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Status

Recent Statuses

2 yrs ago
Current Oh shit. I’m 1610 days in. I’m a Ultimate now.
4 likes
4 yrs ago
Ya know...I don't think my last status aged well.
5 likes
4 yrs ago
To all y'all whose 2K19 New Year's resolution was to make it to 2020. We lit out here.
15 likes
5 yrs ago
Man, Discord out here playing GAMES.
6 likes
5 yrs ago
Praying for all y'all in the Bahamas. Dorian ain't being the best tourist.
6 likes

Bio

You can call me DC.

Been roleplaying about 9+ years now. Trying different websites out to see what happens, so, if I happen to have encountered you before, don't be afraid to give a shout out.

I work nights and am usually up for most hours of the day. Because of that, I'm often running on no sleep, so that's a thing.

Want to know more? Just ask.

Most Recent Posts

Me lookin in on this thread like:

After the long wait, here it is. It may need some edits, but I could be in the cut editing forever, so I’mma just put it up.



Way of the Spider coming soon...
&
Collaboration | @Mistress Dizzy
Late Morning
Location
| HQ; Mt. Justice - Outside Forest


Wind whispered through the leaves of the oak trees communed at the mountain’s foot. Clouds were peppered across the sky, creating pockets of blue where the sun would at times peek down at the ground. In an opening between the trees, a training dummy was set in the middle of it set on a slow pivot to spin around. The eyes of a hunter watched it from the forest.

Although Ja was hesitant, Red Robot and Tenzi Dinah were adamant that even though he may not be out in the field for some time, his training should continue. This exercise was meant to be a stealth and speed based one. He was meant to sneak up on, knock to the ground, and hit the back of the head to deactivate it before it could fully turn to face him. It was a test Ja had done a thousand times in the past. However, today he struggled, having heard the loud buzzer and red lights of failure many times.

The problem wasn’t a matter of his speed, nor his ability to sneak up on the target. It was when it came time to hit it, that Ja found himself hesitating. It was today that the memories of the last mission decided to return to him fully. Whenever he got close to attacking the training dummy, he felt a flash of when the Red Beast had attacked Quiver or Vincent. He stopped just short every time he saw them. This was his sixth attempt now.

Ja readjusted his footing in the tree branch that he’d settled into. He relaxed his shoulders, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. He could do this; He had to. He needed to return his focus and control. He would not be kept away from missions forever, and his team needed him to be ready. His pack needed him to return.

Metamorph’s eyes shot open; the pupils of his golden eyes tightening to lock on the roving dummy. He calculated the timing of its rotation to sync his movements accordingly. Then, just when the shoulder turned, he dove into action. Literally diving downward out of the tree, arms extended, a leopard’s low rumble of a growl slipped through an exhale. The predator became a silenced blur running on all fours. On the last stride, he swung his body around on his hands to perform a double leg sweep just as the dummy turned shoulder. Falling face first into the dirt, Metamorph smoothly moved to the left, finessing out of the range of its vision. Just as he was bringing a paw down to hit its head though, a flash of darkness hit him.

It was only for a second, but Quiver…Talon’s body lay there, with the deeply blooded claw wound spilling to the ground beside him.

I didn’t mean it.

BLARE! BLARE! BLARE!

The loud buzzer of the dummy went off just below him, rousing him from the flashback. It…didn’t stop spinning because he didn’t deactivate it in time…He failed.

Ja fell backwards to sit on the ground with a deflated huff…

Further into the forest, Kass was doing her own training. The mission on the docks made her realize that she'd been putting off her physical prowess in favor of magic. Illusion couldn't solve every problem; sometimes strength was necessary. She refused to let herself fall behind. Not when KJ needed the more experienced members to keep the team safe until he recovered.

Her mind forced the phrase 'if he recovered' into her consciousness, and she brushed the doubt aside like an unwelcome pest. He would get better - she would help him, and wait as long as it took.

”Focus…“ She murmured aloud. Steadily, she warmed her muscles with push-ups and stretches, before getting into the bulk of the routine. Her wrestling skills had abated, so she'd started back with a new fervor. Both Viktor and Kila made a point of telling her that the truly dangerous fighters had their own unique methods. Non standard styles that gave them the element of surprise in battle. Days of research had found Kassy a style she liked, and so she attacked the heavy dummy again and again, trying to grapple and throw it with all her might.

At some point in the midst of her strength training, the bushbaby had appeared to be in the background. It was unclear how long he was there, but it surely wasn’t long. He sat on the ground Indian style, watching her go.

In the past couple of weeks, Ja had come to rely on her support as the others had grown distant. Of course, none of his teammates had treated him with hostility, at least not openly. Though, his paranoia and shame ultimately made him avoid Quiver and Vincent. Even his nature sister, Daffy-Knee, could never quite look at him directly.

While Cora’s compassion was appreciated, the only one that still treated him the same was Kassy. Knowing that made him feel…different, inside. His heart felt like jelly that wriggled in his chest when she was near. It made him feel warm, and was the closest semblance to security he had felt since the Beast’s wrath. Even now, when she was working out, these feelings radiated through him…and…well…sometimes… he couldn’t help but simply stare. Something about… the mixture of flexing muscle with gentle curves…

Her prey-sense warned Kassy of a predator's gaze, causing her to stop short. That ancient itch on the back of her neck was better than sonar. But what land creature could be a danger to her here?

She straightened up and looked around, before her gaze landed on Ja. Happily, she strode through the sparse grass and plopped beside him. "Hi. Have you been waiting long?“

His eyes aimed downward to watch the ants on the ground, realizing with her instinctive reaction that his eye may have been a bit much. Still, he didn’t hide a small smile, fangs peeking between closed lips.

“No…I just thought that watching someone else do well with their training would help me with focusing…It isn’t going so well.“

"Oh.“ There was a time where she would've said 'I'm sorry' in response to his woes. But she had a sense that it wouldn't help Ja this time. She tipped her water bottle up and drank thirstily before speaking again. "Maybe you should change it up. I need a sparring partner. Would you mind?“

Ja’s eyes opened widely in surprise and his smile disappeared. "A-ah…Are you sure that would be a good idea?“ The child of the wild tried to keep his cool. Moments ago, he had trouble fighting a stationary dummy…Much less a living person. Much less a teammate, since the Beast attacked two of them last mission. Much much less the person that he didn’t…

By that same token, Ja understood that he couldn’t live in fear of the Beast. He needed to maintain his composure…and knowing that it didn’t hurt Kassy during that mission gave him a little more confidence that…surely it wouldn’t overpower him this time…right?

All of these thoughts seemed to move through the motions of his eyes, before he looked back up at her. A corner of his lip upturned, a little more resolute.

"Okay. We can try.“

Kassy smiled gently at his courage. She couldn’t read minds, but it didn't take telepathy to know why he hesitated.

"Don't worry, Ja. I trust you.“ She squeezed his shoulder before taking her place on the edge of a makeshift circle.

The bushbaby crawled on over to the opposite edge of the circle, though he stood up. He resolved to himself that he would try to match her energy, nothing more. As a form of sparring etiquette as well as to indicate readiness, his right fist met his left palm; a kung fu salute.

In return, Kassy held her fist to her forehead and bowed. It was a gesture of utmost respect where she came from. Once that was done, she lowered into a sturdy stance. Her teeth flashed in an eager grin.

Ja wasted no time. He sprung forward as though to pounce on her, but tucked into a front flip at the last second to kick with both legs.

Months ago, Kassy would have flinched away from the incoming strike. But so much had changed. As Ja twisted in midair, she blocked out everything else. It was just him, and her, and her heartbeat rushing in her ears.

One beat. Two. Three.

There!

At the moment just before his kick hit home, she pressed herself forward and grasped for him. Her sturdy arms wrapped around his legs, holding him around the knees.

Just like that, Kilamanjaro felt his forward momentum shift suddenly toward the ground. Of course— she was a grappler, he just saw her training, why was he surprised?

Either way, gravity was making the journey short, so his body became as a snake; Flexibly contorting his back to bend backward. Using her momentum against her, his hands caught the dirt but he rolled them backwards as a whole. With the pin reversed, knees at her biceps, he used the opportunity to slip away.

She righted herself the second her back hit the ground, prepared for a defense that suddenly wasn't needed. Ja was widening the gap. "Alright.“ She stalked toward him, not at speed, but at a measured walk. It was quite obvious that she'd need him to move first. But she was a rather patient fighter. Her illusions often meant that she had to wait for the perfect moment to strike, and this was no different.

With her walking more towards the center of the circle, Ja had more room to work with. That timed snatch taught him that the likely counter to her preferred method was speed. If she couldn't grab him, it would be a matter of wearing her down… Well there was strength that he could tap into, but he’d never actually hit her before to know how durable she was…and he didn’t want to. But he agreed to spar with her in order to successfully complete some form of combat training. He just wouldn’t hit her head.

With that in mind, the wild child started again, a burst of blinding speed to contrast her slow walk. Except this time, he zoomed past her, digging his claws into the ground to make a sharp turn to charge her from behind. As she was turning, his hands were meant to plant into her shoulders to vault over her.

