Worst Case Scenario


"Well, this sucks."

Red Arrow raised an eyebrow. If the situation wasn't so dire, he'd offer Robin the award for Understatement of the Year.

The Boy Wonder was awfully nonchalant (or, knowing him, would it be just 'chalant'?) considering they'd been betrayed by one of their friends and were shackled with their hands above their heads in the middle of an enemy base waiting for someone to come by and do horrible things to them. But that was Robin for you.

"Kaldur" said Robin. "You're the one with superpowers. Any ideas?"

"The cuffs are electronically controlled, but still have physical locks, so I doubt I could open them with an electrical surge."

"There's a sprinkler system above us" said Red Arrow. "Can you control the water in those pipes from here?"

Aqualad at the ceiling, trying to trace the system of pipes. "It is possible, but without my waterbearers, I may not have the strength to do so."

"Well," said Rocket, "unless someone has a better idea, I say go for it!" She smiled at him encouragingly.

"I will do my best" said Aqualad, briefly returning the smile.

The eel tattoos on his arms began to glow as he reached out with all his magical strength. He willed the water in the pipes to escape from their confinement, to come and aid him. He commanded it to burst forth and flood the room, to spread out and fill the void, to fulfill its natural destiny.

Nothing happened.

Kaldur tried harder. He throw all he could into it, pulling at the water with every fiber of his being.

Still nothing.

Kaldur found his strength dissolve and the glow of his tattoos fade as despair overwhelmed him. He could see it spreading to the faces of his teammates, too. Even Rocket seemed disappointed.

"Any other ideas?" asked Robin. No one answered.

Their one chance at escape and it had failed because of him. Because he wasn't strong enough! Garth would have had no problem doing this. Neither would Tula. Even La'gann would have been capable of it. No other student of the Conservatory his age would have struggled here, but he had neglected his studies too much. Was he really worthy of being Aqualad?

In frustration, Kaldur pulled on the shackles with all his power, leaving deep imprints in his wrists. He was panting, and his face and arms were coated in sweat.

Perhaps what he had seen on the beach was true. Perhaps if Black Manta...

Wait a moment...

"Sweat" he said. It was a word and nothing more, but he realized it would be the key to freedom. Concentrating, he willed the droplets of sweat on his right hand to move, to flow towards the shackles. Soon, enough had gathered that he could guide it into the locks, pushing this way and that to force the mechanism apart.

The right shackle opened.

Feeling a rush of adrenaline, Aqualad immediately began pulling on the left shackle. With a better angle and the ability to use his hand instead of his wrist, the metal quickly crumbled under his Atlantean strength.

"Aqualad's free!" said Rocket, the smile returning to her face.

"Go Kaldur" cheered Robin, and even Red Arrow allowed a bit of a grin.

Pulling his right hand free, Kaldur stopped only briefly to rub the marks on his wrists before he began working on the restraints wrapped around his legs. In less than a minute, all four of his limbs were free. He was, however, still trapped inside a glass case which felt far too much like one of those fish tanks surface-dwellers were so found of.

He leaned back on the rear of the case, using his arms to steady himself as he lifted up his legs and pressed them against the glass. Using all of his considerable strength, he began to straighten his legs. The strain was too much for the bolts holding the glass in place and they broke, sending the pane falling flat on the ground with a crash.

"Someone's going to hear that" said Red Arrow.

Aqualad ran over to the control panel, only to stop in confusion as he looked over the keyboard and various buttons.

"Robin, can you use this panel to free the others?" he asked.

"Probably. I mean, I don't have my computer, but I should be able..."

The Boy Wonder was interrupted by Aqualad smashing his hand into the glass.

"What are you doing?" Robin asked, shocked, as the Atlantean continued to punch the glass, carving a good-sized hole and then grabbing the edge.

"I am freeing you" said Kaldur, pulling his hand back and ripping out most of the remaining glass. He quickly broke the younger boy's shackles.

"Well, I guess I can't argue with that" said Robin, leaping out of the pod and reaching the control panel. He began furiously typing.

"Hey, you're hurt" said Rocket, gesturing towards Aqualad's hand, which was bleeding from a large cut on the palm, courtesy of grabbing broken glass.

"I will be fine" said Kaldur, who nevertheless put some pressure on it.

"No use" muttered Robin, leaving the keyboard and pulling a panel off the side of the control station. He glanced over the various wires for a second before ripping two out.

The glass panes over Red Arrow and Rocket retracted into the floor, allowing Aqualad to free them as well.

"Nicely done" said Robin to the Atlantean, ripping off part of Red Arrow's sleeve.

"Hey! Use your own costume!" shouted the archer.

"Yours isn't Kevlar" replied Robin, wrapping the cloth around the cut on Aqualad's hand.

Red Arrow muttered something he'd rather not repeat and checked the door. It was locked, but nothing a quick kick from a very frustrated superhero couldn't handle.

"So what do we do now?" asked Rocket.

"We get out of here," began Robin, "call for backup, find KF, Superboy and Zatanna..."

Red Arrow narrowed his eyes as he finished the other boy's sentence.

"And then we take Artemis down."

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