Chapter 1: Chapter One
January 20, 16:35 EDT
The message was direct but seductive, just like he was. By the look of him, he was obviously a dangerous man. Even the Blood Syndicate, Dakota's most notorious super powered street gang, didn't wish to work with him. But he knew how to make villainy sound and look profitable. Holocaust had beguiled many young people to his cause, only to use them and leave them when it was convenient. He was recruiting members for a new team of super powered humans, another gang no doubt, but this time he had sent an invitation to Rocket. "A chance-" he said on the recording. "to be a part of a real superhero team. You hold too much potential to be a mere member of the junior Justice League."
Somehow he had learned of her involvement with the Team, it disturbed Raquel. In the short time she was with the Team their missions were all covert. No one should know of her involvement except for the super villains her team thwarted. The villains were all loosely connected. According to her teammate's villains that had never interacted before were now working together. Did their network extend to Dakota as well? she wondered. What was worst was that he somehow obtained the frequency to her communicator to send the message. She hoped that he had not discovered her true identity, that would endanger Augustus, Icon, as well.
This was over her head, but she didn't want to involve Icon, so she decided to bring the recording to the Cave. She rushed to the Cave after school and grabbed the first teammates available.
"That's definitely suspicious," Wally said. He sat on the couch beside her, munching on a party sized bag of chips.
"Have you showed this to Kaldur yet?" Connor asked. He leaned over her shoulder behind the living areas couch.
"Uh…No not yet," she stumbled over her words uncomfortable.
"What? I'd think you would have gone to your boyfriend first." Wally shoved her playfully.
"I just got in, and you guys were the first people I saw," she defended herself hastily. Kaldur wasn't her boyfriend; leave it to Wally to jump to conclusions, but yelling that Kaldur wasn't her boyfriend felt a bit too defensive. Maybe he would be her boyfriend one day. She couldn't say that the prospect didn't interest her. Who wouldn't go for the hot guy with tattoos?
But as of right now the extent of their relationship was a date, one date, and a peck on the cheek at New Years. It was a nice date. He was a perfect gentleman, too perfect of a gentleman, she would break him out of that later, if there was a later, she might have already botched things.
Things turned sour one lazy afternoon. Conner and Megan were in the garage. Wally and Artemis were on a date. The boy wonder was moping in Gotham because Zatanna had gone off to a magical realm to train. So that left Kaldur and Raquel watching movies on the couch. The movie soon became background noise as she pelted him with questions concerning the Team. He filled her in on previous missions, and that lead to gossip about her teammates relationships.
That 's when she should have kept her mouth shut. "It's like we've been stuck with the leftovers ," she said and laughed. It was just a joke! But the moment it left her lips she could tell she messed up. He became quiet and stiff, and then he apologized. Apologized! As if he wasn't good enough, or worthy of affection.
She just sat there, gaping at him, she had hurt him and didn't know what to say to make it right. They watched the rest of the movie in the most horrible silence, and days afterward she still didn't know what to say.
"We really should tell Kaldur," Conner said softly,placeing his hand on Raquel's shoulder. Raquel only nodded.
"You are certain that you wish not to tell Icon?" Kaldur asked.
"He would only tell me not to go, and without me going we won't be able to figure out what Holocaust is up to," Raquel responded.
"True, but this will be dangerous."
"What will be dangerous?" Robin asked as he entered the training area. They replayed the message for Robin's benefit. "So are we going to break this meeting up? Please say yes! I've been itching for some action."
"This mission would potentially put a teammate at risk. That should be considered before our boredom," Kaldur chastised.
Robin ducked his head." You're right. I'm just… on edge I guess,"
"I'll be fine Kaldur," said Raquel." Besides; we haven't been given an assignment for weeks. It's like all the bad guys decided to take a break after attacking the League."
Kaldur crossed his arms. "I assume everyone here is in agreement?"
The young heroes nodded.
"Then we should contact Miss Martian and Artemis and form a plan."
After a lot of plotting and planning they had achieved a workable plan. Raquel only half listened to the meeting, she needed to get Kaldur alone. She couldn't stand the distance; he hadn't looked in her direction all afternoon. She cornered him one of the Cave's inner hallways.
"We need to talk," she said. Ugh! she thought, What a horrid way to start a conversation. He probably wants to run now.
Kaldur only rubbed his arm and looked uncomfortable.
"Look Kal, you know I was just joking last time right?"
"But your assessment was correct," Kaldur started." At the time that you joined, all other romantic options were unavailable."
"And what about you? Am I just the only romantic option left to you? Why didn't you go after any of the other girls before they coupled off?"
"I apologize. I did not mean to insinuate-"
"No apologizing!" she cut him off. "Just give me an answer."
Kaldur sighed. "I am not the type that girls go for. I was surprised that you were interested at all."
"You're serious…" She blinked at him. "you actually think that way about yourself?"
"I…I have not had much success with my romantic endeavors."
"Everyone's had a few losses Kal. It couldn't have been that bad."
He then told her about his long standing crush on Tula and how it ended. Raquel winced in sympathy. She had never felt that strongly about anyone before, but the thought of his broken heart made her own ache. When she did not respond he continued.
"I do not wish to trap you in a relationship if you are not willing. I-"
"Relationship? " She cut him off again. "Look Kal. You're a great guy and I think you're insanely hot-" Kaldur blushed at the compliment. "but one date doesn't mean that you have to give me your Fraternity pin."
"Ask Miss M. What I mean is that we don't have to rush into this. Dating can be just for, you know, fun. We don't have to immediately profess everlasting love and commit to each other forever. We can just enjoy each others company and take it one date at a time. In fact we can go on a date after this mission," she stated confidently.
"You got something better to do?"
He smiled shyly and chuckled. "No, I suppose not."
January 21, 23:15
In the most stereotypical fashion, the meeting would happen in an abandoned warehouse in the shadier part of the city. Rocket walked to her destination, Superboy and Miss Martian tailing her. The rest of the team followed at a distance in the Bioship.
"Hey! Rocket!" a male voice called from above.
She looked up to see a young man flying on a metal disk. He floated down to her his jacket floating behind him. He wore baggy black cargo pants and a white tee shirt with a lightning bolt across the front, his personal symbol. His goggles were pushed up, holding back his locks like a headband. It was much better that his original costume, Rocket thought. The old spandex and ball cap were a little unbalanced.
