Please excuse mistakes. Thanks and enjoy.
The past few months spent training his body was certainly paying off now. Max wasn't a spectacular fighter, far from it. But with the enhanced speed and strength he got from his suit, he may as well be a professional.
The second the Firebot was clearly in view, Max dashed at super speed and rammed her into the hall. If he could help it, they wouldn't set foot in the lab. There was too much important stuff in there and he didn't want to lose any of it.
The wall cracked with the sheer force he ran into it with, but luckily Firebot took the brunt of the damage.
"Go Sphere!" He probably didn't need to say it, as he caught a glimpse of the painted ball rolling away even before he commanded.
Max made the proper space and threw a straight punch at his adversaries head. It was dodged as Firebot wrestled herself from the concrete crater she'd been thrown in.
The teen was forced to dodge a punch that was followed by a jet of fire. "I guess I can't afford to take any real hits…" he noted.
From his off angle, Max swept the robot's legs in a quick trip. Firebot didn't fall to the ground though, instead igniting the fiery mechanism on its back and floating in place.
Max was almost at a loss, but he wasn't given time to think the situation over. Firebot launched herself at him, feet first. Her steel soles met their mark on his chest plate and drilled him into the floor.
The teen grunted as his back met the ground, and tried to swipe at the legs that kept him down. He hit air when Firebot deftly rose herself back up and prepared a swirling ball of fire to send at his prone form.
Max's eyes widened beneath his mask as he quickly rolled over to his hands and knees. With moments to spare, he escaped the blast.
This was harder than he thought it'd be, scarier too. He could still feel the heat, even from behind the safety of his suit. The fact that it was steadily over heating didn't help either.
Max's chest heaved, he hadn't been fighting long but the nerves were sapping his energy more than the activity itself. Not to mention, moving at superspeed seemed to have more of an effect on him than it did Wally or Barry.
"I can't waste all my time fighting this one android…" Max thought as he slipped a punch and landed a shallow lightning fast combo of his own. This was his worst matchup, given the circumstances, and he still had another intruder he knew nothing about.
It'd be huge if he could take Firebot out here and now, but it was clear she wouldn't go down without a fight. And a tough one at that.
He grunted as he took a flying knee to the helmet and dashed away from a stream of flames. He tried to fight back, but she simply flew around him.
As much as he hated to admit it, he wouldn't be able to defeat Firebot right now. If he fought this out, the chances of his suit remaining operational long enough to fight another person or android was low. Maybe if he hadn't left it in such a barebones state, but that was the reality of the situation.
He'd either win here and lose later, or lose here and win when it counted. He opted for the latter.
He had to find a way to disengage here and get communications back up. Artemis and Robin were supposed to show up any minute now, but he needed to send a warning before they did. Otherwise they'd be ambushed just the same as the others and it'd be game over.
"I attack something that'll give me the time to escape and do what I have to." He could just outright run, there was no way Firebot could keep up with him, even flying. But the cave wasn't so big as to give him the kind of time he needed. Nor was Firebot so slow. "Sight or hearing, whatever I get the chance for!"
If he took one of those, then it'd be that much harder for her to gather information and follow him. He'd preferably go for sight, but beggars couldn't be choosers.
Max prepared himself, the next exchange needed to be the last. Firebot launched at him in an attempt to tackle him. The teen caught her and span, reversing the momentum. He carried them into the wall, but Firebot used her flames to destabilize his footing and force them directly across the hall so she was in the power position instead.
Max briefly resolved that he'd have the walls remade with padded lining as he struggled against the robots offending hands.
Firebot didn't go for any punch, instead holding his throat firmly with one hand while the other scratched at the face of his helmet.
Max swallowed and fought off the instinct to clutch at the robot's hands. Instead he clenched his fists and stuck each middle fingers out straight.
"Hearing it is!" He thought as he attacked.
The teen brought his hands up with lightning fast speed and jammed each finger into either side of the robot's head. He gambled on the auditory sensors being located in the general area that human ears were, and it seemed to pay off.
Sparks and wires followed his fingers as they dislodged themselves from his attackers head. Even if he didn't get the hearing, he must've hit something important for it to spark like that.
