September 20th, 2003
(Opening shot: a pure white screen. After a moment, an image appears at its center and resolves into a red microchip rotating slowly in the light. Pull back a bit and pan to one side to show darkness beyond this spot. A large figure stands up into view; it is clad in black armor, with additional steel plating to reinforce key areas, and wears a mask that hides the entire face. This is black, with a red-orange circle in the center whose edges touch both eyes. The figure reaches toward the chip, revealing a steel-gloved hand, and cocks one eyebrow in surprise. Cut to the other side of the suspension field. Robin is here, hanging upside down.)
Robin: Tell Slade if he wants this, he can come get it himself!
(He drops from his perch and delivers a kick that sends the thief tumbling across the darkened area. All the lights now come on; cut to a close-up of Robin and dissolve to a longer shot, pulling back to put the rest of the Titans in frame as well. The place is a chamber stuffed with supercomputers. A laser beam lances down from above, forcing Robin to jump out of its way; cut to the ceiling, where a section is being cut away from above. The piece falls in a cloud of dust, and several more intruders leap in.)
(Robin does a few backflips to stay ahead of the next laser blast and soon has one of the new arrivals coming right for him. He blocks or dodges several blows, then tries a counter-kick that is deflected. The masked figure whips out a blaster, something like a set of brass knuckles with a muzzle on the front edge, and opens fire. A few acrobatic tricks carry Robin out of danger; he retaliates with a jumping roundhouse kick that sends the attacker crashing into the far wall.)
(Starfire, just above, backs quickly across the screen to evade the shots from a squad member who jumps up after her. She gathers herself and puts a starbolt right where it belongs; her attacker is sent skidding across the floor. The next one jumps even higher, up to the level of the large ceiling-mounted spotlights that illuminate the place, and blasts at her. The lens of one light is struck and begins to fall loose; she is directly underneath and about to be crushed, but Robin leaps across and plows her away just in time. The lens crashes to the ground.)
(The dust thrown up from the impact clears to give a close-up of Robin, who has set Starfire down. She is a bit dazed, but soon snaps to with a gasp.)
(Across the room, several squad members level their weapons-but before they can shoot, a computer cabinet slides across and bulldozes them. Loud crash from o.c. after it has passed; pan quickly in the opposite direction to Cyborg, who is wiping his hands-he pushed it at them.)
Cyborg: Amazing what you can do with computers these days.
(He runs toward the heart of the battle as Raven floats backward into view, staying just ahead of a laser beam. Another one is fired from midair; she creates a shield around herself, and both it and the beam disintegrate when they make contact. The enemy runs toward her and stars throwing punches, which she stops by forming small barriers in front of herself as she slowly backs up. A low kick cuts her legs out from under her; the blaster is aimed at point-blank range, but before it can be fired, Beast Boy-as a bighorn sheep-rams its wielder into the wall. Cut to Raven, standing and staring in genuine surprise, then to Beast Boy in human form. The knocked-out commando lies crumpled in a heap.)
Beast Boy: (taunting) You owe me big time, you owe me big-
(On the end of this, another one jumps down into view behind him, runs up, and gets ready to let him have it. As he finally turns to look, too late to save himself, two computers slide into view from opposite directions under Raven's control and crush the would-be shooter between them. Beast Boy yells in fright and throws up his arms to protect himself; the hardware falls away and so does the smashed figure. Raven winds down her powers and gives Beast Boy a hard stare, and a big drop of sweat appears on his temple.)
Beast Boy: (blushing, chuckling nervously) Call it even?
(Cyborg, meanwhile, has reached the center of the room. Breaking out his sonic cannon, he starts to blaze away and soon has help in the form of Starfire's fusillade. One of the thieves leaps impossibly high to avoid the blasts, then pushes off from the wall and sails straight toward the chip. A flying grab snares the bounty, and those steel-booted feet are racing for the door. Robin gives chase and hurls his birdarang; it hits the thief's hand and knocks the chip away. Cut to Raven and Beast Boy, whose eyes track its trajectory.)
Beast Boy: Mine!
(He runs o.c. Cut to the flying bit of hardware; a long, thin tongue lashes into view and snags it, and he-now an anteater-leaps across the screen and skids to a stop at the wall. An attacker's boot comes down on that tongue, which lets go of the chip so it can be seized. This one vaults across the room to the door, where the other survivors-four in all-have gathered, and throws down a smoke bomb. The resulting gray clouds cover the screen and clear to reveal that the five have escaped under cover of that diversion. Pull back to put Beast Boy in frame; he is back in human form and thoroughly dazed by what has just happened. Sight gag: a tear of pain, in the shape of a clock pendulum, hangs from his eye and swings back and forth.)
