At least the hall is made of concrete Aqualad thought. The constant squish of the organic floors of the lower levels of the Cadmus lab in Washington had become quite irritating over time. Unfortunately, that was about all that was going right that day.
Footsteps echoed in the next hall. Aqualad and Red Arrow pressed their bodies against the wall. The archer peeked around the corner, just in time to see the backs of two guards moving down a yet another hallway.
At Red Arrow's signal, Aqualad and Rocket moved forward into the next hall. It seemed like the base went on forever, the concrete illuminated by eerie red light.
As they approached another door, there was a grunt and a thud. Red Arrow peeked inside. There were two masked goons lying on the ground, unconscious.
Robin dropped from the ceiling, a large grin on his face.
"How's the recon coming?" asked the archer, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Getting better" said Robin, searching the guard's pockets and pulling out what looked like a PDA.
"What's that?" asked Rocket.
"Hopefully, our way out of here" said Robin, messing around with the buttons. "There's got to be a map or something..."
"They've got a patrol route that goes through here" whispered Robin.
Aqualad nodded. "Hide."
He started to reach down to pull the unconscious guards to the side, but there wasn't enough time. He, Robin and Red Arrow disappeared into the shadows, like they'd been trained.
Unfortunately, Rocket hadn't taken Stealth 101.
She looked around hurriedly and then tried to back up, but it was too late. A two-man patrol rounded the corner, both wearing ski masks and wielding assault rifles.
Aren't masked goons a little cliché? wondered Rocket, amazed that that was the thought her brain came up with as the two men raised their weapons.
"What the-!" shouted one as they saw their fallen comrades.
"Get on the ground!" demanded the other.
Fortunately, Aqualad picked that time to come out of the shadows and punch one of them in the face, saving her from further villainous clichés.
Red Arrow came from the other side of the hall, knocking the other goon's weapon downwards and then striking him between the legs. The archer ducked as Robin leaped over his head and connected his foot with the man's sternum. He gasped for breath and fell, leaving the Boy Wonder to finish him with a quick jab to the neck.
Rocket exhaled loudly. "Thanks" she said.
"Don't mention it" said Robin in his typical totally-not-serious-enough-for-the-situation manner.
Rocket silently smacked herself for needing to be rescued. Again. Between being an easy target here, falling for Artemis's trick in the woods and letting Zatanna get captured, she'd been nothing but a burden to the Team. The only help at all she'd given had been when the Bioship went down and she tried to catch it. And then her belt had failed, leaving her powerless. Rocket silently promised herself to take judo classes or whatever as soon as this was over. If Red Arrow and Robin could fight without superpowers, so could she.
The boys quickly disabled the men's weapons, save the second one's taser, which Red Arrow took. "Not as good as a bow, but still workable."
The group dragged the four unconscious goons into a nearby empty room before continuing.
"It says we're six stories underground, but there should be an elevator... here" said Robin, studying the PDA he'd stolen.
"Well there isn't" said Red Arrow, using his incredible powers of stating the obvious.
Robin looked around at the empty halls and then back at the map. "Maybe I didn't orient this right..."
"Should we ask for directions?" asked Rocket.
Twenty minutes and two more sets of guards later they finally found a door marked "Exit." According to the map (and one of the guards who had become oh so helpful after Red Arrow put a boot on his neck) the door was the only way into the next area, which contained a way to the surface.
It was oddly enough, not guarded. Nothing set off Robin's 'this is a trap' sense like an unguarded exit, but they didn't really have a choice.
Preparing for the worst, the four positioned themselves on the sides of the door.
"Ready?" whispered Aqualad. The rest nodded and the Atlantean kicked the door down.
No alarms, no guards, not even a strong lock. There was nothing except another hallway, this one lined with glass panels, though it was too dark to see what was behind them.
The four entered, eyes sweeping for signs of an ambush. The fact that the four superhero prisoners were in an incredibly unguarded section of the base was not lost on them.
So yes, it was certainly a trap, though the exact logic of laying a trap for people who'd already been captured evaded them.
Ahead, they spotted a table. A single blue light hung above it. On it were Rocket's inertia belt, Red Arrow's bow and quiver and Robin's utility belt.
"It's a trap" said Red Arrow.
"Of course it's a trap" replied Robin. "But what can we do about it?"
Aqualad looked around at the corridor. Off in a corner, he saw something familiar. There was writing on the wall. Atlantean writing. Instinctively, he took a few steps towards it.
"Aqualad?" asked Rocket.
Kaldur knew it was a bad idea, but somehow he couldn't stop himself.
Robin started to reach out for him,
but stopped, and even took a step back. He noticed Rocket and Red Arrow were
doing the same. Somehow they'd all subconsciously decided to give Aqualad space on this. But that didn't make any sense...
Aqualad kept walking towards the writing. He could see it clearer now and instinctively translated it into English.
"Foes of the light... shall fall" he said.
There was a buzzing noise and a glowing blue field of energy sprang from the walls in between two of the glass panels, separating Kaldur from the others. He reached out towards the barrier, but Robin cut him off.
"Don't touch it! It's a security field! It'll shock you!" the younger boy shouted.
The wall crackled with electricity. There was a loud groan of straining hydraulics as a metal wall descended from the ceiling, cutting off the others from view. For a moment, the area was silent, save the crackling of the electric barrier.
On the other side, Red Arrow slammed his fist into the wall, which succeeded in doing nothing other than bruising his knuckle.
"What do we do?" asked Rocket, panic creeping into her voice.
"We move up, find another way around" said Robin. "Now!"
The lights went out on Aqualad's side, only to flicker back on, a deep red. Two metal sticks rolled across the ground, landing at his feet. He recognized them instantly. His waterbearers.
Black Manta emerged from the door leading back towards the area they'd been imprisoned. He had the weapon on his wrist raised, but did not react as Kaldur snatched up the waterbearers. Instead, the mercenary reached up and pulled off his helmet.
Aqualad had one, short moment of hope that what he had seen on the beach was false, that this would disprove it, but he knew in his heart that it wasn't.
Black Manta was an older man, with dark skin, black hair and a thin beard around his mouth. If not for his beard and hair, he looked like an older version of, well... Aqualad.
"Kaldur'ahm" said Manta, the sworn enemy of King Orin, of Atlantis, of the Justice League.
"It's time we had a little talk. Father to son."