"The one and only!" He announced hopping off his disk. "So you were invited to this party as well?"
"Yeah. One second kay?" Miss Martian? Rocket thought over their telepathic link, Is any one else around?
I don't sense any other minds in the area, Miss Martian answered.
There aren't any heartbeats nearby either, Superboy added.
Okay, we need to meet up, Rocket directed. "Come with me." Rocket grabbed Static's arm and dragged him away.
"Whoa!" Static exclaimed. "It's an actual Martian!"
Miss Martian blushed as she floated down to stand beside Superboy.
"This isn't the time to geek out man," Rocket chastised. "Everyone, I'd like you to meet Static. He's Dakota's best hero, after Icon and myself of course." She grinned.
Everyone on the Bioship introduced themselves over their communicators. Superboy and Static shook hands. Static bowed before Miss Martian. Her blush deepened.
"This is very fortunate," said Aqualad. "Will you be willing to cooperate with us?"
"Well, I was planning to take Holocaust down on my own, but I guess I could let you guys help," Static replied.
Rocket shoved Static playfully. "Pay no attention to the dope, his ego is bigger than his head, if that's even possible."
"I'll have you know my head is the perfect size," he countered.
"It is settled then. Miss Martian link him up so we can proceed," Aqualad directed.
"Don't dig around too deep Miss." Static tapped his skull. "My genius might be too much to handle." He winked at Miss Martian.
"And did I mention?" Rocked said, hands on her hips. "He's a horrible flirt."
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or organizations from the Young Justice cartoon, comics, expanded DC universe or Milestone universe.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
January 22, 1:30 EDT
Although her new teammates were at her back Rocket felt more secure with Virgil, Static, at her side. They first met in middle school. Raquel was able to transfer to Virgil's school, a slightly better school than the one in Paris Island, in order to take part in advanced classes. A natural extravert, Raquel had managed to fit in with the more popular crowd. Virgil, however, was the nerdy, scrawny kid with a big brain and bigger mouth. It got him in trouble often and made him an easy target for bullies and pranksters.
They became friends after Virgil stood up for her against an older boy who didn't understand no at the arcade. The assistance was unnecessary, Virgil was easily bowled over, and Raquel confidently sent the older boy off with his hands clutching his groin. Raquel did appreciate the effort, and offered to go on a date with Virgil in return, fully prepared to be bored out of her mind.
Virgil was a complete dope, but hilarious in his own way. He was also well read. More science fiction than contemporary literature but he dabbled in a bit of everything. For once Raquel had someone to talk to about her love of literature and dreams of becoming a writer.
It was some time after the big bang that Virgil suddenly gained an interest in his appearance. He began to work out and started to grow out his dreads. It was a welcome change, Raquel noticed and complemented him, but she didn't connect the dots. She was far too occupied with the start of her own superhero career to recognize that it was actually her geeky friend that had, in her opinion, the cutest butt in tights.
Rocket and Static worked together on occasion, and it was in the middle of a heated battle that she finally noticed, much to her embarrassment, that Static was Virgil. She had flirted with Static often and of course he wasn't about to let her live it down. After his gloating spell had passed they settled back into a comfortable friendship, and relied on each other often for super-powered assistance.
Rocket and Static entered the warehouse warily, they half expected the meeting to become an ambush, but the reality was more unsettling. The large door was heavy and it creaked as it opened, announcing their presence. The warehouse's inhabitants all turned to watch them, their gaze unfriendly. The meta humans, most of them bang babies, had segregated themselves. The atmosphere was tense, some of the individuals were sworn enemies and did not appreciate being in the same space.
"Heh. Who invited the Hero?" A young man with fiery red hair approached Static. "Or did you come here to try to bust us?" He raised his hand and flames erupted at his fingertips, lighting up his pale skin. "Go ahead, try it!"
Rocket clenched her fists and stood in front of Static. "Back off Hot Breath we're here for the meeting."
"You lettin' the Rocket babe fight your battles now Static?" The red head asked.
Static grinned and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm only interested in watching her beat you down Matchstick."
A girl floated over to the group, her lower half a cloud of smoke, she was followed by a giant purple man.
"You have horrible taste in women." She floated behind Static resting her arms across his shoulders. "How about a change of pace lightning bug?" She pursed her lips to blow him a kiss.
Static pressed his finger to her lips, stopping her from blowing, the gasses she could emit were often deadly. "As much as I appreciate the offer Puff, I'm gonna have to pass."
"You expect us to believe that two you were invited?" A male voice asked. He was no more than a figure cut out of a starless night sky. He stood amongst a small group of bang babies, clearly the leader by how they crowded around him.
"If she says they were invited then they were invited Ebon." A head attached to an elongated neck appeared amongst the group. The head's body walked over from the other side of the warehouse. The man's form, now in its un-stretched state, revealed a tall, lanky, dark skinned, man in purple.
"Rubber Band Man is right," said the large purple giant, his voice deep. "Come on Puff. We did not come here to start trouble."
Puff pouted, she straightened from her position atop Static's shoulders and reformed her legs. She fluffed her Afro puffs delicately with her hands. "Fine." She directed a flirtatious glance at Static."We will just have to finish this later." She stormed off. "Come on Onyx!"
The giant followed his impetuous friend.
A winged woman with golden feathers spoke up from the crowd of bang babies surrounding Ebon. "Come on Hot Streak, You can toast him later."
Hot Streak doused his fire. "I'm commin' Talon don't ruffle your feathers." He gave Static a final glare before returning to his group.
Rubber Band Man placed his arms around Rocket and Static's shoulders." Come on, let's get you two to a friendlier corner."
The group was small but the faces were most definitely friendlier. Two unknown women nodded to the trio as they arrived. One was a tall and strong looking blonde, the other was a bit shorter with dark hair, and eyes with tan skin. They both wore large cloaks and returned to whispering to each other after their brief greeting. A medium sized but well built man turned to them, his dark eyes filled with laughter.
"Hello Rocket." He smiled, his teeth bright against his golden skin.
"Mr. Kim!" Rocket flew over to his side. "You were invited as well?" Rocket asked.
"I have been receiving a lot of invitations to join teams lately." He winked at her. "If only I were as popular with women."
Rocket grinned. "Have you made up your mind about that magic team thing yet?"
"It is a major responsibility, but I am definitely interested. However, seeing as I have options now, I might as well check this out too." He jerked his thumb to wards the rest of he warehouse.
