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Chapter 18: Negotiations Were Short


West

With arms outstretched, Aqualad prepared to unleash the power of the water bearers. His opponent, Hook, flexed his metal hook arm, ready for a grappling and tearing attack.

Aqualad struck with lightning speed, slicing through the air with his water blades. Hook quickly reacted, dodging and deflecting the attack with his hook arm. He swung the hook with precision, trying to snare Aqualad.

Aqualad was a formidable opponent, his agility allowing him to jump and dodge Hook's hook arm strikes. With a flurry of sword swings, Aqualad created a shower of water that battered Hook's metal suit.

Hook countered with a punishing punch, connecting with Aqualad's midsection. Aqualad stumbled but regained his balance, launching another attack with his swords.

Hook was caught off guard and was struck by one of Aqualad's water blades. Roaring angrily, Hook lunged forward, grappling with his hook arm and pulling Aqualad in close.

Aqualad's quick thinking allowed him to slice through the hook arm's metal cables, rendering it useless. Seizing the advantage, Aqualad launched a relentless barrage of water attacks, drenching.

Kaldur launched himself towards Hook, tapping into the power of his eel tattoos. Channeling this energy through water, he created a surge of power that hurtled towards Hook.

At the same time, Hook shot his hook toward Kaldur, but the agile hero evaded the attack and kept advancing.

Kaldur summoned a hard-water weapon from his Water-Bearers, twin hilts that he used to strike Hook. The villain blocked the attack, but Kaldur wasn't deterred. He summoned a wave of water and electricity, slamming Hook with the impact.

Hook regained his footing and lunged forward, his hook swinging wildly. Kaldur used his hard-water weapons to block the hook. However, Hook managed to pull Kaldur off balance.

Kaldur unleashed a jolt of electricity that shocked Hook and sent him stumbling. Despite this setback, Hook quickly recovered and charged forward once more. This time, Kaldur was ready. He created a hard-water wall to block Hook's attack.

Kaldur pushed forward, relentlessly attacking with his hard-water weapons. Hook blocked the blows with his hook, but Kaldur's relentless pace pushed Hook back until he was cornered against a wall.

With lightning speed, Kaldur summoned a wave of water and electricity and sent it crashing toward Hook. The villain stumbled but remained on his feet. He retaliated with a powerful hook swing, but Kaldur was ready. He summoned a hard-water shield to block the attack.

Kaldur continued his assault, using his hard-water weapons to overpower Hook. The villain blocked the blows, but Kaldur was too quick. He managed to land several strikes, forcing Hook to stumble back. Kaldur pressed his advantage, attacking relentlessly until Hook was forced to retreat. Thankfully for him, the teen was too tired to give chase.


North

As Black Spider and Robin faced off, they stood ready for battle. Armed with his webs, Black Spider easily dodged Robin's initial attacks. Robin, twirling his escrima sticks, grew frustrated as he struggled to land a hit.

Desperate to gain the upper hand, Robin changed tactics and used his acrobatics to flip and twist around Black Spider. However, Black Spider was quick and managed to grab onto Robin's escrima sticks, pulling them out of his hands.

Undeterred, Robin retreated and flipped backward, distancing himself from Black Spider. But Black Spider was relentless, using his webs to pull Robin back and ensnare him.

Darting around Black Spider, Robin used his acrobatics to dodge the bullets fired. He gradually closed in on Black Spider but was disarmed when Black Spider grabbed onto his escrima sticks.

Unarmed and at a disadvantage, Robin still refused to give up. He used his acrobatics to flip over Black Spider and deliver a swift kick to his back, causing him to stumble forward.

Black Spider quickly realized he had made a mistake in his initial approach to fighting Robin. He switched gears and shot webs out to ensnare the vigilante. Robin was caught off guard and found himself trapped in the webs. With his gun aimed at Robin, Black Spider appeared to have the upper hand.

However, Robin was not ready to give up. He broke free from the webs using his strength and disarmed Black Spider. Robin struck with the advantage on his side, punching Black Spider in the face. He then grabbed Black Spider's gun and assumed a fighting stance, birdarangs at the ready.

Black Spider responded by drawing his wrist-mounted guns and firing a barrage of bullets at Robin. The vigilante's agility allowed him to dodge the bullets, and he then threw a birdarang at Black Spider to distract him. The weapon caught Black Spider off guard, and he could not dodge it, causing him to fly backward.

Eyes widened in surprise. His body slammed against the wall before attempting to soften his landing. It didn't work as well as he would have liked. Black spider groaned in mild pain. "My Back. Oh, my back." Slowly getting back up, he glared. "Oh, I'm so gonna put some dirt in your eye."

