The teens chattered and whispered anxiously. They couldn't contain their excitement over the new announcement yet some seemed to be dreading it.
"The new student?"
"Why would the headmistress let a newbie in H.I.V.E. near the end of the semester?"
"I know, right?"
"Makes no sense."
"Ssh! Here comes the headmistress!"
Everyone grew quiet as the double doors opened to reveal Queen Bee and a young girl. She had long, neon purple hair, her lips and the markings on her arms were the same color. She wore a mask; covering her eyes. Her clothing consisted of black leather pants with gloves of the same, if not similar, material; a black tank top and vest with belted combat boots. Lastly, there was a neon purple bandana around her neck. "Everyone," Queen Bee started. "Welcome the newest student of H.I.V.E., Neon."
"I wonder why she's called that." Someone let the sarcastic comment disrupt the other students and a small echo of laughter passed through the crowd.
"Now, now. I want you all to be nice to our new student." She looked at Neon. "I have some business to attend to so I'll leave you in the hands of your fellow students." She exited the room and the double doors closed behind her.
"We'll take great care of her." Someone laughed.
"Hey, newbie! What's your power? You glow in the dark?" Even more laughter erupted.
Underestimating her, she predicted this. "I don't know. If you're so interested why don't you come here and find out?" It grew quiet as a large man emerged from the crowd and confronted her.
"You say something to me?"
"Why, are you deaf? Because I said it pretty loud." He growled at her. "Come on, use your words." She taunted him.
"You little-!" He grabbed at her. She jumped and planted her foot in his face. He fell to the ground under the force of her boot.
She blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Any other gorillas want a speech lesson? The cost is licking the bottom of my boots." She had a devilish smile. Whispers surged through the crowd.
"Alright! Move out of the way!" A group of girls emerged from the crowd. The one speaking had short, fiery red hair. She was followed by a girl with long, creamy blond hair, pale scale-like skin, and murky swamp like eyes. On her other side was a girl with cloudy blue eyes and angel wings. "My name is Ember, this is Siren and Angel." She turned to the crowd and gave them a burning glare. "Don't you guys have something better to do?" They scattered at that. "Stupid underclassmen don't understand that when the Headmistress wants them to play nice; its for their own safety."
"Welcome to our humble academy." Angel smiled. "You'll be rooming with us."
"Where the students are not so humble." Siren joked. "So-"
"Welcome to H.I.V.E.!" They said in unison and giggled.
["Wait, what are you hinting at? What about Queen Bee?" Wally asked.
"Something we've been investigating lately but it doesn't seem to have many leads until now." Wisteria brought up several images, including one of Queen Bee. "There's been a series of strange crimes committed by young villains. They vanished afterwards. After no obvious connections; a closer investigation revealed this." The side of a cliff face, half buried in the sand; it looked like-
"A beehive?" Dick asked.
"Exactly that." Superman said. "It's an academy for young super villains called the H.I.V.E. It's a cliff divided by the border of Byalya and Qurac. It's headmistress is Queen Bee. With Wisteria's… resources; we've learned that much."
"Clark, you're always so weary of my methods." she laughed.
"Just because they're useful; doesn't mean I have to approve of them." he shook his head.
"A school that's breeding super villains? Wait- that would mean-"
"Creeper, Ember, maybe even Surge and Arachne." Conner finished Artemis's thought.
Cat got chills. "Haven't seen Arachne in a while."
"I know its asking a lot with Thanksgiving break just two days away-"
"We're sending someone in undercover to gather intel." Batman said.
"Who?" Wally asked.
"I'll go." Cat volunteered. Everyone paused.
"Are you sure?" Dick asked.
"I'm the best choice. They know Conner's face and Psimon works for Queen Bee, remember? I'm the only one he can't get a read on. Besides, acting is easy for me. I've always wondered what kind of villain I'd be."
"You do understand once you're inside you'll be cut off from the team 90% if not, all of time from the team."
"That's okay. I can handle an recon mission."
"Well…" Dick hesitated.
"Don't you guys have any faith in me?" She glared in an annoyed fashion. "I'm going. End of story."
"I agree." Kaldur said. "If we add up all the variables, Cat is the best choice."