"Where are my manners!" Rocket exclaimed. "Mr. Kim this is Static. Static this is Mr. Kim."
Static and the older man shook hands.
"Mr. Kim works with nanotechnology," Rocket added.
Static's eyes lit up, he pelted the man with questions and a deep scientific conversation began.
"You know you will never get him to shut it once he starts up with that science junk right," Rubber Band Man lamented.
Rocket sighed. "Yeah…I don't know what I was thinking,"
"So everyone finally made it," a booming voice announced from above. Holocaust walked down a flight of stairs. Tall and powerfully built, his muscles rippled under his dark skin. He swiped a large hand through his long dreads.
"We're here Holocaust. Now how 'bouts you tell us why you dragged us out to this dump?" the leader of the Blood Syndicate spoke. His group, his family, crowed behind him backing him up.
"Ease up Wise Son. You know I wouldn't waste your time."
"Is this another one of your big ideas?"
"You know I never think small."
"Yeah." Wise Son scoffed and adjusted his ball cap. "And your big ideas often lead to big trouble."
"Don't sweat me boy. I'm not here to start trouble, only a new age."
"And you need us to do that?" a female member of the Bloods asked.
"No, Flashback, I don't need you. I want you." He spread his arms wide. "All of you at my side when the new era begins."
The room became quiet.
"You all have been invited here because of your potential. Potential that will never be fully realized so long we play by the current world's rules."
"You're loosing me big man," Wise interjected. "This world's rules? No matter how big you get you will always be nothin' but a small time hustler. You don't have the power to change the world."
"I didn't have the power." He clenched his fist and raised his hand. A large brass ring was on his finger, a star etched on its surface. "Now I do."
The two unknown women shifted behind Rocket and Static, their expressions were dark and full of fear.
"This is, was, the ring of a being who calls him self Dharma," Holocaust continued. "A being who has the power to alter reality."
"And you will return it to him!" the shorter women commanded. She removed her cloak to reveal a suit of armor, metal wings were attached to her back. The second woman followed suit. The blond wore a black and red bodysuit. They approached the center of the room.
"Iron Butterfly and Donner. I figured Dharma would send his ho to get back his swag." He gestured to the armored woman. Iron Butterfly's eyes narrowed at him. "I wasn't counting on you to show up Donner. You changin' partners?"
The blonde crossed her arms. "Blitzen's whereabouts are not your concern."
"No distractions Don," Iron Butterfly commanded. She then returned her attention to Holocaust. "When you were invited to the Shadowspire it wasn't for this purpose."
"That's your mistake right there lady," Wise Son reentered the conversation. "You shouldn't have invited him anywhere."
"The man speaks the truth." Holocaust snapped his fingers. Ebon and his group surrounded the two women. "Now, we can do this easy or hard. Your choice."
Just a note. I did alter the timeline of when/how Rocket and Static first met for my fic. If I remember correctly they didn't know each other until after they became hero's and they never went to the same school.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or organizations from the Young Justice cartoon, comics, expanded DC universe or Milestone universe.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
January 22, 3:05 EDT
"We did not come here to negotiate Holocaust. Give us the ring!" Iron Butterfly commanded. The rafters of the building shook, the metal reacting to her anger.
"You would bring this entire place down on top of our heads wouldn't you?" Holocaust asked.
"If I felt that it was necessary," she threatened.
"Well come on then Lady!" Hot Streak yelled. Flames formed on his hand and he launched them at Iron Butterfly.
Donner stepped in front of her teammate knocking the blasts away. "You're going to have to do better than that kid."
Hot Streak blasted again with both hands. Donner raised her arms blocking the flames. Iron Butterfly flew into the air only to be tacked by Talon.
Rocket fully intended to join the fight but was halted by Mr. Kim's hand on her shoulder. "Not yet," he whispered.
"Just hold on a sec," Rubber Band man agreed. "You two came here for the same reason we did. To see what we could do to stop this, what ever it is."
"So why wait?" Static asked.
"The odds aren't in our favor," said Mr. Kim pointedly. "If we go now we will fail."
"So we just let those two get hurt?" Rocket responded.
Rocket, Static! Miss Martian said over their telepathic link.
About time! Come on! Let's get them! Rocket expressed franticly.
Not yet! Aqualad said to wait. The team isn't in position.
How long? asked Static.
Not too long, Miss Martian answered, but Aqualad wants you to stall them a bit. Try to find out what that ring does.
Rocket and Static looked at each other and nodded.
"Fine. We will wait," Rocket said folding her arms.
"Okay," said Mr. Kim slowly, sure that he missed something.
Iron Butterfly easily subdued Talon. The girl squirmed on the ground wrapped in a chain made of Iron Butterfly's metal feathers.
Donner approached Hot Streak, his flames bouncing harmlessly off her chest. "I told you. This just isn't good enough."
A black portal opened under Donner, Ebon's handiwork, and she began to sink. Iron Butterfly swooped down and grasped Donner's hands, lifting her into the air. Suddenly Iron Butterfly's right wing disintegrated followed by the left one. A woman in red stood under them her eyes glowing with power. The two dissenters fell. Ebon created another portal, this time swallowing them both.
"Impressive work Ash," Holocaust congratulated the red clothed woman, "Ebon where did you send them?"
Ebon shrugged, "No where nice."
"Good enough. Since I was interrupted I may as well take the time to explain. Those two were from the Shadow Cabinet."
Whispers filled the space.
"This might be a bit shocking coming from me." The large man grinned. "But they are as shady as the sound."
"You're right," spoke Wise Son. "It sounds ridiculous coming from you."
"I never said I was a saint Wise." Holocaust shook his head. "Their mission is simple. To save humanity from itself, no matter what that requires. That's the line they fed me. They approached some of us a few months back, trying to get us to come over to their side. Even Icon."
"Icon?" Rocket asked steeping forward. "He did not tell me about a Shadow Cabinet."
"Just like me he musta been told not to. They're pretty big about that greater good nonsense. They go around messing with other people's lives, even taking them, all to prevent "catastrophes" before they happen, and all at the command of Dharma."
"Okay so their methods aren't on the up and up, but what did they, he, do to you?" asked Static.