Robin quickly disabled Black Spider's web shooters and rushed toward him, determined to end the fight. Black Spider retaliated by shooting webs in all directions, but Robin's agility allowed him to dodge them. The fight was intense, and Robin knew he needed to end it soon before he became too exhausted.

The boy wonder retrieved his former weapon with a few flips out of danger. He swung his Eskrima sticks with all his might, and one of the strikes caught Black Spider in the shoulder, causing him pain. Using the opportunity, Robin spun around and delivered a powerful kick to Black Spider's chest, sending him flying across the room.

When Black Spider got up, he heard a beep. He checked a notification on his phone, and he smirked. "You haven't seen the last of me today." Like someone else, he jumped out of the nearest window, web line at the ready.

Robin looked for the man outside and found no trace. "Dammit."


East

Spidermonkey and Doctor Gonzalez swung to the ground floor and swiftly turned a corner. The alien hero's eyes darted around before landing on a particular object. He put down the woman and looked at her with concern. "I know this is gonna sound gross, but you gotta hide in the dumpster for now."

The woman cringed a bit at the smell but swallowed her pride. "Sitting in a dumpster for a while instead of getting stabbed to death? I'll take it."

Spidermonkey quietly closed the lid over her before darting to the opposite edge of the building. Making a big show of himself somewhere else should be enough distraction. When the alien was about to shoot another line, the microscopic hairs on his left limbs tingled. In reaction, he contorted and dodged a pair of sais that embedded themselves in a nearby wall.

From above, Cheshire landed with a pseudo zipline. Raising a dagger to the hero, the woman looked around for her target. "Where is she?"

"Safe." Spidermonkey lowered his center of gravity.

Cheshire took a combat stance. "I'll see about that."

Spidermonkey released a flurry of punches and kicks, utilizing his acrobatic prowess to dodge and evade Cheshire's initial attacks. Cheshire, however, was quick to react, blocking and countering with her sais. With his background in Capoeira, Spidermonkey used his agility and flexibility to evade Cheshire's strikes and strike back.

Cheshire employed her poison darts as the fight continued, but Spidermonkey could deflect them with his webs. He then used his webs to bind Cheshire's legs, leaving her open to quick strikes. Despite this setback, Cheshire broke free from the webs and launched a counterattack, catching Spidermonkey off guard.

The battle continued to be a seesaw of skills and abilities, with both fighters determined to gain the upper hand. Spidermonkey's web-slinging abilities allowed him to disarm Cheshire and take away her sais, putting her at a disadvantage. This didn't last long since she pulled out another pair from seemingly nowhere.

Spidermonkey launched a flurry of punches and kicks as the fight intensified, dodging and evading Cheshire's counterattacks. However, Cheshire quickly responded, blocking and striking back with her sais. Both fighters used their skills and abilities to gain the upper hand in a back-and-forth battle.

But as the fight climaxed, Cheshire unleashed a powerful poison dart at Spidermonkey. He could dodge it and land a powerful punch, sending Cheshire crashing to the ground. The fight continued with both fighters exchanging blows and counterattacks, with Spidermonkey eventually trapping Cheshire in a sticky cocoon with his webbing.

Spidermonkey stood victorious, his four arms raised triumphantly. He did a little dance as if to rub it in her face a bit. "Monke! Monke! Monke! Ooh! Ooh Aah! Aah!"

Cheshire attempted to reach for a blade to try and cut herself loose, only for it to be two inches away from her restrained fingertips."Oh, shut up!"


Later

Following the detainment of one of the assassins, Ben contacted the others. No longer held up, Robin and Aqualad reached Spidermonkey's location. Robin raised a brow at the assassin wrapped in a cocoon. "Huh. You got one."

"Yup. A feisty one."

"Is the doctor safe?" asked Kaldur.

Spidermonkey turned to Chesire and felt her glare. "Safe. However, it seems we're missing someone."

The boy wonder face-palmed. "So… Kid Flash was kidnapped."

Ark crossed his arms at the teen. "And who's fault was that?"

Robin shrugged. "Frankly, it's all on him. He didn't follow the plan."

"And that plan was?" asked Kaldur. The Atlanteans didn't appreciate how their encounter started.

Robin gave both of them an exasperated look. "Follow my lead. It was obvious. Now we gotta save his butt."

Ark gave him a dry look. "Sure…"

Suddenly, they heard a ringing coming from their prisoner. Spidermonkey reached inside, following the vibration, moving aside some of the webs.

"Hey, watch where you're grabbing," complained the woman.

