February 21st, 2004
Date With Destiny
(Opening shot: a leather-bound book whose front cover displays the Titans' insignia. As the camera zooms in, it opens to the first page; a drawing of Earth, seen from outer space, and a kindly male voice begins to narrate.)
Narrator: Long ago, on a small blue planet called Earth...
(Page turn: now a flying-saucer cutout floats against the cosmos, with Starfire grinning and flashing a peace sign inside. On the next line, pan to follow it to Titans Tower.)
Narrator: ...there was a young alien girl who lived in a T.
(She beams and points to it as he finishes. Page turn: she smiles at the camera.)
Narrator: She had many friends.
(The other four Titans pop up around her, causing that smile to widen even more. Page turn: she strains to keep a flaming meteor from crushing Jump City.)
Narrator: She was very powerful...
(Page turn: she holds a pair of smelly magenta boxer shorts at arm's length over the washing machine while Robin, Raven, and Cyborg keep their distance. The underwear is decorated with various animals; straight from Beast Boy's wardrobe, and a small panel floats up the screen. He is within it, wearing only a towel and shower cap and laughing his head off.)
Narrator: ...and very brave. And although she never thought much of it...
(Page turn; we see her twirling feet, and she floats gently down in the soft light.)
Narrator: ...she was also very beautiful. Her life seemed entirely perfect...until one day.
(A large bump pops out on her forehead; she gasps as the light returns to normal. This gives way to a hysterical scream, and the view snaps to black.)
(Opening shot: the exterior of the Tower, zooming in slowly. It is daytime. Cut to a close-up of Starfire's forehead; she is in the bathroom, and the glints show that she is looking in the mirror.)
(A tentative poke at the bump makes it shiver slightly, as if it were filled with very cold pudding. She leans closer, pressing it against the glass, and moans worriedly; this is followed by a slow slide down the mirror and a little whine. Pull back to frame all of her. She pushes down on the growth and succeeds in flattening it. However, a relieved sigh is barely out of her mouth before it crops up again. Now, each time she tries to mash it down, it simply appears in another spot beneath her hairline. A few frantic prods put the thing out of sight, but only for a moment, as it comes right back to the center of her forehead.)
(Starfire groans in frustration and pokes furiously at the protuberance, which shifts all over her head as fast as she can get her finger after it, and finally jams down the spot where it first cropped up. Now it has gone; a knock at the door draws her attention, and it swells forth and draws another groan from her. In the hall, Beast Boy is outside the bathroom, whining and doing the classic dance favored by little kids with full bladders.)
Beast Boy: Starfire, hurry up! You've been in there for twenty minutes, and I'm not paper-trained! (More whining, now doglike.)
Starfire: (from inside, through the door) One moment more, please!
(He hops slowly toward the door, which opens when he is just short of the threshold. Starfire peeks out, showing her forehead back under control, but the bump asserts itself anew and she ducks back in, slamming the door. Beast Boy rushes, but an instant too late; he slams into it face first and tumbles backward, stopping himself from hitting the floor with a leg bent backward under his body.)
(He staggers up and claps both hands over himself to hold it in, but the sound of flowing water draws his attention elsewhere. Quick pan to Robin outside; he is wearing an apron decorated with a potted plant and whistling happily as he plays a hose over some bushes. Cut to a close-up of the groaning, sweating green face, then pan quickly to a glass being held under a running faucet by Cyborg. He leans into view, showing a hot, sweaty face with a towel draped around the neck; that drink will come in handy indeed. Close-up of Beast Boy, whose eyebrows twitch uncontrollably now as perspiration gushes from every pore, then pan quickly to Raven outside. She levitates two large boulders while floating in midair; pull back to show the scene as a dry waterfall. Once the rocks are out of the way, a torrent gushes over the precipice below her.)
(Quick pan back to Beast Boy, who looks and sounds as if he is about to explode. He starts to look around the hall.)
Beast Boy: A, B, C, D, E, F, G... (A large potted plant slides into view; he eyes it.) ...H, I, J, K, L, M, N, OOOOOOOO...
(Dissolve to a close-up of water swirling down a drain, accompanied by a toilet flush; one way or another, he has finally found relief.)
Beast Boy: (voice over) ...PEEEEEEEEEE!!
(Dissolve to an overhead view of Raven and Starfire, on the couch in the operations center, and zoom in. Starfire has put on a large, floppy green hat that covers her entire forehead; Raven is, as usual, immersed in heavy reading.)
Starfire: (whispering; sweat drop slides down temple) I fear something may be terribly wrong with me. (louder, freaks out a bit with limbs flopping) I could have Irinean measles, or perhaps my epidermis has become infested with steiner mites, or... (Raven slams her book shut.)
Raven: Okay. What are you talking about?
Starfire: I caution. (grips on her hat brim) What you are about to see may shock and disturb you.
(She shudders a bit and prepares to lift the headgear; cut to behind her as she gets it off. The sound of her new growth popping out is heard, but Raven just stays deadpan.)
Raven: It's a zit. Everybody gets them. Deal with it.