Beast Boy: (as if he had bitten his tongue) That tasted so nasty. Robin: (running into view toward door) Titans! Go!
(Raven starts after him. Snap to black.)
(Opening shot: a chamber similar to the one in which the theft occurred, seen from overhead. The lights are dim but not out, and a large circular hatch, covered with a steel grid, is in the center of the floor. The Titans run in.)
Robin: Split up!
(He heads for the hatch as the others fan out toward four other doors. Cut to just below the grid; water is heard running, and he stares down through the bars. Inside a sewer tunnel, he climbs down from an overhead ladder-within the pipe that leads here from the hatch-and drops into the water. One of the thieves is making a break for it; he gives chase, runs briefly up the pipe wall to avoid a laser shot, and throws his birdarang. A huge jump carries the escapee out of its path, and a second shot reduces it to junk. Skid around a corner and o.c. down a side channel; a grenade is tossed back into view and promptly detonates.)
(When the smoke clears, we see that the path has been almost entirely blocked by collapsed rock and debris. As Robin stops and stares through a small opening in the cave-in, the thief moves farther ahead toward a dead end, stops, and raises that blaster. Cut to outside, near a mountainside at sunset. The beam emerges from within and traces out a door-shaped outline, and the piece falls away-the sewers run through the mountain. At the edge of the opening stands the thief, alone for only a brief moment until Starfire rises to that level.)
Starfire: I am asking you nicely to stop running and-
(Back to the fugitive on the end of this; up comes the weapon, and down goes Starfire in free fall, having taken the full hit. Her assailant jumps out after her and activates jet thrusters hidden in the boot soles to start flying away. Now Robin, having dug through the broken rock, reaches the opening just as the armored figure zooms up past him. He leaps out into space, a grappling hook in each hand, and fires one down and the second up.)
(The first line wraps around Starfire as she drops toward the rocky waterway below, while the second loops onto the armored chest. The commando stops ascending and goes into a sharp dive; Robin is suddenly yanked along toward the water with a gasp and a long scream. Off they go, skimming the surface-the flyer towing Robin towing Starfire-and head toward land. The wake of their passage throws up a wall of water, which hides everyone from view briefly.)
(Close-up of Starfire, half-dazed on the shore. She comes to and finds a wriggling fish stuck in her mouth, then spits it out and burps weakly.)
Robin: (from o.c.) Now talk!
(Cut to behind her and zoom in on him; he has the masked character by the collar.)
Robin: Who's Slade? Why does he want this chip?
(Close-up of his hand on the black/red-orange face.)
Robin: (from o.c.) And why are you working...for...him?
(On the end of this, he pulls the mask away. The reason for his trailing off is that the entire front half of the head comes off in his hand. Behind it is a small monitor-this commando is actually a robot, as were all the others involved in the heist. The blank display comes to life, resolving into a not-fully-tuned image of Slade in his lair. He appears only as a silhouette.)
Slade: Excellent work, Robin. Robin: Slade! (The image flickers and refines itself.) Slade: Really, I think your skills are improving. Robin: No more games! What do you want? Slade: But you do lack patience. If you're really so curious about my intentions, perhaps we should meet-face to face. Robin: Tell me where you're hiding and I'll be there in a heartbeat! (The image detunes again.) Slade: Patience, Robin. (Flicker.) Patience.
(A crackle of sparks, and the monitor goes dead. Smoke rises from within the skull as the system falls apart.)
(He releases his grip and the robotic body drops to the ground. Zoom in on the fierce scowl that has settled on his face, then dissolve to the exterior of Titans Tower. It is now nighttime.)
Beast Boy: (from inside) Okay. All work and no flicks makes me a dull Beast Boy.
(Cut to the operations center during this line; he is standing before Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire, who have settled on the couch. Raven is reading a book.)
Beast Boy: So, my fellow couch potatoes- (Close-up of him.) -what'll it be? (holding up a tape) Super Ninja Showdown Eight...
(He pushes it toward the camera, giving a clear view of the title and cover art. Two ninjas bow and start fighting; one is hit with a low kick and drops out of the picture. Beast Boy pulls this tape back and holds up a second one.)
Beast Boy: ...or Maniac Fury: Attack of the Protozoids?
