This Chapter Will Self-Destruct In Five... Four...
"Self-destruct will commence in three minutes."
Superboy screamed in rage as he let loose all of his frustration from the past few days onto a steel bulkhead.
"Lock's busted" he reported a few seconds later.
"Then move!" Aqualad shouted as he channeled water out of a pipe he'd busted. The liquid poured into the crack between the two sides and began to push them apart as M'gann pulled with the full force of her telekinesis. Superboy grabbed onto the edge and pulled as well. Wolf barked in encouragement.
These bulkheads were meant to contain someone on the power level of Superman, and they were really well designed. Even with three super-powered teens acting on it, they could barely budge the thing.
"Uh, Tornado?" Superboy grunted. "Any luck?"
"The virus is interfering with my systems, but I believe that I will be able to override the self-destruct within two minutes" Red Tornado replied from his access point on the other side of the room. The android jerked suddenly with a disconcerting zap noise.
"Perhaps three minutes" he corrected.
"Self-destruct will commence in two minutes, thirty seconds."
"We've got two and a half minutes before the bomb goes off!" Rocket shouted as she, Red Arrow and Black Canary dashed down another hallway into the kitchen area.
"It's not a bomb per se" Canary replied. "I mean, it's not meant to blow up the mountain or anything."
"Then. What. Does. It. DO?" Red Arrow shouted, the stress of being repeatedly betrayed clearly taking a toll on his sense of subtly.
"The self-destruct's supposed to wipe out any evidence that the League was ever here," said Black Canary "as well as anything left behind which might compromise our identities. I didn't even know it was still operational, since it's been so long since the League used the Cave." She reached the next door, only to find it locked.
"Wipe out how, exactly?" the archer asked.
"Shaped charges installed throughout the upper parts of the mountain, designed to trigger a cave-in." Canary spun around and landed a solid kick on the door, which did absolutely nothing other than break the heel on her shoe. Canary swore under her breath. Batman just had to insist on the reinforced titanium hinges on all the doors, didn't he? All of which had closed and locked automatically as part of the false intruder alarm. Normally they'd be able to get the computer to open the doors for them, providing an advantage over the hypothetical intruders, but the virus was making the computer... uncooperative.
"So it is a bomb" Rocket said as Canary looked around for another way through.
"It's not a bomb!" shouted Canary as she jumped onto the counter and pulled off the grating the air vent directly above them. Reaching up to grab the edge proved to be a mistake, however, as a low-voltage electrical current zapped her hand. Another one of Batman's paranoid security measures reactivated. While most of the security had been shut down when the Cave was first abandoned, the attack by Red Inferno and Red Torpedo had revealed Mt. Justice's vulnerability to attack, hence all the reactivated features, which where being so helpful to the Team at the moment.
"Don't suppose either of you know how to move through an electrically charged metal tube without getting zapped, do you?" she asked. Red Arrow and Rocket looked at each other.
"Self-destruct will commence in two minutes."
"I'll take that as a no" Canary muttered. She looked around again. Desperate times call for desperate measures...
"Cover your ears" she said. The two younger heroes did so without hesitation as Canary turned to the door and unleashed a Canary Cry. For several seconds, nothing could be heard save the screeching. Pots and pans fell down. The TV across the room cracked. All the eggs in the fridge shattered.
The door crumbled. A single kick later and it was down.
"What are we even looking for?" Red Arrow asked, his ears still ringing as they moved on.
"Batman, being the paranoid genius that he is, designed a failsafe program in the Cave's main generator room. It's not hooked up to the main system, so the virus may not have gotten it. It'll let us kill the power and reset the system, but only if we get there before..."
"Self-destruct will commence in one minute, thirty seconds."
Half an inch. A full sixty seconds of desperate pulling and they'd managed to move the bulkhead back half an inch. Superboy was getting more tired and angry by the second, but unfortunately he was getting tired faster than he was getting angry. The fact that he hadn't eaten, let alone slept, in twenty-four hours didn't improve things at all. At least he could get a bit of energy from sunlight. The others, well...
