Worst Case Scenario

Taking Stock

This could be harder than I thought thought Rocket.

It was (roughly, it's not like she had a watch) twenty minutes later, and she didn't have any ideas as to how to escape two pairs of handcuffs and take out two guys with shotguns without either dying (again) or being tasered into submission. Rocket mentally added escape artistry and lockpicking to the list of things she'd need to learn if she ever got out of this, along with kung fu and ninja stealth.

Focus, Raquel. Rocket looked around, taking in the situation again.

The two goons were still sitting there, looking bored but nevertheless attentive. If they got suspicious, they'd probably shock her again, and if she tried to attack them they'd likely shoot her. Even with her hands freed and without guns or shock collars weapons, they looked big enough that she could only really expect to take one of them out with the element of surprise, let alone two.

She herself was sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Her arms were secured behind her back with a pair of handcuffs, the chain of which went through a set of slits in the back of the plastic. She wasn't going to be able to get up unless the cuffs were opened, the chain broke or the entire chair was ripped in half, and none of those seemed like very likely possibilities. Her feet were also secured by a pair of cuffs, with the chain behind the chair leg.

Finally, Aqualad was still unconscious, slumped over in another chair. He looked pretty beat up, and the inhibitor collar around his neck was presumably blocking both his strength and his control of water and electricity. Large super-strength cuffs engulfed his wrists in metal and kept them firmly secured behind his back.

Rocket scanned the room again. And again. It felt like this was a test of some sort. Robin probably could figure out how to escape easily. Most of the others probably would whip out some cool idea or hidden power or something. But Raquel had nothing. No combat-useful skills, no superpowers (outside of her belt), nothing.

Raquel could feel doubt seeping into her mind. Was she really hero material? Just because the stuff in the hospital and with Artemis killing her and all that had been (probably) a hallucination, it didn't change the fact that she'd been damn useless the entire mission. Worse: she'd been a liability, and an agent for the bad guys without even knowing it.

What did I contribute? Let's see... I caught half the Bioship after it broke. And then I dropped it and only lived thanks to Red Arrow. Then I got Zatanna captured, after I'd already poisoned her under mind control. Not good. I didn't help at all in escaping, I almost got the others killed when we ran into those guards, I ran away from some robot monkeys and I paid Red Arrow back for saving me by throwing him into a hundred-thousand-volt electric fence. While being mind-controlled. Again. And then I passed out, leaving Robin to face an evil psychic by himself.


I totally suck at this, don't I.

Robin stopped tugging for a second and ran all the information through his head again. It came back the same.

There was no way out of here.

They'd removed all his equipment, he couldn't move his hands or fingers, his feet were cuffed together and attached to a pipe, there was a shock collar around his neck and he was gagged, so he couldn't even try to talk his way out. Not that Tala seemed like the listening type. She was still reading her book, a bored expression on her face, but he wasn't so stupid as to believe she wasn't keeping one eye on him.

He'd spent the last half an hour trying to see if he could pull the pipe his feetcuffs' chain was wrapped around off the wall. It was probably a water pipe of some sort, and it went straight from the floor to the ceiling, with barely an inch between it and the wall. A quick application of the scientific method confirmed that it was really stuck, and that he probably break the chain or his legs before he could wiggle the concrete the pipe was embedded in loose.

Realizing that any more pulling would simply tire him out, Robin stopped. He would have to wait until they tried to move him. That left an hour and a half to think and to try and piece everything together.

First up, of course, there was Artemis. Or 'Tigress', if she wanted to be called that so badly. That didn't make any sense either. Artemis shouldn't have been able to be the mole. They'd been smarter than that, and she'd proven her loyalty several times. All information they had on her suggested she hated her father. Why would she want to be just like him? To work for him? There was no way that her origin as a hero had been faked so she could infiltrate the Team. She'd been running around on her own as a vigilante crimefighter. And not a high-profile one, either. It would be impossible to predict Batman would offer her a job. And the Team had only been around for a month at that point, anyways. They'd run two ops: Cadmus and Santa Prisca. There was no way anyone could know about them and already have an infiltrator available. And then of course, there was what she'd said earlier... Half a dozen possible explanations had popped into his mind, but none of those were very comforting. It was probably for the best that he hadn't told the others. Not until he was absolutely certain.

