Teen Lantern reached the end of his arcing ballistic trajectory. Touching down in front of the building he paused. Nobody had ever heard of a Teen Lantern, so he commanded his ring to alter his costume, and took on the appearance of a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Silently he passed through the stone and steel of the building’s wall and emerged in the lobby of the building. A security guard looked at him and started to laugh.
“Green Lantern!” He said between bursts of laughter. “They’re in the ba… heh… ba… Bwahahaha!”The guard doubled over, clutching his sides, slowly regaining his composure. “Basement.”
Nodding, Scott flew through the corridors to the elevator and pulled open the doors. He shot down the shaft like a rocket. As he hit the sub-basement fifty feet below the surface, his ring surrounded him with a bright green forcefield.
“Hello villains!” he said, the ring amplifying his voice. “I am a representative of the Green Lantern Corps. Surrender now.” To himself, he added, Hope that’s enough of a distraction…
Robert carried the pair through the Shadowlands in the blink of an eye, but Lilly’s speed-honed senses allowed her to experience the journey more fully. The first thing she noticed was the cold, the bitter nip of a deep cave eternally bereft of sunlight. The chill was followed by snippets of sounds, a suffering moan, a distant howl, and a constant, deep thrum like the memory of a whistle still fading on the wind.
Lilly leaned back into him, finding security in his presence. Despite the temptation to peek, she trusted Robert’s judgment, and he had told her to keep them closed. With that thought in mind, she clamped her eyes tighter and did her best to shut out the sounds of their surroundings. Then the instant passed, and the warmth of the real world washed over her, and the blackness behind her eyelids softened.
“We’ve arrived,” Requiem whispered to her, keeping his voice below the sound of muffled voices coming through the wall in front of them. They had arrived in a private office attached to the main floor. The blinds were drawn and mostly closed, casting thin lines of light across the empty chairs, the desk, and the darkened computer monitor. A poster on the wall of a soaring eagle quietly encouraged the duo to “Aim High”.
After a moment, Robert noticed Lilly leaning against him, and pulled his arms from around her, taking an uncomfortable half-step back, pulled himself deeper into his hood, letting dark shadows creep over the redness of his cheeks. “Um… what’s the plan?” he whispered, trying desperately to keep to the task at hand, as the faint light in the room was brightened by a flickering green.
“Because I think your distraction has arrived.”
Rather than admit that ‘the plan’ was being made up on the spot, Lilly nodded and looked around the room before answering. When she finally turned to him, the lines of worry had been smoothed from her brow. “While our green friend is being noticed we’ll…”
She hesitated longer than she meant to and at once the doubt crept in. Golden eyes looked up to find the face behind his hood. And, though she couldn’t see any expression, it was comforting enough to know that he was as unfamiliar with the situation as she was.
That simplicity of that thought brought a smile to her lips. Of course they were unfamiliar with the situation. As far as she knew, there hadn’t been a time when all the parents and other important adult figures had poofed out of reality. This was new to everyone. And maybe… just maybe, it was new to the bank robbers too.
“Right,” she said finally. “Well a distraction’s no good if it’s not distracting from something. So while the bank robbers are all looking at him, we need to be catching them while their backs are turned and getting them out of the way.”
Robert nodded. “Okay. You run through and collect any weapons they’re carrying,” he said, stealing a move he’d seen in videos of her father at work. “I’ll come in behind you, seal the exits and shield any hostages… then the three of us can take them down.”
“Um…,” he added, hesitantly. He was pretty sure that she had more experience at this than he did, and he didn’t want to sound bossy… especially when he wasn’t entirely sure of what he was doing.”If you think that’s sound,” he added.
“Sound? It’s better than sound. You’re really very good at this,” Lilly told him, giving his arm a light pat of encouragement. It helped that it seemed like something her dad would do. It was like a sign that the plan would work. “Let’s go.”
Scott hovered inches from the floor, looking around for the villains. Odd shadows cast by the emerald light sheathing the hero stretched away from him.
“Hello, bad guys?” He said as he cast his gaze around the room once more. He had thought he spotted a glint of something yellow, but it proved fleeting. Scott was fed up.
These idiot bad guys had broken into the reserve bank during the chaos in the city. His friends, except Velocity, were off somewhere else, doing who knows what. And even Lilly was hanging around with some new guy instead of him.
The energy coming off of Scott changed from a smooth aura to a jagged, irregular flickering flame. Sparks shot from the edges. Scotty was mad, and his temper was rising .
Behind the Lantern, a form stepped from the shadows. “They’re all against you,” the form whispered.”You’re getting madder. Ready to lash out at anyone.”
Scott gritted his teeth. His fists clenched and he looked around, seething.
The plan was sound. Robert was very good at this. It was a sign. The only problem was the lack of actual weapons, people holding weapons, and hostages in the building. Velocity sped through the main floor then, confused and a little creeped out by the emptiness, did a second quick pass. From there it was down to the basement, racing past obscene amounts of money as she closed in on a familiar green glow.
The shade may have been familiar, but the sight of her friend looking so… off… brought her to a sudden halt. “Sco… Lantern?”
The Teen Lantern’s eyes focused on the girl, but instead of speaking, his lip curled, bearing his teeth, and Velocity could swear she heard a faint growl issue from Scotty’s throat.
“Scotty?” She took a step closer to her friend, eyeing his irregular aura. “Did you… find anything?”
The snarl turned to a smile as Scott’s eyes narrowed. He raised a hand and curled his finger, indicating to Velocity that she should come nearer. As she edged closer to the Lantern, he swung the other arm at her head.
Caught completely by surprise the silver haired girl staggered under the unexpected blow. Holding a hand to her cheek, she stared up at him in shock. “Scott!” It hurt. A lot. And he’d done it on purpose. “What’s wrong?”
Giving Velocity a second to act, Robert followed her into the main room. He, too, was surprised by the emptiness of the place, and his companion had already taken advantage of her speed to continue on. Closing his eyes, he reached out empathically to find living minds… and reeled from the flurry of emotions that struck him.
Another growl, animalistic and angry, came from the Lantern as his ring flared in spiky flame then went out. He moved to swipe at the girl again. Lilly’s shock turned to action. She quickly dodged Scott’s blow and grabbed his arm, wrenching the ring from his finger and stepping back, all in less than a split second.
As soon as the ring left his finger, Scott burst into an emerald flame, the fire burning bright, yet remaining in the form of the teen. What the…” Scott said looking around, then seeing Lilly holding his ring. “Vel, what’s going on?”
She held the ring out to him. “I was really hoping you could tell me.” Ducking her head to hide her reddened cheek, Velocity looked around for any sign of bad guys. “You were kinda… not yourself.”
Requiem appeared in the room in both of their peripheries. His head was still reeling from the onslaught he’d felt upstairs. Before him, he saw fading rage, confusion, and despair, but those were only the tip of the iceberg… there were other emotions here. And those emotions were powerful and in constant flux. “What’s going on?”
Scott took the ring and slid it on his finger, immediately reverting to his human form. “I don’t know,”he said sheepishly. “I remember flying in, announcing myself, then getting mad. Really mad…”
Color drained from the young man’s face. “Oh! Li… Vel, I’m so sorry!”
Her hands clasped around his. “You weren’t yourself. It’s not your fault. And it doesn’t even hurt much anymore.”