Scott had been flying around the Bronx and Manhattan stopping random crimes and scaring off looters where he could. He hadn’t heard from any of his friends for a while, so he decided to head back to the JSA headquarters.
On his way back to Morningside Heights and the JSA Brownstone, Scott swooped low over Harlem. He spotted a pair of what appeared to be gang members attacking an ATM with a crowbar. Sighing, Scott dove down and dropped a glowing green dome over the thieves.
“Guys, just because you don’t see a cop around doesn’t mean you can do stuff like this. He said as the dome constricted around the thieves.
One of the young men made a rude gesture in Teen Lantern’s direction. “Screw you, man. It’s more than cops not bein’ around. They ain’t anywhere. Ain’t nothin’ you can do to us. No police around, what are you gonna do with us?”
The young hero sighed. He had heard this before, but didn’t have time to find a small island to dump these two on. “How do you feel about heights, guys?”
Before either of the thieves could manage a confused “what?” the dome became a balloon with a thin emerald string tying itself to a lamp post.
“Fair winds, fellas. And I wouldn’t try to pop that thing either. The Emerald Avenger said, a grim look on his face. “The drop may not kill you, but I haven’t seen any paramedics around to patch you up.”
Turning away from the criminals, his grim face turned to a smile as he made a low arc towards the Brownstone.
The ring-bearer landed on the front stoop of the building. For a moment he thought he heard voices from inside. Not sure if it was one of his friends or someone else taking advantage of the current situation, his ring flared, sheathing him in a fiery green force field as he pulled the door open.
Robert found a certain irony in the fact that he was leading a speedster slowly through the dim halls of the JSA Brownstone.
First, he was surprised that someone able to move so quickly was capable of slow movement. Second, even in this tense situation, the girl seemed to have a serenity about her that reminded him of the meditation gardens on Azeroth. Neither of these traits were such that he had expected from an Allen… especially given the stories he had heard from his mother.
About halfway through the building, there had been a sudden, sharp creek that had resulted in her grabbing his hand. That had resulted in the sudden slamming of every door within thirty feet, which drew her even closer. It took all of Robert’s willpower to keep his powers in check… he was personally rather proud that he hadn’t blown up the whole Brownstone.
He tried thinking of her as Maddie, but that didn’t work, either. Lilly smelled sweet, clean… like a summer breeze after a light rain. Maddie smelled like… well… Gotham. So, in order to try to keep is mind busy, Robert reached out with his senses, searching for any sign of life. As they approached the front door, he finally got a hit… and he wasn’t sure what to do with it.
“Stop.” he said, stalling his movement and holding out a hand in front of her, thankfully not realizing how close he had come to brushing against her. “Confusion… concern,” he started to say, then suddenly changed gears. “Wait… suspicion and mistrust.”
He glanced back at Lilly, his hood drawing up and darkness filling it, drowning his expression. “I think we’ve been made.” He slipped into a ‘ready’ stance, the defensive pose his aunt Cassie had taught him, and drew back his hands, reaching out to the legendary power of this place and evoking the energies of those legends to draw up his power… waiting.
“Wait.” Peering up into the darkness that now hid his face, she kept her body relaxed, open to the possibilities beyond the door. “Weren’t we all those things not too long ago? Don’t go all shadowy on me yet.”
Slowly, the door to the outside began to open and through the crack between door and jamb came an ominous green glow. The eerie light began to grow as the door opened wider until it bathed the whole room in a weird emerald luminescence.
Lilly gasped, her face bathed in that strange green light. Suddenly she gave a squeal and darted forward. “Scotty!”
The glow shrunk, resolving itself into a human shape, a shape which replied, “Li… Velocity?” in a surprised voice. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for… anyone,” the silver haired girl answered as she wrapped her arms around the figure. After a tight hug, she pulled back with a smile. “Nice mask. Oh…”
Beckoning Robert closer, Velocity made the official introductions. “This is Requiem. He’s my new friend.” She gave the hooded boy a wink, pleased that she’d remembered not to use his first name.”Requiem, this is… oops…”
Scott smiled. “It’s okay, Vee. The name’s Teen Lantern. Scotty to my pseudo-sister here.”
