Worst Case Scenario


Stuttgart, Germany

December 29, 04:16 CET

A red, yellow and blue blur sped through the darkness. Flash squinted to try and see the path ahead.

He'd gotten off the main road ten minutes before (of course the bad guys would be watching the road leading up to their base, right?), so now there was a very real risk of tripping, falling and breaking his neck at 500 miles an hour. Or overshooting his destination. Also his arms were getting tired. Running 300 miles with a Lord of Order in a bridal carry will do that, even if he's nice enough to put on a spell or two to cut down on his weight.

It was awkward, running like this, but there was no other way to get Fate there fast enough without flying, and that was just asking for another round of surface-to-air missiles to the face, as well as the loss of the element of surprise. And if they lost that, they'd lose Wally and Robin.

So, here he was, running through the better part of Germany, off-road and practically blind.

Iris had better appreciate getting her nephew back in one piece.

The GPS on his wrist beeped and he slowed down to the more modest 100 mph before skidding to a stop.

"We're here" he said, putting Fate down. The Lord of Order grunted and brushed off his cloak as the spell which had shielded him from the intense friction of the run faded away.

"Bats, we're at the location" Flash said into his radio.

"Is Fate ready?" Batman asked.

"I am not the Justice League's personal teleportation device, but yes, I am ready" Fate replied. He raised his arm and a golden ankh appeared in the air. Aqualad emerged, followed by Miss Martian, Superboy and Red Arrow, all wearing the darkened colors of stealth-tech uniforms.

"Batman's not coming with?" Flash asked. Aqualad put a finger to his lips and a second later Miss Martian had added both Flash and Fate to their telepathic link.

"Batman does not wish to say it," the Atlantean thought aloud (literally) "but he believes that it is necessary for the Team to do this recon ourselves. He is afraid that the events of the past few nights have shattered our confidence in ourselves."

"'Sides" Superboy thought-spoke. "This is our mess. Robin and Kid Flash are our teammates, and Artemis is our responsibility."

"Well then," Flash thought. "Don't mind us. Evil bad-guy base is that way."

Klarion was bored. Since Vandal had insisted that he not destroy anything in the base or torment any of the personnel, he'd decided to copy an old Earth method of boredom: Bouncing a tennis ball against a wall.

Okay, so the tennis ball was on fire and enchanted to scream "Help me! I'm on fire!" but the principle was the same.

Tala was at the other end of the room, sitting cross-legged, reading the leather-bound magic tome which she'd fortunately been able to retrieve from Aguila Base before they'd evacuated. For some reason, all of the mortals seemed to think that just because she and Klarion were both Lords of Chaos that they had the same interests, or personalities or, you know, liked each other. Even without the whole Salem thing, Tala had never liked Klarion. How could she? He was childish and annoying and he had the attention span of a hungry squirrel and the forethought of a mosquito. Tala was really very curious about what Vandal Savage had done to get Klarion on his side and more-or-less behaving. Klarion was, after all, one of the main reasons that Chaos had such a bad reputation on Earth. Didn't he realize that tormenting humans for his own amusement was just going send them running into the hands of Order?

Tala stretched her arms out. She was still getting used to this new body, now that she was more-or-less certain that its former occupant was gone. Again. She hadn't told anyone about her little "lapse" in control back at Aguila Base, and fortunately it seemed that Robin had not thought to mention it. And why would he? He was a child, after all, a newborn even by the standards of mortals. It's not that she was concerned about a relapse, (Zatanna had only succeeded though the element of surprise) but she needed Savage and his 'Light' to feel that they could trust her. And Klarion would never, ever, ever, ever, ever stop teasing her about it if he found out.


Still, it had been an interesting day, once she had managed to cast a spell to heal her concussion. Three blows to the head in less than twelve hours. Robin really had been more trouble than she had expected. She was sorry that should wouldn't get to see his death.

Teekl meowed right as the door opened and the orange-clad girl entered. Tigress, right? From what she'd heard, this girl was quite an... interesting specimen. Perhaps worth some closer study.

Tigress stood in the door for a minute, not saying anything, just staring at Klarion's flaming tennis ball. She looked, as humans would say, like a deer caught in headlights (whatever those were).

"Don't be shy" said Klarion. "We're not going to hurt you." Then he chuckled in such a way that he completely defeated the purpose of his previous statement.

"Do you have something to say to us, child?" Tala asked.

"Uh, yeah" Tigress said. "Savage wants you two to get the teleportation spell ready now. He wants the sidekicks gotten rid of ASAP."

"What sap?" asked Tala. "Why sap?"

Tigress blinked, not really sure what to say. Modern expressions were not Tala's strong suit.

"Never mind" Klarion butted in. "Come on, Tala. Vandal gets cranky when you make him wait."

How on Earth did Savage get YOU to care about... Tala though. Then she stopped as a shiver went down her (it was hers now, okay?) spine.

"Did you feel that?" she asked Klarion.

"Yeah..." the Witch-Boy said. Teekl meowed and hissed.

"Feel what?" asked Tigress. "What's going on?"

"Order magic. Not far from here" Tala said.

"Nabu" Klarion muttered.

"Dr. Fate?" Tigress asked, a hint of fear edging its way into her voice. "Here?"

"If Fate has come, then he will not be alone" Tala said. "Order despises fair fights. His allies, the Justice League, will come with him."