"Then its decided." Superman nodded.
"Are you sure you can handle this?" Conner asked.
"The fact that you just asked me that is insulting."
"Cat, we didn't mean it that way." M'gann rushed to Conner's defense.
"It's just that-" Artemis started.
"What? I'm not experienced enough? Or maybe not sociable enough?" She frowned. "Maybe I should've gone to the Green Lantern Corp. with Guy. At least there they'd treat me like my own person." She vanished.
"I guess we have no choice." Dick sighed.]
Wally laid back on the couch; staring at the ceiling. He almost jumped when he saw Artemis's face a foot or so above his own. "What are you wasting a Saturday here for?" She sat on the other couch as he sat up. "Shouldn't you be hanging out with your friends?"
"They're all on family trips. What about you?"
"Same here. Besides, Cat told me you bought us concert tickets."
"Uh-yeah. I heard you guys talking about a band you liked and I figured the concert could cheer her up."
"Thanks." she smiled.
"Speaking of Cat. I wonder why she was so worked up."
Wally paused an thought back to her 'headache.' "Who knows? Maybe she just needs to vent after that thing with Marshall-what-ever-his-name-was."
"What about Conner? He's been… kind of off lately. Do you think it has anything to do with Cat?"
"I don't know. It does seem like he has something on his mind." He put feet up on the table. "Maybe he's planning on asking her out and doesn't know how."
"Oh! Come on, Wally! I already told you that he was going out with M'gann."
Wally groaned. "I know. It's just, they seem distant lately. Do you think they broke up?"
"It's none of our business but I'd be lying if I said Cat had nothing to do with it."
"You know though, Cat's totally head over heels. And she doesn't even know it!"
"She just wants him to be happy. At least that's what she told me."
"I don't know. Is it kind of bad that I'm rooting for her instead of M'gann?"
"It's not like he's the only guy out there."
"Yeah. Did you see how many guys were treating her like eye candy at the game? It's not like there aren't any options."
"Since we're already talking about him, where is Conner?" Artemis asked.
"I'm not sure. I haven't seen M'gann either."
"Kaldur is keeping an eye on things with Cat and Robin is off doing his dynamic duo thing or whatever."
"I don't know but M'gann is supposed to go to Byalya later so that Kaldur has a way to get in touch with Cat." he sighed. "Meanwhile, we're left in the cave with nothing to do."
Artemis shifted, a thought had popped into her head. "We could go out."
"We've both got nothing to do. What's the harm in going out and getting a bite to eat or something. Unless you'd rather stay bored."
"No. No! I'd be happy to. Mhmm! It's a date."
"Okay then, it's a date." Artemis smiled.
Conner walked past Cat's room and stopped. He noticed her door was cracked and walked in. He could spy signs of her franticness around the room. Her bed was made yet her stuffed monkey was partially hanging off the side of the bed. Her shelves were organized but he could spy papers stuffed between books. Her diary was resting on the top shelf next to a large picture of the team. He removed it and sat on her bed. He opened it to the Halloween section. There was a picture with all the guys and a separate one with all girls. At the top was a goofy group picture. It made him smile as he thought back on it. He skimmed through the next couple of pages. He finally stopped on an entry dated a week ago.
['Today I found another love letter in my locker. It's the fourth or fifth one since I started school.']
'I didn't know she was so popular.' he thought.
['I asked Black Canary, Wisteria AND Wonder Woman about it and received 'the talk' from all three of them. I failed to understand two out of three explanations because they really didn't answer my question.. My question was: What's the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone? After asking I told them about the letters and Black Canary and Wisteria had very different responses. Wisteria laughed and explained 'attraction' to me- or at least the science behind it. She then told me that she really couldn't explain the answer I wanted even though she knew what I meant. Black Canary turned a shade of white-a color I've never seen on her- and explained the 'emotions of a teenager'- still didn't answer my question. Diana seemed to understand what I wanted to know. She explained it simply, dividing it into three kinds of love.']
Conner paused. 'Should I really be reading this?' After a moment of hesitation, he continued.
[First off. I love my friends-my friends at school. It's a mutual, platonic love.