(He pushes it forward; this cover shows a Godzilla-like creature breathing fire as screaming people run for their lives-not to mention out of the picture and off the box altogether. The monster leans forward off the box to blow another scorching breath before pulling back. Beast Boy withdraws the tape and grins broadly.)
Raven: (from o.c.) Gee. (Cut to her and Starfire.) They both sound so good. (She returns to her book; pull back to frame Cyborg.) Cyborg: Yeah. It's really hard to pick. (grinning) Want to watch 'em both?
(The overly critical Titan gives him a dirty look as a vein flares up on her forehead-this was not even close to what she had in mind.)
Starfire: Perhaps Robin would enjoy potato-ing the couch with us. Tell me, is he- Beast Boy: -in the exact same place he's been since his little chat session with Slade? Uh, yeah.
(Cut to a close-up of Starfire's very worried face and zoom in slightly, then dissolve to a wall covered with newspaper clippings about different villains' exploits in Jump City. Pan slowly across the display.)
Slade: (Robin's memory) Robin. Is that the best you can do?
(Recall that he spoke those words during "Forces of Nature." The camera passes a support column and now gives a view of Robin standing at a desk under a solitary overhead light. This is his room, which was only glimpsed in "Switched." More clippings litter the floor.)
Slade: (Robin's memory) Excellent work, Robin. I think your skills are improving.
(A couple of exposed pipes pass the camera; now we see a close-up of Robin from behind. During the following line, it circles around slowly to point directly at him, deep in thought.)
Slade: (Robin's memory) If you're really so curious about my intentions, perhaps we should meet-face to face.
(Cut to his perspective, panning across the desk. It is covered with a jumble of items: notes, maps, blueprints, wires, electrical instruments, parts of the commando robot's equipment, the front half of its head. Included among the lot is a communicator marked with a stylized S, very similar to the character on Slade's staff in "Forces of Nature"-his particular insignia.)
Robin: (memory) Who are you?
(The door is heard opening; cut to in front of him again. Light streams into the dim room from behind him.)
Starfire: (from "o.c.") Robin?
(Pan slightly to show her at the open door.)
Starfire: I am wondering if you might wish to- Robin: No. (Close-up of her; he continues o.c.) Thanks. (Cut to behind her, looking in at him.) But I need to figure out why Slade wanted that chip. (Back to her.) Starfire: (smiling) Agreed. (flushing a bit) And perhaps if you were to take a break, the answer would be easier to- Robin: (from o.c.) I can't.
(Outside the room again; he approaches her.)
Robin: You almost got hurt. Next time it could be worse. He's planning something. I have to find out what. Starfire: But, Robin, I am sure that-
(He ends the conversation by closing the door in her face. Pull back down the hall; she hangs her head and sighs quietly. Dissolve to the trashed chamber in which the opening battle took place and pan across. In the dim light, two prison guards are now stationed by the recovered microchip, which has been placed back in the suspension field. All is quiet for some seconds, but the calm breaks when an alarm goes off and red warning lights flash. Both guards run toward the door; cut to its other side, in the chamber where the Titans began their search for the thieves. The door is closed, but slides open to admit them. They point their weapons back and forth.)
Guard 1: I don't like this.
(Overhead view of the empty chamber, then cut to behind the guards. The door slides shut without warning.)
Guard 2: (as it closes) Hey!
(The alarm falls silent, but the lights continue to flash-the alarm was in that other room, and the door has muffled it. Dissolve to a longer shot of the portal and pull back slowly to the chip in its protective field. A figure materializes to face it. Skintight black outfit with a large red X emblazoned over the heart; the low end of the upward stroke is extended to cross the chest. Long black cape. Gray belt and gloves, the latter with X's on the backs of the hands. A black mask whose face resembles a white skull, with another red X on the forehead; its upstroke is extended, like the one on the chest, to cross the right eye. This is Red X.)
(The newcomer plucks the chip from the field. There is an explosion from o.c.; cut to the door, which the guards have just blasted off its hinges. They run in.)
Guard 2: He's got the chip! (They open fire; Red X leaps straight up and disappears.) Guard 1: Where'd he go?
(Dissolve to the full moon in the night sky and tilt down to a rooftop in Jump City. A small ringing is heard, similar to a cell phone, and Cyborg extends his forearm into view. On it, a panel appears showing Robin's face-what we heard was the built-in communicator.)
