Velocity took a step away from her friends toward the bubble of darkness. “Requiem?” She’d made the name mistake enough times for one day. Right now she couldn’t risk doing anything that would cause more hard feelings. “Can you hear me? It’s okay now. The guys in masks are taken care of. It’s really okay.” Her voice didn’t seem to travel past the end of her fingertips. Certainly there was no change in the inky blackness that hid Robert from their sight.
“Do… do you think he can even hear you in there, Vel?” the Green Teen said with a frown. He looked over the black sphere, looking for any fissures. “Maybe…” He took a step back and leveled his left arm. A gout of flame erupted from the ring, then focused to a narrow, cutting torch like point. Slowly Scott moved the flame against the black sphere, but there was no visible result.
“Starboy,” the Lantern said glancing over at the other three teen heroes. “Can you give me a hand getting this thing open? I figure if we can get it opened then Velocity can get in to talk to him.”
“We can try… Brussels sprouts, but I ain’t being held responsible for any cleanup if you’re wrong about this.”
Starman raised the cosmic rod and produced a stream of shimmering energy that crashed against the black sphere.
At the same time, Teen Lantern resumed his efforts. After a few seconds, a gap began to appear in the sphere, first no more than a thin crack, but soon growing large enough for a person to slip through. “We aren’t gonna be able to hold this long, Vel,” Scott said, sweat beading on his forehead.
“I don’t need long.” She flashed a quick, nervous smile at her brother. “Just um… think good thoughts for me.” The Silver Speedster took one calming breath then dashed through the gap in the darkness.
“Robert?” Encased in the blackness with him, Lilly wasn’t worried about first names. With a shiver, she moved a little bit closer. “Um… it’s Lilly.”
Her hand stretched out to touch his shoulder. It was a more tentative touch than she would have liked, but she wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. She really, really didn’t want to deal with shadow birds again. “It’s okay now.”
“No!” Robert muttered, his voice cracked, but the sound of it boomed within the sphere of shadow.”You have to run. He’ll kill you.” The boy’s muscles tightened and he drew himself in even more.
Lilly ‘knelt’ down, trying to see his face. It was dark in there, almost impenetrably so, but there was a slight glint like pale light reflecting from a moist eye. She decided that would be her focal point, and her hand tightened on his shoulder a little. She wasn’t scared of more birds anymore, she was scared for the boy in front of her. “Who will kill me?”
“Chaos…,” Requiem muttered, the sound still echoing inside the bubble of darkness. “He’s here. He wants to come out… to play.” Robert snapped his eyes shut, closing them so tightly that it hurt. “I can’t stop him….”
She drew in a breath. Lilly wasn’t sure what or who he was talking about, or what this had to do with anything, but right now she needed to get through to him. She needed Robert to stop listening to whatever voices he was hearing and listen to her. “Nonsense!” she said, her free hand sliding in under his hood. Her hand slid along his cheek and she felt wetness there.
“You’re stronger than him,” she continued, still not entirely sure who ‘he’ was. She thought about Requiem’s words, he wanted to ‘come out.’ Lilly tried to force a smile, certain that even though she couldn’t see him very well, Robert could see her. “Besides, he’s… in there. You’re out here. With us,” she said, softly. “With me.”
“And we need you to come back to us.” She felt a drop that she could only guess was a tear stop at her fingers before rolling over and down her hand. Lilly brushed it aside with her thumb and, with some difficulty, raised his head so that they would be, she hoped, eye to eye. “Your friends needyou right now,” she said, not entirely certain it was helping. “He… he’ll have to wait!” she said at last, firmly, giving a small-but-curt nod.
“Friends?” Requiem asked, his voice strengthening but the volume strangely dwindling.
Lilly nodded. “Yes… come back to us,” she said, and then, acting on impulse despite constantly being told by others to slow down and think things through, she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed, hoping that the sudden hug wouldn’t cause him to explode with those evil birds again.
Robert’s shoulders slumped. A weak sound like a lost kitten mewing for its mother escaped his throat, barely audible. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the inky sphere dissipated and the two young heroes fell to the floor, Requiem slumping onto it, his upper body being supported entirely by Velocity’s arms. His words were no more than a whisper, barely enough for her to hear. “He’s… gone,” and he collapsed into her completely.
Watching her friend reappear, with a guy slumped and weak in her arms made Erin slightly curious as to who this guy was and why in the world did he turn into a big black ball? ”Alright, so, is he cool now? Or do I still get to hit something.”
“Oh what an angel of mercy you are.” Kyle laughed.