The team and the League- that's family love. Artemis, M'gann, Raquel and Zatanna are like sisters to me- I think. I see the League as making up for the family I don't have. Diana is different- maybe because of the 'maternal instincts' Wisteria was explaining to me.
Last- she finally explained the difference between loving and being in love-]
He stopped again. Did he really want to know? Did he have a right to know? What if she wrote the person she was 'in love with'? Wait- why did it matter to him? Why was he worrying? He was always worrying about her. All the time. 'Why does it matter so much to me what she does? Or who she's with?'
["Maybe it's a matter of who she feels closest to."] He remember Kaldur saying.
["-I had to be near someone."] Cat, the night before Halloween.
'Why didn't she go to M'gann?'
["I wish I was more like you."]
'It hurt to see her sad.'
["I feel like dancing… want me to teach you?"]
'I couldn't say no.'
["I didn't mean it when I said I hate you. I don't feel that way at all! I think…I like you a lot."]
Conner paused and looked back at the book.
[I don't remember her exact words but the first two kinds are love and the last one is being in love with someone. It's a more intimate feeling- a kind of infatuation. A desire to near someone and be their center of attention all the time. I understood that. I only feel that way towards one person. It's strange because I see him all the time; at home and at school. It hurts when I think too much about it though. Jasmin says I should do something before I fall into 'that abysmal place called the friend zone' but I think I'm already there. I would never want to get between my friends.]
"She's… talking about- me." He realized. He turned the page to the last entry; dated a day ago.
[I think it's best to put some distance between me and him. If I only feel this way because I'm around him all the time then I need to find out how I feel when we're separated. I hope the time away will clear my head.]
Conner noticed M'gann standing in the doorway. She had a gloomy expression. "So, you read it?" Her question seemed more like a statement.
"Yeah." he paused. "M'gann, I-"
"Don't. You don't have to say anything, Conner. I knew before she did." She walked up to him. "I knew but I didn't want to acknowledge it. I mean- hello, M'gann! It's kind of obvious. It seems so silly now. We can't just keep pretending anymore." She kissed him on the forehead. "Talk to her, okay? Before she changes her mind."
Neon ducked under a blade and flipped over the next one. She turned to the side to dodge another and then to the other side. When she reached the pendulum blades, she flipped on top and jumped from blade to blade before jumping back on the ground.
"She's amazing." Siren smiled.
"There's something about the way she moves. It's not exactly… graceful. It's a little more fast and edgy." Ember pointed out. "Not at all like that unlucky little acrobat, the Black Cat." She groaned as she said the name.
"Neon is so amazing. How come the headmistress didn't enroll her before?" Angel asked.
"You don't know?" Ember turned to her. "They just found her."
"She caught Sportsmaster's attention." A dark haired boy was standing next to them. His hair was shaggy and his eyes were a grey- almost clear color and his pupils were faded. Metal music blared from the headphones around his neck. "She broke into a bank vault in broad daylight. Just walked behind the counter and ripped the vault door right off it's hinges in front of everyone. She bested Superman, Icon and Hawkgirl on her way out."
"Wow. Then why isn't she with the higher ups?" Siren asked.
"The same reason I'm not." he responded.
Neon broke an arm off of an android and decapitated it, turned around and stabbed the other android in the chest with the arm. They dropped to the ground with sparks spewing out of them. She, very casually, walked to the pedestal and hit the finish button.
"She beat the record time!"
"With two minutes to spare!"
She walked towards Ember and the gang. "Good job!" Angel congratulated her.
"You're definitely S-class material." Ember added.
"The elite class. We get to go on actual mission with the big guys. It consists of Siren, Angel and Kid Wykkid. Oh, and him." She pointed to the dark haired boy.
"Creeper." He held out his hand to shake.
"Neon." She shook it.
"You were pretty impressive." He smiled and then noticed her confused expression. "Something wrong?"
"You don't look like the picture I saw."
"Yeah. Why are you walking around so casually?" Ember asked.
"I can't keep my shadow out all the time. It gets annoying, not to mention exhausting." He smiled at Neon. "Because my shadow covers me, I don't have to worry about costumes or anything like that."
"Talk about convenient. Try hiding this mane." she laughed as she ran her fingers through her hair.
