Divided We Fall
Superboy emerged from the fake bushes with several new bullet holes in his shirt and a good deal more frustration than when he went in.
Something that was not helped by the sudden appearance of Kid Flash.
Especially not when they collided at 80 miles an hour.
"Superboy!" said Robin over the radio. "The trackers say KF should be near you. Can you see him?"
Superboy picked himself up off the ground and glared at the speedster.
"Found him" the Kryptonian muttered.
"You two are almost at Aqualad's position. Get moving!"
Superboy gave Kid Flash one last glare and leaped into the air.
It took the two of them less than a minute to reach the beach. There were scorch marks and a large crater in the sand, but no Aqualad. A quick scan with thermal vision showed what looked like several land mines buried under the sand.
"Robin! He's not here!" said Superboy.
Robin swore. "His tracker's dead. He's off our radar. M'gann, Artemis and RA are gone too."
"Then we go after them!"
"Negative. We don't know where Aqualad is and we don't even know who we're fighting. Whoever they are, if they can take out Artemis and Red Arrow, they can take any of us alone. We can't risk losing anyone else."
"You think they can take me?" growled Superboy, almost offended.
"If they knew how to shoot down the Bioship then I think they know who we are, so they probably thought to bring kryptonite too. We can't rush in. We need to think."
People often told Superboy he rushed into fights without thinking. Probably because he did.
Fighting is more than just fists and weapons Black Canary had said. Knowing the smart way to fight and adapting to the situation is the key to victory.
Kid Flash stomped the ground in anger. "That's crazy, man! We can't just leave them!"
"Aqualad's down and that means I'm in charge, Wally. I want to go after them too but we can't keep throwing people into the fight like this. They're picking us off! We need backup from the Justice League, but our long-rang comms are being jammed and our radios don't have the power to get through. I don't think we even got a mayday off when we went down. No one on the outside knows anything's wrong."
Adapting to the situation.
"Robin" said Superboy. "I ran into some automatic turrets a ways back. I think they were remote controlled. Could you hotwire something more powerful from there?"
"I guess it's worth a try" said Robin. "They probably aren't jamming their own frequencies. Might be able to learn something about what we're actually up against, too. Are the turrets disabled?"
Superboy smiled. "They are now."
"Right. I'll head over and meet you two there. But we'll need to be stealthy and I don't think we can move Zatanna anymore. Rocket's here but she's tapped out and powerless."
"Hey!" complained Rocket, though she knew it was true. She was pretty useless in a fight without her belt.
"KF, can you get back here to cover for me?" asked Robin.
"I don't know, man. You're the one with the map. Besides, it might take both of us to rig something up."
Robin sighed. "Fine. I'll be there. Be careful."
Kid Flash's mood turned serious for once in his life. "Roger that. Get here in one piece."
"That's the plan."
Robin turned to face Rocket.
"Okay. If you stay here and don't move, you should be pretty well hidden. I've got smoke bombs set up around the perimeter. If you're spotted, set them off with this" – he handed her a small detonator – "and make a break for it."
"What about Zatanna?"
"If you can, take her. If you can't..." – Robin glanced at Zatanna, and Rocket could tell he didn't want to say it – "I'd rather lose one of you than both. Just get out of here and we'll find you. Understand?"
Robin pulled two small disks out of his belt and handed them to her.
"These are explosives. Push this button, throw it like a frisbee."
"I got it" said Rocket.
He handed her the disks along with one of his Eskrima sticks, which really required no explanation.
"Just stay hidden, okay?"
"I'll be fine, Robin. Go."
Robin gave her a quick little smile and disappeared into the trees.
Robin, Kid Flash and Superboy rendezvoused a few minutes later. True to Superboy's word, the turrets were inactive, by virtue of being ripped to pieces by one Boy of Steel.
"Nice job, SB!" said Kid Flash in a voice way too cheery for the current situation. He raised his hand for a high-five, but Superboy simply glared at him until he put it back down.
"Let's see what we got here" said Robin, examining the wreckage. "It looks like this was a hidden SAM site. These auto turrets were here to protect the main missile system."
The other two boys glanced at each other.
"It's probably what took out the Bioship" Robin added solemnly.
"Can we use it or not?" asked Superboy.
"Give me a second, SB. You did a pretty good number on this place."
"Hey, Rob, that's the antenna, right?" asked Kid Flash, pointing at a large metal rod hidden between several trees as he munched on one of the many snack bars he kept on him on missions. He went through so many that M'gann had just started making them at the Cave in her spare time, rather than buying them by the truckload.
"Yes, Wally. It's what receives the radio signals. You know, those invisible waves that go through the air."
"I know that. But it seems kind of big, don't you think? If this is controlled from our mystery base to the north, wouldn't a shortwave be enough?"
"Hmm. You've got a point. Maybe if the long-range antenna was used to receive..."
"What?" asked Kid Flash.
"I know how they know where we are" answered the Boy Wonder.
"Ho–" began KF but Superboy cut him off.
"Do you two hear that?"
"Hear what?" asked the speedster. Robin motioned for him to be quiet.
There was a low buzzing sound on the horizon. Hard to notice unless you were trying to or had superhearing, but still there.
"Move!" shouted Superboy, grabbing both of the other boys and hurling them away down the hill.
And then the whole world exploded.
Rocket instinctively hit the ground when she heard the explosion. Off in the distance, she could see smoke rising and hear the buzzing of an aircraft overhead.
"Guys!" she shouted into the radio. "Can you hear me? Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, come in! Guys?"
Robin and Kid Flash were lying in the dust. They couldn't have been out for more than a few seconds, but it seemed like they had woken up in a different world.
"Get up! Get up!" shouted Superboy, leaping out of the flames that were engulfing the wreckage of the SAM site. Most of his shirt had been blown off.
"What the hell was that?" demanded Wally, stumbling forward.
"Drones" shouted Robin, trying to be heard over the ringing in his ears. "They're bombing us!"
As if to prove his point, a missile slammed into the ground twenty feet from them, throwing dirt high into the air.
They ran. Fast.
"Rocket! Come in!"
"Robin! What's going on?"
"They're using our own transmitters to track us! Drop yours and run! Radio silence! Go!"
Radio silence! Robin berated himself. Stealth 101. Why the hell hadn't he ordered it earlier?
Rocket did as she was told, dropping her radio earpiece, picking up Zatanna as best she could and preparing to hightail it out of there.
Suddenly, something moved in the trees. Rocket froze and then ducked behind a bush.
A green-clad figure emerged, her blond hair trailing behind her.
"Artemis!" whispered Rocket, sticking her head out.
"Rocket? What's going on?" the archer asked.
"Drop your radio! They're tracking it."
Artemis shifted nervously. "Yeah. I, uh, dropped it a while back. Where are the others?"
"Over where those bombs are going off! Help me with Zatanna! We've gotta move!"
Artemis nodded, lifting the unconscious magician out of Rocket's arms and slinging the younger girl over her shoulder.
"Look out!" the archer shouted.
Rocket turned around as three floating red disks flew out of the woods behind her. She threw one of Robin's disks at them but missed and blew a large branch off a tree.
She felt nothing but pure pain as electricity ran through her.
Rocket fell, collapsing on the ground. Where was Artemis?
Everything went dark. Rocket could hear rough hands grab her, deep voices shouting. Another explosion in the background.And then silence.