Firebot couldn't make expressions, but her grip went noticeably slack. He forced himself free and in a burst of inhuman speed sprinted down the hall opposite of the direction Sphere went.
He expected Firebot to give chase, but that didn't seem to be the case. That simple detail worried him slightly. Did that mean she'd been called back? If so, why exactly? Was the second intruder her operator?
He shook his head, he didn't need to answer those just yet. He needed to get in contact with the League and his friends. That was his number one priority.
Artemis and Robin ran frantically throughout the cave. They hadn't had a single moment to process who or what exactly was attacking, all they knew was that they were relentless. From the gym, to the showers, to the kitchen, and even the air vents, there was nowhere that they hadn't been followed.
Sneaking quietly into the library, the two searched for a secret entrance. Artemis would have commented on how cliche such a thing was, but hid quietly behind a bookcase upon hearing metallic footsteps.
"Artemis, Robin." The voice called out familiarly.
Artemis smiled in relief, now that he was here they'd have a much easier time. "It's Red Tornado!" She jumped out from behind her hiding spot with no hesitation.
"Artemis, wait-!" Robin tried to stop her but was too slow.
The blond girl gasped and froze, her stomach tightening as she saw something that looked like Red Tornado but was clearly not who she thought it was. This android had a yellow upside down trident on its belly and lacked the distinct blue cape.
The robot reached out to grab her, but was unable to reach.
"Ahh!" She screamed as the Red Tornado imposter was smashed into a bookshelf and Robin tackled her to the floor.
"Yes on the red, no on the tornado!" Robin exclaimed while he rolled to his feet. Artemis was quick to follow, vaulting a table to catch up. She nearly ran into the boy wonder when he suddenly stopped.
Yet another robot stood in their way, this one clearly more feminine than the other. Both young heroes briefly noticed that this one had holes in the side of its head.
Whatever smashed into the big one blurred by then again and punched the girl robot in the stomach, folding it.
"What are they?!" Artemis shouted. Robin didn't answer, more focused on finding their secret way out.
It felt like forever, but eventually he pulled just the right book and a secret door opened up for them. And at just the right moment too as towers of books fell over them.
"Did you know Red Tornado had siblings?!" Questions and doubt swirled inside Artemis' running mind as she sprinted down a set of stairs and then a long hallway.
"No, I didn't." Robin answered swiftly as he led them. They duo came across a four way intersection, Batman's protege paused only for a second before darting left.
Or at least he would have if Artemis hadn't grabbed a hold of him, "Now what? What do we do?! Red Tornado is a powerhouse! How do we take down two of him?!" She asked desperately.
Robin had a quip to return but was unable to utter it as a red blur flew by them and skidded to a stop.
"Artemis! Robin!" It said. A third robot, they realized!
Artemis knocked an arrow and fired it. The arrow was caught but exploded nonetheless, sending the new android to its butt.
"Waitwaitwait! It's me, it's me!" It held its hands up and pleaded in an eerily familiar voice.
"What are you?!" Artemis shouted with another knocked arrow. Robin stood by her side, ready for battle as well. This android was much smaller, although it seemed to be quick, it wasn't nearly as intimidating as the other two. Even better, it didn't look like it could shoot fire or tsunamis at them on a whim.
"It's me, Max!" The hands went up to the helmet and with a click it came off revealing the last member of their team.
"Max?!" Artemis and Robin exclaimed in unison.
"Yes! Max!" The armored boy confirmed.
The two heroes visibly relaxed, "What's with the suit man? And why'd it have to be red?" Robin asked.
"An unfortunate coincidence, but this is something I've been working on for a little while now. I'll give you the details later, but right now we need to come up with a plan. Everyone else is-!"
"Attention Artemis, Attention Robin." The imposter Red Tornado called them over the intercom, "You have 10 minutes to surrender before we extinguish the life of your teammates."
The three of them grimaced, this was an unfavorable situation. Max placed his helmet back on and began to trek down the hall. They'd have to come up with as quick a plan as possible to save their friends.
"They have everyone rounded up by the zeta tubes. I've been trying to get in contact with the league, but they've got some serious tech cutting us off." Max informed them.
"We figured." Robin answered as the three of them hurried down the hall. "It's up to us."