"Hey-“ She was surprised as he darted right by without touching her. His reversal was a little less surprising, though; there was a quick intake of breath just before she felt his hands on her. Instead of letting him use her as a springboard, she went prone. It was nearly identical to the drop-dive she did when swimming. If she had it right, Ja's timing would be ruined.

Her sudden drop left him fumbling to not fall onto her, quickly reshuffling his hands to catch the ground.

She didn't let up, her leg striking forward in a vicious kick. Usually, he ran circles (literally) around her. Being able to match him, even for a little, gave her courage.

Unable to brace for the sudden impact to his chest or even get stable, her kick knocked the wind out of him. Crashing onto his back, Ja sighed, quickly trying to regain his breath. He was slipping up more than normal; focus.

Swiftly spinning on his head and shoulders back to his feet, he bounced in place with a shifty rhythm. Hopping closer, he turned into what looked like a spinning hook kick for her head. Though instead of following through, he jumped, retracting his leg as a feign and extending for a back kick to the body.

She had just enough time to steel herself for the impact. Skidding backward slightly, she weathered his kick. Instead of bracing for more, however, she darted forward.

Again she grabbed for his outstretched leg. If she could just catch Ja once, the battle could turn in her favor. She was fast, but agility was his specialty. His leg was extended as bait, retracting as she reached for it.

Instead, he grasped around her arm and tugged to use her momentum against her. Using a barrel vault maneuver over her initially, his feet planted into her back to push off away. Using his own newfound momentum to back handspring away, he followed it up with a backflip to land on his four limbs. He had the posture and demeanor of a crouching tiger; keen senses attuned and ready to strike.

Kassy grunted softly as she nearly fell prone. Her recovery was faster than it had ever been, but she was frustrated with herself. It'd been silly for her to try and outspeed him. She didn't need to beat him at his game; she needed to do what she did best. As he took point, she did the same. Her bare heels dug into the earth, and she readied her hands in front of her.

"Well? Come and get me!“ Her taunt displayed far more courage than she felt. Within the span of her exhale, the wild child obliged, cartwheeling closer. Launching at her from his hands, it seemed his momentum was leading into a kick. Though, it was yet another feint, and the mistress of mirages could see through it. Before Ja could properly extend into an attempted attack, she leaned just far enough to throw her arms around his neck and head.

Lowered toward the ground to have less leverage, he found himself in a sudden arm triangle choke. His free arm grasped at her arms, but she adjusted accordingly, and he felt the pressure at his neck. His breaths were deepening as the blood flow to his head was blocked.

Ja miscalculated again. She caught him, again. He would fail again. Iwisa would have chewed him up by now; both physically and verbally. The thought made him grimace, more than any pain felt during this sparring session…Iwisa didn’t die for him to be a failure…His fangs bared, and a small breathy growl exhaled from him, though it was not animal inspired. It was his own.

He would make Iwisa proud.

Ja summoned strength from within that he wasn’t willing before. He took hold of Kassy’s choking arm while planting his feet onto the ground. In one motion, he stood up off the ground, lifting Kassy up with him upright. Unfolding her arm from around his neck, his other hand came from below to shove her back.

Though the space was brief, he decided to move on the offensive. With ferocity, he took a short hop into a superman punch aimed directly for her chest. Though as his momentum carried him forward, a flash of light overtook him.

The darkness of the docks again. The smell of water, but before him, a bright light. Kassy’s face glimmering beside it, coaxing with fear in her eyes. ’It’s just me…I’m…your friend.’

Ja’s breath caught in his throat.

And Kassandra's fist caught his chin a second later.

She was surprised at how hard her punch landed. There had been a moment of hesitation on Ja's part, and she capitalized on it without question. Usually, she would have been blocked or redirected, which is why she put more honest strength into fighting Viktor and KJ. They could handle it. Why hadn't he handled it?

"Ja- are you okay?!“ The panic in her voice was clear. The young man lied still for several moments, seemingly out cold. His head rolled on his neck with no particular pattern, eyes aimed to the sky.

All was quiet, albeit the natural sounds of the ocean a little ways off, and some birds chirping. Then, suddenly, violently, the boy’s body shook. When he did, the birds stopped, quickly emptying from the trees as though spooked by something. Woodland creatures and even the insects that crept in the woods nearby fled further into it. Yet just as quickly as it began, it ended.

The young meta’s eyes reopened, but instead of Ja’s golden hazel, a more infamous scarlet glow inhabited the irises. Quickly surveying his surroundings, his eyes locked onto Kass looming nearby.

Kass was near tears, torn between going for her comm and looking after KJ, when the forest went berserk. She felt it, suddenly. Her prey sense, usually just a tickle of forewarning, was suddenly a klaxon of gut watering fear. She looked at the treeline, wondering if a bear was nearby.

Then she heard Ja rousing subtly. "Oh, thank the Gods, I thought-“ Then she caught a look at those bold, red eyes. The words stalled on her lips, and it was only because she was too practiced at deception that she continued after a second's pause. "I thought I was going to have to carry you back. Can you stand, Ja?“

Rule number one: never show a predator fear.

His eyes scrutinized her, pupils shaping from circular to the vertical slits of a clouded leopard. It was as though in an instant, he had sat up and leaned forward onto his limbs. Although the air was calm, there was a quiet tension, and the hunter could sense it. He drew closer, with a closed lip groan resembling a tiger rumbled from him. When rather too close, he stood up bipedally. His posture was taut and the right side of his lip twitched.

"Good, you're standing. Are you bleeding anywhere?“ Her voice was light and sweet, but her muscles were taut. Kassandra's mind was racing. Her comm was about a minute away. Maybe if she ran… but no. That would violate -

Rule number two: never show a predator your back.

There were no words as a response, instead, he continued with his silent examination. Very subtly, the minute tendrils of his headbush extended toward Kass. The tiger groan rumbled into a growl, opening his lips for his fangs to show. In the blink of an eye, his jaw opened and his head lurched toward her neck.

Kassy's courage faltered momentarily, as she threw her forearm up in defense. "Ja? I'm going to need you to stop.“ She kept using his name despite that crimson stare. It wasn't Ja, but… if her and Viktor were correct, he might be able to hear her anyway.

It was enough to make him pause, and his head tipped to the side to look at her arm briefly. As he did, the pupils of his eyes widened until there was more red and black than white. Another low growl, taking her arm as a prompt and his jaw unhinged again, leaning for it.

"Tch!“ She snatched her arm back, mindful of his teeth, and struck back instinctively. Ironically enough, Kila had taught her the flat palmed strike. Now she used it to hit the Beast square in the torso.

In response, he had been forced to take two steps backward. Even though struck, he didn’t seem particularly aggressive, sinking back down on all fours. Still, the Beast circled, watched her movement and body position, then he ran directly at her.

Kassy's mind flew into overdrive as the Beast's advance seemed to slow. Was one minute so long, even at a full sprint? If she could just get the others, then…

Then what? Would the others attack him again? Treat him like something less than a thinking being? Like a stranger… or an enemy? Would they lock him up and throw away the key, just because he was born with a strength that scared others?

She wouldn't let that happen. Not to someone who didn't deserve it.

As time seemed to right itself, she turned her body toward the Beast. Just in time, as he had launched himself from his ‘back’ legs, with clear intent to pounce on and tackle her. This one was easy; catch and redirect. The moment he was close enough, she got a hold of his arm and shirt. His energy became hers as she shoved him sideways, taking point again for the next attack.

"What is your name?"

After contorting his body to land on his four limbs, he seemed ready to try again but he stopped. Kass' question appeared to confuse him, as made evident by the second time he’d tilted his head during their interaction.

“Nnn….mmmm…?” His voice was low while struggling with the word but afterwards he snorted in frustration.

At that, Kassy's eyes brightened. "Yes, your name! You know me. I'm Kassy." She couldn't help but smile. Maybe there was a way to get through to him after all.

At the sound of Kass’ name, he looked back up to her face; noticing the teeth in her smile. His own canines became visible again and his mane spread out around his head. Positioning his body with his hands beneath his chest, he waited a moment before he charged again. However, this time, he remained close to the ground to go for her legs. Kass responded by sinking low and sweeping her leg out. Clearly she was trying to catch his chin.

Although quick enough to react to her kicking leg initially, leaning his head above, she clipped one of his supporting limbs. Recovering quickly by rolling across the ground on his shoulders, he landed on his feet. Using his crouched stance as a springboard, he launched directly at her center mass, sending them both tumbling to the ground.

"Oof!" Flat on her back, Kassy put her forearm between her throat and the Beast's teeth. This was bad - her bones were hard to break, but it took less force to deal dangerous cuts to her body. If he got a deep enough bite in, it would take no time at all for her to bleed to death. But she refused to roll over and die. "You're… not… winning!"

Although he’d displayed rash herculean strength weeks ago, at the moment he seemed to use none of it. Slowly nudging against and around her forearm, he didn’t quite reach her. Instead, his fangs only managed to nip at her exposed right shoulder.

Kassandra was confused. The Beast had enough strength to toss the larger boys around like they were weightless guppies. She shouldn't be strong enough to deter him. It was almost as if he wasn't…

She managed to get enough leverage between them, pushing her knee upward to gain space. "I don't want to hurt you! Please!" With a desperate cry, she put full force into her legs and kicked upward.