For that matter, he wasn't even sure if anyone else on the Team was still alive. Well, besides Artemis (probably) and Zatanna (technically). Roy'd been electrocuted pretty bad, Psimon had done something horrible to Rocket, he had no idea what had happened to Kaldur after they'd been separated, Wally was probably still frozen and he knew nothing about Conner. That left M'gann. Artemis had claimed she was dead, but Robin wasn't in the habit of believing everything he was told. So probably a fifty-fifty toss-up on that. Two-Face's specialty. Still, M'gann was a LOT tougher than she looked, so Robin wasn't ready to give up on her just yet.

Regardless of the others' status, the mission was totally and utterly (to use the official military term) FUBAR. How had he let things get so far out of hand? How had he not realized that Psimon was manipulating him? How the hell was he going to explain all this to Batman?

Robin decided to spend a little time thinking about a cheerier topic, like who'd been trying to kill him all night.

Tala said that he was going to be taken to somewhere called "Gemini Base." Assuming that they were not currently at Cape Chidley (based on the difference in decor), that would mean at least 3 pretty large hideouts. That was a lot, even for a group of supervillains. Whoever his captors were, they'd apparently given orders to Parasite to try and destroy Europe, if not the entire planet, using his black hole device. Sportsmaster, Cheshire, Psimon, and (according to Tala) Klarion the Witch Boy were all directly involved. They had surface-to-air missiles, automatic machine gun turrets, Dr. Ivo's MONQIs, the remote-triggered nanites used to incapacitate Zatanna and the necessary tech to jam the Team's state-of-the-art communications and trace the locator chips in their radios. Then there was the alien Apokoliptan weaponry, which suggested a connection to the Intergang scheme Superboy had uncovered a while back. It was the same tech the Bialyans had been after, and Psimon's presence might potentially confirm Queen Bee's hand in this as well. Cheshire meant the League of Shadows and Ra's al Ghul, and her teaming up with Sportsmaster again so soon after New Orleans couldn't be a coincidence: it was the same client. So that would include Ivo (who had also been mentioned by Psimon and which would explain the MONQIs) and the Brain into this whole mess, as well as whatever they'd been working on. But Ivo was in Belle Reve, unless Artemis had been sowing disinformation and merely claimed he'd been in New Orleans. But there was no reason for her to have claimed that he had escaped if he hadn't. And then in November, Klarion had split the planet into the adult and kids worlds with a bunch of other magic villains, including Wotan of the Injustice League, who'd been busted out of prison before he even got to Belle Reve...

Robin kept thinking, his brain assembling piece after piece. The more connections he made, the more everything fit together and the more sick he felt. How deep does this all go? The resources, the personnel, the sheer number of unaligned villains working together... It dwarfed even the Injustice League in scale. Then again, now that he thought about it, the Brain had been testing Cobra Venom on animals in India. That super-super-steroid led back to the Cult of Kobra who'd made it on Santa Prisca with the help of, you guessed it, Sportsmaster, who had somehow obtained Project Cadmus tech. The same stuff was also used to enhance Ivy's plant monsters, so the Brain and Ivy had to have bought from the same supplier. And if the IL was a part of this, then that would mean that Count Vertigo's whole Ice Fortress scheme, including Vandal Savage and up to five ice villains who were supposedly "in their cells the entire time," just like Ivo...

An illegal genetics program that managed to clone Superman, an international union of assassins, a rogue Middle Eastern nation, at least two powerful magical interdimensional beings, an alien civilization claiming to be the gods of slavery and despair, several deranged scientists and dozens of supervillains and mercenaries united into a single force that was infiltrating federal prisons, magically ripping reality in two, creating black holes and unleashing monsters on major cities just to show that they could...

This was big. Really big.

In the dark prison that was her mind, Zatanna spun around (so to speak) as a presence touched her consciousness like a hand on her shoulder.

Tala had found her! Zatanna was certain that would be the last thought she would ever have before the Lord of Chaos erased her soul from the earth, if not all existence.

What she didn't expect to see was a girl, not much younger than herself, glowing light blue in the darkness.

"Is Z okay?" asked the girl, in a surprisingly calm tone. It was then that Zatanna recognized her, despite only having known her for a single night.


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