin?" she prompted him after what felt like several minutes.
"Come again?" he finally said.
Fairly convinced this was not her Robin, Starfire decided on one last test. She reached forward and yanked his shirt out of his pants.
"Starfire, what are you doing?" Not-Robin #2 squeaked, seemingly recovered.
"Proving you are not who you seem," she replied. "You do not have a Dpi'syr gem. Indeed, you do not even have a navel!" Still holding him by the shirt, she punched him as hard as she could, calling on her alien strength, right where the identifying jewel should have been.
Not-Robin flew across the room and into a wall, where he literally broke into pieces before disappearing.
Starfire screamed in frustration. "If you can hear me, pyjrtgivlrt that is causing these illusions, know that you will not defeat me!"
She smashed through another door and continued looking for an exit.
"Good girl," Raven said softly as she watched Starfire crash through the door. "Have you found Robin yet?" she asked Batgirl, who still sat at the Batcomputer trying to hack further into the warehouse's security system.
"No," Batgirl groused. "Damn, this is a weird place. All the rooms look the same."
Raven cast an eye over her shoulder to check on Cyborg. Lucious Fox glanced up at her from where he worked on her friend, and she could tell he was cautiously optimistic. Satisfied that she wouldn't be immediately needed for Cyborg, Raven closed her eyes and concentrated on Robin, just as she had on Starfire a short time ago.
He was agitated; pitching for a fight. But one thing was foremost in his mind: Starfire. Find Starfire.
Maybe she could ease his mind. "Starfire is fine," she sent to him, tapping into their connection. "She's very near."
Raven felt Robin's thanks come back through their bond. "Can you help me find her?" he asked.
Raven stretched, but due to the drug still being in her system, she couldn't feel Starfire at the same time. "Sorry. Still too out of it."
"Okay. Let me know if something happens to Starfire. How are the rest of you?"
"Batgirl and I are fine aside from being a little dopey. Beast Boy's out with Batman. Cyborg ."
Raven mentally hedged. "He's been shot," she finally conceded. "Mostly electrical damage. Bruce brought someone in to work on him. Fox, I think his name is."
"Lucius Fox? Okay, he's in good hands. How is he? Cy, that is."
"Unresponsive. But his spirit is strong."
"Good. Let me know if anything happens. How's Starfire?"
"Disoriented. Frightened. I think the drug may have had a different effect on her."
Raven felt Robin tighten his jaw. "You said she's near?"
"In the same building, yes."
"I'll be alright. You stay with her. I don't want to hear from you again unless something changes or you can tell me where she is."
"Okay," Raven agreed. "Batman's on his way; he's in the building too."
Raven felt acknowledgment from him, then felt his attention go somewhere else. Raven frowned, but knew he was probably right in that Starfire needed her more than he did. She took a deep breath and was about to re-center herself on the confused alien when she heard Batgirl swear. "What is it?"
"I can't seem to map this place," Batgirl huffed. "There's no floorplan that I can find in their system, and every room looks the same! I can't track Starfire and I have no idea where Robin is!"
Raven trailed up behind Batgirl, who had pulled her cowl down and was furiously typing code into a small window. Raven examined the other windows that were open, some showing video feeds, a couple showing analysis of what had been viewed. All of the analyses were incomplete. "It seems Fredo is playing a trick on us as well as Robin and Starfire," she remarked.
"Dammit!" Batgirl banged on the console. "How am I supposed to track them if I can't even figure out what camera's looking at what room?"
"The computer can't figure it out?" Raven asked.
"No! It has no frame of reference. All I've managed to do is get into the system; there's no identifiers on any of the camera feeds. How the hell do they tell them apart?"
"I'm sure there's a way," Raven reasoned.
"If I could just find Batman " Batgirl muttered.
"Because Batman has a tracker," Raven supplied.
Batgirl flipped between several camera feeds, the image on the screen barely changing. "Grrr where are you?" she ground out through clenched teeth.
Closing her eyes, Raven again tried to reach out to both Robin and Starfire at the same time.
All she was able to feel was a buzzing behind her eyes.