Robin: I'm working a Slade lead on the far side of town. Sure you guys can handle this without me? (Pull back; the other four Titans are there.) Cyborg: No problem.
(Robin nods and the connection is broken. At the far edge of the roof, a skylight opens and Red X climbs out. Close-up, then cut back to the foursome on the next line; Cyborg breaks out his cannon.)
Cyborg: You working for Slade, tough guy? Red X: Red X works alone.
(The voice is male, but heavily distorted. He holds out one palm, revealing that same mark on it, and fires this toward the Titans. Cyborg brings the cannon into play as the other three scatter; the two shots annihilate each other in midair. More cannon blasts send Red X jumping all over the roof. Launching himself high into the air, he fires X's from both palms and forces the big guy to run for cover. Beast Boy takes his place in the battle and becomes a charging lion. The villain fires off another scarlet cross that becomes liquid as it flies; connecting with the green feline's face like a glob of mud, it carries him back down to the roof. When he lands, he is unable to pull free of the gluey mess. Lion, human, gorilla, hawk, elephant-none of those forms is strong enough to allow him to break loose.)
(Starfire and Raven fly in; the former reels off starbolts while the latter prepares a spell. Red X nimbly avoids both the shots and the large black hand that emerges at his feet and tries to grab him. Two big X's are hurled at the girls; cut to Starfire. One of them connects and ties her up like a giant rubber band, and she drops out of frame. Pan to Raven.)
Raven: Azarath Met-
(She is cut off when the other X pastes itself across her mouth. Try as she might, she cannot tear it away and topples over. Red X is in the clear, but a yell from the o.c. Cyborg marks his approach. He drops into view and tries to seize the black-clad enemy, who sidesteps easily.)
(He tries another punch, with no luck, and Red X thumps him in the back.)
(Close-up; another of the namesake weapons has been slapped on there. The panels open up and those gray-gloved hands reach in to tinker with the circuits. Cyborg's arms flail wildly.)
Cyborg: Hey! Yo, who told you how to shut me down?
(On the end of this line, his voice slows down and he slumps over on his feet. A little push sends him crashing down. With all four Titans out of action, Red X bugs out.)
Cyborg: Yeah, you better run!
(He does exactly that, passing Raven and Starfire before jumping off the roof and disappearing. Cut to Beast Boy, back in human form and still caught in the red mire.)
Beast Boy: So, do you guys see what I don't see? Cyborg: Who was that guy?
(Dissolve to a close-up of several pipes and pan from them to Slade's lair. Red X's image is on one of the giant monitors; he holds up the microchip in full view of the mastermind, who stands on the platform.)
Red X: Rumor has it, you're interested in this. (Cut to Slade, silhouetted, and zoom in slowly.) Slade: I'm interested in many things, Mr. ... Red X: X. Red X. (Extreme close-up of Slade's eye.) Slade: Hmmm. Catchy. So, are you proposing a sale or a gift? Red X: A partnership. I give you the chip, you cut me in on your plans. (The right side of Slade's head, panning across.) Slade: Partnership. My, my, we are ambitious. But an alliance cannot be forged from one small chip.
(Pull back across the platform a bit and pan across to put him and Red X's image in frame.)
Slade: If you're going to win my trust, I'll require more. (Close-up of the white skull face.) Red X: Just tell me what you want.
(Fade to black.)
(Opening shot: the exterior of Titans Tower. It is now the following morning.)
Robin: (from inside) I had no idea Red X would pose such a threat.
(In the kitchen, he is addressing the other Titans. Starfire, seated on the counter, is clipping the red gunk out of a very annoyed Beast Boy's hair. Raven's back is to the camera.)
Robin: I should've been there. Beast Boy: You bet you should've been there. Look what he did to my 'do! I'm looking at two months of bad hair days!
(Sight gag: a thundercloud floats briefly into view above his head and then vanishes. Quick pan to Raven, whose face is now seen to still have that big red X plastered across it. She glares and cusses him out as best she can behind the gag. He and Starfire smile cautiously.)
Beast Boy: I don't know, Raven. That's kind of a good look for you.
(Close-up of her against a red field; the vein throbbing on her forehead speaks more clearly about her supreme vexation than her tongue can. The background returns to normal, and Cyborg reaches into view to pry up a corner of the X.)
Cyborg: (from o.c.) Hold still...
(Pull back. As Beast Boy and Starfire brace for the inevitable, he rips the thing away with one swift jerk. The two onlookers scream in sympathetic pain; cut to Raven. A vivid red imprint has been left on her face, and she holds her lips pressed together as two ghostly images of her pop out to either side and scream through gritted teeth. They recede after a moment.)