Spidermonkey rolled his eyes. "Don't flatter yourself." Soon his fingers latched onto the object and pulled it out. "A burner phone?"

Robin nodded. "Pretty standard in this line of business."

The hero answered the call. "Hello?"

A grunting voice spoke. "Listen very carefully. We've kidnapped your friend. Do not bother calling the rest of the Justice League. By the time they do anything, it'll be too late. If you want to see him alive, you'll do exactly as I say. Is that understood?"

Spidermonkey frowned in confusion. "I'm sorry. Who is this?"

"God dammit." The person on the other line grew agitated. "Seriously. I practiced that line between improv sessions for just sort of occasion. I was flowing, and you go and kick the dramatic tension."

"Sorry?"

"No, you're not. Don't give me that."

Someone else on the other line yelled out. "Guys, you gotta help me!"

Robin clenched a fist. "KF!"

"Give me that!" The phone rustled. "This is Black Spider. We have Kid Flash, and I'm ninety-two percent sure you got our catgirl and Gonzalez.

The imprisoned Chesire groaned at the nickname.

"They can't be serious." Robin glared at the phone. "This is not a negotiation."

Kid Flash audibly gulped. "Please negotiate." A metallic hook was pressed against his neck. "Please... let me go."

"It would appear so," Kaldur added.

A higher pitch voice spoke up. "Yeah, what were you thinking? This is Hook and Black Spider you got here! We're good at what we do. We're professionals."

"Yeah, professional hitmen for the League of Shadows sent to kill an innocent woman," sassed Robin.

"I wouldn't go throwing around names of deadly groups like that if you know what's good for you, Kid," voiced hook.

"Oh, please. They have been harassing Batman for a long time."

Ark scratched his chin. "What are your demands?"

"Simple. You give us Gonzalez, or your friend dies."

The heroes glanced back at Chesire, who looked insulted. "Is that all?"

"Yup."

Cheshire glared from her cocoon. "Seriously?"

"Sorry. Cheshire." Hook shrugged. "You know how it is. You got caught. If we complete the mission, we get your cut."

"Let's hurry this up and get our Million," cheered Ziggy.

Black Spider turned his head to them. "Wait. What? The Calculator's ad said three million."

Hook raised a brow. "Did you read the fine print?"

Black Spider went silent for a moment. "...Maybe."

"If you did, you would know about the penalties. One of which includes getting interrupted, let alone by heroes."

"Man, that's some bullshit."

"What's done is done. Gonna cry?"

Chesire closed her eyes to calm the aneurism growing. "I'm surrounded by idiots."

Robin took the phone and spoke. "Why is Selena Gonzalez targeted?"

Black Spider laughed. "You're not in any position to ask questions, but we are. How did you know we'd be here? "

"If that's how you're gonna be, then we do not have to answer any questions either."

"Yeah, but you're going to 'cause you screwed up and got caught! Face it, you guys never even had a chance against us."

"What? We came here to stop you from hurting her," countered Ark.

Ziggy spoke up with some dramatic flare. "In any case, here are our demands. You're going to get us a helicopter."

Robin frowned. "We can't get you a helicopter."

Hook shook his head. "You're watching too many movies."

"Wait. What? I thought that was standard."

"It's not, and do you even know how to fly one?" asked Black Spider.

"No. Do any of you?" No one raised a hand in the room.

On the other side, Cheshire deadpanned. "Yeah... me."

Ziggy just sighed for a moment. "Like, my whole worldview is just shattered right now. I'm gonna need to process this for a second. Why is it never like this in the movies?"

"Give me that! Anytime a Hollywood writer has a kidnapping that goes smoothly, you know that guy is totally full of shit." Black Spider took a breath. "Listen. We meet at the northwest courtyard. No funny business. You give us Gonzalez, and you get the Speedster." In the back of his head, he needed this to go through. He wouldn't want to paint a target on his head and get punched at lightspeed by the older hero if they mutilated Kid Flash.

Ark was silent for a moment before answering. "Okay. Seems simple enough."

"Oh, and if you don't show up in the next ten minutes, I'll blow up the building," continued Ziggy.

Black Spider blinked. "We are?"

The Alien hero paused at the escalation. "Well, shit."

"Yeah," answered the improv demolition villain. "It's only hearsay if all the physical evidence is destroyed.

"True."

"By the way, Your phone will self-destruct in five seconds..."

Robin's eyes widened at the burner phone in his hands. "Wait, what?!"

Kaldur quickly slapped the device to the ground as it fizzled and smoked like a small firework.

"So, what now?" sighed Robin. "We're not actually going to trade her, right?

Ark smirked. "We will. Sorta."


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