A Brief Respite
The room was dark, the lights dimmed. Kid Flash suspected that it was probably nighttime. He sure felt tired.
Scratch that, he felt exhausted. Even though he hadn't used his superspeed since Cape Chidley, he'd still been running around, fighting and so forth. And he hadn't gotten a single bite to eat since his snack bars.
"Rob? Ideas?" Kid Flash whispered.
"I..." Robin started and then stopped. "I... really don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know? You're Robin! You've always got a way out of whatever situation we're stuck in. That's what we pay you for, isn't it?"
Robin stared ahead, not willing to meet the speedster's eyes. "I really messed up this time. I mean really messed up."
"Dude, we all screwed up. Don't be so hard on yourself."
"I was in charge for most of the operation! I should have had Miss M link us up via telepathy first thing. I shouldn't have let RA go off on his own. I shouldn't have left Rocket and Zatanna alone. Psimon was messing with my head, but that's no excuse. I should have been able to figure it out. I know Aqualad's the leader, and I think that's for the best, but I'm still the most experienced. I'm the one that all the others look to when they have no idea what to do. I'm our version of Batman. I can't allow myself to make mistakes. If I do, well..."
"Oh come on, man!" said Kid Flash. "I know this looks bad, but we've been in worse... or at least pretty close, right?"
Robin continued to stare at the ground.
"I have no equipment. You have no powers. There's a ton of villains all around. It's their home turf. We can't even be sure if the message got out. Unless the League shows up in the next few hours, I don't think there's anything that we can do."
"Are we honestly that screwed?"
Robin looked at him. "If we are, it's been fun kicking bad-guy butt with you."
The two boys were quiet for a minute and the darkness and fatigue finally claimed them.
December 29, 03:31 CET
The Team, the Flash, Black Canary and Red Tornado emerged from the zeta tubes. Sphere, sitting nearby perked up and rolled over to Superboy, beeping cheerfully.
"Hey girl" he said, petting her, trying not to let his sour mood leak into his voice.
"Flash" said Batman, walking over to the group. "Are you able to make another long run tonight?"
"Well," the Flash said, rubbing the back of his head "I only ran from Spain to Rhode Island today, so I think I can fit in a few more miles. What's the plan?"
"The location that we believe Robin and Kid Flash are being held at is outside of Stuttgart, Germany. The coordinates have been sent to your GPS. We don't have a lot of time. We need you to run there as fast as possible without breaking the sound barrier. Stuttgart's about four hundred miles away, so it'll take you half an hour or so."
"No problem, Bats. But how will me running there by myself help KF and Robin?"
"Well," Batman added "you'll be taking a passenger."
"Why not?" shrugged Flash. "Anything for Wally."
Rocket looked around, noticed that her mouth was open and closed it. Paris was, for some reason, the largest regular supervillain target in Europe. As such, the League's zeta tubes were kept inside a much larger building than most of their zeta outposts. The retrofitted warehouse was divided into several rooms, many of which contained computers or supply caches.
"Raquel!" came a deep male voice from the other side of the room.
"Icon?" asked Rocket as the hero flew over to them. "What are you doing here?"
"Though I am not officially a member of the League for another two days, Batman requested that I take part in this operation. He said that we required all the firepower we could muster."
"Well, you are a lot of firepower" Rocket admitted, playfully punching his arm. "The League's lucky to have you."
"Um, hi" said M'gann, hovering over. "I'm Miss Martian, but you can just call me M'gann if we're not in the field. And this is Superboy." The Kryptonian gave a little wave.
"A pleasure to meet you both" said Icon. "I only wish that it was under better circumstances."
"Uh, Icon?" asked Rocket. "Could we talk alone for a second?"
"Certainly" said Icon as they walked over to a corner of the room. "What is it?"
"I lost the inertia belt" Rocket said, hanging her head. "And it broke before that to boot."
Icon was quiet for a few seconds. "That is unfortunate" he finally said. "However, I am more pleased that you are unharmed."
"I guess you could say that" Rocket said, rubbing her arm. "Out in Canada, I ended up on the wrong end of some mind control. I threw Red Arrow into an electric barrier and did some other stuff. Then the guy controlling me, Psimon, made me see this vision where the whole Team had gotten killed, and it was all my fault, and you said... you said..." Raqual sniffed and blinked a couple of times, her eyes becoming watery.
Icon placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Raquel, I think you may have misunderstood your nature as a hero. The inertia belt provided you with great powers, it's true. But it didn't make you a hero. You became one of your own free will. In fact, I would not be a hero either without your encouragement, would I?"
"Well..." Raquel stammered. "T-that's true..."
"Though I do not know how you will proceed from here, I know in my heart that if you wish to continue to be a hero, even without your belt, you will find a way."
Rocket sniffed again. "Thanks, Icon."
"Rocket" said Batman, walking over to them.
"Y-yes?" Rocket stammered. Talking to the Batman still made her very nervous, and she'd been on her last nerve for quite a while now.
"I understand that you currently lack the belt required to use your powers" Batman said. Raquel nodded.
"Then," the Dark Knight said without an audible hint of emotion "I believe that it would be unwise and irresponsible for you to accompany the Team and the League on our mission to rescue Robin and Kid Flash. Without powers you would be nothing but a liability in the field and could do little save get yourself killed."
"Batman..." began Icon, but Batman cut him off.
"That is why I would like to put you on monitor duty. Stay here and coordinate the Team and the League from a distance."
"Um... How?" Rocket asked.
"This building contains the equipment for command-and-control functions. Normally we would leave a League member on the Watchtower perform this duty, but we need every fighter we've got. I believe you are capable of completing this assignment, which is why I am asking you."
"I can do that" said Rocket. "It's better than just sitting and waiting for news of what happened."
Batman didn't smile, of course, but there was a teeny, tiny change in his expression.
"That's what I thought."