Superboy was not having a good night. The snarling giant magical cat pinning him down and trying to bite his head off was merely a symptom of how really, really screwed up the past 24 hours had been.
A really annoying symptom.
With tuna breath.
"Little... help...?" he grunted.
A golden lasso wrapped itself around Teekl's neck. Wonder Woman planted her feet and pulled, dragging the cat off of Superboy. He leaped to his feet and landed a set of punches on Teekl's snout. The cat responded by batting him away with its paw. Aqualad grabbed its neck in a tight hug and zapped it with electricity. This seemed to annoy Teekl, and it shook him off, sending the Atlantean crashing into a tree. Teekl turned to face Wonder Woman only to be tackled by Captain Marvel.
Several yards away, Red Arrow tried to help Superboy back up when a missile flew towards them out of nowhere.
"Look out!" Miss Martian shouted, grabbing them both with her telekinesis and throwing them away from the blast. The two boys hit the dirt hard but intact.
Not far away, Sportsmaster tossed aside the spent RPG and pulled out a rifle. Targeting the shimmer that was the camouflaged Martian, he fired. An orange beam shot out, striking her in the chest.
"M'gann!" Superboy cried out as she dropped to the ground. Wielding the weapon with one hand, Sportsmaster casually shot the Kryptonian in the shoulder, flattening him. Superboy wasn't sure what Sportsmaster was shooting, but it hurt. A lot.
"This is one of Manta's toys" the mercenary said, strolling towards the downed pair. "It fires a bolt of concentrated EM radiation. Designed to take out bullet-proof Atlanteans underwater, but it works on other hard-to-kill species as well. Not quite as lethal as I'd like, but hey, if it can hurt Superman, I can live with it."
"Glad you think so" Red Arrow said, firing an arrow. Sportsmaster dodged and shot back. The archer rolled aside and sent out another arrow which glanced against the beam rifle, knocking it out of Sportsmaster's hand.
Before either of the two could continue their fight, Superboy leaped up and charged at Sportsmaster. Like a dancer, the older man spun away and pulled out his flail, smashing it into the side of Superboy's head.
"Not so smart, are you?" he said as the clone fell to his knees, grabbing the ground to avoid falling over.
"If you say so" Superboy replied, tossing two handfuls of dirt at Sportsmaster's face. The hockey mask blocked most of it, but it still gave Superboy a momentary advantage, which he used to plant a boot in the middle of Sportsmaster's chest. The mercenary slammed into the side of the 'hill' that concealed the base with a thud.
"Nicely... done" Sportsmaster conceded, his breathing a bit heavier. Bruised ribs will do that. "For a weapon, of course."
"I don't need your approval" Superboy growled.
"That's okay" Sportsmaster said in a tone that suggested that he was smiling behind his mask. "I think we're done here anyways."
Superboy started to move forwards, only to be overcome by a searing pain in his head.
Hello, Superboy said Psimon telepathically. Would you like to play?
Nearby, Red Arrow fell to his knees, clutching his temples.
"I... won't... let... you... control me!" Conner muttered.
Silly boy Psimon laughed. It doesn't matter how much you resist, or how hard you fight. Unlike your teammates, you still have your Cadmus programming inside your mind, giving me a little button that I can press to win instantly. And your Martian... girlfriend is otherwise occupied right now, so don't expect any help on that end. Red Sun, Superboy. Red Sun.
M'gann struggled to her knees. The effects of Sportsmaster's weapon were still echoing through her nervous system, making her muscles cramped and stiff and her head feel like it was on fire.
Now is not the time, self she told herself. Get it together!
Suddenly she sensed the presence of a very familiar mind.
"Psimon?" she muttered, her mind still confused for a second.
Then both Conner and Red Arrow toppled over like ragdolls.
"Psimon..." she growled, she growled, telepathically reaching out to the others. When she was done with him, he'd wish he'd stayed in that coma. In fact, he'd wish he'd never been-
"Sorry girly" Sportsmaster said. "Not this time. Doctor?"
A blue beam shot out of the darkness. M'gann had less than a second to react before it struck.
"Nice work" said Sportsmaster, examining the block of ice that stood where she had been.
"I believe that will suffice for the moment" said Mr. Freeze, stepping out of the shadows.
"I think so" the mercenary replied. "Now, you want to go kill the Justice League or what?"
Freeze smiled, which was never a good sign.
"It would be my pleasure."
"You think we lost 'em?" Kid Flash asked.
"Not likely" Robin replied as they took another left.
"You've got that right" said Cheshire, standing nonchalant in the hall in front of them, a sai twirling around her finger.
Tigress appeared behind them, sword drawn. "Give it up and we'll make this quick!"
"Can't go back, then" Robin muttered.
"Ideas?" KF asked as they stood back-to-back.
"I'll focus on Cheshire. She's the more dangerous of the two. Tigress's sword gives her a large reach, so watch out. Make sure you keep her off balance."