"It's not what he did to me." Holocaust gestured to himself. "It's what he did to all off us. This world, our world wasn't always like this. There was an incident several years ago that almost tore this world apart. Now I'm grateful that Dharma managed to put it back together, and I understand what's it's like to make deals in dark places, but he kept too much from us."
Static chuckled. "So he didn't give you a call when he was rearranging the flower garden? What he owes you or something?"
"Technically he owes you Static, Rocket, even Aquamaria."
The room shifted to look at a woman made of water that stood with the Blood Syndicate.
"What does Maria have to do with this?" Wise Son asked.
"We all know the big names, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, but no one tells the story about the little heroes. Like the one who sacrificed her life to help keep Metropolis, a city that as far as she knew didn't really exist, from being destroyed by a tidal wave."
"But she's right here!" Flashback exclaimed.
"And you are grateful for it I'm sure."
"What do you mean Metropolis didn't really exist?" Rocket yelled the question. "I visited it with Icon just a week ago."
"There was a time when people like Superman were only legends, characters in a comic book. Or at least they were to us. In reality they were denizens of another dimension."
Whispers broke out within the warehouse.
"But I have all these memories," Rocket started, speaking what was on everyone's mind. "I used to look up to Superman. To all members of the Justice League, I even had posters on my walls. I met Wonder Woman on a school trip to DC. I wanted to become a hero because I heard about Robin on the news."
"Maybe you did have posters on your wall. You may have even idolized them based on stories you read in the comics. But in reality you never met them, or watched them on the news. Those memories are all planted. You had a hand in saving this world girl but you didn't even have a say in how things ultimately turned out or what you remembered from the event. That choice was taken from you."
Rocket didn't much like being called girl but she nodded along anyway too confused to respond.
Holocaust removed the ring, it grew and floated in his palm. "Once I activate this we can return to the way things were. With a few minor adjustments."
"So you called us here to be your subjects after you create this new world?" asked Wise Son.
"I do plan to take my fair share but I wished to create a committee and a counsel. Like the Star Chambers of old. I wanted people with vision."
Rocket returned to herself. It didn't matter what was real or not, or what memories were truly hers or fake. The last person who needed to be in control over this world was Holocaust.
"You wanted people who share your vision you mean." Rocket gestured to the room. "Or you wanted people who you could easily sway to your side." She pointed to herself. "And if we don't? Do we end up where ever you sent the other two?"
Holocaust approached Rocket. Static stopped Mr. Kim from stepping forward to defend her, and gestured to the ceiling. Artemis already had her arrow trained on Holocaust's position. Mr. Kim smirked and relaxed.
"I had hoped that it wouldn't come to that but I have no need for fools." Holocaust towered over Rocket. "Stay or go it's no problem."
Artemis released her arrow. It knocked the ring out of Holocaust's hand and onto the floor. It slid on the ground and into a far corner of the warehouse. Superboy crashed in from the ceiling, followed by the rest of the team.
Aqualad pointed one of his water blades at Holocaust. "Don't move," he commanded.
Aqualad was rammed by a giant seemingly made out of cooled lava. The giant easily tackled Aqualad to the ground, the heat he radiated too much for the Atlantian's system.
"I see you brought your little league friends." The villain grinned; he shoved Rocket and then dashed after the ring.
Rocket regained her balance and captured Holocaust in a force field. He punched at it with all of his strength, and he had a lot to spare, one of his many abilities was super strength. It gave her inertia field more power; unfortunately it also hindered Rocket's ability to move, it was a drawback to her belt's power, if the inertia wider stored too much kinetic energy she could not move until she released her field.
Superboy grabbed hold of the giant, pulling him off Aqualad and throwing him into the other side of the room. The giant slammed into the ground creating a large creator. The concrete cracked exposing metal pipes steam, dust and water entered the warehouse from below. Bang Babies scattered, picking sides and joining the fight.
The giant stood, shook his head and charged. Aqualad directed his water bearers at the giant holding him back with a torrent of water borrowed from a newly broken pipe, and then combined the flow with his electricity. The giant yelled and fell to his knees.
"Slag!" Ash cried out, she aimed her power at Aqualad, attempting to disintegrate his weapons, but Superboy stepped in the way, the power disintegrated Superboy's shirt instead.
Robin attacked Ash from behind with a smoke bomb distracting her while Artemis used a trick arrow to immobilize her. Artemis stood on top of the woman an arrow pointed at her head.
"Care to see who can move first?" Artemis asked her eyes cruel.
Ash seemed to decide that it was better to cooperate.
"That won't hold me girl." Holocaust raised his right hand and it was enveloped by an intense flame. "I'm not like Hot Streak. I can use my brain. I know what your field can and can not do. It won't work on my fire and right now you can't move." He fired and his blast passed trough Rocket's shield and toward her. Mr. Kim leapt in front of the blast receiving it in her stead. Most of his right side was decimated by the blast. Rocket wasn't sure how he was able to even speak much less stand, but he didn't even grimace against would should be very painful.
"Get the ring!" he commanded, his body already beginning to regenerate itself.
Rocket dashed off, she directed her stored energy into her movements and launched like her namesake.
"Not so fast girl!" Holocaust fired again, but his blast is knocked of course by a ball of electricity.
"Not so fast yourself!" Static flew forward and blasted Holocaust with his powers. Holocaust grunted and pushed back with his flames, blowing Static backwards.
Miss Martian caught Static with her powers, "Are you okay?" she asked.
"I will be once I get Holocaust," he regained his balance, calling on his disk for support. He was just in time pull Miss Martian out of the way of Puff's deadly smoke.
Rubber Band Man snuck up behind Puff and enveloped her within his body, creating a giant hollow rubber ball.
"Let her go!" Onyx rammed into Rubber Band Man sending him flying into a corner. He collided with the wall and bounced back aiming himself at Onyx. At the right time he released Puff sending her flying into Onyx. The girl crashed into her friend sending them flailing backwards.
"Is it always like this?" Miss Martian asked, she looked out upon the now wrecked warehouse. The Bang Babies all fought against each other, some siding with Holocaust, others followed Wise Son and his gang against the villain. There was an array of powers and forms, from the basic super strength, to teleportation, to women made out of bricks, and dogs that talked.
Static grinned. "You should see what happens when a Bang Baby brawl brakes out at the Mall."
Rocket was fairly sure the ring was in this corner. She caught a glimpse bronze out of the corner of her eye and dived for it. Holocaust had used Puff's interference to get away. He noticed Rocket and snuck behind her, lifting her in his strong arms. She struggled in vain against him.