Starfire: Then I am normal? (She sweeps Raven into a hug.) Oh, thank you, Raven! (a sweat drop flashes on Starfire's temple; vein on Raven's) Now I shall no longer feel worry or shame or--
(The door opens to admit Robin; she gasps in shock, a fresh sweat drop rolling down, then jams the hat back onto her head and pulls it down to cover the top half of her face. He just crosses the room to go about his business.)
Raven: Just so you know, that's not really dealing with it.
(She walks o.c., leaving Starfire to watch the blue-cloaked back. Zoom in slowly as she turns a very worried expression to the camera.)
Narrator: But one little bump was only the beginning of her worries.
(Dissolve to a close-up of her midsection and pull back slowly. She floats in a black space, slowly rotating with arms spread wide, as question marks blink behind her.)
Narrator: Deep down inside, something strange was happening; something very strange indeed.
(Dissolve to behind the couch. Starfire sits in the center, flanked by Robin and Cyborg; a GameStation race is in progress on the window/screen. Close-up of the three; the controllers are in the two boys' hands, while she huddles under her big green chapeau.)
Narrator: The next day, she grew tusks on her neck.
(They pop out, one protruding from each side, and she gasps and tries to pull her head down into her neck piece. A short squeal, two palms pressed to cover the new growths, and a lightning-fast dive over the couch, but Robin and Cyborg are so engrossed in their game that they take no notice whatsoever. She puts her eyes up over the cushions; now they give their thumbs a rest and glance her way, but she ducks back out of sight. The two racers trade a puzzled look, shrug, and throw crazed grins at the camera as they return to the game.)
(Dissolve to a close-up of a belly-busting ice cream sundae in the kitchen, so tall that its top is cut off by the top edge of the screen. Beast Boy leans into view, hearts in his eyes and drool oozing from the corner of his mouth.)
Beast Boy: Ahhhh...
(Tilt up to the highest scoops. He reaches up and sets a cherry in place with great care, and the camera pulls back to show him and Starfire regarding the creation from opposite sides of the counter. She has put on a wide scarf to hide her neck. He turns around to rummage in the cabinets; she leans eagerly toward the sundae.)
Narrator: The day after that... (She gasps and jerks her hands from the counter; they are shaking.) ...her fingernails grew long and ugly.
(Close-up of those hands, dissolving to a shot that shows long striped nails and badly swollen fingers. Pull back; she runs a panicked eye over the digits and hastily shoves them into the sundae with a gasp. Towering scoops, chocolate syrup, and sprinkles splatter in a heap on the counter. When Beast Boy stands up from the cabinets, holding spoons for himself and Starfire, he goggles at the destruction of his masterpiece, screams, and faints. Snap to black.)
(The view resolves to the interior of the refrigerator as she opens the door to inspect the moldy leftovers. Now she has added blue oven mitts to her ensemble.)
Narrator: And the day after that, she developed bizarre cravings for the most unusual foods.
(A fly starts to buzz near her head. After a few seconds, worth of watching its flight, Starfire whips out one padded hand and seizes it. What she does next is to turn her palm over and peer carefully at it; close-up of the half-crushed fly, zooming in.)
Fly: Help me!
(Pull back. The young Tamaranean lashes out her tongue, which is now considerably longer than it has any right to be, and lays it squarely across the insect. Whisking it into her mouth, Starfire crunches down and swallows; a little hiccup comes back up after the meal, and she claps a hand to her lips. The closing fridge door blacks out the screen.)
(Snap to the exterior of the Tower. After the passage of all this time, it is day again.)
Narrator: And with each passing day...
(Dissolve to a very despondent Starfire in her room, sitting on the bed. Her shadow is cast on the wall by the door.)
Narrator: ...the strange little alien grew stranger...
(Her ears become large and pointed; she covers them with a gasp. Zoom in slightly.)
Narrator: ...and stranger...
(Now the skin of her arms becomes very scaly. Close-up of one boot, which starts to bulge.)
Narrator: ...and stranger still.
(The boot splits, exposing a foot much larger than normal with auburn hair all over the upper surface. Cut to a shot of her silent, shocked face and zoom in slightly, then pull back across the room. She moans sadly.)
Starfire: My friends must not see how hideous I have become... (Extreme close-up of her eyes.) ...or they will surely think I am turning into some sort of horrible monster. (Pull back, then extreme close-up as she continues.) I must never allow anyone to see me... (She closes her eyes.) ...ever again.
(An alarm and flashing red light shake her out of the funk and scare a little shriek out of her.)
Robin: (from outside) Starfire! Trouble! (She looks toward the closed door.) We need to go! (She pulls a blanket partway up.)
Starfire: Please proceed! (pulls it over head) I will join you shortly!
(Cut to an overhead view of an empty football stadium. Night has fallen, and the gridiron sits under the broad glare of the facility's floodlights. Faint crowd noise quickly grows to a screaming panic, whose source is soon revealed as the members of two opposing high school teams fleeing downfield. They are accompanied by cheerleaders and marching band performers. Out of the shadows comes Plasmus, stumping after them and screeching insanely. He moves in on the group, which has stuffed itself into the entrance to one of the locker rooms, and lets off a roar before slamming one slimy fist to the turf and digging it in deep. What he pulls up is several yards of a broken sewage line; he licks his lips eagerly and directs the greenish flow into his mouth.)
