December 28, 16:07 CET
Superman hurtled through the air, just under the speed of sound. It wouldn't do to set off a sonic boom across half of Spain. Certainly not if the League wanted their team back intact.
Behind him, Green Lantern John Stewart had a fist pointed at the ground, his ring scanning the ground miles below.
Batman had contacted them as soon as he'd worked out his theory. The rest of the League was currently assembling at the zeta tube in Madrid and would move out in less than an hour. However, since Superman and Stewart were already there, they were ordered to recon the location from high altitude.
Superman reached the upwards part of his trajectory and flattened out, Lantern doing the same.
"Is this it?" said Superman. Though they were only a few feet apart, the high winds and thin air would have made it impossible to hear each other if not for the radio earpieces they both wore.
"Yeah" said Lantern."My ring says the base is about three miles... that way." He pointed straight down.
Superman nodded and began to stare intently at the location, activating his x-ray vision. It penetrated the cloud cover with ease, revealing a series of concrete buildings next to an old airstrip. No planes were visible, but he could see fresh tire tracks in the grass surrounding it. A few tarps covered various objects.
"Uh-oh" said Lantern, looking at a holographic display coming from his hand. "We just got pinged."
"By what?" Superman asked. There was no way human radar had picked up something as small as they were, not at this altitude.
"I don't know. My ring think's it's alien, but doesn't know the tech."
"Batman, this is Superman" said the Man of Steel into his radio. "They may know we're here. How far out are you?"
Seventy miles away, Batman consulted a holographic map, ignoring the greenish surroundings of the energy bubble that he, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Superboy and a fully green (but still weakened) Miss Martian were standing in, courtesy of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Outside the bubble, the rest of the League was flying in a rough formation, trying to create a radar signature similar to a flock of birds. Not that that would fool anyone when they were flying at over two hundred miles an hour. They'd brought out the entire League, save the Flash, who was still at Belle Reve. Batman had ordered him to stay put. Catching Strange was just as important as recovering the Team.
"It'll take us at least fifteen more minutes to get there" said Batman. "Can you wait that long?"
Superman's super-hearing and Stewart's ring both detected a disturbance at the same time. The two heroes instinctively looked down, just in time to see a bunch of surface-to-air missiles racing up towards them.
Rocket lashed out for another kick, striking Goon #1 in the stomach, letting out much of her frustration of the past day or so. Aggressive violence was surprisingly therapeutic, she'd discovered. And it was good that she was getting it all out of her system, since she probably wasn't going to live through the next thirty seconds.
She could see it all as if it was in slow motion. Goon #1 was down, but his partner was going to be a problem. Aqualad was charging the man, but there was no way he was going to make it before Goon #2 shot him. And while regular Aqualad might be able to take a chest full of birdshot (Rocket would admit she wasn't exactly sure how hard his abs were) beat-up and inhibitor-collared Kaldur probably couldn't.
Suddenly a new figure appeared out of nowhere, grabbing onto Goon #2 from behind. The man tried to fight back, but he simply had no time before a pair of fingers jabbed him in the neck, knocking him out.
The unconscious man slid to the ground, revealing a weary-looking, gloveless, utilitybeltless but nevertheless satisfied Robin.
"Hey guys" he said, completely nonchalant.
Rocket would have waved, but she still had handcuffs on.
"Robin, have you seen any of the others?" asked Aqualad as the Boy Wonder looted the guards' pockets for keys.
"I've got Zatanna, but she's, well, it's a long story" replied Robin, unlocking the various restraints and inhibitor collars.
"How long?" asked Aqualad, flexing his now strengthened muscles as he and Rocket followed Robin around the corner. Zatanna was on the ground, tied up, gagged and unconscious.
"What did you do to her?" she shouted at Robin, way louder than she probably should have.
"She's been possessed by a Lord of Chaos named Tala" replied Robin. "I think she's still in there, but we can't risk her turning on us. Once we get out of here, Dr. Fate should be able to help."
Rocket looked down at her boots. Time to tell them, time to tell them...
"It's all my fault" she said. "I'm the one who screwed up and got her captured. And I... I..." For a moment she choked up, tears starting to appear in her eyes.
"That was not your fault" said Aqualad, putting his hand on her shoulder. "We have all made mistakes, including a great many tonight." Robin considered saying the same thing, but he knew what else she was talking about.
Rocket took a deep breath and continued.
"Psimon's been controlling me" she said.
"Queen Bee's psychic?" Aqualad asked. Robin nodded. "He's here. So's Sportsmaster, Cheshire and who knows what else."
"He made me poison Zatanna before we even left Mt. Justice," continued Rocket "and then I... I..."