"Why hide it? It looks awesome." he chuckled. "So hey, you're new and all. Want me to give you the tour?"
"Well…" she glanced at the girls. They giggled and motioned for her to go. "What the heck, why not?"
They hadn't noticed Queen Bee and her 'guest' watching from above. "Sportsmaster was right. She is skilled." Queen Bee smirked.
"I told you. He knows talent when he sees it."
"She might be on the same level as Creeper and Maestro."
"What about our little pyro?"
"Ember still doesn't have enough self control." She shook her head. "She needs more practice."
"Trying to tame a wild flame is like trying to find out who Batman is. Pointless and exhausting."
"I heard Surge is on the premises. Vixen, how about you tell me why you're here?"
"Alright. Let's get down to business then."
"-and this is the gym." Creeper stopped in front of the large, empty room filled with exercise equipment.
"Wow, nice set up. Where is everyone?" Neon looked around.
"Probably in the dining hall." he sat on a bench.
"Want me to spot you?" She joked.
"Puh-lease." he smirked as his shadow lifted off of the ground and snatched a barbell with several large weights. It lifted it like it was a toothpaste. "Too easy." His shadow put the barbell back down and vanished back into the ground.
"That was pretty cool."
"Yeah, but I bomb when it comes to bright lights. What about you?"
"Best combination of martial arts and super human abilities but unfortunately I'm bad at following orders and I don't know when to quit."
"Haha. So you improvise and never back down. What's so bad about that?"
"Easy for you to say. That story about me going around is off by a small margin. I was winning that fight because Superman wouldn't 'hit a kid' and I was barely winning at that."
"Well, I'm still impressed that you managed to take on three Leaguers at once." he smiled. "So I know you're new and all but do you have a date for the dance tomorrow?"
"Dance? What dance?"
"I'll take that as a no. The Final Fall Formal is tomorrow and I still don't have a date-"
"Wait, are you asking me out?"
"No-no! I mean, yes. I'll go with you."
"I take it you don't get asked out much."
"I'm surprised someone like you doesn't have a date already."
"Eh, turned the offers down. Those girls just weren't a good fit."
"Wow. Good to know I'm a good fit."
"Well, I better let you get back to your friends. I wouldn't want to invoke Ember's wrath." He stopped at the door and snapped his fingers. He looked back. "Oh yeah! It's Calvin, by the way."
"My name. Calvin Murray."
"Oh." He turned. "Sheila!" He stopped and looked back again. "My name is Sheila Isles." He smiled.
"It suits you." he laughed and walked out. After he was a far enough distance away, he started cheering. "Yes!" He stuck his hands in his pockets and walked off whistling.
"Wow~ You're in a good mood. Did you just come from a funeral, shadow boy?" Vixen stood in a doorway, leaning on one side of the frame.
"What do you want?" He frowned. "Darn. And I was having a good day too."
"Boo~ What kind of attitude is that? You act like I put tacks in your shoes."
"No, but every time you show up I get on your old man's bad side for going along with your crazy schemes."
"Aw~ but you have to admit it. It's always fun."
"Yeah, what do you want?"
"I was just visiting. Why? You busy?"
"For your information, I'm going to tomorrows dance. So I have no time for your antics."
"Oh? So the creepster got a date?"
"That's Creeper. Don't you have someone about ye tall with an ego the size of Texas and electrical powers to annoy?"
She frowned. "Can't you do your shadow thing? I liked you better when you didn't talk."
"Whatever." he started walking off.
"Oh yeah. By the way," she clapped her hands together. "You been to her grave recently? Lady Shiva was there yesterday-" He turned slightly. The whites of his eyes turned black and his shadow lunged off of the ground and wrapping around her throat.
"Don't speak of my mother so casually in front of me." His voice was raspy and metallic. His eyes turned back to normal and his shadow sunk into the ground. "My apologies, milady."
She sighed. "It's not like it doesn't bother me too. She was my body guard, you know." he vanished down the hallway.
Kaldur paused for a long moment. "Aqualad." Conner caught his attention.
"Superboy. When did you arrive?"
"Just now." He noticed Kaldurs miffed expression. "Is something wrong?"