"Mentally, physically or emotionally?"
"All of the above" Robin replied. "Just focus on not dying, and I'll take care of things. I know something they won't like."
"You always were a good button presser" the speedster said.
"If we don't make it, it's been fun" Robin said.
"Likewise" KF replied.
"Ready?" Rob asked.
"As I'll ever be."
"Time's up" said Cheshire, moving towards them.
"Let's do this!" Kid Flash shouted.
"Bad kitty, bad kitty!" Captain Marvel muttered, holding back Teekl's front paw with all his strength. Aquaman held the other paw, while Wonder Woman's lasso kept the cat's head high enough that it couldn't bite the two. Captain Atom continued to hit its eyes and face with radiation blasts, which did little more than annoy it. Green Lantern John Stewart hovered above, all of his willpower focused on keeping the construct holding Teekl's hind legs together from falling apart.
"Do it now!" Wonder Woman shouted.
"On it!" responded Hawkman, gliding towards the cat as fast as he could.
"Eat this" he muttered, slamming his mace into Teekl's jaw. The cat shrieked from the contact with the magic-disrupting Nth metal.
"Don't. Hurt. My. Caaaaat!" Klarion screamed, unleashing a blast of magical fire which slammed into the League members and sent them sprawling.
A golden ankh flew through the air, striking Teekl in the flank.
"Okay, that does it! You're no match for us both, Nabu!" Klarion shouted, hurling more fireballs at Dr. Fate, who was busy engaging Tala.
"On the contrary" Fate replied, blocking the fire with an ankh shield. "I am more than sufficient to defeat you both. Dinb siht citoahc dneif htiw s'redro htgnerts!" Another ankh appeared, wrapping around Klarion's hands, feet and neck and covering his mouth.
"Bravo, bravo" said Tala, hovering behind him. Large mounds of earth levitated from the ground and flew at the Lord of Order. "You made Klarion shut up. That is indeed a worthwhile accomplishment. Now you may feel fulfilled as I crush you!"
"Really, Tala?" Fate said, blocking her attacks effortlessly. "In theory, we may be equals in power. However, not only do I possess more experience than you, but my host is far more used to channeling magic. Yours has yet to... mature"
"Ah, your host" Tala said with a smile. "It is true that, in theory, working with rather than against a host might produce greater results. But you and Zatara are not as in sync as you believe. Humans yearn for the freedom that Chaos provides and rebel against any who attempt to force their way onto others. Perhaps Zatara is working with your for the moment. Let's see how long that lasts."
With that, Tala's red aura ceased and she plummeted towards the ground. Nabu watched, wondering what her gambit was. Forty feet, thirty feet, twenty feet...
"Pots reh llaf!" Fate shouted suddenly, stretching out his arm. In less than a second, Nabu had realized what his body had just said and tried to reverse it, but it was too late. An ankh appeared below Tala, stopping her fall.
"What was that?" asked Nabu, firing another ankh.
Tala blocked it easily, levitating back to her previous position. "An experiment" she said. "I am inside the daughter of your host. It is only natural that he would want to protect her."
"Tala!" Fate shouted. "If you hurt her..."
"Honestly, Nabu, get your host under control" Tala said. "It's no fun to battle a mere human wearing an enchanted helmet. Surely you can do better than this?"
Before Fate could respond, a fireball exploded on his shoulder, informing him that Klarion was free.
Fate fired an ankh at Klarion, but the Witch-Boy dodged to the side and unleashed another blast. Tala joined in as well. Fate blocked both attacks with ankh shields, but was clearly struggling.
Below, Black Manta broke off his sparing match with Black Canary, knocking her back with a smoke grenade. Beneath his helmet, a little smile formed. Fate's shields were focused on the directions of the two attacks. His back was wide open.
"Good night" Manta said, raising his wrist blaster.
The bolt struck Fate in between the shoulder blades. Ordinarily, it would have been a mere annoyance. But it broke his focus, and with it, his defenses.
The two blasts of fire connected, engulfing Fate in a large explosion. The shockwave was enough to send him slamming into the ground.
"Burn!" shouted Klarion and he and Tala opened fire again, pouring everything they had into their opponent.
There was another explosion. A large golden helmet flew out of the smoke.
The Helmet of Fate.
It clattered to the ground, empty.
"Did we get him?" Tala asked, not sure if she could really believe it.
The smoke cleared, revealing a scorched Giovanni Zatara. For a moment he tried to get to his feet, before he toppled over into unconsciousness.
Nearby, Black Canary shouted into her radio.
"Fate is down! I repeat, Fate is down!"
Tala looked at her like she was a distasteful bug. With a wave of the sorceress's hand, Canary went flying.
"That was fun" said Klarion, petting Teekl's snout.
"Yes, Klarion" said Tala. "I believe it was. Shall we end this battle?"
Klarion's eyes gleamed with excitement at the carnage that awaited.
"If you insist."