Raven: Ow. (The imprint fades.) Even if you had been there, it wouldn't have made any difference. (Pan to Cyborg, holding up the X.) Cyborg: Dude knew exactly how to bring each of us down. I guarantee he had a gadget with your name on it.
(Cut to Robin on the end of this line, then to Starfire and Beast Boy.)
Starfire: Agreed. You need not feel guilt. We are undamaged.
Beast Boy: (indicating his mangled hair) Hel-lo? Starfire: (blushing a bit) Mostly undamaged. And we are all eager to learn what you have discovered about Slade.
Robin: Nothing. Lead was a dead end. I should get back to work.
(He turns away. Cut to the other four Titans, who watch in concern as the side door is heard closing to mark his exit. Dissolve to the exterior of Tower, at night, and cut to inside the operations center. The door opens to admit the foursome in a rush; Beast Boy's hair is back to normal.)
Cyborg: Okay, Robin, what's the... (All stop and look around.)
(Their perspective of the place, panning slowly across. No Robin, no villains, no nothing. Cut to near the couch; they proceed slowly into view.)
Beast Boy: You mean Captain Research? Ah, he's probably filling out note cards at the public library. (He yawns expansively.)
Robin: (on speaker) I was.
(These two words startle the daylights and a short scream out of him. Cut to behind the four; Robin's face is on the window/screen.)
Robin: But then I spotted Red X pulling a robbery in the tech sector.
(Cut to them, panning from Raven to Beast Boy on the next line. He has fallen asleep on his feet and is snoring loudly.)
Robin: (on speaker) I'm on it. Get here as soon as you can!
Beast Boy: (sleepily, drooling a bit) You got it, dude. We'll be there any...
(He nods off again before he can finish the sentence. A snore or two later, Cyborg reaches down and grabs a fistful of clothing; Beast Boy is jerked awake and yanked away with a scream. Dissolve to a group of buildings in Jump City, viewed from near the rooftops, and tilt down to the street. The leaderless team is gathered there and ready for action. Nothing happens until Cyborg points o.c.)
(Cut to behind him and zoom in; he is looking at a nearby building, from whose roof Red X jumps down with Robin in hot pursuit. After a few dozen yards, the black-clad thief stops and throws a net back at the chaser. It ensnares him and sends him rolling across the pavement to stop near where he came down from the roof.)
Robin: I'm fine! Get X! Go!
(Cut to the other four on the end of this. They set off; cut to a subway station entrance, where Red X takes the entire down escalator in one huge leap. Underground, pan from the quiet tunnel to the platform. The crew is on the lookout.)
Cyborg: I've adjusted my ocular implant to scan at multiple sub-harmonics in the EM spectrum. (Extreme close-up, left side of his face; Beast Boy peeks out.) Beast Boy: (confused) 'Kay...do you come with subtitles? Cyborg: My eye should spot him even if he's invisible.
(His red-tinted perspective, panning across the station from track to platform. No activity-and then out of nowhere, Red X drops into view and decks him. Normal view; Cyborg is driven back several yards, then falls onto his back and skids the rest of the way to the far end.)
Raven: It's him.
(Cyborg gets up, still a bit woozy and in no condition to immediately retaliate against the X that appears in midair and flies toward his back. Close-up of it, being slapped in place by Red X, then pull back. A few sparks fly from the bionic Titan, but he remains in full control of his body this time. Pan from him to the would-be hacker on the next line.)
Cyborg: You gonna have to learn some new tricks, dog.
(He gets five fingers in the material covering the chest and throws Red X along the platform toward the others; the villain lands in a crouch.)
Starfire: Surrender! We do not wish to fight you! Red X: Sorry. I'm not through with you yet.
(He bounds high and throws an X at her, but a last-second energy barrier created by Raven stops it. Now Cyborg tries to land a few punches, but hits only air, and Starfire goes for a low-altitude bulldoze that misses its mark but connects with the big man. Both crash to the ground. Silhouette view of the platform, Red X, Raven, and Beast Boy; he nimbly gets the better of both, even after the shape-shifter turns into a bear. Normal view: Raven tumbles down against some crates, and Beast Boy avenges her by ramming Red X from behind as a bighorn sheep.)