Max nodded in agreement, "I think so too, I was able to take out the hearing of the fire girl. If we can catch her off guard and take her down quickly, we should be able to beat the other one or at least buy enough time to save someone that can help us out. The only problem is, I'm not exactly sure how much longer my suit can keep running for."
Artemis and Robin looked to Max, noticing that his suit was more banged up than they realized. Dents and scorch marks littered the body, while the face of the helmet had scratches that looked like claw marks.
"It's beginning to over heat and once it gets too hot, it may melt some of the internal wiring. If that happens, I won't be very good in a fight."
"I guess we'll just have to finish it before that happens, then." Robin said.
Artemis trailed behind them somehow feeling out of her element. They couldn't win here, three unpowered kidscouldn't beat two superpowered megabots. There was just no chance. They needed to get help, real help.
She wanted to shout at them, tell the two that they were wrong. They needed superhero's.
"C'mon! This way leads to the hanger!" Robin said, but for what felt like the thousandth time that day, was cut off. A tidal wave of water crashed around the corner, threatening to drown the trio. "Or not!"
"Oh, come ON!" Artemis complained before turning tail.
"That's not good…" Using the enhanced strength of his suit, Max tucked Robin beneath his arm, while throwing Artemis over his shoulder. "Hold on!"
The girl yelped in surprise as their surroundings blurred and the wave of water got smaller.
"This is fast! Too fast!" Robin stated.
"You've gotta be kidding me!" Max groaned as another wave of water began to flood in the direction he ran. Looking at the walls in calculation, he gulped in apprehension. "I've never done this before, so if I mess up… I'd like to apologize ahead of time."
"What do you mean?! This isn't the time to be experimenting!" Artemis shouted
Max tightened his hold on both of his passengers and ran towards the wall. "It should be possible! I've seen Barry do it, and I've seen Wally do it! It's just a matter of speed, I can definitely do it!" He encouraged himself.
"The wall! That's the wall Max!" Robin shouted as he began to get closer to it.
Unflinchingly, Max placed a foot on the vertical flooring and ran along it like it was normal tile. As the water beneath him continued to rise, so did he.
"I did it! I can run on walls!" His excitement was short-lived when the tunnel came to an end and they were met by none other than Firebot. "Oh shi-!" Max tossed both Artemis and Robin into the water, if he crashed with them in his hands they'd get more hurt than being thrown into water.
Firebot proved to have some power behind her as she stopped Max cold in his tracks with a reverberating clash of metal. "Argh!" He grunted as he fell into the water. He tried to swim up, but the heavy frame of his suit made that a challenge.
He tried to channel some speed into it but found that it was useless. "It shorted out! Damn it!" It took him much longer than he wanted, but he made it to the surface just in time to catch Robin and Artemis trapped between a rock and a hard place.
He momentarily took the time to observe the situation. Wally and Conner were trapped in some strange rock, while Kaldur and M'gann were trapped in a cage of fire. That didn't bode well for them, being especially weak to heat.
Max snuck up behind the water robot and with a kick to the back of its knee, diverted the high pressure water blast it sent. He then grabbed it by the head and dug his fingers into the back of its metal panels holding it in place. The robot was used as an impromptu shield that took the brunt of a heat blast in Max's place.
The small explosion sent the two of them flying separately, the human sinking underwater.
Max shook the cobwebs off his head quick enough to find Artemis swimming his way and dragging him down towards a drainage pipe. She ripped the barred cover off and ushered herself into it, Max not far behind.
"PUAH!" Artemis sucked in a greedy breath of air as she pulled herself up to a small platform.
Her armored companion came up not a moment later and ripped his helmet off, hacking and coughing up a storm. The water had pooled in his helmet and he'd mistakenly breathed some in.
"W-Where's Robin?" He asked between coughs.
"Captured." Artemis said
Max lightly thumped his fist against the ground, "Damn!"
"Six minutes." The imposter Tornado threatened over the PA system.
"W-What do we do now?" The blond asked, an underlying tone of fear in her voice.
Max narrowed his eyes as he brought a metal hand up to his forehead, "We have to save them, there isn't time to go get help."
"Save them? How?!" She seemingly snapped at the younger boy, "In case you didn't know they already took out our four superpowered friends!" She stressed the word superpowered.
