"How will you stay camouflaged?" asked Vixen in a low whisper.
"Holographic projection," replied Cyborg, modulating his voice to match her low volume. As he spoke, Vixen changed colors and became indistinguishable from the roof of the laboratory they were about to break into. "How do you stay camouflaged?"
"I know that part, but my heat sensors don't give me any readings from you. How do you do that?"
"Chameleons are cold-blooded."
They sneaked past three floors of data servers without finding what they were looking for. Earlier that night, The Question had found accounting records which suggested one of LexCorp's front companies owned a chemical plant hidden in this building. It had been quietly purchasing a very specific list of compounds which, according to Professor Stein's judgment, would allow for mass production of artificial kryptonite of the highest quality. But so far, none of the servers had given Cyborg any clue as to how advanced the process was.
"Why haven't we met any guards yet?" asked Vixen.
Cyborg picked the lock of the next data room and thought about that for a moment. "Maybe we have already set off a silent alarm, but as long as this lab's network keeps blocking me, we won't know until it's too late."
"It's more fun that way," she replied.
He opened the door and froze in sudden fear. Two lab employees were about to exit the room and stopped when the door seemingly opened itself. Cyborg checked his camouflage and Vixen's; to his relief, both of them were still invisible. But the cameras must also have caught the door being opened. They'd need to get out of the way fast to prevent the lab employees from stumbling into them.
Cyborg stepped to one side of the door, and gently pushed Vixen's shoulder for her to move to the other side. Then he realized that the corridor only allowed two directions: the employees would either turn to their right, and walk into Cyborg, or turn to their left, and walk into Vixen.
They turned left.
Vixen quickly jumped backwards, and again, and again, as the two technicians continued their conversation without knowing who was a breath ahead of them. They kept walking in her direction until she reached the end of the corridor and they went through a side door.
Cyborg reached her a moment later, and she sat on the floor to catch her breath.
"I sent a nanoprobe to scan the lower floors. There is a huge server room in the lowest level, but it's shielded behind a mesh of refrigerating pipes."
"Do your hinges carry antifreeze?"
"Of course. Do yours?"
The time for subtlety was over. As soon as Cyborg hacked the safety lock, all the alarms in the building would go off. They'd have to copy all the files they could and get out fast.
They broke into the server room and Cyborg ran toward a panel with data ports. Vixen discarded her camouflage and channeled the mammoth for its resistance to cold.
"How much time do we have?" she asked.
"I'm trying to access the cameras, but Luthor set up a crazy layer of firewalls."
"Do what you must. I'll be ready to welcome anyone who comes down here."
"I'm getting vibration readings from the stairs."
"Bring it." She switched to the Arctic fox, still cold-resistant, but an efficient hunter.
She heard the footsteps getting closer, she saw the shadow sliding across the opposite wall…
… and the door was closed.
"Cyborg! We're trapped in!"
"I'll override the locking mechanism."
She saw his face drop in disappointment. "What?"
"It's getting harder. There's a 256-number combination to unlock the door, but it's being changed every second."
Vixen started to feel goosebumps. "They're lowering the temperature, too."
Cyborg disconnected from the data port and walked toward the door. "I'll make us an opening." His hand produced a welding torch, but it couldn't maintain the flame in the quickly descending cold. "It's no use."
"Let me try the less refined approach." Vixen channeled again the mammoth, and pushed against the door with all her strength.
"Vixen, wait. Among the data I stole, I got schematics for this building. There are explosive charges programmed to make all floors collapse on us if that door is forced open."
"So what do we do?"
"Honestly, I don't know."
Vixen thought for a moment. "If they can control the temperature, they must be able to control the oxygen too. In the worst of cases, you can survive on your battery for a few hours, so I'm going to switch myself off."
Hours had passed, he was sure. The greenish light of a force shield was the first thing Cyborg saw when he woke up. He felt like the entire basement was being shaken, and after some loud noise, he saw Superman's fist break through the wall.
Then he noticed Vixen by his side, unconscious.
"What did she do?"
Green Lantern was furious, but Cyborg wasn't sure how to explain why she had still not waken up. He suspected she had entered hibernation like a polar bear.
She slept for days.
Batman entered the recovery room carrying a video projector. "Vixen, I have some quick questions to ask."
Cyborg and Green Lantern were sitting at her bedside, both massively relieved that she was gradually regaining her consciousness.
"Shouldn't we wait until she's able to speak again?" asked Green Lantern.
"Speech is a power she can copy from the surrounding humans if she needs to. This is important." Batman turned off the lights and made the projector cast a list of addresses on the wall. "I reviewed the files Cyborg extracted from the server room, and came across a secret division of LexCorp that is researching ways to disguise kryptonite so it's harder to detect. That operation must be stopped with extreme urgency, but so far I haven't been able to pinpoint which of its facilities is tasked with that process."
"Why would Vixen know that?" asked Cyborg.
"Because I saw your footage of the mission, and the two lab employees who almost crashed into her were talking about that very topic. Both of you were so concentrated on avoiding detection that you failed to pay attention to what was being discussed under your noses."
Cyborg retrieved his internal files. "My playback of that conversation loses them when they start walking toward the other side of the corridor."
Batman nodded. "I know. That's why we have to ask Vixen. She's the only one who witnessed the end of that conversation."
With visible effort, Vixen opened her eyes and struggled to make out words. "I… I don't remember. I was… scared."
Batman nodded. "I feared that could happen. I will arrange for Diana to bring her lasso."
Green Lantern stood up. "She's in no condition to endure that procedure!"
That didn't move Batman. "We can get the information we need now, and prevent the death of our strongest member, or we can wait for Vixen's full recuperation, and risk losing Superman the next time he crosses the street." Green Lantern breathed heavily as Batman went on, "Luthor's factory is making progress as we speak. We must know where it is." He walked toward the door. "I give her one hour to provide an answer. Then I'll call Diana."
Green Lantern waited until Batman was no longer within earshot, then muttered, "Can you believe that guy?"
"He's right," said Vixen. "The mission is not finished."
Cyborg shook his head. "I should have recorded that conversation. My memory is better than anyone's."
"You think so?" she said, and she grasped her totem.
Green Lantern's eyes widened. "What are you doing?"
The ethereal shape of an elephant enveloped her for a second, and she started shaking violently.
"What's happening to her?" asked Cyborg.
"It's unsafe to replicate a mental power," explained Green Lantern. "It endangers her sanity."
The shape swirled and took another form, which for a moment seemed avian in appearance.
"I no longer know what she's doing," said Green Lantern.
Vixen opened her mouth, took air…
… and squawked.
"What?" said both men.
She squawked once more, seemingly trying different voice modulations, then started speaking simultaneously in two voices Cyborg recognized.
"I have to record this."
Green Lantern looked at Cyborg, then at her, still not getting it. "What is this?"
"She's channeling the powers of the parrot."
"What? Another mental power?"
"It seems we won't need the lasso of truth after all."
"True, but she'll have the mother of all headaches after this. Keep recording. I'll fetch Batman."
Green Lantern hurried toward the door, but stopped for a brief moment to take a mental picture of his beloved, and for the millionth time told himself what a lucky man he was.