After communicating with Raven, all Robin wanted to do was find Starfire and get out of there. This mission had gone horribly wrong, and one of his friends was hurt because of it. It was time to retreat and re-plan. But he wasn't leaving without Starfire, especially if she wasn't herself.
Continuing his follow-the-wall strategy, he wondered what else Fredo had up his sleeve. His holograms were certainly realistic, Robin had to hand him that. But Starfire a drugged, confused Starfire no less they might have really gotten her into trouble.
Finding another locked door, Robin rubbed his sore shoulder before taking a run at it. When it didn't yield, he kicked it a couple of times, as much out of frustration as his need to get it open. After his third kick, it popped open into yet another nearly identical room.
But there was something, or someone in this room. A being that looked remarkably like Starfire. But was it actually her? "Starfire?" he called to the entity.
Looking like a scared bird, maybe-Starfire jumped and hopped around to look at him. Her eyes immediately narrowed and her posture changed to a defensive stance. "What are you?" she demanded almost menacingly.
Robin's urge to reassure her surged to the surface, but he pushed it back down. He had to make sure she was actually Starfire first. "I'm me," he replied. He started to walk slowly towards her. "Star, what did we do the morning before Fredo's party?"
Starfire looked confused. "We read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum," she answered slowly. "Why do you require this information?"
Reasonably convinced that the girl was Starfire (seriously, how could Fredo have found that out?), Robin smiled broadly. "Just checking. C'mon, Star, let's find a way out of here." He held out his hand.
Starfire skittered backwards.
"Starfire, it's me!"
"There have been two others who have said that! Neither of them were really Robin!" She took another step back.
Robin's thoughts spun. How to convince her? He switched over to French, a language he only ever used when they were alone. "Starfire, it really is me. See?" He pulled his shirt up to reveal his dpi'syrgem.
"French is a common language!" Starfire charged. "And Robin's captors could have easily found his gem!" She lifted a defensive hand, taking another step back.
Robin held his hands up, trying to calm her and show that he meant no harm at the same time and took a step towards her. "Then let me prove that this one is real."
She scurried back several more steps and charged a starbolt. "You will not touch me!"
"Okay okay " Robin swallowed. He was going to have to try Tameranian, as uncomfortable as he was speaking it. "Koriand'r,it is truly I, Robin, your Aiyknrwa¸your Revoleth, your Dpi'syr." He held out his hand and took a step towards her.
Starfire scuttled back, winding up pressed against the wall. Her starbolt grew larger. "Others have heard us use these words!"
"Yes, but our friends only." He drew a couple of deep breaths to center himself. He was going to have to tell her something that only they knew. "You are remembering our first time? Beneath the tree, alongside the river? I had difficulty removing your boots?"
Starfire's eyes started to soften, but her starbolt held steady.
Robin took another two steps. "Or the first time we did the making of love on the top of our home?" He couldn't remember the words for "roof" or "Tower." "The sun was setting. Your skin glowed. You were so beautiful," he whispered, remembering the sight of her, hovering in the fading light. "I refused to remove my " He struggled for a few seconds, unable to remember the word for "cape." He finally gave up and held up the corner of the garment.
Starfire's starbolt winked out, but she held her fist at the ready.
Robin could almost touch her. He lowered his voice, trying to seduce her. "And what you did to me while we were on the sofa? That was glorious." He smiled at her. "I want to try that in the shower. I want to do that to you." He ended in a whisper as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
Her eyes searched his mask. "Robin?"
He nodded, smiling at her. "It's me." He pulled up his shirt again, inviting her to prove it for herself.
He saw her swallow and reach down to pull her skirt down enough to expose her own gem. She moved closer to him, allowing them to touch, and as the emotions ignited in Robin, she threw her arms around him. "Oh, Robin! I am so happy to have found you!"
He hugged her tightly. "Me too, Star. Me too."
Starfire hung in his embrace. "Oh Robin, I have been so confused and..and lost!"
"I know," he soothed. "This is a confusing place. But we'll get out of it, I promise."
Teen Titans and Batman and related characters and situations belong to DC Comics. I am not them. I can't draw my way out of a paper bag.