"You're upset…" Max noted. He had hoped that he could follow Robin's lead or Artemis' but that didn't seem like it was ganna work. Robin was captured and Artemis was didn't have the composure to make the call they needed.
"Of course I'm upset! If you didn't see it, M'gann is dying! Between the two of us, we have no powers beside that suit of yours-!"
"It stopped working…"
"-Argh! We have nothing! And I'm down to my last arrow! So yea, I'M UPSET!"
Max swallowed, he remembered the fear he felt fighting Cheshire, he remembered the fear he felt when Dr. Fate took over his body. It was safe to say that he was familiar with the feeling, and because of that, he understood the turmoil Artemis was going through.
He felt it too. How couldn't he? This was life or death, for everyone. If he fucked up here, then they all died. The weight of that responsibility was heavier than he thought.
"I know you're scared, but we don't have the luxury to hesitate here." He swallowed his own fear, refusing to let it rule him. "C'mon, I have a plan." He turned and crawled down the pipe they were in.
"Why are you so calm?" Artemis asked in confusion.
"I guess cause I have to be, nothings ganna change if I freak out." He looked back over his shoulder and tried to offer a disarming smile to the blonde girl, "We'll make it out of this with everyone. Trust me."
She frowned, "But they're tireless… How could we possibly beat killer machines like those-those things?!"
"Well you said it yourself, they're machines aren't they? I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me so long to realize it, but an EMP should do the trick. Any machine in its range will become useless, advanced android or not."
"I hope you have one on hand, cause I don't."
"No necessarily… But we can't make one." Max kicked open a wall panel and crawled through it, revealing the med lab in all its medical might. God was he grateful that Batman was Bruce Wayne and had more money than some countries did.
He ripped the side of an X-Ray machine open, pulling out a specific tube and hooking it up to the nearest computer.
"What are you doing?" Artemis asked.
"I'm converting the output to EMP's and cranking up the range. When we set it off it should release a wave that can cover at least the entirety of the hanger. As long as we can get those androids to stay there when it goes off, we win."
Artemis observed Max continuing to type and reprogram the device. Now that they had a moment, she could see the clearly tense expression on his face and the way his leg bounced up and down impatiently.
He was scared too, she realized. Of course he would be, he wasn't used to high pressure situations like this. He'd been on what, two missions that were supposed to be relatively safe? He was a lab rat, not some grizzled hero.
Artemis felt the seedlings of guilt plant in her chest.
"You know, there was a time I was envious of you." Max spoke up.
"It was during your first mission. The assassin, Cheshire, she really gave me a good thrashing. When all was said and done, I felt like I couldn't measure to you or Robin."
"What? But it was you and the doctor that stopped The Fog with the virus you made."
"That's true, but I mean in a different sense. You aren't like me, you're strong all by yourself Artemis. You don't need powers, or some high tech suit to give you the courage to fight. You already do just as you are. In my eyes, that's the real superpower."
"I- I see. Thanks I guess."
Fearing he came off as preachy, Max opted to finish his work. "Ok, I'm done. Let's go."
Artemis nodded, following the younger man with a new sense of resolve. His words were kind of corny, but they resonated with her nonetheless. "How are we ganna go about doing this? I doubt Shark-boy and Lava-girl will just let us set up shop."
Max nodded in agreement, they certainly wouldn't. "Well, we'll use the drone we designed together and get some intel. I need to connect this thing to the caves generator, so it'll be tough to get over there if I don't know where exactly they are."
Artemis nodded and tapped her belt buckle twice, a little arrow shaped drown popping out into her palm.
As stealthily as he could, Max forced a door open, leading to the two to a platform on higher ground.
Artemis didn't have to be instructed to send her drone out, a small holographic screen and interactive controls lighting up the small band on her wrist. It showed them everything they already knew, Kaldur and M'gann were still trapped in a cage of fire while Wally and Superboy were slowly creeping deeper and deeper underwater. Robin was suitably tied up and restrained, while both the red androids circled the captured teens.
"It'll be close, but I should be able to make it without being seen… Uh, do you have a zip line by chance?"
"You don't have one?!" Artemis questioned in hushed bafflement.
Max blushed, "I didn't really think about it till just now… I figured the generator would be more accessible for maintenance."
