The closer Robert grew to the Inner Sanctum, the more concerned he became. There was only one mind within, and it was filled with confusion and worry. Nonetheless, there was no malice in its emotional state, so he wasn’t afraid… just really ready for those answers. Pulling his hood fully over his head, he took a deep breath, slowly opened the door, and stepped inside. He was immediately surrounded by faces, but not people… pictures of everyone who had ever been a member of the Justice Society of America.
It was downright eerie. The room was huge, as he remembered, with a massive conference table capable of supporting the largest team of mystery men the world had ever known. Seeing the room so empty, however, seemed to give it a morbid quality, more like a shrine for mourning lost heroes than a memorial to the world’s greatest protectors. For a moment, Robert forgot that he wasn’t alone as his eyes took in the vastness of the place, his mind mired in a sudden feeling of solitude.
Quickly drawing back her hand,as if feeling guilty about tracing her fingers over the smooth marble of the conference table in the center of the room, Velocity waited in silence as the young man drew nearer. Though silence didn’t particularly bother her, there was too much off balance in the world to wait for too long. “Hello,” she said, her voice echoing slightly in the vast room. “I was starting to think no one was here. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but…” The silver haired girl paused and gave the hooded boy a closer look. “You are part of the JSA, right?”
Robert was startled out of his reverie, his eyes flaring green without cause. He had forgotten the reason he’d come to this room… the other presence. He turned and looked at the… girl. He froze for just a second. He had been prepared for an adult, someone he could address as an authority. Instead, he was looking down at a girl, clad in a silver uniform that matched the shimmer of her hair, no more than his own age, and her eyes, beautiful and sparkling gold, were looking up at him expectantly.
Without thinking, Robert averted his gaze. He wasn’t used to dealing with girls, and something about her immediately made him want to shield her from the soul that he kept hidden behind his eyes. He immediately regretted the decision as he saw her shoulders sink slightly, which could have signified a number of things, none of them good, and his face began to feel warm. “U-um…,” he began with an uncharacteristic stammer. “No,” he answered after a beat. “I came looking for them, but something went wrong… the trip took longer than –“
He immediately forgot the girl standing before him and turned suddenly and looked back at the door,as it he would be able to see another place through it. “Oh no, mom!” he said, grimacing. “I’ve been gone for days. There’s no telling what she thinks happened.” Without another pause, he turned back to the girl, his emotions starting to come to the surface… which was never a good idea.
“What’s going on?”
Lilly shook her head, silver wisps of hair brushing across her cheeks with the motion. “I really don’t know. I was out with my dad and… poof!” She paused again, deciding in an instant, that he needed reassurance even more than she did. That meant giving something other than the short version of the story.
She moved away from the table, taking a step closer to the boy. “I’m Lilly, by the way.” Another pause had her hiding a grimace at the thought of what her mother would say about giving out her name so freely. But it was out, nothing she could do now but continue on. Robert raised an eyebrow under his hood, surprised at her openness… but then, she was unmasked.
“But yeah… my dad… it was the strangest thing. There was no puff of smoke or flash of light or anything at all out of the ordinary. Well… other than him just being gone. Just like all the police and half my family. Gone.”
Realizing at the last moment that she had failed spectacularly at making things sound at all reassuring, Velocity tried to find a smile for the boy. “That’s why I came here. I was hoping someone might know what was going on.”
Robert frowned and closed his eyes. He reached out for his mother’s mind across the distance. The range would have been extreme for anyone else, but he and his mother shared a deeper bond than most. He frowned deeply, his emotions beginning to slip from his control. “She’s gone… she’s nowhere on earth,” he said, and reached out a hand to lean on one of the conference chairs… his “Grandmother’s” chair. The conference room lights dimmed and the table and remaining chairs began to shake.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, like Rachel had taught him, and focused inward, stilling himself. The room began to still and the lights returned to normal. Robert took one more heavy breath before returning his gaze to the girl. Seeing her eyes again, he felt the warmth return to his face as he averted his gaze. “Requiem…,” he said, his lips tightening. Then he corrected himself… and hoped his mother would understand. “Robert… I’m Robert.”
“Hi Requiem Robert.” Despite her smile, Lilly’s golden eyes were wide. “It’s nice to meet you.”[velocity] Drawing a deep breath she decided she wasn’t going to make a big deal about the lights and shaking… unless he did it again. [velocity]”And when we tell my parents about all this we’re going to pretend I introduced myself as Velocity.”
Standing in the middle of this huge room, the Silver Speedster began to feel awkward, like she should be moving. They were both missing parents and no closer to finding any answers. “If your mother’s gone too…” She let the question drift off into silence as new questions came faster and faster. “Who else is missing? And why? And why are we still here? We can’t be the only ones.”
“I can’t sense any of the JSA in the building,” Robert replied, his voice carrying a hint of uncertainty. She was close enough to him that he couldn’t help but feel the concern and fear coming off of her. He also couldn’t help smelling the lingering scent of her shampoo, which certainly wasn’t helping his concentration.
He decided that he needed to reassure her somehow, but that wasn’t something with which he’d had a lot of experience. After a moment, he reached out and put his trembling hand on her shoulder. “It will be okay,” he said, only half believing it. “There have to be more of us… and if our parents and mentors are missing, then we will find them.” He added the last part with a forced half-smile.
“This is what they trained us for, after all,” he finished, his hand still on her shoulder. He wasn’t sure when exactly he was supposed to let go, and at that moment he felt like he was on some alien world dealing with a culture and customs completely unknown to him. “And when we find them… we’ll stick to code names,” he added, trying to lighten the mood… yet another new experience.
Though his hand had been on her shoulder for what seemed like a long time, Lilly decided she wasn’t going to think of it as weird. Especially since she really did feel better after that little pep-talk.”My dad is my mentor. Does that make me a dork?” she asked, finding her smile.
“So come on.” Since his hand was right there she decided she might as well use it. Besides, shrugging it off would be rude. Grabbing his hand she set off, pulling him along with her. “We’re not going to find any answers standing around here. We have a whole building to check out. And like you said..” Her smile widened into a full grin. “This is what they trained us for.”