Her blow contacted his lower abdomen, throwing him up and off of her. Crashing on his back side, he quickly sat up and shook his upper body, like a dog flicking off dirt. For a moment, he paused again, looking up at her.

Kass hurt Him…? The wild child confusedly looked down at where she kicked, patting his chest just so. When reassuring that he wasn’t in pain, his confused look came back up to Kass.

Kassandra panted with effort as she got up again. Her stamina was usually much better, but she suspected fear was sapping her strength. Despite her trying not to be a threat, KJ's eyes were still red. Her confusion gave way to frustration. This didn't have to be happening, at all! If this fangy Beast would just go, even for a moment… "Give me back my Ja!" The layer of protective anger in her voice couldn't be buried.

An anger that made the confusion worse. With her tone seeming to go beyond irritation to actual aggression, the maned young lion tensed. Then he looked around to see if there was someone who he hadn’t sensed. Though clearly there was no one else around. She was talking to Him.

Give me back my Ja……but…Him…Why Kass yelling? His eyes seemed to plead for understanding when his view returned to Kassy again.

”…me…?” His voice was a soft grumble.

"You, yes! You need to go back–" Kassy let out a frustrated growl, hands in her hair. It was too hard a concept to word simply. He just didn't speak her language. But maybe she could speak his.

Squaring her shoulders and standing up fully, she bared her sharp teeth at the Beast in the body of the boy she loved. Her orange eyes were lit with anger. Every part of her silently invited his challenge.

Her body language seemed to be understood instead of what she was trying to say. For but a moment, he shrunk back, brows forming a triangle as he’d appeared to be hurt. His headbush slowly lowered around his face and his body raised from the ground. Regarding her silently for a moment longer, his airborne form launched at her.

As Kilamanjaro's crimson gaze bore down on her, his dive bringing them closer, Kassy felt a sudden sense of surety. A shift in the current. A feeling that somehow, things would be okay. She would have to talk to KJ about it. After she taught him the rules.

Rule 3: Never bare your throat. To do so is to acquiesce, to offer blood and body.

Like snatching a salmon from the shallows, Kassy's body moved at just the right moment. The force of a dive that would have flattened her was suddenly redirected. She gripped KJ tight, and took the momentum from him. She drove him into the ground back first, in a suplex.

Before he had space to recover, she pinned him with the full weight of her knee square on his chest. She gripped a careful handful of the young lion's mane and tugged his head back. There she knelt, lowering her mouth to his exposed neck.

"Bare your fangs no more. Go back to sleep."

Through labored breaths, the Fanged Beast had shut his eyes as serrated teeth clamped on his neck. He struggled under her grasp. Kassy was just as careful not to hurt him as he had been with her. Despite his struggle, she didn't even break the skin. It was several long moments before it ended. However, when he eventually came to a stop, the sounds of forest creatures seemed to return.

Soon afterwards, the boy stirred. As he attempted to move his heavy body, he felt hair on his face, but for once it wasn’t his. The smell was familiar…though there was something else that made his eyes suddenly fly open. He felt her lips on his neck.

“Kassy…I…uh…is…everything alright?” Kila asked both warily and wearily.

There was a noise of pure surprise from Kassy as she pulled away. She, too, was exhausted. And she hadn't expected him to wake so quickly. "You're… you're up!" She scraped her well of courage and came up empty. "Good! Gotta go."

“But wait—“ She was gone, where she once was, there was nothing.

The young lion sat up, an action made easier now that she wasn’t on him. A situation that Kila…hadn’t thought he’d be in so soon. The soreness in his body felt almost like he’d been in a fight. Yet there was no bloodshed or any real internal injuries that he could feel. Surveying his surroundings, Kila was in the forest, one on the island of Mount Justice; home.

This was certainly no dream…A fact that only made Kassy’s position with him seem odd. A hand fell on where he’d felt her on his neck. His lack of memory from a few moments ago did him no favors. She seemed surprised that he was awake. She wouldn’t have ‘taken advantage’ of him while sleeping. Instead of that…maybe this was a result of her interacting with his Red-inspired side.

Though how would a potential fight lead to what just happened…? Or…dare he ask…was it even a fight to begin with?

He’d find no answer sitting here thinking to himself. However, something told him that…maybe he was closer to achieving a goal of his than he’d originally thought. Maybe if he…
E P I S O D E S I X : R E F L E C T I O N S
?!?

C I T Y H A R B O R

September 2th, 2021 | 22:28 PM | Harbor, Gotham City


The Beast found himself in unfamiliar circumstances, yet a quite familiar pain panged through the body. From all fours, his eyes quickly switched between looking at the giant metal boxes, darkness, flashes of light, but stopped in place on one person. He was there the last time his peace was disturbed. The Beast remembered him. Remembered the anger and hurt that the Arrow boy brought from within.

It was him!!

His posture was that of a savage predator, and yet his body launched from his four limbs like a frog. All that kept claws from tearing into Quiver was his reflex to bring his bow up in defense at the very last second. However the seemingly impossible strength difference was enough to make them both topple over. The glow of the Beast’s eyes cast the light of two blood moons looming over Quiver in the night. His fanged jaws snapped down at his head, barely held back by the stringed weapon.

Frustrated, the Beast grabbed hold to throw it, and subsequently Quiver, over his shoulder towards another of the metal containers. The thunderous clap of a tiger’s roar erupted from deep in his diaphragm, echoing through the harbor.

Quiver looked up into the eyes of his teammate, save the look that was peering back at him belonged to someone else entirely. Quiver knew he wouldn’t have the strength to hold whatever was inhabiting Metamorph. Quiver would have to try and use his strength against him. At least that’s what the young man would have tried if Meta didn’t grab him and throw him, essentially hurling him several feet away. He crashed hard into the same crate the two of them had been hidden in earlier.

The mission went to hell in a handbasket fast. That wasn’t a surprise, and Zach should have been used to that by now. He came in, and turned some gangsters' guns into flowers with a spell.

Then he heard KJ scream, and ran over to check what the fuss was about, only to see him throw Quiver over his shoulder and into the metal containers. “What was that for?!” Zach exclaimed as he went over to check on Quiver.

Quiver reached up to Zatara, who promptly pulled him up to his feet.

“Don’t ask questions: make this arrow hit harder.”

With a grimace, Quiver pulled back on his bow - an explosive tipped arrow with its sights set on The Beast.

Zach’s eyes went wide. “We’re shooting arrows at our teammates now? Seriously? You know Kassy… Mirage is going to stick that arrow up your… quiver if you harm a hair on his head.” Zach shook his head. “What is even going on? Did you two get in a fight or something?”

Quiver wasn’t listening. Instead he was watching Metamorph rear up - like a wild animal increasing its size to threaten prey.

No chances. He fired at the ground beneath Metamorph’s feet. More concussion than outright destructive, it would at least give off a smokescreen of debris, or else even a second for Quiver to regroup.

Talos had just introduced a man’s face to the ground when he heard a bloodcurdling roar, followed shortly by the sound of an explosion. He turned toward the sound and saw Quiver standing with Zach, a dust cloud not too far away. Well, shit, if there’s someone dangerous enough for explosives, maybe I should get over there, he thought as he, without looking, backhanded a gunman that had tried to sneak up on him.

As he dashed over to his allies, he ran his hand along the side of a shipping container. The steel shed its flaking red paint and gathered around his hands, forming a pair of large fists, far too heavy for him to lift without his power. He put himself in between his comrades and the dust cloud, dermal armor coating his arms and chest. He raised his steel-clad fists, eager for this new challenge.

Instead, the dust cleared just enough for Talos to make out who it was. His memory flashed back to the bank, back to the last time Metamorph had lost control, though he hadn’t seen firsthand exactly what that meant. “Someone wanna give me the rundown?” he asked, keeping his eyes locked on Metamorph’s silhouette, not sure what to expect.

Quiver glanced over at Talos, unwilling to take his eyes off of this version of Metamorph for too long. He spoke quickly, all while loading up another round. He did however have the wherewithal to report his next message over comms.

“Metamorph has been compromised.”

The silhouette of the Beast started off standing, but suddenly crouched to the ground. Then, jumping upward out of the smoke, the Beast took to the air. After briefly glazing over Metal Boy and Zzz, his stare refocused on Arrow boy. Backflipping in the air to angle his body downward, his body propelled forward, directly diving at him.

Talos was quick to react. He kept himself between Quiver and the missile that was Metamorph, his steel fists rippling briefly. When Metamorph was in range, Talos reached out and his steel fist extended out toward his comrade, the fingers opening up, then spreading out as they slim down into cables, forming a net. "Let's all calm down, now," he said, "and talk about this like rational super teens."

Zach was still confused about what was happening. “Compromised? Compromised how? Does someone here have mind control powers or something?” He asked and looked around for any Gangster being weird.

Sometime during all of this, Stormcaller floated over the heads of the boys present. That scream scared her. She wasn’t confident she could outrun KJ like this if she was on the ground. She floated downwards until she was just a few feet above Talos’ shoulder. ”How long can you hold him like that?”