"No I don't… But, I can make the jump quietly." Artemis offered.
"Ok, I'll leave it to you." Max said as he handed Artemis the makeshift EMP. He then pointed at a specific panel on the generator, "Take the cover off and stick the EMP in the nearest slot. Then you'll wanna reroute the power to it, instead of where it normally goes."
Artemis nodded, she wasn't a genius like he was but she was a pretty smart cookie herself. Following instructions would be a breeze.
She peered at the wide gap before taking a few steps back.
"Be careful. If you miss you miss or fall, we're done for."
Artemis looked back at him, irked at the words, "No pressure I guess." She mumbled
"Ah, sorry. I probably shouldn't have said that."
Max offered an apologetic expression and let the girl line her jump up.
Artemis took a few steps back and gave herself a running start. With a mighty leap she crossed the seemingly endless gap and landed with a roll, clutching the EMP to her chest. She flicked her eyes over her shoulders, catching Max's double thumbs up and nod of approval.
"10/10 jump!" He said mentally.
Artemis was quick to get to work, it wasn't terribly complicated. All things considered it was pretty similar to putting batteries in something, except for the power rerouting but that was a simple press of a few buttons.
"Huh? I-It's not working!" The green themed hero frantically looked over her work, hoping that she didn't screw it up. Her fingers ghosted over a small gap at the bottom, "The circuit is incomplete! Of course!"
Really, what else could possibly go wrong?
"Artemis! Look out!" Max shouted.
Out of pure reflex and desperation she rolled away, dodging a concentrated blast of fire. She looked to its source, seeing Firebot blasting its way to her. Artemis broke into a sprint, and tried to jump back to the platform Max was on.
The only issue with that was that, 1) she didn't have the speed to exactly clear the gap. And 2) The height difference between the two ledges.
Her eyes widened in alarm as she realized this all too late, she simply wouldn't make the jump. Artemis' torso collided roughly with the edge while her fingers scraped the floor, in hopes of clawing her way to safety.
Max scurried over, grabbing a hold of each hand and tugging her up with all his might. The suit was offline, and all though he felt sluggish, it still offered a strong stable base.
"NGH!" With the help of Artemis using her feet to climb he pulled her up.
Though the area couldn't necessarily be called safe anymore. Not with both intruders now blasting their way up to them.
"T-The circuit isn't complete! We can't start the EMP! WHAT DO WE DO?!" Their plan failed, their only hope failed!
Her hysterical panic surprised him, but Max furrowed his eyebrows and nodded to himself. He then grabbed Artemis and shoved her behind the door they came through.
She stumbled and turned around, noticing that Max didn't follow her, "What are you doing?! We have to escape and get help together!"
The brunette shook his head, "No, our only hope is to complete the circuit, the others will die if we can't. I'm trusting you to figure it out."
"Just come with me, we have a better chance together!"
Max shook his head with a shaky smile, "I'm leaving it to you, be the hero I know you are." He forcefully shut the door and locked it without waiting for a retort.
Was this the smartest thing he's done? Probably not. But as long as the bots were busy with him, they couldn't kill the others. His only real worry was M'gann and Kaldur, he just hoped they could tough it out a bit longer.
"Just until Artemis gets back!"
Artemis sprinted down the halls, heart beating uncomfortably hard. She could feel it her feet, in her palms, in her head. This was fucked. This was so fucked!
"I-I have to get out of here! If I do, I can get help and call the league! If not, I die with everyone else! Me escaping is their only hope!" She tried desperately to convince herself that was the right choice. She had to or the crushing guilt she felt would eat her alive.
She turned a corner and ran into the first room she saw. "Argh! I have to run!" She repeated.
Looking up, she found herself in the 'trophey room' the place where Wally kept all the stupid souvenir's he picked up from missions. Her eyes specifically got caught on the red and white assassin mask of Cheshire.
The empty eye holes seemed to bore through her very sole. She walked up to it, rubbing her arm in self comfort, "I know you understand… Jade."
She looked back, remembering how her sister left her. Not unlike she was wanting to do here. Her eyes narrowed in conflict, mild resentment bubbling in her stomach.
She clutched the mask as if it were the source of her anguish. And in some ways, it was, "We're not the same…" She vented to the mask, "I won't run from my problems."