Football player: Is that a sewer pipe?
(Plasmus pays them no mind and continues to drink his fill. When he finishes, he lowers the pipe and wipes his mouth, but something o.c. draws his surprised attention toward itself. Cut to a close-up of one of Robin's discs in mid-flight, then to him; it and two others strike his chest and stick there. They detonate after a moment, tearing his upper body apart into purple ribbons that splay in all directions; think of the T-1000 in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day", but he quickly reassembles himself and roars in fury.)
Robin: (from o.c.) I don't know what's more disgusting, Plasmus... (Cut to him on the turf.) ...the way you look... (Pull back; Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven join him.) ...or the stuff you eat.
(He responds by vomiting forth a wide stream of sludge.)
Robin: Titans! Go!
(They scatter to dodge the deluge. Robin comes down from his leap with his fighting staff ready to use; as Plasmus hurls handfuls of slime, he swerves back and forth and ends with a bound that carries him over the semi-liquid villain's head. The staff is stabbed straight down behind the eyes and disappears to its full length. After Robin lands behind him, he regurgitates a new torrent that brings up only a piece of the retractable weapon. One huge fist seizes the Boy Wonder and flings him to the far goalpost; he bounces off one upright and down, no three points for this play.)
(Cyborg leaps down, sonic cannon at the ready, and fires a couple of blasts that blow holes in Plastmus' arms. The big man moves in closer for another go.)
Cyborg: Come on, Booger-Man! (fires) Gimme what you got!
(This next blast blows away the mounded head, but it does not take long for Plasmus to put himself back together. He fires a gush of gunk from his chest; cut to a long shot of Cyborg and zoom in quickly. One surprised shout is all he has time for before the view shifts to the goalpost where Robin has fallen. Cyborg is driven backward against the support and tumbles onto the end zone, plastered head to toe with Plasmus leftovers. Sitting up, he shakes some of the mess off his head, snorts in a breath, and lets off a strangled cry before exhaling at full force; more slime, lots of it, pours from both nostrils.)
Cyborg: I'm gonna be smelling that for a week.
(Plasmus laughs at him as Raven floats up behind the big head. She levitates the dug-up sewer line and causes it to wrap him up securely. Close-up of her.)
Raven: Azarath Metrion--
(A gooey blast fills her mouth before she can finish the spell; pull back to show that Plasmus has created several tentacles at the back of his head to shut her up. She is flung over his shoulders and onto the grass hard. As she stands up with a groan, her cloak is more purple than blue, Cyborg walks up behind her.)
Beast Boy: (from o.c.) Cyborg! (Pan to Beast Boy, running up.) Time for the Beast Boy Blitz!
(He goes into a leap, becomes an armadillo, and rolls himself into a ball on the way down. Cyborg catches him, dodges a few Plasmus strikes, and throws the green teen just before one last hit drives him backward; the armadillo becomes a rhinoceros, but Plasmus easily swats it away. Cut to a table on the sidelines, loaded with coolers. Beast Boy, back in human form, crashes into it and ends up amid a swamp of Gatorade and purple ooze. Pushing a cooler off his head, he licks the glop off his face.)
Beast Boy: Orange-flavored bad guy? Gross, yet strangely refreshing.
(The four Titans begin to regroup. Cut to Plasmus, stomping along toward them, but a sudden rain of starbolts ends his advance and fills the screen with smoke. When it clears, we see a new crater in the field, which is filling not only with sewage from the line he broke, but also with his amorphous remains. The purple gunk bubbles as Robin, Cyborg, and Raven look into the hole.)
Cyborg: Boo-yah! (Beast Boy joins them.)
Beast Boy: Awesome! (Robin turns around.)
Robin: Way to go, Star...fire?
(On the end of this, the camera pulls back slightly from the group and a pair of feet in yellow galoshes descends into view. Cut to an empty patch of field; the rubbers touch down, and the camera tilts up to show the rest of the hapless alien. The remains of her own footwear are visible between the tops of the galoshes and the hem of a matching raincoat. Thanks to these items, the oven mitts, the scarf, and the hat, all her skin is covered except for the top half of her face.)
Raven: Interesting fashion statement.
Beast Boy: Yeah, uh...nice slicker.
Robin: Starfire...you've been acting kind of...strange lately. (steps toward Starfire) Is everything okay?
(She backs up with a scared little moan, but a loud rumbling from o.c. diverts Robin's attention. He looks over his shoulder; pull back to the crater where she gave Plasmus what for. A maroon geyser boils up and forms a gargantuan humanoid creature with thinner arms and legs than before. A huge screaming mouth sits below a row of bulbous green eyes that stretches up both shoulders and across the top of his head. The new Plasmus lets off a long, grating scream.)
Raven: Just when you thought he couldn't get uglier.
Beast Boy: Dude! That is sick! And not in the good way.
Robin: No matter how nasty he gets, he's just a monster. And like every other monster, he's got to go!