All the while, the Beast thrashed against the bonds that Metal had put him in. It was quickly becoming dented in places, as though trying to contain a charging rhinoceros with each hit. Metal boy protecting Arrow Boy…Held him in cage. Him be caged no longer! With a seemingly new resolve, he built up momentum and burst a hole through the steel cables. Rolling across the ground, his claws dug into the ground to stop himself.

“About that long, apparently,” Talos remarked as he recalled the snapped cables, reforming his steel fist.

Quiver could tell that Metamorph was burning a hole through him with his stare. He’d grown up surrounded by that kind of bloodlust. The others on the team were hesitating to engage - he didn’t blame them. They didn’t want to hurt their friend. But the friend they were trying to help wasn’t home right now - and they were all in incredible danger.

From his quiver he pulled the Canary arrow. Modeled after Black Canary’s sonic scream, the Canary arrow has a fletching that emitted a similar sonic blast. A loud enough pitch that would bring a kryptonian to a stop. At least briefly. Quiver would plant its talon-like arrowhead into a surface for the back-end to fire the blast. If it came to it he’d hook it into the wall behind him, moving out of the way for its radius to engulf Metamorph.

While holding on to that one, he fired a standard arrow right down the middle, straight at Metamorph. Get him to head right this way.

The Beast started to charge, but stopped on the second stride. Clearly wary of the projectile this time, he dodged it, looking back from whence it came. The Fury of the Red also seemed to take note of the small crowd now forming where he once was. His view briefly cast onto Zatara standing among them, and he bared his fangs, but his eyes seemed to tell the story of…confusion?

Regardless, he glanced briefly back to Arrow boy before disappearing into the shadows of more nearby containers.

“Yeah you better run.” Quiver groaned, before he fired off his grappling arrow and turned to Zatara and the others.

“Find a way to talk him down if you can, but he’s dangerous. Whatever took him over at the bank seems to have a real stronger hold today.” With that, he released the grappling pin and zip lined up to higher ground

Atop a nearby container, Quiver started scanning the alleyways between the giant metal crates. He’d be lying if part of him wasn’t excited at the chance to fight Metamorph. An awesomely talented warrior with ability to envy, Will would have jumped at the chance to fight him if he was still the way he once was, as a Talon.

Daphne continued disarming more of the shooters. The heat was on her all of the sudden. She didn’t even get the chance to unload any of their weapons. Reforming was too dangerous and she would definitely get shot. While fluttering around the harbor she started to understand why. Most of the Team had gathered at Metamorph’s position.

With considerable effort on her part she extended to her limit, forming a large cloud which ambushed a group of three unsuspecting gang members. After a short struggle they were dazed by the scent trail. It cleared the way to the Team and she rushed over to their side.

“Where’s…..”

She came to a stop, panting. Supporting herself against one of the crates she looked at everyone.

“Metamorph?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Talos replied. He separated the steel fists from his arms and let them float around him as a pair of large spheres. He spread his wings and said, “I’ll let you guys know if I spot him from the air.” With that, he took off, his wings glinting in the ambient light. “Come out, come out wherever you are, bud! Make this easier on both of us!”

”I bet I can try to stun him if we need. But I really don’t want to risk actually hurting him.” Cora had been practicing using a precise amount of lightning to stun people, but people were different every time. Some people were stunned a little less and others were stunned a little harder.

She pushed off the ground, and scanned across the harbor for any movements in the dark. ”If I see him, I’ll try to keep him distracted.”


With the others taking flight, Quiver continued to move from crate to crate, scrutinizing any movement he could make out as Metamorph. At this point any of the rounded up gangsters were presumably taken care of by the members of the team who hadn’t moved on Metamorph’s position. Quiver knew Metamorph was a Hunter, and he’d keep well out of sight from airborne heroes. He moved further from the others, thinking he’d find Meta before them. But what then? Would he engage defensively? Or otherwise? He leapt another crate, bringing him close to the end of the shipping yard.

An eerie silence was slowly coming to the harbor as the gunshots were fading in frequency. Instead, near the edge of the harbor, the rhythmic splash of the ocean’s waves were the predominant sound. It was often believed that the ocean was where life began. At first microscopic, though through time, it evolved into bigger more complex creatures of the deep. Where the first predators were born.

Then, a violent swash as the sea seemed to vomit up the Beast, flying directly at Quiver.

But the hooded hero saw it coming. With peak reflexes, Quiver’s bow collapsed back into it’s staff. He was already mid-swing, slamming the weapon directly into the chest of his compromised teammate. Will had caught The Meta Beast Thing dead to rights, then used all of his strength to lift him up and over with the staff, with the intent to slam him downward into the metal crate he was using for footing. It worked in theory - Meta landed with cat-like reflexes of his own, on both his feet. At the same time, the animalistic hero shoved the staff away from him, as though wary of what it could do.

Quiver could see a lack of of friendliness in Meta’s eyes, and felt a chill. The eyes of a killer. A bit too familiar. With a severe disadvantage in strength, Quiver spun the collapsed bow around and tried to connect with his target, but Meta moved gracefully. 3, 4, 5 swings before Quiver could make contact, and knocked Meta across the face.

Seeming to recognize that the staff itself had no destructive properties, the Meta used his incredible chimp-like grip strength to snap the end of it off. Will tossed the rest of it aside. And he really liked that bow.

The Meta charged at Quiver, a near howl piercing the night sky from the thrashing hero. He swung his vicious clawing swings at Quiver’s face. Will was operating as much on instinct as he could, as this heightened version of his teammate had a speed advantage on top of his overwhelming strength. The only chance he had was to use Meta’s strength against him, so as he swiped for Quiver, Quiver brushed his wrist aside, trying to knock him off balance. In doing so, he went for a knee to Meta.

Meta looked shocked but not injured, and he snarled with what looked like the sharpest canines Quiver had ever seen. He grabbed Quiver’s knee and rolled through the strike, trapping Quiver like a hunter with a snare trip. Will could feel his leg muscle straining as Meta pulled on it from on top of him. Quiver felt his earpiece for comms go sliding across the ground. He couldn’t break the hold, and cried out. He grabbed the first arrow he could reach at his side and held the arrowtip at Meta’s back.

A zap of electricity surged through the tip onto Meta’s back - Stun Gun Arrow.

Meta was forced to let go, and hopped off of Quiver. Quiver tried to stand and could feel the pain in his leg. But Meta was already back on him. Quiver went down against a taller metal crate beside them, and Meta’s claws tore through the metal crate, shredding through like it gave up no resistance at all.

Quiver pulled his grapnel gun from the belt at his side, and fired it at Meta’s shoulder, where its metallic grips dug in. He released the mechanism, and it pulled against Meta’s frame while he rolled away. He was up on his feet quick, meaning to reach out to the team on Comms, but Meta was undeniable.

Having cut the grapnel’s line and pulled the clamps out, the Beast started throwing vicious haymakers - not with the discipline that the Usual Metamorph was capable of, but with reckless volatile abandon. Quiver took another hit to the gut, feeling nearly lifted off the floor from the contact. The wind was knocked out of him, and as Meta went for another kick, Will threw up his arm to block.

It was a feint.

Quiver felt a warm splash on his chest and feet, a rush of nausea. He looked down to see a dark red liquid spreading across his abdomen. Meta had sliced four claw-like marks across Quiver’s oblique. Bluntly, the Beast kicked Quiver in the chest, sending him across the shipping container, precariously close to falling into the depths of the ocean.

Talos had been circling the area when he caught a flash of movement near the water. He turned his attention to it just in time to see Quiver go down, kicked to the edge of the container by Metamorph. "Found them," Vincent said into his earpiece. "They're by the water. Quiver's down, I'm gonna go lend a hand."

He tucked his wings in and dove toward the scene of Quiver and the Beast's fight. He landed on the far end of the container and saw that Quiver's injuries seemed quite a bit worse than he expected. He then turned his attention toward Metamorph and, for the first time since his transformation, regarded the thing that had been his comrade, but was now something else entirely.

He had a wild look to him and the things that made Metamorph who he was were gone, replaced by pure, animalistic instinct. Talos wanted nothing more than to charge out of the gate, to take this new challenge head-on, but figured he owed it to Metamorph to at least try…what was the word? Right, reason.

He held his hands up, and his steel spheres lowered slightly, though remained at the ready as they hovered around his waist. "Easy does it," he said to the Beast. "Let's just all go ahead and calm down, huh? I'll be glad to fight you, but it won't go the way you want. I won't go down easy." He cast a quick glance at Quiver and added, "No offense."

Quiver coughed and rolled to his side.

“No, I’ve got him right where I want him.” He said, starting to pass out.

“You sure do, buddy,” Talos replied as he cautiously took a step closer, putting Quiver within his range. A black mist appeared around Quiver’s torso as Vincent pulled carbon out of the air and fitted it around his teammate’s chest, forming a sort of compression band of carbon fiber.

“Not as good as a bandage, but hopefully it’ll keep you from bleeding out, for now.”

Stormcaller drifted above the scene happening between the Beast, Quiver and Talos. Quiver looked a little beat to shit, and Talos was fine. Good, he could distract KJ- or was it B now?- While she made her move.