"Don't make me burn you girl," he said menacingly. "Where is the ring?"
Rocket clutched the ring tighter within her balled fist. "No way I'm tellin' you!"
The ring glowed with an intense bright light that leaked from in between Rocket's fingers. A globe of white light grew from the ring and enveloped the space. It moved outward swallowing the entire planet.
The team stood in a barren field. They looked around dazed.
"What just happened!" Artemis exclaimed.
"That," Robin pointed to where Dakota once stood. It was now encased in a large bubble. It glowed with an eerie light.
Aqualad and Superboy looked at each other and nodded. They dashed toward the bubble, ramming it with all of their strength. The impact sent them flying backwards. Miss Martian caught them with her powers and put them down gently.
"So brute force is out," said Kid flash, he crossed his arms and approached the bubble. He touched it lightly with one finger.
"I can't reach Rocket or Static's mind," Miss Martian informed the team.
Artemis crossed her arms. "You think it's just magic?"
"No, it's not just magic." Robin pulled up his holo computer, his eyes widened. " Look at the readings on this thing!" The team crowded around him.
"What do we do?' Miss Martian asked.
"We do what we should have done," said Aqualad. "We call Icon and the League."
So like the basics of this story is inspired by a mid-nineties comic crossover event called Worlds Collide. It was when the Milestone characters were first introduced to the DC universe. At present it isn't really cannon anymore but that's because, like most nineties crossover events, it was a bit loopy.
Basically a post office worker literally goes postal and gains the ability to alter reality. So he crashes Metropolis and Dakota together. At one point he actually picks up Paris Island and throws it at Metropolis.
All the Milestone characters were like, "Frack! Superman's real?" because to them he was just a comic book character. And Superman is like, "Of course I'm real! I'm too magnificent not to be," while flipping his mullet because it was nineties Superman and the mullet was supposed to make him look hip and edgy or whatever.
Also with Rocket saying that she met Wonder Woman in Washington DC. In the new DC relaunch there was a random girl in the Justice League comic that Wonder Woman met called Raquel. Pretty much everyone reading the new run who knows who Rocket is assumed that the girl is supposed to be Rocket. Because really…. how many little black girls could there be within the DC universe named Raquel?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Dakota City limits
January 22, 5:40 EDT
The Flash walked along the edges of the bubble, scanner in hand, the Atom riding on his shoulder. They conferred with each other about the readings they gathered. The Atom jotted information down on a notebook that he had shrunken down to suit his size. Hal Jordan took to the skies, scanning the bubble with his ring. On occasion he would shout down his findings to the other two heroes.
Icon and Superman conferred with the Team. Superman placed his hand on Icon's shoulder, offering his colleague support. Icon fought to keep his body still, shivers running through his solid form.
"And she is inside? Alone?" Icon asked.
"Not alone. Static's with her," answered Robin.
"She was talking to a Rubberband Man and a Mr. Kim as well," Miss Martian added.
Icon breathed a sigh of relief. "That does ease my mind a bit."
Aqualad spoke hesitantly, not wanting to disturb the older hero's calm. "There was mention of an organization called the Shadow Cabinet."
"Now this makes sense," Icon growled.
The group became uneasy. In the short time Icon was with the league they had yet to see Icon express frustration. Even in the heat of battle he kept his cool.
Aqualad asked the question on his and his teammates minds, "Who exactly are they?"
"I believe that it would be better if I showed you." Icon turned from the group. "Dharma! I know you can hear me Dharma!" he yelled. "Come now of your own accord or I will tear your spire down brick by brick!"
A portal opened several feet away, darker than the early morning sky. Out stepped five individuals. In the center of the group was a tan, weathered, man with long, grey hair.
A black blur whizzed past the team. "You didn't have to threaten us you know." A woman stood in front of Icon, clad in a black suit with a golden lightning bolt across the front, her hands on her hips. Her dark hair was cut in a sharp bob, she tossed it out of her eyes. "You know that the shadowslide works best in complete darkness."
The team looked from Flash to Kid Flash and the speedsters stared back just as bewildered.
"She's not one of ours," said Flash.
"Guys if there was a speed babe in the Flash family I would have mentioned it by now," Kid Flash added.
"All things considered Blitzen I half expected you to be the first ones here," Icon said, his deep voice rumbled his displeasure.
The grey haired man approached the group. "You are not the only one who has lost someone Icon."
"So you care Dharma? I had assumed that the mission mattered above all else, even the lives of your operatives."
Dharma moved to speak and Icon cut him off.
"You are only here to address this mission's failure. To correct it."
Aqualad stepped forward. "This Holocaust believes that you have the ability to alter reality. Can you not simply stop this distortion?"
"Holocaust is mistaken. I have many talents, though they primarily lie in foreseeing the future. I am not able to create the energy needed to make such a distortion. I am however able to redirect such energy, to capture such energy. I assume Holocaust carries a brass ring?"
"That ring is a relic. It holds the remaining power from a being that once tore your and my world asunder. If left unchecked it will once again."
"You can see the future?" Superman asked, skepticism in his tone, "Then how could you not avoid this?" He pointed to the bubble.
Dharma shifted, unsettled. "Something has been clouding my visions as of late."
"Or someone." Robin appeared by Aqualad's side. "You ever hear of a sorcerer called Klarion?"
"That demon spawn?" Dharma raised an eyebrow. "He is indeed powerful but I do not believe his abilities extend far enough to block my visions."
"He has joined forces with other dark sorcerers in the past. Perhaps he has an ally," suggested Superman.
"That could be the problem." Dharma snapped his fingers. Two of his group's members walked away disappearing into the dark portal.
"Dharma." Icon's voice had lowered threateningly. "Klarion is an enemy of the Justice League. We will take care of him."
"You had better hope that your League finds him before my operatives," Dharma replied unshaken.
"So some of what Holocaust says is true?" asked Aqualad. "Is this really how the Shadow Cabinet operates? How is it better than your enemies?"
"Young man not all good works are performed in the light." They held each other's gaze for several seconds. It was Dharma who broke contact. "Come forward Iota."
A young woman in goggles approached the group, carrying a small chest.
"The bubble is unstable, but if the ring can be retrieved in a timely manner a disaster can be averted." Dharma took the chest from Iota. "In order to do so someone must enter the bubble and retrieve it."