By this point, Kaldur was both pulling on the door with his hands and pushing with the water as well, which was merely depleting his weakened strength even faster. M'gann was breathing heavily. Wolf had tried to grab onto Superboy's shirt with his mouth and help pull, but that had merely torn his shirt. Which had helped with the angry, but not so much with the tired.
It was now very, very clear to them that this was not going to work. Either Tornado or Canary's group disabled the self-destruct, or they were all going to die.
"Self-destruct will commence in one minute."
Another locked door blocked their path. Canary prepared for another cry, only to be shoved out of the way by Red Arrow.
"I've got this" said the archer, stringing an explosive arrow and firing it at the door. The explosion ripped the door off its hinges and they ran through.
"This is the hallway" Canary shouted.
"Which door?" asked Roy, checking his quiver. No explosives left. Wonderful.
"This one" said Canary, grabbing the handle. Locked, like the other ones. "I can't risk using my Canary Cry down here near all this sensitive equipment" she said.
"No problem" said the archer, jamming a polyethylene foam arrow into the space between the hinges. The arrow released the expanding foam, wrenching the metal of the door. Unfortunately, while this broke the hinges, it also twisted the metal, making the door impossible to open.
"Nicely done, RA" said Rocket, subconsciously noting that at least she was going to die with her sense of sarcasm intact.
"You have a better idea?" the archer shouted.
"Self-destruct will commence in thirty seconds."
"No time for any more tricks" Canary said. "We're just going to have to batter it down. On the count of three, we all ram the door at the same time. Got it? One, two three!"
The three of them slammed into the door, which moved back slightly. The foam cracked, but remained in place.
"Again!" Canary shouted.
They charged again. Another crack.
They struck the door and the foam shattered, sending them tumbling forwards into the room. Canary turned her fall into a somersault, sprung to her feet and dashed over to a computer console.
"Come on, come on!" she shouted at the computer as it lazily tried to connect to the main system.
"Can you stop it?" Rocket asked, close to panic.
"I think so, but I need more time!"
Red Arrow checked his watch.
"We don't have any."
Superboy let out a cry of rage and slammed his fist into the bulkhead. Two inches. Two inches of space was all that they could manage before they became too exhausted to continue. They could see the outside, but couldn't reach it. Even M'gann with her shapeshifting wouldn't be able to fit through. If he hadn't let himself be exposed to kryptonite earlier, or if he still had his shields, he could have... might have...
Who are you kidding? he said to himself. The shields wouldn't have helped here. The door's too heavy and there's not enough time. They'd just have set you off on a rampage you couldn't control. M'gann, Kaldur and Wolf's final memories would be of that...
But I might have been able to open it a bit more, so that at least M'gann could slip through he replied to himself. If I knew she'd survive, I could die happy. And that's assuming the self-destruct can kill me, which is fifty-fifty at best. But Kaldur, Canary, Rocket, RA, Tornado, they'd all be gone. Maybe Tornado could be rebuilt or something, but the rest would die either way. And, if given the chance, would M'gann even choose to abandon her friends?
"Self-destruct will commence in ten..."
"Tornado...?" Conner called out, a hint of panic creeping into his voice.
"I require additional time. I do not believe I will succeed" Tornado replied. "My apologies to you all."
Hey, at least he was honest.
Kaldur slumped down by the bulkhead. "I am sorry that my leadership has lead to this. I truly have failed as leader."
"That's not, true" M'gann said. "You were a great leader! None of us could have done better than you."
"I will take that as a compliment, M'gann" Kaldur replied.
"Still, it has been an honor to fight by your sides" said the Atlantean.
"Likewise" said Conner.
He turned to M'gann.
"I love you" he whispered.
"I know" she replied.
They kissed, and then everything went black.