"It doesn't matter" said Robin, stepping between them. He figured that it was best for this to all come out in a looong session with Black Canary. "You think you're the only one who's head got messed with by him? The important thing is that we're together and we're safe for right now."
A red laser blast slammed into Aqualad, knocking him to the ground.
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure about that" said Black Manta, emerging from the shadows.
Superman had been having a bad day, something which you would think would not be improved by large numbers of surface-to-air missiles heading straight towards him.
You'd be wrong. You see, missiles were something he could hit.
Or, you know, heat-vision into oblivion. Both were remarkably good stress relievers.
To his left, Green Lantern formed a ring construct resembling a massive scoop and slammed it into a cluster of missiles, ripping them in half with no time to detonate.
Superman shot straight downwards, setting off another group of missiles to his left with heat vision before twisting around and evading another bunch, which attempted to detonate and shower him with shrapnel, only to find their explosions outpaced by the Man of Steel's rapid descent. Not that the shrapnel would have hurt him anyways.
(Probably. Still, you never knew when someone was going to have kryptonite-laced missiles or something lying around.)
Superman was at ground level less than a second later. He didn't bother slowing down, instead slamming straight into one of the two sets of missile launchers. His impenetrable skin slicing through the metal and crunching it into something resembling a crushed soda can. Then he shook his head once to get his balance back, picked up the wreckage of the launcher he'd just destroyed and threw it at the other one.
The supervillain community didn't follow very many rules, but there were three almost universally agreed upon.
1) Stay as far away from Batman as possible.
2) Try to avoid getting the entire Justice League on your tail at the same time.
3) DO NOT make Superman mad. Ever.
A few seconds later, Green Lantern appeared, scanning the area with his ring to make sure there were no more surprises, and for a minute, all was still save the fluttering of one of the tarps that had covered the turrets prior to their activation.
"Where should we start?" Superman asked.
"I'm picking up life signs underneath the tarmac" replied Lantern. "The base probably has an underground bunker in case of air raids."
"Can you find an entrance?" asked Superman.
"Got it. Over there." said Lantern, gesturing at a single-story building that seemed empty, based on a quick scan with x-ray vision.
Superman flew over to the nearest door and ripped it off its hinges.
"Coming?" he asked.
Stewart shrugged and started to enter.
The building exploded, a fireball engulfing them.
Everything went black.
Sportsmaster jogged into the command center, several of his men following close behind. One of them was lugging an unconscious Cheshire over his shoulder. The room was pretty packed. In addition to his normal troops, there was Mr. Freeze, who was leaning against the wall, alternating between checking his freeze ray, double-checking the patching he'd done to his suit and scowling at everyone else. Psimon sat on a desk, trying to not fall over. A large, black, coffin-shaped box sat on wheels nearby, its "Asset Transfer. Do Not Open" and cryohazard labels still intact.
A thunder-like rumbling shook the room.
"Was that what I think it was?" Sportsmaster asked.
Kuttler, who was at a computer, nodded. "Building 1 is destroyed, but that's not going to slow 'em down for long."
"It doesn't have to be for long, it just has to be enough!" Sportsmaster replied. "Now what's our status?"
"We've got three men still out there: Tate, Bennett and Manta. They were supposed to be moving Rocket and Aqualad. Tala's missing too."
Sportsmaster swore and paced for a second. He didn't like Black Manta one bit, but he had strict orders to make sure that no one was left behind. It wouldn't do to give the Justice League a gold mine of potential intel, now would it?
"Alright. Kuttler, activate the tube and start sending people through. I'll be back in three minutes."
Kuttler sighed but nodded. The boom tube should be able to hold steady for that long, but a lot of things should have been going right today that weren't.
He pressed the button and a large glowing sphere of golden light appeared in the center of the room, wind forming as the tube sucked in the air around it.
"Freeze, cover that door" shouted Sportsmaster as he grabbed an assault rifle. "The rest of you, start going through." The men nodded and the first two walked into the light, dragging the coffin with them.
"Perhaps I could be of some assistance?" said Psimon, looking paler than usual. Sportsmaster happened to know that the combination of electrocution and psycho-stimulants had royally screwed over the psychic's brain, but hey, if he was volunteering...
"We've still got brats running around, with capes about to knock our door down. See if you can... stall them."
Psimon nodded. "It would be my pleasure."
Cheshire groaned and started to sit up. Sportsmaster grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet, dragging her along.
"Hu- Dad!" she shouted in an irritated tone, pulling her wrist out of his grasp.
"Come on, little girl" said Sportsmaster, cocking his weapon. "Job's not over just yet."