The interior of the Wayne Tech building was home to some of the most advanced technology in the world. From research to development, the industry Wayne had built up from the time his parents had been murdered was nothing short of extraordinary. That being said, any location was a prime target for any crazy idiot that was hoping to start chaos or just to get the edge over superheroes. This of course meant the business had to be equipped with the most advanced security measures ever seen, just to ensure that psychopaths bent on destruction stole nothing overly dangerous.
Too bad the guys that handled security didn’t plan ahead for a maniac like Gizmo.
Raven and I had to move past more rubble that had been accumulating on the floor of the building, various tech piled in with the mixture of broken building. There were a few people that were still inside, trying to get friends out of harms way. There were of course injured people, mostly security guards, but it was still hard to look at.
Now I know from a thief that sounds a little weird, but let me clear something up right now. I never used my abilities to attack civilians, not even after I stole the Red X suit. Sure I would need to neutralize security guards from time to time but I never did anything that would be crippling. To look at the innocent people being dragged out by friends or whatever emergency personnel had started to pile into the building, it wasn’t a welcomed sight.
“See why we fight so hard against people like Gizmo?”
I look over at Raven as we slow to a walk, her hovering next to me. We headed downstairs, where it was clear all of the most important items were going to be held in storage that would make most high security prisons look like children’s playgrounds. At this point, it was clear the security measures had been shut down by Gizmo and probably See-More giving some aid.
“Is that your subtle way of accusing me of being like him?”
She surprises me by shaking her head a bit, staring straight ahead as we descend to the lower levels.
“Of course not,” she finally replies, “Just noticed how you reacted to the injured we passed back there.”
“Fighting you guys is one thing, you can take the hits. Normal civilians, that’s just being sadistic to use all your power on them.”
“You don’t know how glad I am to hear you say that and mean it.” Before I can ask her to elaborate, she suddenly flies down the stairs at a much faster pace.
After running to keep up with her, we stop at the bottom of the stairway a few floors down. At the wall opposite of us is Starfire and Cyborg trying to hold down a very unhappy See-More. Even from the short distance it was clear that he had the same issue as Mammoth did, a device plugged into his chest with wires now running all along the inside of his skin. Without a word exchanged, Raven wraps him up in a field of dark energy and roughly slams him into the wall. Running past the stunned heroes that had been struggling to keep him down, I repeat the process of removing the device from him the same way I had with Mammoth. Once the wires were fully retracted, I yank the device off of him and smash it against the wall. Dusting any remaining bits from my gloves, I look over at the confused pair closest to me.
“What, you didn’t think of short circuiting it?”
“I couldn’t get close enough to even touch the guy,” Cyborg snaps, flicking debris off of his arms, “Kept trapping me in those stupid nullifying bubbles.”
Starfire gets in my face, her eyes glowing a very bright green with anger. “For what reason are you here, the Red X?! Have you not done enough?!”
Just as I’m about ready to make a run for it, Raven moves over to my side with her hand held up to stop the coming assault. “Calm down, Starfire, he helped me take down Mammoth. If he was on their side, he would have made his move already.”
“And we wouldn’t have let him out of the Tower if Robin didn’t clear him,” Cyborg reminded her, resting his large hand on her shoulder. She finally begins to settle down, still glaring at me distrustfully.
“Yeah, so I’m guessing since you two are here, that means Robin and Beast Boy ran ahead to get Gizmo?”
“Yeah, but only after I tracked him heading for a room just down the hall,” Cyborg responds, showing a miniature map on a screen that appears on his forearm, “Something called the ‘Haven’s Gate’ project?”
It’s really hard to say just what I felt in that moment when Cyborg said the project’s name. It was probably a mixture of horror and (as much as it kills me to admit it) admiration for the little twerp going after such an audacious prize. I step away from the others, rubbing my face with an exasperated sigh.
“Haven’s Gate… that little idiot really aims high for someone his size.”
“Care to enlighten us,” Raven demanded, her usually monotone voice showing frustration.
“Haven’s Gate is essentially, from what I got in my research,” I begin, pacing back and forth, “Is a project that is meant to act as the storage of information that could be considered… well, dangerous. Locations of where major villains are kept isolated, military secrets, government or private research notes that can have world-altering aspects.”
“In other words, if Gizmo gets his hands on it, we could see a world wide crisis,” Cyborg summarized, looking a bit sick. “Just a wild guess, but why do I get the feeling this is on an wireless network?”
“Satellite links, the data shifting to various locations on the planet to be stored in computers that make yours at the Tower look like a pager.”
“So why has the Gizmo come searching for the ‘Haven’s Gate’ in this building,” Starfire finally asks, still appearing a bit distrustful of me.
“Because, if rumors are true, this building holds one of these computers at the bottom level,” I sigh, heading down the hall at a quick pace, talking over my shoulder, “It’s the only way to directly access the database!”
