Robin dashed to the left, a laser blast singing his cape. Weaving back and forth, he evaded several more shots before reaching Black Manta. His kick deflected off the mercenary's armor. Robin tried to use his momentum to flip over Manta, but the man caught his ankle and tossed him into Rocket, knocking them both to the ground.
"Rather confident, aren't you, child?" Manta asked.
Robin kicked off the ground with his feet, flipping over into a one-hand handstand and cartwheeling away. Manta fired another laser blast, which missed. Rocket suppressed a squeak as the blast struck the ground near her feet.
Get it together Raquel! she thought as Robin kicked off a wall and somersaulted over Manta, only to be batted aside by the man's powered armor. You've faced down worse guys then this. And so what if you had a piece of alien technology helping you out? It's not the belt that made you a hero. It's what you did with it.
Black Manta slammed Robin into the wall and raised his left fist, which crackled with electricity from a wrist-mounted taser.
All you've got to do is give it your all and don't hold back.
With this enlightening epiphany, Rocket examined the situation, thought for a moment, and threw her shoe at Manta's head.
The sneaker bounced off without visible effect, but Manta did turn his head briefly, allowing Robin to slam both his feet into Manta's 'eyes'. His head snapped back and he lost his grip on Robin's collar. Somehow, the Boy Wonder still had the energy to do another leap, spinning over Manta's head and snapping an inhibitor collar on his neck.
Manta had barely been able to turn around to face Robin and Rocket when Robin pushed the button in his hand, sending electricity pouring out of the collar and into the mercenary.
"I got that from a friend of yours" said Robin. "How's it feel?"
Black Manta stood up straight and ripped the collar off with one hand. It continued to spark in his gauntlet.
"Just fine" said the mercenary. "The suit's Faraday shielded. This won't hurt me a bit."
A wide variety of profanities raced through Rocket's mind, but Robin didn't seemed phased. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"You may be shock-proof" he said, giving one of his kinda-creepy child-like chuckles. "But are you Aqualad-proof?"
Black Manta had a pretty quick mind. Like many supervillains who tangled with super-powered heroes on a regular basis, he had to use his brain to make up for their brawn. But even with his sharp intellect, it still took him half a second to realize the meaning of this sentence and to start to turn around.
And by then it was much, much too late to stop the fist of one Kaldur'ahm fist from slamming into his face.
Red Arrow peeked around another corner before signaling that it was clear with a hand signal.
"Are you going to do that every time we turn a corner?" Artemis asked.
"Well, we could always try dying" the elder archer replied with venom in his voice. "I much prefer this, though, don't you?"
Wally had forgotten exactly how bitter Roy could get when he was frustrated and bowless.
"Come on, guys" the speedster said, stepping into the empty hall. "Surely we're almost…"
A wave of nausea struck him, then disappeared as quickly as it came. Wally put his hand on the wall to steady himself.
"Hey, did you guys feel…?"
His sentence was cut off by a kick from Roy, which nearly took his head off.
"What the-" Wally shouted, forgetting they were in enemy territory for the umpteenth time. Roy lashed out with a series of blows that Wally barely dodged with the remnants of his still-faded super-speed.
"What's gotten into you?" shouted Artemis, grabbing Roy's arms and trying to restrain him.
"Oh, it's quite simple" said Red Arrow, slipping out of her grip and slamming his foot into her solar plexus. Wally could see that his irises had turned light purple.
"Have you ever heard of the game… Psimon says?"
Light returned to the darkness and it took Superman's eyes a second to readjust.
Captain Marvel tossed away the concrete slab he'd picked up and tossed it away. "Are you okay, Superman?" he asked.
"Yeah, fine" muttered Superman, silently embarrassed as he noticed the remainder of the League was looking at him.
Superboy, Miss Martian Black Canary and Wolf hopped out of the Supercycle a few feet away. Superboy looked as though he was trying to avoid eye contact with his 'father,' which suited Superman just fine. Neither of them needed any more distractions at the moment.
"It was a trap" said Superman.
"Of course it was" said Green Arrow, who was standing nearby. "This whole thing has been nothing but one trap after another." Superboy and Miss Martian both looked at the ground. They knew that better than most.
"Well, I for one am tired of it" said Black Canary.
"A trap's only any good if we walk into it" said Batman. "And that can only happen if we take the path. Are there any life signs directly below us?"
Both Green Lanterns scanned with their rings and shook their heads.
"Then it's time we made our own way in."
"That's twelve feet of reinforced concrete" Green Arrow pointed out.