"Very well. The team will go inside and find this ring," Aqualad volunteered.
Dharma shook his head. "I fear that is impossible. I understand your desire to rescue your friend but the bubble will reject anyone who is not originally from her world."
"I had already planed on going in alone anyway," said Icon.
"A noble idea Icon, but one sure to fail. I am sending Blitzen to assist you-" Dharma opened the chest. It was filled with silver rings. "as well as these. At the moment the inhabitants of the bubble are trapped within a dream world. Anything is possible. It all depends on who the ring is attuned to. Wearing one of these will keep you grounded to reality."
Icon and Blitzen each took a ring and placed it on their fingers.
Dharma closed the chest and offered it to Blitzen. "If given the opportunity place a ring on one of our allies inside. It will free them from the bubble's influence."
"Come." Icon turned to leave, moving rapidly towards the bubble. "The sooner we stop this anomaly the safer the world will be."
"Icon! " Blitzen scuttled after him. "Slow down you're leaving me!"
Everyone in the stands held their breath. The score was tied but the Rockets had the ball. The band had ceased playing and the cheerleaders all huddled around their captain and vice captain. The captain's eyes were locked on the game. The vice captain held her captain's hands, the brunette's blue eyes worried for her friend.
The game was not terribly important, but they were up against their rivals. The same rivals who had bested them several years in a row. A touchdown was made and the noise it summoned from the crowd was deafening. Once again the Quarterback/Running back combo, numbers two and four respectively won the day. The head cheerleader ran onto the field, red hair streaming behind her. She leapt into the running back's arms, knocking off his helmet to reveal his dark hair. The quarterback was lifted onto the team's shoulders.
Raquel let out another yell before reclaiming her seat.
"So…has he asked you to homecoming yet?" Her red headed friend pointed to the quarterback. His helmet had been knocked off revealing his bright hair.
"Kal's been busy Freda."
"Okay. Well have you asked him to homecoming then?"
Raquel remained quiet.
"Right…Enough with the excuses. Someone's gonna take him. In fact if you don't ask him I will."
"I don't get it." A boy on the row below them turned to them sharply, his locks whipping around. "What's so great about jocks anyway?"
"You mean besides the muscle tone?" A blonde boy interjected. He played a hand held game. The device beeped sadly as he lost the round.
"You're supposed to be on my side Rich." the first boy commented sourly. He snatched the handheld device from his friend's hands.
Richie leaned back casually. "Sorry Virg. I'm going to have to vote with the majority on this one."
Frieda threw a crumpled napkin at Virgil. "Don't start the jocks vs. nerds thing again. Besides Kaldur's special. He has beauty and brains."
"But no personality," Virgil countered.
"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize that not making a fool of one's self on the regular means that you don't have a personality. Great job on falling on your face at the beginning of the game by the way. "
Virgil arose and gave a deep dramatic bow."At least I know how to put on a show!"
"Guys stop it," Raquel interjected.
"No let them carry on." Richie waved to the pair of bickering friends. "This is more entertaining than the halftime show."
Raquel sighed and stood. "I'm gonna go."
"You're leaving?" Virgil watched Raquel as she descended the stands.
"Good luck!" Frieda yelled after her.
Raquel stood outside of the locker room, resisting the urge to pace. Kaldur exited the locker rooms double doors, a towel draped around his neck. He slouched, ruining his normally perfect posture. He gave a half-hearted goodbye to some of his teammates before turning to walk down the hall.
"Shouldn't you be happy?" Raquel asked, moving to walk beside him.
"Raquel!" His expression brightened a bit. "I did not see you. You have to excuse me. I did not get much sleep last night."
"Still working on that history paper?" She looked up at him concerned.
He chuckled softly. "It has been completed."
"You know you could have asked Ms. Quinones for an extension."
"It would not be fair to my fellow classmates to ask for special treatment."
"At least pick a less obscure subject next time."
"I will try to adhere to such wisdom in the future," he paused and then spoke carefully, "Did you need something Raquel?"
Raquel crossed her arms across her chest pretending to be offended. "I can't check up on you without needing something?
"I did not mean to…"
She grinned widely. "Oh its okay, I actually did want to ask you something."
The pair turned to see a red headed boy. A cocky grin was plastered on his face.
"There you are! I've been looking all over girl."
Raquel's smile melted away. "What do you want Francis?"
"I keep telling ya babe. It's F stop." The redhead placed himself in between Kaldur and Raquel. "So how about being my date for homecoming?"
"Sorry." Raquel walked around him and took Kaldur's hand. "I'm going with Kaldur."
"Wait you're really going with strait laces over here?"
Kaldur gripped Raquel's hand tightly. "She is."
The redhead took a look at Kaldur and narrowed his eyes. Normally someone with Kaldur's disposition would be a target for the bully. He was quiet and polite to a fault. He was also well muscled and had proven his prowess within several of the school's sports teams. Swimming, wrestling as well as football. It made his silence more menacing.
Francis shook his head put his hands in his pockets. He walked off slouching. Unable to resist getting the last word, he looked over his shoulder, and yelled back, "You let me know when you get bored. I'll be happy to show you some real fun."
Kaldur waited until the ill tempered boy was out of sight. He released Raquel's hand slowly. "We are going to the dance?"
"What? Were you not gonna ask me?"
"I had assumed that you already acquired a date."
Kaldur cleared his throat. "Raquel would you like to go to the Homecoming dance with me."
"Why Kaldur I thought you'd never ask. I would be delighted!" she said over-dramatically, drawing a chuckle from the boy. "Actually I'm surprised that someone hadn't asked you yet."
"Well." Kaldur scratched his head. "All week girls have approached me, but when they attempted to speak they would either babble or giggle. It was quite disconcerting."
Explosions rumbled in the distance, the force shaking the ground.
"I got to go," Raquel said before rushing toward the sound.
"Go? Wait!" Kaldur ran after Raquel. He lost her when she turned the corner. He would spend the better part of that afternoon looking for her.
A striking figure clad in red flew across the sky, her green cape billowing behind her. Principle Freeman watched the figure with a frown. He stood with his arms clasped behind his back, his muscles bulging under his tailored suit.
A woman appeared by his side, she pushed her short, dark hair behind an ear. "She'll be alright Icon."
"I told you. No code names Ms. Kameya. Besides, she's Icon now."