Soon Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire are keeping pace with me, all of their faces showing they understood how serious this had just become. Even for a thief, there had to be moments when we know something has gone way too far. The prize can never be outweighed by risks, to the thief or innocent bystanders. So yes, for now I was playing the part of a hero, but it was only because Gizmo was taking this way too far. Sure it was a big prize but it wasn’t worth the damage he was going to be causing.
The room that we reached at the end of the hall had been covered by a set of large, titanium-reinforced doors. They were completely smashed, slammed into the walls of the interior of the hall, looking as if they had been literally ripped off. The inside of the room was, in the simplest terms, a battleground.
Robin was leaping away from an electrical attack, Beast Boy shifting from a gorilla to boa constrictor in the blink of an eye to avoid an energy beam. Neither were looking so good, trying to keep moving even when they’re clearly getting exhausted. And to take a look at what Gizmo had turned himself into, it’s not hard to see how they were struggling so much just to keep from getting fried.
Gizmo, what was left of him at least, barely resembled a human anymore. His suit was still there and his body was in the same physical shape it had been from before. And yet, it was clear Overload had begun to take over, overriding all of Gizmo’s systems. Whatever Gizmo had installed internally must have been the first to fail, because now he had wires lining his small body. Even his skin was peeling way to reveal cords and electrical systems, as if his suit was actually melding itself into his very body with Overload dictating the interaction. Even the little punk’s speech was not what it once was just the other day.
“More powerhhhh!! More informationnnrrrrr!! Want all!!!”
That’s all it screamed as it attacked, never saying anything more. Without any kind of hesitation, Starfire flies in grabbing Robin and flying him out of harms way. Cyborg runs over to Beast Boy, who managed to turn into an armadillo for whatever reason. While he fires his sonic cannon, he gives the green animal a kick over towards where Raven and I are standing. Robin lands down next to me, collapsing to his knees while holding his side. Seeing her friend in such a state sent Starfire into such a rage that she zips right back at the Gizmo/Overload hybrid with star bolts flying into it.
I grab the kid and put him against the wall, snapping my fingers in his face. He grabs my hand, glaring at me.
“I’m.. not… going to pass out,” he grumbles, pushing my hand away, “Glad to see you brought the cavalry though.”
“Considering we’re dealing with ‘Haven’s Gate’, I figured we needed to get a handle on this before it got out of hand.”
“It’s even worse than you think,” he gasps, gripping a his side, “Whatever you want to call that thing over there, it’s not Gizmo. It’s not going to just hack the systems and grab some information… It’s more like a virus now, and if it gets its hands on the right information…”
Beast Boy had changed into a wolf, charging back out into the battle before shifting into the form of a T-Rex. While Cyborg is busy working with Starfire to blast away at the chest of Gizmo’s suit, he slams his head against its back to try pushing it away from the computer systems set up on the other side of the room. All of this should have been drawing my attention in full, but my mind was only calculating the damage that thing could do.
“We could be seeing the beginning of a cyber apocalypse,” I sigh, looking up as the machine hybrid releases an array of lasers that knock the other Titans away from it. Even the stray beams that hit Raven’s barrier make it crack heavily, the young sorceress straining to keep it standing.
“Well kid, looks like we have to use the simplest solution in order to prevent that from happening,” I look over at him, starting to get to my feet, “If your friends could keep him off of me, I’d appreciate it.”
“Wait, what are you going to… ”
I don’t bother to wait for him to finish, running off towards the computer at the other side of the room. Electricity and energy beams cut at the floor in front of me, forcing me to dodge to the side. Looking over, it was obvious the creature that was once Gizmo had taken notice of me. Just as one of its shoulder mounted missile launchers open fire, I leap backwards. Even as they come flying to me, I can see Cyborg and Starfire trying to blast the out of midair. Of course they didn’t manage to get them all, leaving me only one option. Lunging forward, I press the button on the front of my belt.
Instant teleportation is like blinking, only with your matter being moved from one place to the next. Xenothium is one of the few elements that can be used to create such an effect; the more you use, the farther you can go. So when I arrived just a few feet in front of where I had been, it was very quick and painless.
Now of course I could have teleported myself to the other side of the room, if only there wasn’t so much random fire going on. With that much distance, the probability of being pegged by stray fire increased more than I felt comfortable risking. So all I could do was make short teleportation’s in order to dodge the faster attacks, my reflexes the only thing saving me from the other attacks. It helped that the Titans were fighting so hard to keep it distracted, especially since Raven and Robin had jumped in.
Robin was busy giving directions to his other teammates, showing off his leadership skills once again. Sending Starfire to attack from above, it gave Beast Boy and Cyborg the change to attack it from below, tearing at its legs. It left Raven to try to bind its weaponry so Robin could disable them; valiant effort but it didn’t seem like Gizmo was willing to go down. Every bit of tech that was within reach was altered to become a new weapon for him, the attacks becoming more brutal. He even managed to turn a group of laptops into drones that tried slamming into me.