Stormcaller stopped magnetizing herself, causing her to fall out of the sky. She spread her arms out, and electricity began to crackle between her fingers. Hopefully he couldn’t smell static, otherwise she was fucked, but she aimed straight for him and reached to grapple him with her entire body. Electricity exploded from her like a human stun gun; slamming into…nothing?

While she was falling, the predatory creature’s headbush seemed to slowly stand on end, as though a dog’s ears perked, alerting him to something approaching. Lightning? His head swiveled upward towards the sky to see the falling lightning person, instinct driving him to jump backwards, away from it and back onto the docks a little ways away.

Talos barely had enough time to take to the air, shearing off the section of steel Quiver laid on to bring him up with him just as Stormcaller fell from the sky and electrocuted the shipping container. “Jesus, maybe warn me, next time?!” he called out as he kept an eye on whatever Metamorph had become.

He and Quiver landed on another container and he was about to chase after Metamorph, but stopped when he looked down at his injured teammate. He thought about getting Quiver out of there and getting him some help, but his instincts told him that wouldn't be so easy, not so long as this Beast was prowling around. Plus, he still wanted a chance to try his hand against it.

"Hang tight," he told Quiver as his armor spread across his arms, "we'll get you sorted soon as we can." With that, he dropped down from the container, alert for his misbehaving teammate.

Stormcaller bounced above the ground, not even touching it but repulsing herself away with her weird magnetic field. Her hands spring upwards in front of her, and let more electricity crackle upwards. She immediately took off in Metamorph’s direction like she was intent on rushing him down and punching the shit out of him. That was not what she did though. She leapt into the air again, propelled by her powers.

When she was about 15 feet above the ground, and still soaring towards him, Stormcaller brought her hands together to cause a thunderclap. Lightning from her fingertips compressed inwards, forming a vibrant ball of electricity. The energy immediately exploded back outwards in an intense, blinding flash in front of Metamorph. The entire harbor shook with the sound, but the flash was directed between Stormcaller’s metal gloves so it would only blind one person.

Talos watched as Stormcaller unleashed a flash of light at Metamorph and took that as his cue. The steel spheres that had been floating around him spread out and enveloped his body before taking the shape of a suit of armor. Directing his power on himself, Talos shot toward Metamorph, his arms outstretched in an attempt to tackle him.

Zach still wasn’t sure why KJ was attacking everyone, but he still felt like he had to do something to keep his teammate from getting killed. He approached Quiver, and exclaimed “egadnab otni latem.” Turning that carbon fiber Talos had made into a proper bandage. “Dleifecrof!” He brought up another darkviolet forcefield of magic around the two of them. “I don’t know what you all did to piss him off. But I’m glad it’s not me.”


After Vincent’s message over comms Daphne immediately rushed back into the night sky. She moved as fast as she could to the water’s edge. There was a feeling of heaviness spreading throughout her dispersed body. It increased gradually and she was losing altitude. It forced her to land in between the crates, still a ways away from the water. The landing was rough. She reformed while still airborne and managed to grab onto some loose hanging ropes, making her way down.

Daphne leaned her back against the cold metal of a crate. Catching her breath she turned on comms.

“Is someone with Quiver? I’m close to the water’s edge but it might take me a bit.”

There was a flash of light and a deafening thunder clap. It sounded like it was very close to her and she subconsciously covered her ears. She hated thunderstorms. Get a grip Daphne….

That must have been Cora.

The Daughter of the Green upon getting closer would be met with the sight of the Red Beast catching Talos. Having rolled backwards, their darkened teammate reversed the tackle.

With the armored hero pinned below, a bull elephant’s roar bellowed down at him, planting his feet against Talos’ chestplate. And yet, as his weight increased to try crushing him…The Beast paused in his attack, turning his head instead to where a familiar scent was. The flower seemed…hurt.

Talos laid beneath the Beast’s feet as he did his best to throw him off, but his increasing weight made it almost impossible. He could feel his carbon armor being tested to its limit as hairline cracks spidered across his chest, blood seeping through the hairline gaps in his armor. He couldn’t breathe, he could feel his ribs groaning in protest, ready to snap at any moment. For the first time in a long time, he was skirting the line between life and death…but he wasn’t afraid.

No, he was pissed. He had made peace with the possibility of dying a long time ago, but if it was his time, he would prefer it to be on his feet. Slowly crushed to death on his back, helpless and meek like he was all those years ago? Fucking…pathetic…! he growled inwardly as his anger at himself and the situation he was in grew.

A chill ran down Daphne’s spine. She could make out Vincent as Kila’s victim, pinned down under his foot. The animal cries coming from within Kila were terrifying. It resonated through her entire being. In any other given situation this would have pinned her in place, but Vincent was in very real danger now. If this was the animal she thought it was she needed to get him out of there right now.

She bravely stepped forward, searching for Kila’s red glowing eyes, wanting to connect. He’d turned his head towards her…..but his eyes were closed. Why?

“Kila….can you hear me?” Her voice wavered. She went up even closer.

The young man-thing seemed to recognize her voice, and crawled off of Talos, approaching her instead…Almost unnaturally odd for a human body, yet naturally similar to a spider, his body was on the ground, limb flowing over limb to drag forward. The mesh of his mane writhed around his face and his head seemed to twitch about on his shoulders. Although blinded in the eyes, the Beast seemed not to lose much awareness.

With the Beast finally off of his chest, Talos rolled onto his stomach, coughing as he fought to regain his breath. His carbon armor receded, his costume warm and damp with blood from his split skin underneath. His ribs were more or less intact, maybe a crack or two here and there, but so long as he could breathe, he could handle the pain.

The Red and The Green edged closer to each other until Daphne stopped moving. The unmistakable scent of fear could not be masked, not even by her powers. She whimpered quietly. The edges of her costume started to be picked apart piece by piece, the petals floating aimlessly into the air around her. The dispersion stopped there. Something was holding her back.

“Please stop Kila…” She choked up with fear, fear she had tried to push down ever since the mission at the bank. Where she first saw him like this.

The Beast too came to a halt, hearing her fear, smelling it, feeling it. Why? The flower was retreating subtly.

Stop…? Stop what? “stop Kila...” Him stop? Her scared more than before. Her feared Him? No, Him her friend. Her said ‘stop Kila’…but Her still scared. Her scared of them. Arrow boy with Them. Metal boy with Them. Them still fight, them hurt Him…Them hurt Her? No…NO.-

”NOOO!!!” His voice boomed almost as loud as the thunderclap moments ago. It was deeply pitched, yet freakish, causing Nymph to flinch backwards. It was neither like Kila nor Ja. It was someone else. Someone worse.

Talos heard the roar, but he didn’t flinch. His armor shifted and liquid metal dripped from the plates as he shed extra mass. If hitting hard wasn’t going to work, he was going to hit fast. ”I’m still here, pal!” he shouted. ”And you aren’t the only one with anger issues!” He shot forward, moving faster than he had earlier and lashed out with a kick aimed at his teammate’s head. Restraining Metamorph wasn’t going to work, he realized, especially given his still-limited understanding of his abilities. He was going for a knockout, this time, deciding to apologize for it later.

The kick connected solidly and Vincent was barely able to duck out of the way when the Beast gave a wild swing in his direction, only to dash back in with a right cross. Talos’ movements were becoming more refined as he sidestepped another strike from his comrade and countered with a blow from his left, drawing from what he had learned from his mentor. Against the thugs earlier, he was just having fun, but now that he was up against someone that he had learned could actually hurt him, let alone kill him, the gloves had come off.

For a little while, he thought he was doing well and his blows were having some effect. The lighter armor made it easier for him to weave between and even counter the Beast’s wild strikes, but it didn’t take long for Talos to realize something was wrong. It was when he delivered his second kick, the fifth strike of his combo, that the Beast just didn’t budge. ”Damn it,” Talos growled. He redirected his focus to the back of his breastplate and threw himself backward to put some space between himself and his teammate.

From his crouched position, the Beast’s head was briefly aimed toward the aged tarmac of the harbor. Then between the wisp-like billowing of the headbush, two flashes of scarlet blazed to life. Instantly they seemed to lock onto Talos’ retreating form. For once since the battle started, the Fury of the Red didn’t make a sound in response.

”Think I made him mad.”

That was the last thing Talos said before the Beast was on him. Without realizing it, he found himself in the same situation Quiver had been in earlier. He was on the back foot, just barely able to dodge the Beast’s strikes, even with his powers helping him out, while at the same time, looking for an opening to strike back that just didn’t come. It was frustrating. Talos was used to being the aggressive one. If it were anyone else, he’d push back and force an opening, but something was holding him back.

He twisted to dodge a lunge and a container flipped over just behind him, he felt his chest sting. Was that it? Now that his armor was compromised, was he…afraid? No, no way! I don’t do fear! he thought. He tried to hold his ground, but with the Beast bearing down on him, he found himself backpedaling almost instinctively. Something, an alien feeling, started to overtake him. All he knew was that it was no longer excitement.


Kassy barely heard anything Iceburn said past 'we got this'. The moment she knew it was okay, she turned and ran toward KJ. The fact that something was wrong wasn't the worst part of things. No, the worst part -

"Metamorph has been compromised."

She turned her comm off. Hearing out loud what was obvious wouldn't help. She could just pick out the sounds of battle and pain. Faster. Why couldn't she run faster? Her friends were hurting each other. The boy she loved was suffering. She couldn't just watch it happen.