"Yes she is, but this is her world Augustus. She will manage without you clucking after her and again it's Valerie. Don't be so formal. " Valerie passed the principle a clipboard. "I have identified all super powered beings within the distortion, but it is all very confusing. There are people here that well… shouldn't"
The Principal flipped through the pages. "They are not real. She has incorporated everything she knows and everything she wants into this world. I only hope that it is not too much strain on the ring."
"I think we are going to need help."
"Who do you suggest awakening first?"
Augustus pursed his lips. "That will not be so easy Ms. Ka-Valerie. Your relationship with Brauer is not the same in this reality."
"I can handle it." Valerie shrugged. "Don is Don no matter where she goes." She snatched the clipboard from Augustus' hands. "Now let's go watch the news. We wouldn't want to miss another one of Icon's daring feats!"
Francis/F-Stop is Hot Streak.
Ms. Quinones is Flashback. She had like one or two lines in a previous chapter. She has the ability to go back in time. Only for three seconds at a time though. Generally she uses it to prevent her teammate's deaths. I felt that it was appropriate to have her be the history teacher because of her powers.
Blitzen/ Valerie Kameya is a biochemist. She developed a chemical that gave her super speed.
Donner/Gerri Brauer has super-strength and is invulnerable to a certain extent.
I always felt that Milestone naming the pair after reindeer was cute, but then I found out that Donner and Blitzen basically translates to thunder and lightning. So Donner is the thunder with her super- strength and Blitzen is the lighting with her speed. I still think it's cute of course, just now it also makes sense. XD
Icon flew towards the heart of the city. Smoke rose in streams from between the buildings as a beacon, signaling where the trouble was. Icon set her sights on the smoke and increased her speed.
"Icon. Icon!" a voice called to her on her communicator.
"V?" she answered.
Virgil growled. "Girl you are gonna have to stop just flying off! Do you even know what you're up against?"
"I will once you tell me."
"Rainsaw? You're worried about that rusted, busted piece of junk?" Nearing her destination she descended, flying above crowds of terrified people. The onlookers pointed and cheered. Their savior had arrived.
"Yeah, well according to police radios it looks like he's been getting more iron in his diet. He's at least three times his size," Virgil informed her.
"That's an exaggeration right?"A car flew over Icon's head, if it could still be called a car, it was ripped to shreds. Luckily it landed in a place free of civilians.
"You're the one on the ground," said Virgil. Icon could almost see Virgil shrug. "You tell me."
Icon flew around a corner and she saw him, her, it. Icon had never gotten the villain's complete back story. Rainsaw was a living column of whirling blades, and it had indeed grown in size. Normally it was the same height as an average human. Now it towered over the masses.
Policemen had long since given up trying to defeat the meta human. A line of them fired into the twirling column, hoping only to distract it long enough to allow civilians to escape.
Icon charged her force bolts and fired. The energy blasts blew large chunks out of the whirlwind, gaining the villain's attention. "That's right ugly, over here!" she yelled. Rainsaw gave an inhuman wail and charged in her direction.
"You'd think that once, just once the bad guys would have better timing," Icon whispered into her com. She flew off, searching for a less inhabited part of the city.
Virgil scoffed. "Oh. Was your meeting with your friend interrupted."
"Yes It was."
"I really don't get what you see in that guy."
Rocket dodged an attack by Rainsaw, the blades whooshed past her in the shape of a missile. It crashed into a nearby building, tearing through steel and concrete. "I don't get why you're so against it. Has he ever done anything bad to you?" She dodged another missile.
"No," Virgil answered, his voice tight.
"Have you ever caught him doing something bad to anyone at all?" Rocked turned and flew backwards, she fired a few force blasts into Rainsaw, slowing the villain down. Satisfied she resumed flying while facing forward.
Virgil groaned. "No. The guy's a saint alright."
"Then what's the problem?"
"I just don't think the guy's right for you."
Icon found a lot under construction, and hovered, waiting for Rainsaw to catch up. "And you're the one who gets to decide what's right for me?"
"You know what. Never mind." Virgil cut communication.
Rainsaw found her. It roared. It stretched itself over Icon, covering the sky with its many blades.
"V? V!" Icon yelled into her communicator. "Great," She said through clenched teeth. She blasted at random. The blades fell, littering the ground.
Icon landed and surveyed her work. The shards wiggled, and then sank into the soft ground. The ground shook, and a metallic arm rose from the dirt, its hand shaped like a buzzsaw blade. It trashed about, attacking Icon. She blasted the arm and it split into the shards that made it. Two more arms rose from the ground to replace it. Icon leapt into the air and flew further into the construction site. A third arm rose from the ground, cutting off her path. She blasted it and kept moving forward. The fourth she couldn't completely dodge, the blades snagged her cape. She tugged it, ripping the fabric free and continued onwards. Three rose at once, trapping her. They shifted to create a metal dome and sunk under ground, taking Icon with it.
Explosions tore the ground apart, leaving a giant crater. Icon stood in the crater, panting. The shards twitched, still alive. This is not the type of fight you can win with brawn, she thought. Too bad my brain hung up on me. She kept all sorts of gadgets on her person. Little knickknacks Virgil designed in his spare time. She ran through them in her mind, and selected a small box with speakers on all sides. The shards gathered, creating a large wave that towered over her. It swelled before crashing downwards . Icon activated the device. It released a high frequency pulse, luckily it was enough to disrupt Rainsaw's ability to hold itself together. The blades fell like rain and for once were still.
Icon placed the cube down gently. "Well! I can come up with a good plan myself if I put my mind to it." She examined the fallen pieces, kicking them just to be certain. She uncovered a flat piece of metal among the shards that was tinted red. The symbol for Alva Industries was etched onto its surface.
January 25, 16: 45 EDT
The Team huddled on the sidelines of their training area, watching their leader train. Or, at least that is what he called it, the others were not convinced. It had been several days since the incident in Dakota, and the team had received no word. They were all agitated by the situation, a few of them even left on their own to try to find Raquel themselves, but it was useless. No one could penetrate the bubble.
He called it training, but the Team felt bad for the practice dummy. Kaldur was angry. He admitted it, but without knowing him one would assume that he was only mildly upset. Batman left him to it. Black Canary looked on with concern, but realized that there was nothing for it. Connor offered to be an actual sparing partner but Kaldur refused. So Kaldur continued his session with the dummy, the only sign of his frustration was a large puddle of sweat on the training room floor.