Flipping around to dodge each attack was becoming harder because of my wounds, but I could only grit my teeth through all of it. I finally attack the new drones, sending my exploding shuriken slamming into them while flipping over backwards towards the main computer. The chain of explosions was almost blinding, giving me the chance to finally get to my objective. Even as I started trying to tap at the keyboard, an array of tentacle like wires attach themselves to the computer’s main processor.
“Shit shit shit…” I growl as I tap furiously, trying to lock out the mechanized horror that was still managing to hold off the Titans.
It was a waste of time; with Gizmo’s knowledge of technology and Overload’s computer processing power, I may as well have been a monkey trying to win in a game of chess against the Riddler. Finally seeing the futility of it, I slam two electrified X’s into the main console. The computer sparks as its insides begin to short-circuit, the motherboard frying in a matter of seconds. An inhuman scream fills the room as the backlash rides back into the Gizmo/Overload creature, all of the tech it had hacked into and altered collapsing onto the floor. While the Titans were busy trying to avoid the falling debris, I take the opportunity to use my teleport function to finish the job.
Appearing within arm’s reach of the still screaming Gizmo, I finally activate a favorite weapon of mine. The X’s on the back of my gloves expand into sharpened blades, clenching my fists as they begin to spin like saws. I cut through the wires that hold Overload to Gizmo’s now ruined suit, making him scream once again. I kick the containment apparatus away, followed by a brutal back kick right to Gizmo’s fat little face. The sight and sound of him slamming into the ground as I landed next to him was music to my ears.
“Ahhh, all the loose ends have been tied into a lovely knot,” I sigh happily, slapping my hands across one another, “Well guys, it’s been fun but I’ll be taking my leave.”
“Hold on, how are we supposed to explain this,” Robin demands as he heads towards me.
“That’s your problem kid, I just saved the world. They can always get a pretty new computer.”
Just as he’s about to argue with me, Raven hovers over to his side. “Robin, you saw what he did for us in all of this. He could have run off but he didn’t.”
“Since when are you defending guys like him,” Beast Boy demands, rubbing a bruise on his face.
“Since he saved our asses B,” Cyborg cuts in, busy binding down the unconscious Gizmo, “He did what any of us would have, so I’ve gotta give him credit for that.”
Finally Starfire speaks up, shocking me with what side she takes. “The Red X did not flee when he could have. Perhaps we can merely let him go for now?”
With that last bid for my release, Robin seemed to settle down a bit. Looking at Gizmo then back to he, he slowly walks towards me. I stand still, waiting for him to try something, but instead he just puts his finger in my face.
“This is your one, and I mean ONE, free pass,” he states, glaring up at me before moving his hand back down, “And thank you… for helping out as much as you did.”
I shrug and turn around, heading for the ruined door. “Just adjusting my karma, kid. Did my good deed for the month, so I’m feeling all kinds of refreshed.”
Before they can say anything else, I tap the button on my belt. I teleport from there to the stairs and then repeat the process until I reach the top. I decided to go out the back way, I didn’t want to be bothered by the cops. Getting back to the bike, I drive hard through the city to my base under a building a couple blocks from my building. I needed to get ready for a date after all, and I would be damned if I was going to be late.
By the time I had managed to head to the pier, the time was about five minutes before 7. The rain had returned as soon as day turned to night, forcing me to grab my umbrella on the way out of my apartment. Not seeing her there yet, head over to the edge of the pier to stand and wait.
Just as I began to admire the displacement of the ocean from the heavy rain, the sound of someone landing on the wooden planks behind me interrupted my thoughts. Turning around to look, I was greeted by the sight of the ever-lovely Raven standing just a few feet away, her robe wrapped around her tightly. Even in the pouring rain she seemed totally at ease when most would have been shivering in the cold.
“Nice to see you again, Raven.”
“Same to you, Adam,” she replies, staring at me a bit strangely. Even though her face was still composed, there was a glint in her eyes that was making me feel a bit uneasy.
“Is there something on my face? Or was I late?”
“Ah,” I respond, watching her with the growing urge to find a very quick exit, “So why do I feel like I did something wrong?”
“Strangely enough, I can’t be sure how I would describe what you’ve done.”
You know that chill that goes down your spine when you realize you’ve been caught? Well I was feeling that to the extreme, my hand gripping at the handle of my umbrella hard enough that my knuckles turned white.
“Feel free to give it a try, I’m not quite sure I’m getting what you’re saying yet.”
“First you’ll need to stop trying to play innocent,” Her face doesn’t change, but her tone has become much more firm, “Even if you were wearing that mask, I could still feel your emotions.”
I swallow, my other hand clenching inside of the jacket pocket. Of course I was wearing the Red X suit under my clothes, but she had the advantage by far. “Alright, no more games then.”
She finally moves closer, hovering off the ground so I have to look up at her. Her eyes turn pure white while her robe begins to unfurl from around her body to spread open like the wings of her namesake. Even if I was feeling terrified at this small display of power, I couldn’t help but admire it at the same time.
“So tell me then, Red X,” she finally speaks again, her shadow enveloping me while her voice echoes eerily around me, “What’s your next move?”