"Vandy is gonna haaate this" added Klarion.

Teekl meowed in agreement.

"See anything?" Red Arrow asked over the mental link. The four remaining active Team members were spread out, twenty feet between each other, carefully moving forwards through the darkness. Flash and Fate had stayed back where they had teleported in. Stealth wasn't Flash's thing and Nabu was glowing gold. Besides, he needed to set up for the big show.

"Nothing" Superboy replied, continuing to scan the woods with his thermal vision. "It looks like a normal hill."

"If this is indeed the location of our enemy's base, then there must be some sign of them" Aqualad replied.

"Wait, wait, I see something" Superboy said. "It looks like a concentrated heat signature. Possibly some sort of vent."

"If the facility is underground, they'd need some way to get rid of excess heat" Miss Martian pointed out.

"Do you think we could get in through it?" Red Arrow asked.

"I don't know" Superboy replied. "We'll have to get closer to find out."

"I can fly over there and check" said Miss Martian, shimmering slightly as her camouflage adjusted to the environment.

"Superboy, are you are certain that we are clear?" Aqualad asked.

"Yeah. I don't see anything at all on thermal. This place is dead."

As the Martian started to hover forwards, careful not to disturb the ground, a tiny noise hit Superboy's super-ears. Was it... a snapping twig?

Not possible he thought. I don't see anything but grey.

But grey doesn't mean dead...

"M'gann! Get down!" he shouted over the mental link just as a swarm of red disks flew out of the darkness. Two of them locked onto the Martian and began to electrocute her. Red Arrow dodged a disk, notched and arrow and blew them away in the time that it took Superboy to realize what had happened.

Aqualad slashed another disk with a hard-water sword, grabbed the stunned M'gann and leaped away from the open ground, which was now full of red disks and laser blasts. The four teens took cover behind some trees.

"I'm an idiot!" Superboy shouted. "Apokoliptan weapons block heat signatures! They were waiting for us!"

"No kidding!" Red Arrow replied, firing another round of arrows. Not that he could see who he was shooting at, of course.

Aqualad had taken shelter nearby, using a water shield to cover himself and the semi-conscious M'gann. It wasn't going to last long.

"Flash, this is Aqualad" the Atlantean said over his radio. "They are aware of our presence. Radio silence is no longer an issue. Tell Nabu to open the portal."

"Roger that. I'm coming to you."

"Negative" Aqualad said. "Circle around and flank them. The enemy is firing enough that even at superspeed you'll be at risk."

"Uh, right. Give me a second."

"We've got to move!" Superboy shouted as a laser blasted the bark off one of the trees.

"We need better cover!" Red Arrow yelled.

M'gann groaned and started to sit up. "Here's some..."

She raised her hand and the dirt a few yards away trembled and rose, forming a somewhat-protective-looking mound.

"Good enough" shouted Red Arrow. "Now cover your eyes!"

The Team did so as the archer fired a flare arrow into the air. It exploded in a burst of white light, distracting during the day but absolutely devastating at night.


Aqualad scrambled to the mound, helping Miss Martian along and covering both of them with his hard-water shield. Red Arrow followed, stumbling and disoriented from seeing the flare out of the corner of his eye. Miss Martian's eyes glowed as her telekinesis pulled him over the wall.

Superboy leaped at the wall and promptly took a laser to the back, blowing the sleeve off of his shirt.

"Do you know how many of these things I go through?" he shouted at the invisible enemy before checking on M'gann.

"I'm fine, I'm fine" she whispered.

"Guys! What's going on?" asked Rocket over the radio.

"It would appear that we've ticked off the locals" quipped Red Arrow.

"The League's in position" Rocket said. "Backup should be there in 30 seconds."

"I don't know if we'll last that long!" the archer replied. "We need the big guns, now!"

The enemy fire stopped, which didn't actually make any of the Team members feel better.

Black Manta and the Riddler emerged from the darkness, flanked by both Manta-men and more normal-looking goons, all of whom had either Apokoliptan or laser weaponry.

"You are surrounded, Kaldur'ahm" said Black Manta. "It would be wise to surrender. You and your friends will not be harmed."

"Because that doesn't sound like a transparent lie at all" Red Arrow muttered.

"Besides, kiddies" said Riddler, twirling his staff "You can come with us and have some fun instead."

"Shut up, Nigma" said Manta.

"Hey, at least let me use my catchphrase, okay? All right, kids, riddle me..."

His words were cut off as a massive burst of yellow light appeared several hundred yards behind the Team. A giant ankh, thirty feet high had appeared, Dr. Fate levitating cross-legged above it.

For a second, nothing happened.

"Fire!" Manta shouted. "Fire right now!" His men attempted to comply.

Key word being 'attempted'.

A red blur flew hurled through the night, slamming into the men and knocking them aside.

Manta tried to blast the blur with his eyebeam lasers, but missed.

The ankh glowed and rippled before stabilizing. Two blurs, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, flew out of ankh at high speed, followed by Green Lantern, Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, Icon, Batman, Red Tornado, Black Canary...

You get the idea.

Riddler stumbled for a second, still disoriented from the light. "Riddle me... riddle me..." He rubbed his eyes and stood up straight, at which point he noticed the massive group of superheroes assembled before him.

"Riddle me... uh... uh..."

The Flash took him out with a single punch to the jaw.

The Justice League had arrived.

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