(He does not notice the shock Starfire gets from his words, and after he rushes toward the enemy, she lets off a little moan and buries her face even deeper in her scarf. Robin dashes in and lets fly with a handful of explosive discs, Raven puts a few black bursts upside the head, and Cyborg fires off a cannon salvo, but the combined effect of the three Titans' weapons just makes Plasmus madder. His eyes swell and burst like giant pimples, releasing a flood of luridly tinted ichor; Cyborg dives for cover with a yell, leaving Starfire to look up just in time to take it in the face. Close-up of her hat, tumbling to the ground, and pan to follow. It lands by her feet, and we see that the rest of her hastily donned outerwear has been blasted away by the torrents as well.)
(Tilt up to frame her head; she lets off a panicked gasp as having been exposed in this manner. In the battle zone, the other four Titans, "Super Deformed" style, are faring very badly against Plasmus. Raven is caught up in one sludgy fist, Beast Boy has sunk to his waist in the head, Robin has been driven halfway into the ground, and Cyborg is firing a fusillade of cannon shots that do no damage at all. They stop their struggles after a moment and stare dumbstruck at the camera.)
Robin: Starfire? ("?!" by Plasmus' head.)
(Sight gag: cut to Starfire's feet, against a green field, and tilt up slowly to her mortified face. On both sides of her, panels are filled with laughing faces, including those of the other four Titans and Plasmus. She covers her face; snap to black, her perspective, as she takes her hands away. Now the screen is empty, but it quickly fills with guffawing players and supporters from the interrupted football game. Tilt down slowly to show that the other Titans and their foe are among this crowd as well; she is here, but quickly flies up o.c. Cut to a close-up of a television set whose screen is blank. Starfire rises into view on it but bangs her head against the top edge; rubbing her head, she stares in great puzzlement as the camera pulls back. More hooting spectators, including Soto, point at her misfortune.)
(The sight gag ends; cut to Starfire on the field. She clutches her head and groans through clenched teeth.)
Robin: (from o.c.) Starfire! (Cut to him.) What's going...? (She covers herself.)
Starfire: I am sorry! I have...got to go! (She lifts off.)
Robin: Starfire! Wait!
(Cut to a long shot of Earth, seen from outer space. A violet streak zooms up from the planet and resolves into the freaked-out Tamaranean when she is near the camera. Sniffling and sobbing, she glances over her shoulder toward her adopted home.)
Starfire: I truly am a monster.
(She flies o.c.; cut to a pan across the galaxy, keeping her in view as she recedes from the camera. Her tears float weightless in her wake, and her sobs echo through the void.)
Narrator: And so the sad, strange girl flew far away, into the cold dark loneliness of outer space.
(Fade to black.)
(Opening shot: another region of the galaxy. Starfire floats dejectedly into view.)
Narrator: "Surely," thought the odd little alien, "a horrible ugly monster like me does not belong on Earth with such good and handsome friends."
(She has stopped by this point and is regarding a planet whose surface is splotched with bright pink streaks, as of paint dripped onto a canvas.)
Narrator: But where was she to go? (She floats away.) Not even her home planet would take her in, looking as strange as she did.
(She looks remorsefully back the way she came, this was Tamaran, and continues on.)
Narrator: "I must find a new world"" she decided, "one with monsters as horrible and ugly as I."
(On the second half of this line, the camera cuts to a group of planets and a dotted line starts to weave among them, marking her course. She stops at one of them; wipe to the surface, arid under a red sky, where a couple of inhabitants can be seen sporting large tusks on either side of their necks. Pan to Starfire, who smiles ingratiatingly up at one of them and waves.)
Starfire: Hello, fellow ugly monsters!
(Her words spark a surprised gasp from the would-be new friend, who then twitters something in its own language and runs away. She hangs her head, and the view dissolves to the group of planets. Now her path carries her on a roundabout course to a different one; wipe to its surface under a bright blue sky. Here are many tall trees with growths that look very much like her fingernails, and a couple of large anteater creatures are speaking to each other; their claws are of this same design, and many similar horny growths protrude from their bodies.)
(Cut to Starfire, who has landed here. She looks at her own nails, laughs, and moves across the clearing, but as soon as the two creatures get a good look at one of those hirsute feet, they squeal and make a break for it. The planets again; the dotted-line course takes her to a third one, and a wipe to the surface shows a dense forest with many phosphorescent growths on tree trunks, all under a vivid green sky. Pan across this area as she runs screaming into view and past the camera; a moment later, an enraged, torch-bearing mob of scaly greenish creatures charges by to run her out of the place.)
(The planets again. This time, Starfire's sojourn brings her to one of the smaller ones; wipe to a close-up of her, very down in the dumps, sitting on the surface. The curvature suggests that, to borrow a Disney lyric, it is a small world after all, and this is borne out when the camera pulls back and rotates 180 degrees to frame her upside down. This planet is not more than a few feet in diameter, and several tiny creatures with very hairy feet and no arms stand on the hemisphere opposite her perch. Though their shouted words are unintelligible, the tone reveals just how much they resent her presence. She sighs heavily and takes her leave of this miniature planet.)
Narrator: But with each new world she visited, the strange alien girl felt uglier and uglier.
(On the end of this line, cut to a slow pan across outer space to keep her in view. Starfire makes her way past some more planets and into an asteroid belt.)
Narrator: And with nowhere else to go, she wandered alone into the deepest, darkest part of the galaxy.