If she couldn't prevent pain as a hero, then what was the point of all this work?

Her hand gripped the shortened handle of her elemental staff. There had been less reason to use it lately. Between Daphne's reawakening, Cora's lightning command, and Pei's ice power, what she could do with the forces of nature paled in comparison to their strength.

But no illusion would get her body across the pier quicker. The staff lit in the night as she summoned control over air. Around her body, the air seemed to loosen, somehow, friction around her body and clothes fading. And at her back, it pushed, forcing her forward. She nearly stumbled and fell with the sudden shove of wind, before getting her footing.

The distance shrank in seconds, and she stopped the spell just in time to skid to a stop.

Carnage was before her. She could smell blood in the air, and picked out her teammates in the gloom. The lavender tint of Zatara's magic, the scent of ozone that always surrounded Stormcaller. While she couldn't see Nymph, she had a sense that the other girl was very close by. Talos in front of her, running. Being hunted by -

"..." His hands and front were coated in blood. Whose it was didn't bear thinking about, in this moment. Healing and apology could come later. For now...

She whipped her staff in the air and slammed it, base first, into the ground. The fire runes lit with a burst of light, revealing Mirage in full force. If this didn't make her an appealing target, nothing would.

"Kilamanjaro! You need to STOP!"

The ringing of his name perked the ears of the young Beast, and his body froze in the air with the spread of his arms. The voice that called to his name caught his attention, staring down at her bright shining form against the darkness. The predator’s head snapped back at his prey as it made more distance between them. Although inclined to follow, the command conflicted with his instincts. The indignance of his mind was expressed through a bear’s groan.

Kass said Him to stop. ”Kilamanjaro…STOP!” Why?

Kassy's eyes too, flicked to Talos as he started moving again. She understood why, but the worst thing to give a predator was a reason to chase you. "We are your friends. I know you don't want to hurt your friends." She walked toward him slowly, staff tapping the ground with each step. Her free hand, just hidden in shadow, signaled Talos to 'hold'. Hopefully he'd see it, and decide to obey. "It's going to be okay. I promise."

The staff’s tapping caught his eye next, and with each, the Beast lowered in altitude. All the while, his face twisted in confusion with her words. Friends…Kass Him friend. Flower Him friend. Zzz…yes, Zzz Him friend…Arrow Boy hurt Him. Bright and Metal Boy protect Arrow.— Kass protect Metal Boy…? But…but Kass Him friend. Kass not with Them. ’It’s going to be okay……Kass promise?

Once on the ground, his eyes switched from the staff to Kass herself.

"That's right. It's just me." She kept her pace slow, and even. "I'm your… your friend." Her gaze was soft, despite her fear. "Come on." Kneeling, she set her staff down, not breaking eye contact. "We need to go home."

Home…

It was subtle at first, his breathing slowed down. His headbush was less wily, rather calmer but no less wild. Gradually the pulsating crimson of the metamorph suit faded into its more natural black and brown tones. Similarly if one were to look closer, the glowing scarlet of his eyes withdrew with a few blinks to a golden hue. With his lowered positioning of being down on all fours, he opted to sit on his knees instead. One of his hands came up to hold the side of his temple, pressing against a sore pain.

That was when the smell hit him, and his hand slowly pulled away from his head. Blood…His recollecting view moved on, to the glowing body in front of him in the darkness. Kassy? His eyes traversed his surroundings more. They were on a mission on the docks…did he doze off…? As his view caught his other teammates, he found himself sobering very quickly to the fact that this wasn’t some kind of dream. No…This was a nightmare.

Farthest away from him, he could see Zach leaning over Quiver’s unconscious form. Above were Stormcaller and Talos, the latter clearly having seen better days. His eyes started to burn. No…not again…did…did he…? His eyes turned back to Kassy’s direction but stopped on seeing something in the darkness a little ways away. Even in the shadows, he could still see her. She shared the look that they all did. A feeling that he could sense in his core; They were afraid. Afraid of…

”No…” He fell on his backside. His eyes shuffled fast between his teammates once again as the realization hit him. ”No no no…I…I-I didn’t..-“ His voice trembled in tandem with his lips. Tears rolled down his cheeks while he crawled backwards, away. What did he do?!

”I didn’t mean it…I d-didn’t mean it…I’m…”

Kassy crossed the distance between them, kneeling and wrapping her arms around him. "I know. I know you didn't. It's going to be okay. I've got you." Her fingers slipped through his hair in a gentle motion. Soothing him with shaking hands. "You need to rest." There was a subtle tinge of mental magic in her voice. Asking, not commanding, telling him it was okay to just sleep.

Ja’s eyes whirled around the damage to both teammates and containers, still stumbling through repeating himself. He initially flinched at Kassy’s touch, but quickly his breathing calmed. Yet, his body was still tense despite the coaxing. He felt that the shadows were watching them. Then one of them moved— His eyes had drifted towards the darkened sky when he noticed a figure suddenly drop from a crane. Was fast moving at first but then quickly slowed. By now, they would surely recognize the winged silhouette drifting down as a phantom towards the shoreline.

How long had he been there?

The Bat landed near to where Quiver was being protected by Zatara’s forcefield, seeming to study his condition. A moment passed before a sharp turning of his head to stare in Metamorph’s direction. A familiar cold chilled his spine upon feeling the glare. The Bushbaby felt his eyes fluttering closed as a new voice took over the comm lines.

“Get Quiver to the jet. This mission is over…”
E P I S O D E SIX : R E F L E C T I O N S
STAKE OUT

C I T Y H A R B O R

September 2th, 2021 | 22:28 PM | Harbor, Gotham City

The homeless man’s eyes seemed to wildly wander around the rapidly formed battlefield while Pei had dragged him off to safety. While she spoke, he seemed to be elsewhere mentally but nodded after each statement. He let her do her medical work as needed without much resistance, simply breathing and watching as she worked. When she warned him about the pain soon to follow, the dark skinned hobo chuckled breathily albeit clearly still feeling some discomfort.

“Don’ werry dallin’. Dem don’ be da first bullets to scratch this old rock.”

Still, he winced when it was time for the last bit. Digging through his beat up trench coat, he pulled out a vape and put it to his lips. Suddenly, his eyes clicked back across the harbor when the sound of several bullets bouncing off metal came.

“Thank you lot fur ya help.”

Was all he said before taking a long drag, and sighing out smoke.




Metamorph was uncharacteristically quiet during this recon mission. Although their mission this time was simply to watch the transaction, something felt off about the situation. Something within him felt agitated, especially as he’d been paired with Quiver. His codename may have changed, and his methods, but the young lion recognized his scent and mannerisms. Ja recalled that Talon was Young Justice’s first field leader…That Ja had failed him during that first mission, when he’d gotten spotted. Ja recalled that soon after Mirage’s outburst, Talon had left. When the team was nearing its lowest, he was nowhere to be found…

Forgiveness and kindness was a side of him that he tried his earnest to show to others…Though, some wounds still lingered. Even when Zatara had left and came back, which wasn’t as long, the bushbaby felt the pain of a loss. To have to leave was one thing; To willingly abandon them was another. These were all the thoughts that had culminated in these moments when his mind had time to wander.

All, until this point, that had kept him from physically sneaking around to try shaking off the feeling were two things. The first was his long instilled training. The second, and probably more effective, were the snacks that the team had brought along. Daphne more or less always brought snacks for the ride to wherever they were going, though for this particular mission, some…none of his stayed on the jet.

Though, they weren’t infinite, and just as he was to run out the situation quickly escalated. His ears perked up as he caught another, foreign voice. An innocent was mixed in among the gangsters and gunfire. His eyes shifted to Quiver as his mind rolled on what they were meant to do. Clearly the shootout could have been a possibility, even if the civilian wasn’t there, and their instructions were to watch. Metamorph’s reasoning behind the order was that they were likely to follow one or both gangs to their hideouts.

Yet, as the situation got messier, the line in which they were meant to act did the same. They couldn’t let the innocent person die…His head whipped as a bullet ricocheted and nearly hit Quiver. After seeing the other young hero was alright, given his quip, Metamorph was soon to inform the team about the innocent somewhere in the midst of this, but Rain had caught on as well. Not only that, he shockingly gave them the order to betray the mission objective in favor of helping Talos subdue the gunmen.

With the situation being rash enough for even Viktor to ‘go rogue’, Metamorph took a breath. Watching as Quiver went off into action, he made a crucial decision. That if for whatever reason…their superiors came down on them for this, he would rather face punishment with his teammates than praise without them. Thus, when the others went into action, Metamorph followed suit.

Effortlessly vaulting atop the half open container they were hiding in, the Meta’s suit shifted from the sandy tones of a caracal to gain some height on his jump, to the green and white of a hummingbird to hover in the air above the battle. As he’d done many times in training training, since he could fly, he was the one to use a bird’s eye view to see where support was most needed.

So far, Talos was covered by Nymph, Cora, and Zatara as they were wrangling criminals. Iceburn and Rain were swiftly on the task of dealing with the innocent, raggedly dressed man who clearly had gotten injured to some extent during the firefight.