Requiem, as he was now, considered the other boy, then without entirely understanding why, he withdrew his hood. “Robert,” he said, feeling a strange trust wash over him as he became entangled in the connection between the two youths before him. “Robert Troy… if Lilly trusts you as much as I can sense she does,” he continued, deliberately using her name to demonstrate an open atmosphere, “then I see no reason to meet your introduction with mistrust of my own.”
Behind the mask, Scott’s eyebrows shot up. “Lilly?” he said smiling at the girl. “Well, we’ve known each other most of our lives. She’s my older little sister,” he said, his grin widening. “And I can’t wait to hear you explain your name being known to Aunt Rose,” he added in sotto voice.
“Now that we’re all on the same page we can start figuring things out,” Lilly said, deliberately ignoring Scott’s comment about her mother. After all, it was a waste of energy to worry about the scolding that would inevitably be coming. “I don’t suppose you still have parents around, do you?”
Scott shook his head “Mom vanished from a ring powered conference call.” The worry was evident in the youth’s voice as he continued. “Dad did a jump to hyperspace and vanished when he hit the upper atmosphere… right above the brownstone.”
Requiem couldn’t help but notice the sadness and guilt the green-haired hero was feeling. He reached out and clutched the Teen Lantern’s shoulder. “Let go of your guilt,” he said, his face even.”There was magic in this.”
He released the young man’s shoulder and crossed his arms. “I was teleporting here through the Shadowlands when some kind of time-space reality wave –” he guessed, trying his best to sound sure, “– disrupted my power… I arrived here several days after I should have, and my mom and aunt were missing, too.”
“Only powerful magic can breach the walls of the Shadowlands….,” Robert continued, “and if the trend in parentage among our generaton holds up, I’m guessing that your uncle would probably be able to back me up on that.”
“What?” Scott said, a faint grin on his face. “Did my hair color give it away? Or was it the name Scott?”
Robert’s mouth curved slightly, almost into a smile. “The shirt, hair, and name certainly informed my assumption,” he said, and his smile grew slightly as he continued. “But it was the bright green glow that gave it away.”
Scott smiled. “You should see me when I’m not wearing the ring,” he said, the glow fading to a light halo around the ring on his left hand. “I’m on fire.”
“Scotty…” Despite the semi-scolding tone, Velocity’s golden eyes sparkled as she smiled. “We’re not talking about that right now. And you’re keeping that ring on.”
“You’re right,” Robert replied, his thin smile slipping away and his cheeks rededning slightly as he answered Lilly. He raised his hood again, hiding his expression. It was time to get back to the business at hand. “Now is the time for action…,: he said, trying to sound suitably heroic and failing miserably.
“But where do we start?” he asked, looking back at Scott. “I’m no strategist… and short of magickal inquiries, I’m afraid we’re without leads… and I’m a bit new to this whole ‘heroing’ thing.”
Scott laughed and created three chairs with his ring. Taking a seat, he looked up at Requiem. “Don’t ask me, I’m a super rookie myself. First day with the mask.” Nodding at Lilly, he added, “She’s the one who’s been training to be a hero. I’ve only had the training to control my ring.”
“Don’t say it like that,” Lilly scolded with another smile. “You’re going to make me sound…” Her words were lost as a new sound echoed through the empty building. Silver hair brushing against her cheek as she cocked her head to listen to the alarm, the Silver Speedster winked at Robert then her form blurred.