"The Black Cat has failed to check in."
"It may be that she hasn't had a chance to check in yet."
"Or her cover was blown!"
"Calm down." Kaldur ordered. "We understand that you're worried but Cat made the choice to do this mission on her own. We should have faith in her abilities." Conner wore a hurt expression. "She's quite capable, Conner."
"I know but you can't blame me for worrying."
"She's my best friend, Conner. I'm worried too." M'gann said.
Neon changed into her pajamas. The shirt had a high neck. She fixed her hair in the mirror. "Neon! Hurry up!" Siren's voice rang through the door.
"Oh coming!" She opened the door and shut the lights out behind her. Ember, Siren and Angel; along with some other girls were gathered in a circle in the center of the room. Pillows and blankets were laid out under each of them. "What's this?"
"Duh! You're welcome party!" Siren laughed.
"Well, technically it's a slumber party but same diff." Angel chuckled.
"So~ since we're off the clock. My real name is Emily Nash." Ember smiled.
"La Sire`ne la Bailene. Just Siren is fine with me." Siren added.
"Angelique Snow." Angel put last. "So?" She leaned close to Neon.
"Huh-? Oh! Sheila Isles."
"Sheila! A spicy name for a fiery personality." Ember laughed. "So, rumor is that you almost strangled another student for just mentioning Superboy's name in front of you. You got some kind of beef with him?"
"I'd rather not talk about it." she grumbled. "I'm not sure what I'd do if I saw him again."
Siren purred. "Meow! I totally get it. Total heartbreak hero. We all have feelings like that."
"Totally. I mean, that Kid Flash. I can totally feel the friction between our molecules." Ember laughed.
"And I wouldn't mind singing a few melodies for that electrifying Atlantian." Siren winked.
"Unlike them, I don't have the hots for any goody goodies." Angel beamed proudly.
"Of course. She's in a top secret relationship with the mysterious and dark Kid Wykkid." Angel's face turned red as Siren let the secret slip.
"Shut up!" She threw a pillow at her. "William is special!"
"So it's William, is it?" Neon smirked. "What's his last name?"
"…his full name is William Dragomir. He's Romanian. He doesn't talk much because he doesn't like his accent."
"Oh ho! Fancy." Ember joked.
"Oh shush! I heard Sheila is Creeper's date to the dance tomorrow."
"Get out!" There were gasps all over the room. "Whoa! Dangerous choice!"
"Why?" Neon looked a bit confused.
"You don't know? Creeper is Ra's Al Ghul's apprentice. Big time danger zone. He treats him like a son. His mother was the dreaded Lady Beatrix aka the Shadow Walker. She was a villainess legend. Not to mention a role model to all aspiring villainesses everywhere."
"What I wouldn't do to be her." Angel sighed.
"Not only that, Arachne is not gonna like the idea of Creeper going to the dance with someone else." Ember said.
"Why? Are they dating?"
"No, Arachne likes to walk around with him like a trophy; never giving him a choice in the matter. We're just lucky little miss Queen of Spiders is stuck on a mission."
"I was wondering, what happened to Creeper's mom?"
"No one really knows but they say she died."
Loud conversations and everyone attempting to shout over each other filled the meeting room. Batman slammed his hand on the table and stood up. "Everybody, quiet down!" They all grew silent. "It seems the team has lost contact with the Black Cat during her undercover mission in the H.I.V.E."
"We need to agree on an appropriate course of action-" The Atom started.
"Appropriate? I say we bust the place wide open-!" Flash started.
"That's far too reckless-" Icon started.
"Reckless?" Hawkgirl interrupted. "We all know Guy would've set fire to the place already."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! We can not tell Guy about this." Hal stated.
"Yeah, I do not feel like pulling him off of some kid's bloody corpse." Booster Gold shook his head.
"Not if Conner gets to them first." Black Canary said.
"Superboy? What does he have to do with this?" Hawkman asked.
"Superboy is very close with Cat." Red Tornado stated.
"I can't believe you guys!" Wonder Woman rose to her feet. "I can't believe we're even discussing this!"
"Diana, rushing in there won't help her."
"Bruce is right. Shiarra, Augustus and I went to great lengths to make our fight convincing and she didn't pull any many punches either."