(The pan has stopped by now. Starfire flies o.c.; a second or two later, a silhouette clambers over the edge of an asteroid and jumps into space to follow. It looks something like a cross between a crab and a spider. Now the fleeing girl picks her way deeper through the belt, with this other creature keeping a long tail on her.)
Narrator: But she was not really alone.
(A large asteroid floats across the screen; behind it, the view changes to an empty patch of space. Tilt down to the exterior of the Tower, then cut to Robin standing at the edge of the roof. He looks back and forth, surveying the bay, and switches on his communicator.)
Robin: Cyborg! How long until we can launch?
Cyborg: (over the comm) Oh, about five minutes after you QUIT ASKING ME THAT!!
(Sight gag: his mouth pops out from the screen to deliver the last four words, and Robin recoils from the force he puts into them. Cut to inside an underground launch silo, at the level of a large craft's exhaust nozzles. As machinery kicks into gear, tilt up to show them attached to a pair of large booster engines, which are in turn attached to the underside of the T-Sub, It stands with its bow pointed straight up at the silo hatch. Part of the service structure retracts, and we see that the four earthbound Titans are in their individual cockpits as in "Deep Six". The next lines sound slightly muffled by the canopies until otherwise noted.)
Raven: Are we sure this thing is ready to fly?
Cyborg: No! The T-Sub was built for deep sea, not deep space. (Pan to Robin.)
Robin: I don't care what it was built for. (Cut to him inside; no longer muffled.) It's going into space. We've gotta find Starfire.
(Close-up of a control panel; he reaches into view and presses a button, and bar-graph readouts start to fill up.)
Robin: (from o.c.) Main power online.
Raven: Defensive systems active.
Beast Boy: Oxygen tanks at maximum.
Cyborg: Fusion thrusters ready to fire.
(Cut to a close-up overhead view of the silo hatch. It slides open, allowing the T-Sub to be raised through on its supports, and the camera pulls back to show the silo on the shore of the Tower's island. Extreme close-up of Robin's eyes.)
Robin: Titans! Launch!
(The engines fire and fill the screen with their exhaust; when it clears, the island is seen from over the rooftops of Jump City. With a mighty roar, the converted T-Sub lifts clear of the island and traces a course straight for the heavens, the camera tilting up to follow. When it is nearly off the top edge of the screen, cut to an overhead shot; the engines put extra thrust behind the craft, then to Cyborg, hunched over his controls. The engine vibrations make the next two lines sound very shaky indeed.)
Cyborg: Told you she was ready to fly!
(The four Titans are carried ever higher; after a few more seconds, the booster engines are jettisoned and the T-Sub begins to coast in outer space. The grinning driver thumbs a button and brings a couple of thrusters into action; firing from the aft quarters on port and starboard, they power the vessel across the galaxy.)
(Dissolve to a particular group of planets and zoom in slowly on the centermost one, then cut to a view of the sky from its surface and tilt down to ground level. Starfire is advancing cautiously along a path that winds through a thick forest. As a low, hissing respiration is heard, she stops for a moment and looks around; cut to a patch of vegetation and pan across to stop on her, back turned to the camera. Many trumpet-like projections sprout from the bushes and undergrowth.)
Starfire: (turning around) Hello? Someone is there?
(She sets off down the path, not noticing the many thick vines that snake out after her.)
Starfire: (stops again) Your planet is most inhospitable. I would perhaps be welcomed here?
(On the end of this line, those vines rear up and prepare to seize her; she turns to look over her shoulder, but they drop to the ground an instant before she gets her eyes to them. All she sees when she turns is a mass of unmoving tendrils on the forest floor. After a moment's uncertainty, she starts off again, but a loud growling stops her in her tracks. This time, when the vines rear up, so does the thing they are attached to: a huge flower on a very long stalk, with a mouth at the center of the blossom.)
(Turning back to face it, Starfire gasps in shock; the alien equivalent of a Venus flytrap slavers a bit and opens its mouth very wide, revealing too many deadly pointed teeth for anyone's good. It strikes like a cobra, sparking her to leap backward and then float up with a panicked cry. She flies off and soon has to dodge a few vine strikes; even a quick 360-degree spin around a tree trunk does her no good, as the tendril wraps around and crushes the wood as it reaches along. One quick gasp is all she has time for before the tree topples toward her; she skids backward and just barely avoids being crushed by it.)
(Starfire puts her head up out of the leaves and gasps as the killer plant's shadow falls over her. It snaps a few times, forcing her to take flight again, then lashes all its vines into the air. One snags her ankle; she cries out in fear and is soon securely caught up in the entire mass of crazed vegetable matter.)
Starfire: Let go now, please!
(Tilt down to ground level. That enormous maw opens as wide as it will go, while the vines carry the struggling Titan toward her fate as a light snack.)
(Extreme close-up of her terror-stricken face, the eyes squeezing shut, and zoom in slightly. Fade to black, then immediately snap to a shot of the plant; Starfire is nowhere in sight, but the thing's placid chewing instantly tells what has befallen her. After a moment, however, it rears back and spits her out; she bounces along the forest path, leaving splatters of saliva on the ground. Her eyes pop wide open at the realization that she has not become an appetizer, and the plant coughs disgustedly and slithers away. She looks warily back toward it, then turns her eyes disappointedly toward the ground, even this particular monster wants nothing to do with her.)