"And?" was the Dark Knight's reply.
The Lanterns formed drill constructs. Aquaman prepared to call the water he sensed in pipes below upwards. Superman, Superboy and Captain Marvel themselves for a standard leap-punch. Captain Atom began to charge an energy blast. Martian Manhunter felt the ground with his telekinesis, looking for weak points to pull.
All of which made them feel rather silly when Dr. Fate took two steps forward, waved his hand and said "Tlem." A golden ankh symbol appeared on the ground which then simply dissolved, revealing a hallway below.
"Showoff" muttered Green Arrow.
Batman pulled two batarangs from his belt. "J'onn, scout ahead." The elder Martian nodded and phased into the ground. "We're going to go in fast, hit them hard and our Team back. Got it?" The assembled Leaguers nodded in a moment that would have been really awesome if it hadn't been interrupted by two dozen chittering green MONQIs with jetpacks pouring out of the hole.
Superboy was the only one who managed to speak in the half a second before the robots reached them.
"I hate monkeys."
Black Manta slammed against the wall and was still.
"Way to go Aqualad!" cheered Rocket, flashing a nervous smile.
"Nice" added Robin, giving the Atlantean a punch on the shoulder.
"It was nothing" said Kaldur, giving a sad glance to the armored man on the ground.
"We need to get out of here" said Robin, interrupting any further contemplation. Aqualad liberated his waterbearers from Manta's belt, deciding that he would put aside such thoughts until later.
"Can you carry Zatanna?" he asked Rocket.
Rocket thought for a second before nodding. Carefully, she scooped up the other girl, who was still unconscious and bound.
I'm not losing you this time she thought.
"What's this?" came the arrogant voice of a man who has the upper hand and knows it.
The three teenagers slowly turned around to find an all-too-familiar blue-clad figure standing down the hall, assault rifle in hand.
"You know, you little punks have become more trouble than you're worth. It think it's time we finally just..."
Aqualad didn't let him finish that sentence, instead bursting the water pipe above the mercenary's head and ordering the water to strike him with all of its fury. The rifle skidded away.
"And that's why you don't mess with the-" began Robin, only to stop as a tiny black ball flew in from behind and struck the ground near their feet, engulfing the area in thick black smoke. The Boy Wonder tried to counter the attack from behind, but he was knocked aside by a kick to the head.
Cheshire emerged from the smoke in a full sprint, the still-bound Zatanna over her shoulder.
"Why do I always have to be bait?" grumbled Sportsmaster, leaping to his feet and checking the unconscious Manta.
"Dunno" replied Cheshire, throwing a sai at Aqualad, who deflected it with a force field of water. "Maybe it's all a hunk of meat like you's good for?"
"Whatever, little girl" Sportsmaster replied, firing a pistol at the shield to keep Aqualad from dropping it. "Just end this, okay?"
"If you say so" muttered Cheshire, slashing Zatanna's bonds. "Wakey, wakey!" the assassin teased, shaking the girl.
Zatanna groaned but quickly rose to her feet. Her eyes glowed red and energy flowed through her hair, making it dance like octopus tentacles. A wicked grin crossed her face.
Rocket coughed, still trying to recover from the jab to the solar plexus she'd gotten from Cheshire. Until this point, she wasn't quite sure she'd believed Robin's story about Zatanna being the victim of demonic possession. All doubts were gone now. This girl was not Zatanna.
"We've gotta move!" shouted Robin, uncomfortably aware of exactly how easily Tala could take them all out.
"Agreed" said Aqualad, flicking his wrists and feeling the water rush to obey his command.
"Lla retaw..." began Tala, only to be cut off as Aqualad's water shield shattered, sending the liquid barreling into the three villains.
Robin pulled Rocket to her feet, and by the time Tala looked up, they had disappeared into the maze of hallways.
"We must pursue them" she said.
"Negative" said Sportsmaster, pulling a groaning Manta to his feet. "Orders from the top. We are pulling out. Now."
"You dare to give orders to me, a Lord of Chaos?" demanded Tala, stomping her foot. Her intimidating presence was only slightly impacted by the full foot and a half of height Sportsmaster had over her.
"You know what, fine" he said, pointing down one of the halls. "The entire Justice League, including one Dr. Fate is that way. Go do whatever you want. I wonder how long you'll last?"
Tala had visibly winced at the mention of Fate. "Very well" she sighed. "Perhaps a retreat is in order."
"That's what I thought, princess" said Sportsmaster, gesturing to the two unconscious guards on the ground. "Now, do either of you feel like some heavy lifting?"