The Teen Huntress nocked an arrow and fired it at the helicopter, embedding it right next to the doorway.
“You are persistent, little sister,” he yelled out over the whir of the blades. “But I don’t have time to play anymore, so I shall leave you with a gift.” He tossed a black oval a little smaller than a football toward the roof.
Redbird took off like a shot toward the object, baseball sliding to catch it before it landed. A red LED timer flashed through descending numbers. “It’s a bomb!”
“Correction, little bird,” several bodies poured out from the helicopter around the Dark Archer as he tossed two more across the rooftop, “Bombs.”
Three bolts landed in the belly of the bird as it banked back away from hotel rooftop. Artemis was sure she had hit the fuel line, but that didn’t matter now. There were problems more immediate than Merlin’s escape. She rushed forward shooting into the swarm, keeping them away from Redbird and the bomb in her hand.
She swung hard, slamming her fist into the first jaw that came close. “Can you disarm them?” She twisted the arrow in her hand, jamming it down into another’s thigh and then yanking it out to knuckle his nose. She loaded it to her bow and pinned a third against the door.
“I can try.” She immediately went to work on the bomb in her hands. “And for the record, I hate your family.”
Artemis grit her teeth, biting back the pain as she continued her assault on the men that surrounded them. The quick sweeping kicks seared the ache in her thigh while her arms focused on keeping the distant ones as distant as possible with intermittent ranged attacks. “You don’t get to pick your family.”
Redbird pulled several tools out of her belt and went to work. The bomb seemed simple enough, not unlike the ones Uncle Bruce used to train her. Those just gave an electric jolt if she was wrong, they didn’t blow you to kingdom come like this one would. Saying a quick prayer, the Girl Wonder snipped the wire. The ticking stopped. Redbird smiled to herself as she dropped the bomb to the ground.
“That’s one,” she announced as she ran straight toward the second bomb. On the way, she leveled one of the ninjas with a right to the jaw.
“Great kid,” Artemis launched another arrow at another ninja, “don’t get cocky”
Redbird rolled her eyes as she moved to the next closest bomb. This one was much like the first. So much so that the timers were identical. Right down to the tenth of a second. “Artemis,” her fingers and clippers worked the wires, “we don’t have the time…”
The archer looked down as the timer went cold with barely seconds remaining. “Hell…”
The two girls shared a look. Artemis dropped the arrow in hand and reached back to her quiver. Redbird lunged from the ground, tonfa in hand. The strikes were hard and fast and cleared a path.
The archer loaded her bow with a heavy headed arrow, one from that special compartment. She held her breath, taking a few precious moments of focus. The string was tight against her fingertips, ready. She let go.
The arrow soared and hit its mark. A sticky substance exploded over it on impact and carrying it forward. It cleared the edge of the roof, but that was as far as it got. The explosion lit the sky up and shook the roof. It took a bite off of the edge of the hotel. Debris of concrete, metal and glass shot high into the air and then screaming to the streets below.
“God!” Redbird ducked down to avoid the explosion.
When she pulled her head back up, another of the ninjas was bearing down on her. Still dazed by the bomb the Girl Wonder was barely able to defend herself and several of her assailants punches connected, including one that caused it to feel like her ribcage to cave in. Redbird stumbled back holding her side. She could feel her lungs scream for oxygen, as she tried to pull herself together. That’s when she noticed that the ninja she was fighting had pulled back himself. All of them had. “W-what the hell are they doing?”
Artemis shook her head, here eyes narrowing to focus. “I… I dunno…” She was almost hesitant as she pulled another arrow to her bowstring and pulled it back, leveling it with the figure standing point.”Wait…” There was a glint in the light of something under his blak gi.
Both of them took steps back. Their jaws fell loose.
The explosion was nearly singular, and while its force was not as great, the horror and devastation was unmatched. Bracing their eyes with their arms, the two teens were thrown back, skipping and rolling off the steel and asphalt. Both of them closed their thoughts off to just what it was that rained down in the wake of the blast.
Artemis felt all her legs go loose over the jagged edge of the first explosion first. Her body quickly followed with a weightlessness that was all too brief. She held her breath and opened her eyes wide. Gravity pulled her down with the force of several impending stories, and all she could do was reach up against it and pray that she found purchase in something.
Luck again saved Diana Queen’s life. Luck and Redbird.
The Scarlet Squire felt the pull of the weight on her shoulders, the Archer hanging below, their hands tightly clasped to each others wrists. She looked up to her fingers tightly wrapped around the warped piece of rebar.
The pain in her ribs had doubled. Redbird started to see stars in front of her eyes. She could feel her tenuous grip on her consciousness slipping, but she could not allow it. Summoning all the strength she could, she pulled her partner up toward the rebar that she held onto herself.
The two girls pulled themselves back on what was left of the roof. “This,” she said as she winced with pain, “is the last time I team with you, Cupid.”
“Sure.” Artemis knelt there on all four, staring at the charred bit of roof between her palms. She didn’t want to look up, didn’t want to see the remains of what had happened. She closed her eyes and tried not to throw up. “Next time I’ll let Merlin put that shot in your temple. Fine by me, Tweety.”