(Dissolve to a long shot of Starfire, sitting by a small pond whose waters glow from the reflected starlight. There is a rustle of leaves, and presently a humanoid shape moves partially into view near the camera to observe from behind a bush. It's back is to us, but most of the body is white, with black markings around the face and neck and magenta ones on the head and back. Extreme close-up of the curiously blinking, blank white eyes, magenta-rimmed in the black that crosses the face and without visible irises or pupils.)
(Cut to an overhead view of the truly despondent Starfire, looking at her reflection on the water, then cut to a close-up of the latter and zoom in slightly. The large bump on her forehead starts to squirm a bit; soon it reshapes itself into a large, upward-curving horn.)
[Animation goof: Her armband is on the wrong side in this shot.]
Starfire: Oh... (puts hands to her face) ...what is happening to me?
(The next two words are spoken by a soothing female voice that echoes slightly.)
Voice: Something wonderful.
(Starfire looks up with a surprised gasp. The camera shifts to point at the opposite shore of the pond, where the hem of a flowing white gown can be seen at the water's edge. The wearer's reflection can be seen, a tall woman whose skin and hair are the same color as this clothing, and who has two thin antennae standing up from her forehead. Her entire body glows slightly, and as she floats across the pond, her eyes can be seen to be pure magenta, with a dark streak visible at the center of each.)
(Starfire huddles and turns her face away.)
Starfire: Please. I am too repellent to be seen by one so glorious.
(The woman moves closer; her voice is the one that spoke a moment ago.)
Woman: Fear not, young Tamaranean. There is nothing wrong with you.
Starfire: (turns to her) Nothing wrong?
Woman: Come. All will be made clear shortly.
(Extreme close-up of Starfire's wondering eyes, zooming in slowly. On the next line, the camera shifts to point down the path; the two proceed away, approaching a distant area criss-crossed by many glowing filaments that stretch overhead.)
Narrator: And with hope in her heart, the strange little alien followed the mysterious woman to the strangest place she had ever seen.
(Fade to black.)
(Fade in to the same group of planets Starfire was exploring earlier. The T-Sub traces a dotted-line course to the second one she visited; cut to the four Titans amid a group of the stripe-nailed inhabitants. Cyborg and Robin each pull on one of Beast Boy's ears to make them look something like Starfire's, Cyborg clapping a hand over his mouth to hold in his gorge; whatever he sees in that ear is enough to make him sick, and one creature gestures with its tongue to tip them off. Raven just hangs in the background.)
(The planets again. Now the T-Sub heads off the bottom of the screen and reappears at the top to visit Starfire's first stop. On the surface, Robin has stood Beast Boy on his head and pulled off one shoe to call the neck-tusked creatures to the hairy feet. As Cyborg laughs himself stupid and Raven watches the five smelly toes disgustedly, one of the beings points somewhere; a new clue.)
(The planets again. Next the vessel crosses to the tiny one that was Starfire's fourth stop, and the camera cuts to the four Titans on the surface, with a crowd of the miniature denizens gathered. One is perched on Cyborg's shoulder, another on Raven's head, still others standing in stacks. This time, Cyborg has cheerfully grabbed Beast Boy's head and hauled upward to stretch out his neck, and Robin points one index finger out from each side of it to stand for the tusks that popped out there. The one on Raven's head points away with one of its feet; another lead. Throughout this paragraph and the two preceding, Beast Boy has looked very put out at having to be used for the demonstrations.)
(The planets again. The next leg of the T-Sub's journey takes it to the site of Starfire's third visit, and as soon as it gets close enough, the globe opens up a huge mouth and swallows the ship whole. A moment later, the planet spits it out, away from the cluster.)
(Cut to a slow pan across the area Starfire was being led to when we last saw her. It is a large cavern whose back wall is marked by the glowing filaments seen earlier, and large crystal formations jut from the ground. The two advance across the floor; close-up of the woman.)
Woman: You are changing. Do you know why? (Starfire crosses.)
Starfire: It is because I have a zit?
(The two reach a large, hollow, hemispherical shell that has been propped up on the ground to serve as a chair.)
Woman: (with a muffled chuckle) Not quite, my dear. (Starfire sits.) You are experiencing the Transformation, a perfectly normal part of the Tamaranean life cycle.
Starfire: But I do not understand. When my sister had Transformation, she merely turned purple for two days. Why have I--?
Woman: Transformation is different for each Tamaranean. And you, sweet child, are one of the special few who will transform into a chrysalis.
(Starfire recoils a bit at this last word, then looks down at her arm and gasps sharply. The scaly skin is rapidly developing layers of ropy tissue that begin to spread over the rest of her body. She tumbles from her seat and writhes on the ground as the white female stands over her.)
Woman: Relax, dear. (A shell starts to cover Starfire's body.) It will all be over soon.
(In no time flat, this material has enveloped everything but her head.)
Starfire: (panicked) How do you know these things?
Woman: I know, my dear, because I... (as her own face goes ropy) ...am a Cironielian chrysalis eater.