In an instant she was back to being serious, burying any worry behind a sense of responsibility.”How do you boys feel about some fresh air? Because we’ve got major alarms going off at the Federal Reserve Bank…”
Robert was just about to sit down, hoping the movement would hide the blood in his cheeks following the girl’s wink, but quickly stopped himself. Returning back to his full height, he grabbed the edges of his cloak and sank back into his hood, instead. “It would seem that our paths have converged just in time, then,” he said, happy to have an excuse to fall back into the darkness of his costume.
“If you’re both willing, I can get us all there instantaneously…,” he said, with just a slight hesitance. He had been practicing carrying others through the Shadowlands, but this was the first time he’d ever be confronting an enemy with colleagues instead of mentors. “Just gather close and blink when I tell you to,” He said. “We’ll be there in the ‘blink of an eye’,” he added, “but if you’ve never seen the Shadowlands before, it’s probably better that you take that literally….”
Scott smiled. “It’s nine miles. She can run like lightning. I can fly like the wind. We can basically be there in a blink.”
Lilly nodded. “My big green brother has a point.” Feeling like Robert had made a very kind gesture to offer to transport them, she wanted to make sure he knew she appreciated it. “You can blink us through the Shadowlands on the way back.”
Requiem nodded, shrugging at the same time. “I was just assuming that, not knowing the lay of the land or positions of the enemy, a coordinated arrival would be more strategically significant,” he said, pulling his cloak tightly around him. “However, I will yield to your experience.”
“Thought I told you I didn’t have any experience,” Scott said with a smile. He glanced at Lilly. “What do you think?”
The silver haired girl sighed, blowing the long bangs away from her face as she thought it over.”Okay… I’ve never been to this bank so Robert’s right, we don’t know the lay of the land and… wait!”A smile started to blossom across her face. “We’re standing in the Brownstone. The same system that gave us the alarm might have a view of the bank, right?”
Scott jogged into the monitor room tapped a couple of the touchscreens. “Looks like just the public areas are accessible. The others must be on a closed loop.”
The ringbearer scrolled through a couple screens, then tapped an icon. A series of blueprints popped up on the screen, and Scott sent them to the main viewscreen. “These are crazy classified. We wouldn’t even have them if Mr. Holt hadn’t done the security renovations.”
“This is where strategy comes in… Robert interjected. “I can get us in the building anywhere you want… without using the doors.”
Lilly blew the silver hair away from her face a second time as she nodded. “Okay, this is good. You guys are brilliant!”
Scotty smiled. “Of course we are…” he paused for a beat. “But why?”
“Strategy.” She grinned at the pair then went on to explain. “Robert can take me the shadowy way around back — if you don’t mind, Robert — while Scotty makes a big green distraction out front.”
“Makes sense to me,” Scott said, nodding. “Give me about a minute and a half to get there, then pop in.”
Robert nodded, “Done. Ninety seconds and counting,” he said, then swallowed hard as he watched the glowing green streak with Scott at its head zoom off towards the bank. He glanced over at Lilly and took a deep breath, more than a little nervous at the idea of taking her through the Shadowlands. It had been his idea, after all… but he was worried that the her opinion of him might be tainted by that kind of glimpse into who he was.
“Remember to close your eyes,” he said to her, not making eye contact. He was counting in his head with his hands tightly gripping his cloak on both sides. “We’ll only be gone for an instant, but even a flash of the Shadowlands has been known to give people nightmares. And with your speed, and I assume the ability of your senses to compensate for it, you’re likely to see a lot of ‘uncomfortable’ things.”
When he got to ‘eighty,’ he lifted off from the ground slightly and spread his arms aide, his cloak flowing out like wings. His body was swallowed up by the darkness beneath his mantle, and a breeze began to flow into him as the higher air pressure of New York City was blown into the empty space where Requiem’s form had once been. He paused just a moment for a deep, slow breath.
On ‘ninety,’ Robert wrapped his arms around Lilly, and the silver, white, and black of their forms merged into a spiral of swirling grays before being swallowed up by the darkness. And, with a soft thump of collapsing air filling the void where they had stood an instant before, they were gone.