”What, I promise not to hit him too hard.” Erin gave a grin and a shrug, taking a few steps forward in case Lilly needed help.
“We haven’t officially met… Starman.” Kyle smiled, forcing himself not to say his real name, he extended his hand to her.
Looking at his hand for a moment Erin slowly let her hand reach out to take his in a firm handshake. Since he used a codename she thought for a moment and decided on the only one that came to mind that seemed to suit her. “Hawkgirl. Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise.” Kyle grinned, as they released each others’ hand, “Better circumstances and all that.”Kyle shrugged with a laugh.
”Right.” Erin smiled and gave a look around, noticing how everyone was dealing with the small aftermath of the recent battle. “So, any idea what those things were exactly? And, why they suddenly wanted to attack everyone?”
“They remind me of the Psycho Pirate. The masks, and the emotion control. He was an old foe of my Grandad and the Justice Society. Why they suddenly wanted to attack? Kicks? Or just another baddie wanting to take advantage of the great heroic rapture we weren’t invited to.” Kyle brushed a hand through his dark hair.
”Do you think there will be more coming then? Should we go somewhere else?” She looked around and rubbed her arms to ward off a chill at the thought of facing another of those ‘psychos’ and imaging them controlling her like they did the others.
“Now, now, where’d that desire to hit and smash go?”
“Oh trust me, it’s still there. I’d just rather be certain I have the upper hand is all.” She gave a more serious look, her green eyes shining as she thought of another fight with those things. ”It was easier to fight them when I didn’t know what they were capable of.”
“Well that’s half the fun isn’t it? You’re never gonna totally know what you’re getting into. Even someone like me who’s gotta bit of in on the the goings on that haven’t gone on yet.” He smiled to himself, “It could be giant swamp zombies, nazis from the future, evil twins or who knows what. The thing is they’re not gonna stop coming, so we just have to keep beating them.” He smirked.
Giving a shrug, her wings resting behind her as she found a spot to sit down on. “Yeah well, I’ll take ‘em all on so long as I can keep them out of my head.” She rolled her shoulders for a moment, releasing the tension from the long flight and the little battle. ”So, all the real heroes are gone…” She mused out loud, trying to think of whether or not they’d be better off searching for the adults or just filling their shoes and waiting for them to get back. After all, they were the professionals and they were stronger in every way, so, surely they’d be back soon.
“Were real.” Kyle smiled, “And we’ll find them.”
Erin was skeptical but she hoped he was right. She certainly didn’t feel like she was a real hero, at least not right then. “Any idea where to start?”
“Not really,” Kyle laughed again, “I’ve been trying to meet up with an old friend of mine.” An image of Redbird flashed in his mind, “She’s already on the trail or I hope she is. Other than that, I’ve got my best people on it.” He said, for a moment looking behind her at the wizened image of his grandfather and beyond him the flickering image of a beautiful dark-haired bombshell in a skimpy yellow costume with a green cape.
The Teen Lantern walked around, pulling the masks off of the Psycho Pirates. “I think we need to keep these things locked up,” he said as he encased the Medusa Masks in a green bubble.”Beyond that, I’m not sure. Velocity?”
The Silver Speedster nodded as she practically carried Robert over to where the others waited.”There’s a safe vault back in the Brownstone. Right?” She looked to her big green brother for confirmation. “That seems like a logical place to put them.”
“Right. So should I carry you and Robert back, maybe have Hawkgirl and Starboy fly escort?” It was phrased as a question. Scott had assumed his fast friend would take charge but what had happened with Requiem seemed to have shaken her.
“We’re all going to go back there.” She felt herself smiling as she looked at Erin and Scotty. They were family. And Robert? She shifted to get a better grip on the boy. He was definitely on his way toward being part of the family too. She just hoped his system could handle the shock.
Scott flexed the fingers of his left hand, then clenched them in a fist. He pointed his ring at the ground near Velocity and Requiem. A thin beam of green flame shot out, forming a sort of bobsled with two plush bucket racing seats.
Lilly placed the unconscious form of Requiem in the back seat and immediately a five point harness materialized around him.
Erin walked up and placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder. With the other she hefted the mace.”Nothing’s going to get through me on the flight back, Vel.”
That left Starman. Lilly turned to include him in her smile. “You’re welcome to join us, if you’d like. We don’t really have all the answers when it comes to what’s going on with… everything. But we’re all in it together.”
“All for one, and one for all?” Kyle smiled widely as he stepped into the group.
That sounds pretty good to me!”