(She trails off into a raspy chuckle. Close-up of Starfire's face, her bugged-out eyes telling all about the undiluted horror raging in her mind, then cut to a silhouette of the growling woman. The hands curl as two pairs of long jointed legs sprout from the body. Large crab claws grow from the arms, the body takes on an insect contour, and the thing starts to turn toward us; its shape now matches the dark figure that jumped among the asteroids earlier in this act.)
(Cut to Starfire again; one of those legs, white with magenta stripes, slams down near her, and as the thing howls over her, the camera tilts up to frame all of it. Humanoid head and torso, white with black and magenta markings, and the same pair of eyes that watched Starfire by the pond. The outer-space creature, the spy, the woman, and the chrysalis eater are one and the same. Starfire lets rip with a long, terrified scream, the predator roars down at her, and both noises ring out at the camera cuts to an outer-space view of this planet and pulls back slowly. Fade to black.)
(Opening shot: a dark tunnel is shown whose far end disappears into the distance. The T-Sub flies toward the camera, dodging several spikes that pop out from all directions, and races along for a while before putting on a burst of speed. The vessel approaches an opening, where rows of spikes are coming together from above and below to block the path; Robin merely grits his teeth and steers straight through the barriers. Cut to an outer-space view of part of a large asteroid whose surface has a large crater in which the spikes are fully seen: a set of teeth. The T-Sub, which was in the gullet of this gigantic subterranean creature that was trying to chew it up, peels out.)
Beast Boy: (a bit rattled) Okay, so, we know she's not there. Phew.
Robin: Wherever Starfire is...
(Outer space; pan to follow the team through the asteroids.)
Robin: (from inside) ...I just hope she's all right.
(Cut to Starfire, still putting forth her best effort to break through the tough shell that has formed over her. A final piece extends partially up toward her head; she screams at its advance, and the camera pulls back slightly to show the chrysalis eater leaning down next to her and smacking its lips. Now its voice has the scratchy, raspy tone heard when its metamorphosis began.)
Chrysalis eater: Wonderful. (Pull back.) Soon, your cocoon will be complete, and you, my dear, will be at the peak of flavor. (It circles to her other side.) In the meantime, please scream all you wish. It whets my appetite. (Close-up of Starfire.)
Starfire: (resignedly) I have no reason to scream. I can no longer have a home or friends. I am far too ugly for such things.
Chrysalis eater: (from o.c.) Ohhh... (pokes at her) ...I don't think you're ugly at all, my dear.
(The intended lunch screams as that last plate of the shell slides up to cover her head and seal her in completely. Pull back to frame the giant insect.)
Chrysalis eater: In fact, you look good enough to eat! (It laughs gratingly.)
Robin: (from o.c.) Starfire!
(Across the cavern, he and the other three Titans are charging in; he takes a huge leap and hurls a birdarang, but this is easily swatted down. The two square off and move to one side a bit as Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven rush up to hem in the chrysalis eater. Dodging swing after swing of those deadly sharp claws, Robin jumps again and winds up on the other side of the monster, which wheels to face him.)
Robin: I'll hold her off! (It charges.) Get Starfire out of here! (He dives away from a downward claw stab.)
Cyborg: Starfire? Where's--? (The three look toward the cocoon.)
Starfire: (from inside, muffled) Um...in here.
(Ground level, looking up at a very confused Cyborg. Beast Boy leans into view with an equally puzzled gasp, followed by Raven.)
(Robin backs up before the chrysalis eater's lunges and stays out of reach for a while, but it gets in a lucky grab and slings him away. Turning its attention to the trio, who are now trying to figure out the best way to hoss that freight, it snarls and goes straight for them with a colossal leap. They hold their ground for as long as they can, but are forced to get out of the way at the last second; the beast makes a perfect four-point landing, using its legs and claws to ward off the three Titans. Cut to ground level and tilt up to the head.)
Chrysalis eater: Your friend belongs to me now. You can have her back once I finish digesting her.
(As Raven floats up and Robin dashes over, one of the massive claws plows the jumping Cyborg aside. Raven aims a few black shots at the body, Robin tries a jumping strike, Beast Boy leaps and comes down at it in lion form, but none of the attacks has any effect. Next, Raven throws a blast at the back, making the chrysalis eater mad and causing it to swing a claw at her; she shields herself, but the impact drives her backward. The green jungle cat rears up for another jump, but it is seized and brought toward the gaping jaws. As Beast Boy is lowered toward them, though, he becomes a giant turtle and the teeth grind harmlessly against the shell.)
(Cyborg's cannon beam scores a direct hit on the thorax and pushes the creature across the cavern; Beast Boy falls free and tumbles to the ground upside down. Here comes the bionic Titan, ready to unload another high-powered blast; before he can get it out, though, the chrysalis eater gets one claw locked around the muzzle and throws him for distance. He skids past Raven, who flies up toward the ceiling.)
Raven: I think it's time we wrapped this up.
(She exerts her powers over the web of filaments that run throughout the place, wads the lot up into a ball, and heaves it down at the chrysalis eater. In a twinkling, it is thickly covered from one end to the other and the four Titans, Beast Boy in human form, run in to finish the job. The bindings are quickly broken, though, and all are thrown back as the creature roars in fury. As soon as Robin gets himself upright, he scales a handful of discs that explode against the head and thorax to push the enemy back. Not giving it a chance to counterattack, Raven levitates many small crystals from the floor and projects them in a barrage that hit the ground with the force of small, caliber artillery shells. The chrysalis eater is left ducking and covering as the four Titans regroup at the other end of the cavern.)