In the current circumstances, the only outliers were himself, Quiver, and Kassy with Cybergirl, likely to move to action. For now, he focused on his partner who had taken one of the men aside. If Metamorph was given a guess, Quiver took the task of interrogating the man. However, the Meta wasn’t the only one keeping an eye on him, as he caught sight of a thug aiming a pistol at Quiver.

Dive-bombing to the space between them, the Prince of the Red guessed the man’s aim. On landing, Iwisa’s gauntlets deflected a bullet intended for his teammate. Seemingly in disbelief, several more shots clapped from the weapon, but they too were defended no matter where the man had aimed. When ammo had run out, the gangster decided that it was his time to run out too. Metamorph wasn’t so sure about his chances after turning his back to a predator.

Yet, just as he was going to give chase, Ja stumbled to a stop. A tinge of fear dropped down his spine, before the rest of his body dropped to his knees. Holding his head, all he could do was scream.

”GRAAAAAAAAAHH!!!”
Oh, I was lookin to put sumn else together, I just was working in silence.
How you feel about the concept of a Gerudo boy that isn’t an analogue of Ganon OR the King of the Gerudo?
&
Collaboration | @Mistress Dizzy
Time | Late Morning
Location | HQ; Ja’s Room — The Lounge


Kilamanjaro, simply Ja today, excitedly bounced around through his room to the beat of uptempo afrobeats. Quickly sifting through the color-coded clothes in his closet, the Son of the Red pulled free an outfit suitable for athletics but also stylish. His favorite show as a child was, ironically, a show based around teens gaining super abilities to fight monsters— The Spectacular Shifting Noble Ninjas. He had collected all of the colored shirts for each ninja, each representing a different aspect of the natural forces.

The past mission was a troubling experience to learn about later from the debriefing. For once in a very long time, he didn’t know fully what the Red Beast had done. Those were the times Ja was the most afraid. Having the Beast lurking through his instincts was both comforting and troublesome.

King Lion told him growing up that while his abilities were a blessing, they were a responsibility that he had to uphold solely. That he was going to grow into a man, and as such, maintaining control over his primal urges was of utmost importance. When the Beast wrested that responsibility from him, it made him feel like a failure. Ja was thankful that the beast hadn’t harmed civilians or his teammates…but he felt its aggression ramping up in his being even during times of relative peace like this. It had only gotten worse after that mission in Taos with the Kobra devil girl. Whatever things she had done to provoke him left some inner turmoil.

However, to combat those feelings since then, he did what Iwisa had taught him to do; put the energy into something upbuilding or productive. More often than not, it resulted in exercising or simply going outside and lightly following the Red’s impulses. Today, he had something different in mind. Something that he couldn’t do on his own. Thus, now garbed in the red dragon SSNN shirt, white sweatpants, and his Speed Force 1s, Ja went to find Kassy.

Kassandra was in the lounge, settled on the couch. With her favorite headphones over her ears, she looked quite relaxed, her eyes closed as if asleep. Ja's highly tuned senses might be able to pick up the sounds of an orchestra, as well as Kassy's soft humming. Lost in the music, she didn't even react to his approach.

The bushbaby waddled over to the couch, just out of view. A crooked smile formed at his lips on the prospect of prank scaring her. However, he caught himself before following his innate instinct to pounce on prey with its guard down. He didn’t want a repeat of what happened on the beach…So, instead, Ja carefully guided his steps around to the front of the couch and sat on the floor within clear view. Along with the pace of her humming, he tapped her thigh to get her attention.

Instead of being startled, a warm smile spread across Kassy's face. ”Hi Ja.“ She opened her eyes to give him a warm gaze. Pulling the headphones off and stopping the song, she looked to her friend. ”You look well this morning.“ Since the bank mission, she had been tending to him in her own way. Spending more time around him, asking to train, and swim, and just hang out. Clearly, she didn't want him to feel isolated. But she didn't want to force the topic of what had occured unless he wanted to speak about it again.

”What are you up to today?“

”Actually, I need your help.“ His expression feigned a pout. ”There is a competition at the mall today for the sports store. If one were to win it, they would be given whatever single sports item every month for ten years. That one…and their teammate. I don’t have a teammate for it…unless…maybe…“

Kassy giggled softly. ”Ok, ok. Please put away the bottom lip, it's a dangerous weapon. Viktor is still grounded, I suppose? Then, I will gladly help.“ She rose up from the couch and stretched. ”What is the competition? And when do we need to arrive?“

Ja perked up and, comically, his headbush seemed to flail in excitement as well. ”The competition is almost an hour from now. It has a combination of physical and brain challenges. I am strong and fast…but you are strong, fast, and smart. So if we work together, it will be as easy as swimming!“

”But Ja, you are also very intelligent…“ She shook her head mildly. Now was not the time for serious discussion. ”Let me change my clothes then. I will meet you at the Zeta tubes in 10 minutes. And then, we will conquer all opponents and come home victorious!“ A grin warmed her face, as she gave Ja a firm shoulder squeeze and headed for her room.


Time | Evening
Location | Mawl Alqamar Alkhafiu, Khandaq


Kassy stepped out of the tube, shutting her eyes against the bright light of the Zeta tube as it finished the transport. She was expecting the usual weekend crowd of the Happy Harbor mall. But instead of the noise and bustle, she was greeted with an entirely different scene.

”...where.. are we?“ Had the coordinates gotten entered wrong, somehow? Ja had put them in himself - he'd never been wrong before.

The son of the savannah stood not too far from her, eyes to the horizon just briefly before realizing she spoke. His lips pursed. ”Uhm…Well…we are at the mall…just not the one near home.“ He put it gingerly. ”Is that okay?“

Kassy gave Ja a confused look before nodding. ”Yes, it's fine, but tell me next time. I thought something had gone wrong.“

”Now…“ She looked around eagerly. ”Where is the contest?“

”There…“ Was once a time when lying was easier. A game was how it was taught to him as a child. It was an integral part of missions at one point. But outside of missions, away from Buredunia, it only got harder…He didn’t want a repeat of what happened in Las Vegas.

”There is no contest.“ His eyes pleaded his case, ”I just wanted you to come with me…I saw that sometimes in Happy Harbor, you had a sour look on your face…So, I thought maybe you’d like to try a different one…“

At Ja's soft admission, Kassy turned to give him her full attention. Something strange was going on. Ja was not prone to deception. Granted, he didn't wield truth like a club and smack people with it, but…

”Ja, what is going on? You are acting very strange right now. I- I don't mind the Happy Harbor mall, it's fine…“ She was not telling the full truth. Rather hypocritical to demand of him what she wouldn't freely give. ”They just don't have clothes in my size that suit my taste.“ She shrugged indifferently. ”It's not a big deal.“

He wasn't wrong about her moods though. Going shopping with the others, watching the other girls find all sorts of cute fashions and so many times finding nothing that came close to fittng her thick frame - some days it was just irritating. She'd thought herself a deceiver with enough practice to keep it from showing. Evidently not.

”Where are we, anyway? The air seems different. Not as wet.“

His demeanor seemed to ease some with her lack of an angry response. He wasn’t sure of what to expect, but her confusion becoming the equivalent of a verbal shrug was better than the worst. With her question, his smile slowly started to come back around though still somewhat cautious.

”Well, we are no longer in America, but in my home continent of Africa. The country though…You may have heard of it, given how…well known the leader is. We are at a special mall in Khandaq.“ He let the name sink in for a moment before continuing.

”My amai comes here sometimes as a guest when she needs nice new things. The styles come from all over the world…so…I…uhm...thought that maybe you’d like to look around and see if you like something?“

”We're in Africa? I'm not quite sure where Khandaq is, but-“ She stopped mid-sentence. His mother shopped here. His mother, the effortlessly beautiful supermodel. Kassy felt her mood sink immediately, as she realized she'd felt slightly on edge since the moment they had arrived.

”Ja, I… I appreciate your taking the time to think of me. It's just stunning here. But if someone like your mother shops here, then I definitely do not belong.“ Now that she was tuned in, she could feel eyes on her. She kept her attention fixed on Ja, trying to drown the anxiety.

Ja’s expression went from cautious to confused, headbush even tilting to the side just so. Someone like his mother? Surely Kassy wasn’t insulting his amai…Did that mean she was insulting herself instead?

”…Do not belong…?“ The bushbaby didn’t quite understand what she meant at first. The glances from passersby were lost on him but his senses picked up the tension building in her. Why? The only thing he could connect as far as clothing went…was her build? Kassy was certainly…curvier than he noticed in the other girls on the team. His own amai was even on the skinnier side…but…was that what made her think she didn’t belong?

He pulled out two elaborately braided black and gold bracelets, each with a currently blank panel on them. He clicked one of them onto his wrist and extended his reach out to her hand.

”Actually, I think I know somewhere here that might change your mind…“ Ja’s golden globes connected to her sunset-painted eyes.

”Will you trust me? I promise, no tricks from now on.“

Kassy rubbed the back of her neck. The other customers, finely dressed and dignified adults, didn't look pleased with her presence. Before she could ask him to leave, their eyes met.

”I…“ Her hand met his, answering him before her words were sorted. ”Of course I trust you. We're already here across half the world - show me around!“ Just like that, Ja’s warm gaze banished her fears.