(He quickly resumes human form and charges again. The foe catches hold of a pole, swings his weight around it, and launches himself feet first back the way he came. His trajectory forces Beast Boy to duck; a punch is thrown at the Titan, who stands up just in time to catch it on the jaw. Cut to the tracks, where he is knocked across to hit the opposite edge and bounce down to the rails. Sitting up dazedly, he snaps back fully when the glare of headlights falls across him and a train whistle makes itself heard. The early express is right on time. As Beast Boy stares like a deer about to snuff it on the grille of a pickup, Red X hurtles across the tracks and pulls him screaming to safety. Both hit the platform an instant before the train hurtles through.)
Beast Boy: Dude! Did you just save me?
(He is answered with a swift kick in the gut. When the train is gone, we see that the other three Titans are on the opposite side of the platform. Red X runs for the exit stairs, and the group collects on Beast Boy's side; Starfire helps him up.)
Starfire: Beast Boy! You are undamaged?
Beast Boy: Who is that guy?
(Fade to black.)
(Pan to bring a pool of light into view, cast by an overhead source. Red X sits at a desk under it and is busy at a computer. Slade's silhouette is on the monitor.)
Slade: Impressive, Red X. (Extreme close-up of his eye as he continues.) I tapped into the security cameras to catch your performance. You treated the Titans to quite a show.
Red X: Glad you enjoyed it.
(He holds up two microchips-the red one he stole from the computer facility, as well as a blue one taken in the recent robbery.)
Red X: Is the audition over?
Slade: Patience. Trust is easy to destroy, but it takes time to build.
(His image gradually shrinks toward the top right corner of the screen, giving way to a pure white field. A third microchip, this one green, is revealed.)
Slade: One last test. Prove yourself and we'll meet to discuss your future.
(He fades away, leaving only the bit of hardware on the display. The picture disintegrates into static; pan from it to Red X, seen from behind. He turns to the camera.)
Red X: Good.
(The mask is pulled off-revealing none other than Robin behind it.)
Robin: It's about time we met face to face.
(Fade to black.)
(Opening shot: the exterior of the Tower. It is later that same night. Cut to a computer map of Jump City, with two spots marked, and pull back; it is on the operations center window/screen, and all the Titans but Robin are looking at it. Raven stands at one of the consoles.)
Cyborg: Okay. That's where Red X has been. Now we just have to figure out where he's gonna strike next.
(She does a little typing; in response, many more spots on the map light up.)
Beast Boy: (wearily) Great. (Footsteps from o.c.)
Starfire: Robin! (He moves into view, carrying a box.) Wonderful! Our efforts to locate the Red X will benefit greatly from you help.
Robin: (heading toward side door) It'll have to wait. I'm close to a breakthrough with Slade. (She gasps.)
Starfire: More wonderful! (Cut to him at the door; she continues o.c.) Perhaps we could be of assistance to...
(She trails off briefly as his back retreats into the dark hall.)
Starfire: (from o.c.) ...you. (Close-up; she hangs her head dejectedly.)
Beast Boy: (from o.c.) Let him go. (Cut to him and the others.) Not like he's been much help lately anyway. If Robin wasn't always A.W.O.L., X would be K.O.'d by now.
Raven: I can't believe I'm saying this, but Beast Boy's right.
Cyborg: Y'all think maybe Robin's losing his grip?
Starfire: No! Robin's grip is not lost! (Cut to the others, nonplussed; she continues o.c.) He works harder than any of you! He works to catch Slade before something terrible happens! (Back to her.) He works to save us all!
Beast Boy: Yeah. That's why every time we need him, he disappears.
[Note: "A.W.O.L." = "absent without leave," the military term for a soldier who leaves his post without proper authorization from his superiors.]
(Starfire has no ready answer for this charge. Dissolve to an overhead view of Robin's room, with that single overhead light still shining down on the loaded desk. The door is closed, but opens to admit her; as she proceeds in and looks at the newspaper-covered walls, she recalls some of his words.)
Robin: (Starfire's memory; sentences overlap) Who's Slade?...You almost got hurt. Next time it could be worse...Nothing. Lead was a dead end...I'm close to a breakthrough...Sure you guys can handle this without me?
(She stops at the desk to look at the items and picks up, from one end, the blasted birdarang from the sewer chase in
Act One. Close-up of her.)
Starfire: Robin, where have you gone?