(Hissing and spitting, it takes a few steps back and starts to climb the natural stone columns that run from floor to ceiling in the cavern. It reaches the top very quickly and pushes off to sail over the Titans' heads; they turn in time to see it land at the opposite side. A shocked gasp from Robin, Beast Boy, and Cyborg, and the leader is off and running. The hungry being moves toward Starfire and leans down to sink its teeth into the head end of her cocoon; only Robin's feet, first slide under the body knocks her away, interrupting the meal and stealing second base in the bargain. Those massive jaws end up crunching into the cavern's stone floor instead.)
(The chrysalis eater looks up and finds the Boy Wonder at a distance, working over Starfire; it starts toward him, but a chunk of rock levitated by Raven smashes against its back. It turns around to find her flying in, another projectile ready to go, and Cyborg and Beast Boy keeping pace with her on the ground. The shape-shifter has now become an ankylosaurus. Raven launches her second rock, which the beast bats away easily before charging at the three.)
Robin: Starfire! Are you okay?
(Close-up of the cocoon surface. The tone of his next line indicates that the camera has now shifted to the interior; his silhouette is barely visible through the semi-opaque surface.)
Robin: (muffled) Starfire, can you hear me? (A weak little moan; cut to the outside.) Hang on! (pulls at the head section) I'm going to get you out!
(Close-up of that area. He has opened a seam and made good progress in widening it; nothing but blackness can be seen inside.)
Starfire: (from the inside) No! (The seam closes; her voice becomes muffled.) Please go! You will not wish to see me this way. (Inside; Robin works it open again.)
Robin: I'm your friend, Starfire. I don't care how you look.
(He has it forced very wide by now, and he gives the camera a big smile and reaches o.c. What he comes back with is a crystal, which he holds straight out.)
Robin: Besides, you look fine to me.
(On the end of this line, a reflection of Starfire's stunned face appears in the surface: no horn on the forehead, no tusks on the neck, everything just as it should be. She gasps sharply; pull back out of the cocoon. She takes the crystal from Robin and floats happily to the ceiling, showing every part of her body to be back in proper order, even the boots that split open when her feet grew ten sizes in ten seconds. Next, she inspects herself in the polished surface.)
Starfire: I am...normal!
(Beams shoot from her eyes as they did in "Date With Destiny", bounce off the crystal, and blow out a patch of ceiling above her. She gets out a tiny little squeak.)
Starfire: (scared) Mostly.
(Robin smiles benignly up at her, but the moment gets cut off when Beast Boy is flung into view behind him to crash into a stone column. Raven and Cyborg, caught in the huge crab claws, struggle vainly to get free and soon get a little face time with their very angry owner.)
Chrysalis eater: Since you have stolen my meal, I shall devour you instead!
(Pull back. It lifts both Titans and gets set to chow down, but stops when Starfire flies over. Her eyes are glowing as brightly as her hands do when she is about to fire off a starbolt.)
Starfire: Devour THIS!
(She lets the thing have both barrels from those green irises and drives it back across the cavern. Cyborg and Raven drop to the ground and look up just as Starfire flies over with both hands blazing. It backs up helplessly, taking hit after hit, and the coup de grace comes when she drills in another eye-beam blast that sends it crashing up through the ceiling. Cut to the surface; the thing is projected through the earth, and it tumbles down the slope toward the surface of the pond where it first saw Starfire. Close-up of the head, dazed and lolling to one side. It comes to and looks up with a guttural gasp; cut to its perspective, the vision blurred but clearing, it is the overgrown plant that tried to eat the Tamaranean earlier in this act. Up comes the head, the jaws open, and the thing lashes straight down toward the camera to black out the screen with the inside of its mouth. The loud crunch that accompanies this strike tells the rest of the story.)
(Snap to an overhead view of the five Titans, looking up through the new hole in the cavern's ceiling. Beast Boy is back in human form.)
Beast Boy: Dude! Since when can your eyes do that? (Ground level.)
Starfire: (nervously) Since just now. Please do not reject me. (Close-up of her.) I am almost normal. (Pan to one side; Robin comes up.)
Robin: You're exactly as you should be. No matter how you change on the outside, you'll always be Starfire on the inside.
(She looks to the other three Titans for reassurance, gets nods and smiles from all of them, and responds with a blushing smile of her own, message received and understood. Dissolve to an outer-space view of this planet; the T-Sub launches from the surface.)
Narrator: So the happy young girl returned home with her friends. (Cut to a slow pan, tracking it.) And they all lived happily ever after...that is... (Pan stops.) ...until Beast Boy got the chicken pox.
(A word balloon pops up briefly above the ship; inside it is a large, squawking green chicken, Beast Boy, taking the sight gag a bit too far. After it disappears, there is a freeze-frame and the view dissolves to the style used in the book's opening pages during the prologue. Pull back to show that it is on the last page of this volume, which closes as the camera pulls back farther to frame it just as it was at the beginning. Fade to black.)