"One minute remaining!"
Artemis hurriedly put the mask down, "I have the courage to face them head on!" She glared with firm resolve. Snatching the standard tipped arrow next to the Cheshire mask, the archer ran with purpose.
"I will save my friends!"
It seemed the near three months Max spent honing his hand to hand combat really was bearing fruit. Make no mistake, he got the stuffing beaten out of him. It was just too tall a task to ask him to beat both of them in a head on fight, right now at least.
But the goal was to buy time, not win. Funny enough, that had been the plan from the start. Delay, dealy, delay. Next time, Max noted, next time the plan would be to destroy.
"Ugh!" The teen grunted as he was dropped on the hard concrete near Kaldur and M'gann. "H-Hey Kaldur, you still breathing in there?"
"... Max? I'm managing."
"... The same… as earlier. She's breathing, at least…" he said weakly. "Your display of powers earlier… were you hiding them from us…?" He somehow managed to hold an authoritative tone.
"No, it's a super suit… Ya like it?"
"I wouldn't say that I don't…"
"I surrender! Stop the clock!" Artemis entered the room by the front entrance, hands up and bow out disarmingly.
"Artemis-!" Max shut his mouth when he saw the determined expression on her face. He smiled shallowly and relaxed, she had this covered. "I knew you had it in you."
The water robot reached its hand, and at just the right distance, Artemis used it as a foot hold to launch herself up high in the air.
Firebot made to intercept her, but Max used his legs to sweep it to the floor allowing Artemis all the time she needed to knock her final arrow and release it with deadly accuracy.
The arrow sliced through the air and just perfectly slid into the gap between the connectors of the generator.
Electromagnetic waves weren't visible to the human eye, but judging by the seizure-like shutter of both Waterbot and Firebot, the EMP clearly did its job.
The robots fell to the ground lifeless, and like clockwork, the chaos of everything began to fade. The cage of fire that surrounded M'gann and Kaldur dispersed, and the water level that threatened Wally and Superboy lowered drastically.
"Uhh, is everyone breathing?" Max asked. He got a check from everyone and sighed in relief. He turned to Artemis as she ran up to everyone, checking to see if they'd lied when they said they were in fact breathing.
"I told you you had a superpower."
Artemis seemed to flush as she remembered her unsightly behavior, "Sorry for kinda losing it," she apologized. "Normally, we wouldn't have won that, it's just how things go. Ya know?"
Max shrugged, "You know what they say. There's an exception to every rule."
"Thanks, for believing in me."
Max nodded and walked away to 'The Reds'. The mysterious red robots that looked nearly identical to Red Tornado. They were sophisticated and ahead of their time, were truly works of art, a modern marvel. The teen couldn't help but admire their craftsmanship, his curiosity growing ever stronger.
"I need to understand."
In the background, Artemis and Wally bickered (as usual). Over what, Max didn't care to listen in on.
"-When it became clear comms were down, I attempted to investigate. However, your zeta tubes were also nonfunctional."
Max jumped lightly at Red Tornado's voice, he was so absorbed in the robots that he hadn't even realized their 'den mother' had shown up.
He narrowed his eyes in suspicion, thinking back to only a very brief thought he had.
Kaldur had received information of there being a mole, but neither he or Max suspected anyone on the team. Red Tornado, technically wasn't one of them. Doubly, since he was an android he could flawlessly tell a lie, he didn't have any tells. And even if he didn't lie, would he even know if he was the mole?
It could just be embedded programming. It'd be the perfect Trojan horse of info.
It couldn't be a coincidence that The Reds showed up here when Tornado was gone. It couldn't be…
Tornado reached out to touch his 'siblings'.
"Hey Red, I don't suppose you'd be against-!" Max noticed a brief spark between robots, and like a switch flipped Tornado went into full on attack mode. Powerful winds filled the cave, catching everyone off guard.
Max gasped, clutching his throat as air refused to enter. "He-He's sucking all the oxygen away!" He reached out to Red in defiance, but ultimately could do nothing.
His vision began to fade as his eyes fluttered, "D-Damn it! If only I'd noticed… sooner!"
And then there was simply nothing.
No notes today. If you have questions, ask in the review and me or Viewing Civilian will pm you.