With her permission, they were off; the lad of the land led the oceanic offspring along the elegant hall of the mall. There were fancy stores that exhibited varying sorts of exotic clothing, art pieces, and even furniture in some. It was a widely multicultural assortment despite being under the banner of only being able to be found here. Some of the things, his Amai had explained, weren’t even officially put out for the masses yet. An air of exclusivity only very few in the world had.

There were many potential places to stop, but Kilamanjaro was on a mission. One that led them to a store simply named ‘Faith’s’. Upon looking at the things in the display window, it was actually a little different from the other stores. While many of the clothing shops seemed to be aimed for a more mature and ‘dignified’ consumer base, Faith’s seemed aimed towards young adults.

While standing just outside of it, Ja paused, looking across to Kassy like a pup that had found what it sniffed out. A fanged, good natured smile filled out his expression. ”Here we are! Oh. And put this thing on.“ He placed the other bracelet in her hand.

”All the guests shopping here have to wear one.“

Just before they had begun their browse, Kassy summoned a quick illusion over her clothing. Her "Mer-muscle" workout tank and shorts were replaced. She chose a cheery sundress printed with tiny stars. As Ja led, she window shopped, gleefully gazing at the numerous displays of finery and fashion from across the globe.

Her attention was turned from a beautiful display of pearl studded jewelry when Ja announced they had arrived.

”This? What does it do?“ She took the bracelet from him, but did not yet wear it. Kilamanjaro had her trust, but whoever had crafted this bracelet did not.

”Ah, when you find something you want to keep, it is scanned to tell the store who has bought it. Mostly though, it is to show that you were invited to this mall. It’s not like the one at home where everyone can walk in.“

”I see.“ With a moment of hesitation, she slid the bracelet around her wrist. Hopefully it wouldn't be too much of a problem. ”Let’s go in.“

Unlike the other stores in the exclusive mall, this one seemed to have a much more casual style for it's younger clientele. Kassy spent time browsing the various fashions on display. There were so many beautiful things that she would have loved to try on - but she quickly realized that she was far out of her depth. Not a single item on the rack or shelf had a price tag. Clearly, this was meant for those who had never worried about money. She did have her stipend from the palace - but that was money for the future. There was, of course, the JL credit card, but knowing someone, somewhere, would see that she'd been spending hero funds on clothing…

Oh well. It had been a sweet gesture, regardless. With a mental shrug, she started looking for Ja. The gluttonous young goat was gandering at the goodies close by the check out when he heard or really felt her approach. Ja turned with a smile but it became close-lipped rather quickly.

”You didn’t find anything, Froggy?“

Kassy blinked. ”Froggy…?“ She chuckled and shook it off. ”There were several beautiful things, actually. But-“ Lowering her voice, she looked to the sweet Prince at her side. ”Ja, I cannot afford any of this. I've been putting away my stipend for when I become an adult. I assume even the cheapest item here would empty it completely.“ Shame crept up her neck, but she was met with a smile and a giggle.

”Silly Kassy, I didn’t bring you here to find things you like, only to leave them. My amai gave us the shopping bracelets for a reason.“ Ja understood that maybe the shimmering sea-star felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of spending his amai’s money, even with permission.

”Here, we’ll use mine! Now come on, try some of the stuff on.“ He ushered, leading into a random aisle as he bobbled his head along to the Indian pop music playing in the background.

Kassy’s mouth opened, then closed. Did Ja mean to buy things for her? That wouldn't do at all. ”I, um, I appreciate it, but… Ja, I cannot let you waste your money on me.“ She followed in his wake.

A dress caught her eye as they passed by. Without losing the pep in his step, or even a stride, Ja turned to walk backwards and look at her.

”Hm…well, you found stuff you like, right?“

Kassy nodded hesitantly.

”And you would wear that stuff if you had it with the rest of your clothes, right?“

Again, the daughter of the depths found herself slowly nodding her head. In which case, the young lion released a smile like the rising sun.

”See! Then it isn’t a waste, Froggy. Money is just paper or numbers that you trade with people anyway.“

”...But I- I do not need excess…“ Kassandra's protests slowed to silence. That radiant grin addled her mind, as usual. ”...Just this once, I guess.“ A smile flickered on her lips before broadening. Subconsciously, her eyes wandered to the dress that was nearby. ”It wouldn't hurt to try on one.“

Having taken a seat on the floor near the fitting room, Ja waited while Kassy pulled a dress from the rack. Usually, this was the part that bored him when he was out shopping with his amai. She’d always pick a bunch of them and then be in there forever. Though this time was different, he was here with Kassy now and he wanted to be encouraging. Still, even in the period that Kassy took he ended up pulling out his phone.

Before long, he heard her footsteps and perked up from watching funny cat videos that he asked Alisa to bookmark for him. When he stood and looked up, his lips moved to smile but froze in its tracks. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw at that moment.

What he thought was a simple white and teal dress at first glance seemed to have morphed. A soft, sun-warm white outside, long enough to reach her knees. Inside was a vibrant teal and coral pink, having a Yoruban design with soft floral patterns throughout. It hugged her many curves just so but didn’t show too much.

Kilamanjaro had never seen Kassy in such a way before, and utterly stood no chance. She was arrayed like a princess in a fantasy, and as such the maned young lion was entranced by the view. All the while, she did not even seem to notice his silent plight to her beauty, making minor adjustments to herself in the mirror as if she wasn’t—

”How do I look?“

The question reminded the boy that she wasn’t simply a Mirage but that this was reality. The fluster that the realization drew from him brought his headbush down to defensively hide his face.

”U…Uzuri wa kichawi…“ Was his murmured response as he brought his eyes down in an attempt to keep from staring further.

Kassy’s hesitant smile disappeared in a blink. ”Uzui wa ki- kich-“ She had picked out more than a few Swahili words and phrases from him, but this one was unknown. Although… ”You've said that before… I think? It sounds familiar but I don't remember the meaning.“ She sighed softly, tugging the inner dress in places.

”I usually don't wear things that are tight like this. It's not uncomfortable, but…“ She rubbed the back of her neck, her confidence dropping like a stone in the sea.

”Maybe it doesn't flatter me?“ She figured that was why Ja wasn't looking. He was too gentle to hurt her feelings.

”You can just tell me. It's fine.“

”…“ He…had said it before? Ja could only remember one other occasion that he would have used that phrase…Which he could only hear the harmony of Kassy’s singing voice in his mental background now. He didn’t realize that he’d said it out loud…Much less that it was loud enough for her to remember. As her self-esteem seemed to falter, Ja felt the falling stone smash into his heart to become many butterflies.

”I…the english word that fits is…uhm…’enchanting’.“ He translated, timidly drawing his eyes back up to take more mental picture

”Oh, I see.“ Kassy gathered up her thick curls, trying to arrange them into style.

And then the meaning of Ja's words jostled her mind and heart, all at once.

”What?!“ She whirled to face him. The dress flared around her with her movement, adding an ethereal quality to it. ”Is that really… are you sure you mean that?“ A pause before a verbal retreat. ”Wait, that's not - I mean, I know you know your own - But that doesn't make -“ A steady heat was flooding her face.

”I… I…“

Oh no, had he said the wrong thing? He thought that “enchanting” in english had a positive meaning. Yet her response suggested otherwise. Ugh, what should he do? What did he say?

Kilamanjaro felt a small ache in his now spinning head. His eyes were intense as he internally panicked. Yet, the quiet tension in his body seemed to relax. He took a breath and blinked several times, refocusing on Kassandra. A small, pleased smile melded his expression.

”My amai has walked many fashion shows. She has told me that there are some models that elevate the outfits they wear. I think you and the dress together make quite a view.“

”...“ Kassy made a few unintelligible sounds as her mind tried to make sense of what was happening. ”Are you serious? Ja-“ Trailing off, she looked closely at her friend. ”Kila?“ Her voice was a gentle whisper as she approached him.

”Did you actually mean what you said? A - about me?“

”Of course, Ms. Keigwan.“ He teased, but continued on in a supportive manner. ”And this is just one. Surely there are others you’d like to try?“

Kassy stepped a fingertip shy of too close, and looked into Kila's eyes. Her untranslatable gaze stretched on longer than was socially polite. Finally, her eyes softened and a sweet grin graced her face. ”...You're a good person, did you know that?“ If he wanted to do all this to show her kindness, then so be it. This was Kilamanjaro at his core.

”Well, Mister McCabe… perhaps there are a few other items that caught my eye.“

For once, an unrestrained warmth radiated from within Kila, and with a chuckle he gestured for her to continue. While the moment was nice, the young veteran found himself wondering how exactly he got to the mall.

Sure he had thought about offering to bring Kassandra here before, even talked to his Amai about it…It didn’t feel like he was dreaming, and yet, Kila still wondered. He thought his Red half to be more primal in nature, so surely it hadn’t brought her here.

Regardless, having woke up in worse situations than this, Kila decided to take the moment for what it was. After all, self-doubt was cripplingly cold, a feeling that he has come to learn that Kassy also suffered from. So to see that smile of hers come from a truly warm place in her heart, the heat was enough to make his own doubts melt away.
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