Kaldur hit the dummy with the appropriate amount of force, just enough that the dummy would not break, and this particular dummy was strong enough to handle punishment from Superboy. It shook and rattled with each blow. He had been at it for hours. Kaldur was calculating, his eyebrows knit in concentration. He would continue to sort things out until he could find a solution, or think of someone else who could.
Students shuffled out of their seats and packed their bags as the bell rang. They moved slowly, unhappy to go to next period. Their science teacher, Mr. Kim, had a knack for making the subject entertaining.
"Mr. Hawking. Mr. West. I need to see you for a few seconds after class," Mr. Kim said, while erasing the chalk board.
"Can't you see us for more than a few seconds?" Virgil asked.
Mr. Kim beamed. "But then you would miss Ms. Brauer's class."
"Exactly! Come on Wally. Help me out here."
Wally slung his arms around Virgil's shoulders. "You're on your own man. I am not going to explain to the Nazi why we skipped class."
The students still loitering in class giggled.
Mr. Kim's smile disappeared. "That's not appropriate."
"It's just a joke."
Mr. Kim pointed to Wally and Virgil with the eraser. "No," he said, his voice hard as steel. Wally and Virgil straightened. "Ms. Ervin can you let Ms. Brauer know that the boys will be late."
Raquel made a face. "Why me?"
"Please." Mr. Kim smiled again.
Raquel sighed. "Alright." She rushed into the hallway, fuming.
Ms. Eskandari brushed past Raquel on her way into the classroom. A pair of students followed her. "Virgil. Wallace. I need to talk to you about the competition."
"I need them to enter the robotics competitions Alva's holding," said Mr. Kim.
"Too late. They have already entered the math competition."
"But you have two geniuses already." He gestured to the students standing behind Ms. Eskandari. "Daisy and Robin should be more than enough. You don't need two teams."
"I want two teams." She crossed her arms over her chest.
Mr. Kim clasped his hands. He sat in his chair and tilted it back. "Are you sure we can't make a deal?"
Ms. Eskandari's eyes narrowed. "You're not charming your way out of this one Kim."
He smirked. "At least let me try."
Raquel continued down the hallway in a negative mood. Virgil had refused to speak to her, or even look at her. Who did he think he was anyway? It's not like it was his business. She could date who she wanted. He wasn't her keeper. Her internal ranting only made her feel worse.
Frieda had to jog to catch up to her friend. "Are you going to tell me what's up between you two?"
"Virgil's not talking to me."
Frieda shook her head. "What did you do?"
"What did I do!" Raquel's voice rose. "I did nothing! He's the one acting like a child. Getting mad just because I'm going to the dance with Kal."
"Oh? Oh what?"
"You know Virgil likes you right?"
"No he doesn't."
"I don't mean to interrupt-"A girl tapped Raquel's shoulder. Raquel and Frieda turned to see Artemis. It was uniform day and she wore the green uniform of the Junior Army ROTC. The cords attached to her shoulders signified her as a ranking officer and a member of the riffle team. Her blond hair was braided and wrapped into a bun at the nape of her neck. "But Virgil does like you."
"How do you know?" Raquel asked.
"Your friend complains nonstop to Wally, and Wally complains about his complaining, to me. "
"Yeah, well. Do me a favor, and just talk to him about it. It's driving me crazy." Artemis stalked off to her next class, leaving a bewildered Raquel behind.
Ms. Brauer grimaced at the clipboard, her blue eyes narrowed."Evin! You're friends with Hawkins, where is he?"
The students sat on the gym floor. They all flinched when Ms. Brauer spoke.
Raquel ducked her head. She was hoping that Ms. Brauer wouldn't notice Virgil's absence."Mr. Kim needed to speak to him. He's also talking to Wally. I think it's about some competition. He said that he will send them when he's done."
"No respect," Ms. Brauer muttered under her breath. She placed her hands on her hips and her frown deepened. It made her already imposing figure grow in size. The student's cowered on the floor.
"We do have a reputation to uphold Ms Brauer." Ms Kameya appeared at the gymnasiums door, holding her clipboard.
Ms. Brauer raised an eyebrow. "I believe that I had a hand in developing that reputation."
"No one is discrediting your work with the Football team."
"Or the track team. Or the wrestling team. Either way this is my period. If a teacher has not finished their business by the time the bell rings, then they need to schedule a meeting after school."
Kameya smiled. "You can let it slip this on time can't you?" Ms. Kameya pleaded. "Give Mr. West a few extra laps during track practice."
"I'm sure you can think of something."
"Fine. Is that all Ms Kameya?"
"Is it possible that I could get a moment of your time? Just 15 minutes." She folded her hands in a praying gesture.
"Laps," Ms. Brauer commanded. "Around the basket ball court."
Her student's whispered their complaints.
The students groaned as they rose from the court floor and began to jog. Raquel and Frieda caught up to Richie. They each took an arm holding him hostage.
"Good afternoon ladies," he said, his voice shaking a bit from being nervous. "What can I do for you."
Raquel ignored the formalities and cut strait to the point. "How long has Virgil had a crush on me."
Richie slumped."There's no point trying to pretend that I'm clueless is there?"
"Nope," Frieda said. "I've known for a few months but I'm sure he's spilled his guts to you. So talk."
Richie sighed. "I have a better question."
"Okay," Raquel said, hesitant.
"You two have known each other for years right?"
"Did you know that he liked you when you first met?"
"He thought I was cute." Raquel shrugged. "It's a curse I bear from being effortlessly attractive."
"He more than thought you was cute," Richie corrected.
"Whatever it was he got over it," Raquel snapped. "Now stop stalling."
"Well, now I have one more question. What made you think he got over it?"
Ms. Eskandari or Iron Butterfly and is the Math teacher.
Mr. Kim is the science teacher. He doesn't really have a superhero name but he does have superpowers.
Ms. Brauer or Donner is the P.E. teacher. Donner's grandfather was a Nazi scientist.
Mr. Edward Alva is the owner of Alva industries. He's pretty much your standard super rich, evil guy who poses as a philanthropist.
In the last chapter the running back is Connor. The captain of the cheerleading squad is Megan and the vice captain is Zatanna. I figured that since Raquel doesn't know Robin's real name she would call the ring made Robin, well… Robin.