(There is a flash from o.c., the level of the desk, and she drops the weapon with a gasp. It glances off a small metal globe on the corner of the desk and knocks it over the edge. This thing bounces a couple of times and rolls slowly to a stop near the wall. A beam of light shoots straight up from it and splits into two that fold down toward the floor on either side. Between them, a holographic image of Robin appears-caught up in the net as during the Titans' first pursuit of Red X. He flickers a bit.)
Hologram Robin: I'm fine! Get X! Go! (Starfire's foot steps into view near it.) Starfire: (from o.c.) Huh? (Cut to her.) Robin? Hologram Robin: I'm fine! Get X! Go! (as she reaches through him) I'm fine! Get X! Go! Starfire: If you were not really there-then where were...
(She gasps sharply as the truth dawns on her-Robin's masquerade as Red X, coupled with the fact that the Robin who accompanied the other Titans on their chase was this double. Cut to a close-up of the green microchip seen during his last talk with Slade, in a protective field of its own. Pull back as Red X approaches to show the surrounding area dimly lit. He plucks the item away; pan across the area to show a pool of light cast from one overhead lamp.)
Slade: (from o.c.) Excellent work.
(The thief turns toward the light. A figure approaches it from the far side, so that the details are momentarily washed out, but as it steps to the center of the circle, it is revealed as Slade. He is garbed in the same manner as his commando robots-black armor, steel reinforcements and hand/footgear-but with two differences. One, a dark gray sash crosses his chest from right shoulder to left side; two, his mask is red-orange on the left side, as seen in "Forces of Nature," and black on the right. The black half has no eyehole.)
Slade: Honestly, I couldn't have done better myself. Red X: So, do we have a deal? Slade: Indeed. You and I are so very much alike. It seems only natural that we should be partners.
(Close-up of his open hand on the end of this, then cut to Red X, who holds up all three microchips.)
Red X: What are they for? I need to know what we're planning...partner.
Slade: Patience. You can't expect me to trust you with such sensitive information right away... (Extreme close-up of his eye.) ...can you...Robin?
(Red X's eyes pop at the realization that his cover has been blown. There is a flash from behind him, and a small net flies from this into view, sweeps the three components from his hand, and carries them to Slade's. Now the lights come up to reveal the room as a large, oblong chamber with several robots standing around the perimeter. They are identical to the ones that attacked the HIVE graduates during the highlight reel at the start of "Final Exam." In addition, there is a balcony that is now packed with ranks of commando robots. From one direction after another, the mechanical enforcers advance slightly to close in. Red X gets ready to throw down, and the camera cuts to Slade. As the robots on either side of him start to advance, the entire room shakes with the force of an o.c. explosion. Cut to its source-the ceiling has been blown out, and shadows start to appear in the smoke.)
Cyborg: (within smoke) Titans! Go!
(Beast Boy drops into view, then Raven, and finally Cyborg. As Red X sprints across the room, Beast Boy-now an octopus-yanks one robot away, and Raven levitates a second and forces it off. Cyborg hits the ground running and gets a hand on that black cape; pan from him to Red X.)
Cyborg: Gotcha! (Slade turns and runs out of the place.)
Red X: (struggling, pointing) Let go! Stop him! (Starfire flies in through the ceiling hole.)
Starfire: No! Release him! He is- (He unmasks himself.) Robin: -me!
(The other three Titans are caught flat-footed by this and make noises of surprise for a moment.)
Raven: Robin! We... (He pulls loose and runs to the door.) Robin: Slade's getting away! Come on!
(A huge leap carries him over the two robots flanking the door, but they just stare after him. Now several commandos jump down from the balcony; pull back slowly, then dissolve to a longer shot and keep pulling back to the wall. More of them land with their backs to the camera.)
(Cut to a pan across the rooftop of this building. A vent cap pops off, and out comes Slade as if launched from a cannon; Robin comes out after him, having ditched the Red X outfit in favor of his own. He chases Slade from one rooftop to the next, the camera panning to follow, and matches the criminal on every leap across a space between buildings. A birdarang is thrown ahead, but a quick backhand from Slade shatters it. Robin stares down at the pieces as his nemesis runs to the edge and takes an impossible flying leap toward a distant rooftop that has a framework of support beams erected on it. A huge electric billboard throws a red glow over this area.)
(Slade stops for a look back and sees Robin standing on the high, far plateau. The Boy Wonder takes a few steps back and goes into a headlong rush; overhead view of the street, panning across, as he vaults into the elevated emptiness and begins to drop toward the pool of red light. He lands safely and tumbles a bit before coming up in a crouch to face Slade.)
