"I'm Free as a Bird -- And This Bird You Cannot Kill!": In a small town in Colorado, the dragon-like creature who calls himself Crux - formerly a human called Simon Amal - has just used Tamaranean technology to remove Starfire's powers
- SHUT UP! You want to live with this alien dog-- then you can DIE LIKE ONE!
- — Crux
Synopsis for "I'm Free as a Bird -- And This Bird You Cannot Kill!"
In a small town in Colorado, the dragon-like creature who calls himself Crux - formerly a human called Simon Amal - has just used Tamaranean technology to remove Starfire's powers, and render her essentially human. He has a vendetta against all alien life, as his parents were killed by a crashed alien aircraft. His vendetta extends to the point that he modified his own genes in order to fight aliens on their own level.
As he flies away from the scene, he is surprised to find his scales pierced by arrows shot from the bow of Arsenal. His surprise has little time to express itself, as the arrows suddenly release a jolt of electricity that completely incapacitates him. Crux tells Roy where he left Starfire, but he is confused as to why they aren't on the same side.
Meanwhile, the Red Hood - Jason Todd - is locked in battle with a member of The Untitled, a race nearly as old as man. When he was trained by the All-Caste, he was taught that the Untitled are unfailingly evil, and he has recently learned that the entire Caste, along with his mentor Ducra were murdered by the Untitled. Over the course of the fight, however, Jason and the Untitled realize that they have been tricked by someone else from within the Untitled, as the Untitled is prone to in-fighting, and the All-Caste was all that prevented all-out war between them. Even so, they continue to fight.
Roy finds Starfire curled up in the snow, apparently freezing, despite her solar powers. Desperately he runs over to her and cradles her in his arms. Feeling that she really is cold, Roy uses a special thermal arrow to warm them both. Starfire is grateful, and he assures her that though all three of them have been hurt, they found each other, and they will be fine. Their moment is ruined, however, when Crux appears behind them.
. Originally, he had thought that Jason and Roy were thinking of Starfire as though she were merely a wind-up doll, but now that he sees that they care for her, he will be happy to see them dead as well.
Jason recalls how he had taken part in an All-Caste ritual called the cleansing which involved being submerged in water for an extended period. Jason was the first human in a thousand years to survive it, and Ducra joked at the time that she couldn't tell if it was because he was worthy or stubborn. After completing his training as an assassin, Jason still harboured vengeful feelings. He wanted to kill the Joker, and make Batman suffer for failing to avenge his death. Ducra responded that one day, his heart will shine brighter than the dark fury inside him, and that day will be glorious.
In that moment, Jason realizes that Ducra was right, and that now he can rise above his feelings of vengeance. He draws his own blood with the All-Blades and begins mercilessly attacking the Untitled. He warns that the truce between the Untitled and the All-Caste ended when Ducra and the others were murdered, and now he plans to kill every last member of the Untitled.
Crux grabs Roy up by the scruff of his neck and taunts him that without his arrows, he is just a burnout in a beanie. Taking his cue from the insult, Roy wraps his quiver of arrows around the creature's arm and then leaps out of its reach. The quiver has been equipped with a self-destruct mechanism, and it blows up along with every arrow Roy has left. Fortunately, it works, and Crux is rendered unconscious. However, he drags Roy down beneath the surface of a frozen lake as he falls.
Jason realizes as he makes the killing blow on the Untitled that he still must discover who it was that sent him after her, how many Untitled are left, and whether or not he's just fallen into the middle of a civil war among the Untitled. As he looks up, he realizes that the Untitled is reverting to her human form as the town sheriff, just as the townsfolk are approaching to find him standing over her mutilated corpse.
At the lake, Starfire miraculously crashes through the ice and flies both Roy and Crux out of the water. She explains that while Crux might have been able to render her powerless permanently if she were merely Tamaranean in physiology, she was experimented on while in captivity to the point where her power is beyond that of her people. She turns on Crux and prepares to unleash a likely fatal blast, despite Roy's protests. She is prevented, though, by the appearance of Jason running through the trees toward them. He warns that regardless of what's going on with them, they should run, because the entire town is on his heels.
Appearing in "I'm Free as a Bird -- And This Bird You Cannot Kill!"
The title of this comic is a reference to the song "Free Birdh" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The line specifically is "'Cause I'm as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change"