The Teen Archer sighed, trying to hold onto some semblance of normality, trying to hold it together. She rubbed her forehead with back of her fist, mumbling to herself. “So much for movie night…”
“You have no idea.”
Diana Queen’s eyes rose from following the black boots up to the golden oval silhouetting a sharp bat. She stopped there, not looking any further. “Crap…” The urge to vomit was suddenly stronger.
“What the hell happened here?”
Green Arrow’s arm reached down. The pair of archers clasped each other by the the bracers, and Diana allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. “Merlin…”
“I thought I told you that you weren’t ready to take on the League of Assassins, Redbird.” The Dark Knight said as he helped Redbird to her feet.
She didn’t need to see his eyes behind the startlight lenses of his cowl to know she had disappointed Tim. Redbird took in a heavy painful sigh. “We could have taken him if it wasn’t for the bombs.”
“And ninjas.” Artemis interjected.
“And ninjas with bombs.” The Girl Wonder finished as she rubbed the back of her neck.
“You know better than to try and face Merlin alone.” Green Arrow crossed his arms over his chest. He shook his head as he looked at his sister with a rather stern expression. “You’re lucky you’re not dead.”
Diana blatantly ignored just how true that was, countering with the half truth. “I wasn’t alone.” She shouldered her bow.
“And you’re both lucky you’re not dead.”
“This whole building could have dropped to the ground.” Batman’s shoulders shifted, and that black cape fell over his body. His tone had that cool chill that made the hair on Artemis’s neck stand on end. She looked away. “This little stunt could have killed hundreds. It’s chance that all you’ve done is damage the structure.”
“Well you were on business with the League!” Redbird snapped back. “He could have killed Di…Commissioner Grayson! Who knows who his target was here.” The adrenaline coursing through her veins again made the pain in her ribs subside a bit.
“I believe the Commissioner can handle himself just fine, Redbird. You should have,” Batman’s eyes landed on Artemis also, “both of you should have contacted us.”
Artemis straightened her back, all ready to tell Batman that she didn’t answer to him, but the little shake of her brother’s head told her it wasn’t the smartest play. “This wasn’t our fault.” She looked at Connor, gesturing to the charred rooftop. “Merlin threw the bombs. Merlin killed his own men in cold blood. Just like Merlin had the trigger pulled on the mayor back home. Not me. And not the scarlet sidekick over here.”
She folded her arms across her chest, mirroring her brother. “We came the closest to taking him in as anybody, including the League. And god knows what might have happened if we hadn’t.”
“You are responsible.” Arrow shook his head. The disappointment showed. “You put on that suit, and you become responsible for the well being of every person put in danger. You know that.”
She did know. Hearing it punched her in the stomach. Shame dropped her chin to her chest.
“You girls still have a lot to learn.” The Dark Knight folded his arms across his chest. “I feel like it may have been a mistake to let you operate on your own Redbird.”
“No!” Redbird yelled out. “I did everything by the book. Just like you taught me.”
“So not listening me and going off on your own against my orders to try to find one of the most deadly assassins in the world is by the book?”]
Redbird opened her mouth but closed it again. He was right of course, he was always right.
“Look,” Connor sighed he looked art Artemis and laid his hand on her shoulder.
She raised her eyes. She searched her brother’s expression for the slightest sign of hope. His face was strange, almost ghostly. “Connor?” She could see the buildings in the background slipping through him. The grip on her shoulder lightened. Panic gripped her chest as she reached forward.”CONNOR!” Her brother was gone.
“The hell?” The Girl Wonder said as she watched the same thing happen to her mentor. “Batman!”
But both of them were gone. The two girls stared at the spot where the two members of the League stood.
“That wasn’t the transporter.” Redbird dropped to her knees and started to inspect the area where they stood.
“Not even close.” She had instinctively pulled her bow and loaded it, looking around for any sign of intervention. “That was more like Manhunter phasing or one of King’s illusions.” Her neck craned toward the sky, still not entirely sure of what she was looking for. It was that thought of King Chimera that held her to the hope that some trick had been played on them. “Connor?”
“No residue on the ground.” redbird stood up wincing from the pain in her ribs that made it hard to breathe. She held her side. “We better call the League.” She pulled the communicator from her belt. As she pulled it close to her face it crackled to life.
This is Aquaman. The Underwater Adventurer’s voice had more than a little bit of worry in it.
“I was just about to..” Redbird started but was cut off.
Stop talking. He said curtly. Batman is not answering his comms. What happened?
“He and Arrow just disappeared.” The blonde answered.
I’m coming down, don’t move.
There was a familiar hum as the Aquaman began to materialize in front of them. As the transporter finished, just like Batman and Green Arrow before him, he disappeared.
Artemis stood very still, like a statue. Her breath held. Her mind was racing, wondering just what had happened. Conner was gone. Batman was gone. No sooner had Aquaman shown up as he had disappeared too. For a moment that sting in her leg was the one thing that reminded her that at least she was still there.
Slowly she eased the bowstring back in place, “This isn’t good…”
“No,” Redbird replaced the communicator, “this is bad.”