Slade: Careful. I wouldn't want you getting hurt. Robin: I'm not the one who's going to get hurt. Now hand them over! (Cut to a spot between them.) Slade: (walking into view) Robin. I thought we had a deal. (Robin's feet come into view; they circle.) Robin: (from o.c.) Sorry. I have a strict rule against giving stolen technology to psychos. Slade: How very noble of you. But stealing in order to trap me? That wasn't so noble. Two wrongs don't make a- (Cut to Robin.) Robin: Don't ever lecture me! Whatever you're planning, Slade, it's over! Slade: Oh, on the contrary, Robin. It's just begun.
(They charge at one another. Silhouetted in the harsh glow from that billboard, they try a few times to hit each other. Backing up a bit, Slade dodges a couple of Robin's strikes; another silhouette view shows him avoiding more blows and then landing a kick that tumbles Robin several yards, almost to the edge. The teen gets to his feet and goes on the offensive, forcing Slade to back around a corner while dodging a kick.)
(Now the battle has shifted to within the framework. Slade avoids Robin's punches and nails him with another kick, then rushes in to attempt a follow-up hit. Back and forth they go, neither connecting with the other until a green fist is caught in a steel one. That big armored elbow is driven into Robin's solar plexus, knocking the wind out of him, and he is flung toward the edge of the rooftop. He stumbles against a couple of crates and falls out of sight with a short scream.)
(Close-up of his fingers, which are clinging to the ledge for dear life, and pull back to frame Robin hanging hundreds of feet above the traffic. The masonry starts to crumble, then gives way to drop him screaming toward the street. Another close-up of his hand; Slade reaches into view and seizes the wrist. The masked face stares intently down at him.)
Robin: You...saved me? Slade: I'm not through with you.
(He hauls Robin back up and tosses him easily toward the framework. The youth lands on one of the upper beams and hurls himself back downward to start the brawl all over again. Back and forth they go once more; this time, it ends when Robin lands a flying straight punch that sends Slade and the three microchips careening away. The latter land in a pile, while the former slides to the edge. Cut to just behind him; Robin strides up.)
Robin: This ends now!
(He pulls the man's mask off. Cut to a close-up of the head-whose entire front half has come away, just like that of the commando robot he tried to interrogate after the first heist. This is not the real Slade, then, but merely a mechanical double. Its head contains a monitor that shows the genuine evil mastermind-seen in full detail, exactly matching this robot, and in his lair. The image is not properly tuned.)
Slade: Patience, Robin. (Image fine-tunes.) We'll meet face to face some other time. Oh, and speaking of time...
(A large number 5 superimposes itself on the view and changes to 4, then 3. Realizing what is about to happen, Robin puts his feet in overdrive. The counter is now at 2; it drops to 1, and the camera pulls back to a long shot of the building as a long beep marks zero. A massive explosion roars from the rooftop-the detonation of the Slade robot. Cut to the blast site and pan to Robin, who is staring morosely at it, and the other Titans gathered at a distance.)
Beast Boy: Heh. At least he didn't get the chips.
(Fade to black.)
(Fade in to the exterior of the Tower. It is later that same night. Inside, cut to the floor of Robin's room and tilt up slowly to frame him at the wall. The door is heard opening; side view of him, staring at the Slade robot's mask that he has hung on the wall. Pan slightly to put Starfire in view as she enters. He does not turn.)
Robin: You want to yell at me too? (Close-up of the mask; he pulls it down and continues o.c.) Everyone else has.
(Pull back to frame him on the end of this line. He stares at the mask.)
Robin: (turning around) And I don't blame them. (Starfire approaches.)
Starfire: I do not wish to yell, merely to understand. Robin, why did you not tell us the truth?
Robin: I needed to fool Slade. If you guys knew it was me under that mask, you would've held back. (Zoom in slowly.) Doesn't matter anyway. Slade figured it out, and I still haven't figured out anything about him. Starfire: That is not true. Whoever Slade is, you and he are similar. Slade did not trust you- (Close-up of him; zoom in as she continues o.c.) -and you did not trust us.
(Pull back to frame both; she gives him one last reproachful look and heads for the door, her footsteps echoing hollowly in the space. He gazes at the mask in his hand for a long moment, lost in thoughts of how this undercover job could have unfolded had Slade not bowled him out. Pull back to just inside the open door, the camera pointing at the cluttered walls and floor and the now-cleared desk under that single light. Starfire's shadow retreats in the shaft of light from the hall. Fade to black as the door closes.)