"Yeah, she didn't. She might've switched teams."
"Ollie! How could you even suggest that?" Canary scolded him.
"Hey! It was just a suggestion. You guys know as well as me what happened before. I was just pointing out the white elephant in the room that everyone was ignoring."
"God. I hope John hasn't told Guy yet." Booster whined.
"All of you just stop!" Wisteria spoke out, quieting them. "This is the team's mission so trust them to deal with it. I see no problem with the way they've done things thus far. Trust them." She walked out of the room.
Batman glanced at Martian Manhunter as he stood up. "J'onn."
"I'll go talk to her." He paused. "I agree with Charlotte however. They are not just mere children as we all would like to think." He spoke before exiting the room.
"He's right. What were we thinking?" Flash sighed.
"It may be because I'm kind of new but I have never seen that half of her get so upset." Icon added.
"Wisteria can be very emotional when it comes to the team. She's grown very attached to them." Canary explained.
"Haven't we all?" Wonder Woman agreed.
Music blared as lights flashed in the dark ballroom. Teenage chatter filled the room. Neon adjusted her black dress, it collared around her neck. She wore stockings with a pretty Victorian pattern and lace up Victorian styled heels. She walked over to her friends whom she had spotted due to Ember's bright fiery hair. They gasped and squealed as soon as they spotted her.
"Oh my gosh! You look gorgeous!" Siren grinned.
"And so does your date. Look, there he is." Ember pointed out Creeper standing next to Kid Wykkid and a few other guys. "Oh Creeper~!" She called out as they approached him. "Ta da!" She motioned to Neon and his jaw dropped, though he wasn't the only guy who's did.
"Whoa! You look- whoa- I mean, amazing."
"Thanks. You look pretty amazing yourself. I didn't know you owned a suit."
"It was a gift."
"Yeah. From Luthor for a job well done." Siren giggled. "Though I'm sure it needed to be adjusted because of your freakish height."
"You'd think they'd never seen a seven foot tall teenager before." he joked.
Neon laughed as the song changed. "I love this song! Let's go dance."
"No thanks. I'm not too good on my feet." Creeper said nervously.
"Want me to teach you?"
"Just try to keep up." She smiled.
Neon sat up in bed. She could sense activity in the training room. She slowly and quietly crawled out of bed and exited the room; making sure Siren was still asleep. She could see a light emanating from the training room. She peeked around the corner and spotted Ember. The training bots were activated but the lights were still out. She blasted one and it melted almost immediately. One got too close and she tripped back before blasting it. As she struggled to stay on her feet, she groaned and blasted another robot before stabilizing her stance.
"Not bad." Neon caught her attention. "You always train this late?"
"How long have you been standing there?"
"Don't worry, not long. You're pretty good at the fire thing."
"Not really… I'm not nearly as good as I should be."
"You're joking, right? You have the bots on Nightmare mode."
"It's still not good enough!" she snapped as she sat on the ground. "No matter what I do, it's never good enough! Not for H.I.V.E., the Light- or even my own family. It's never good enough." She wrapped her arms around her knees in a defensive and insecure way. It was obvious how she was feeling.
"You know, I get that. My family was the same way."
"No way. You're so amazing."
Neon sat down next to Ember. "It's true and I'm not amazing. Sure, I've got superhuman senses but you can make fire out of thin air. You can set a building ablaze in a matter of seconds and make things combust in the blink of an eye."
"Actually, I haven't been able to achieve spontaneous combustion in any of my pyro-kinesis training."
"Really? What kind of training are they giving you?"
"Honestly, my flames are magic not science. I've been a vessel for elementals since I was a kid. …One of the higher ups doesn't believe it. He thinks I'm trying to make myself appear more important so he refuses to tell the others about it and get me proper training. H.I.V.E. doesn't have any courses relating to my abilities so I've been taking basic telekinesis training. It only helped a little- with the focusing part, I mean."
"Then I guess we'll just have to improv." Neon rose to her feet and picked up an android's dismembered head. "This'll do." She walked a short distance away as Ember stood up. She placed it on the ground and walked back to her. "So, who's been burning your toast recently?" She eyed her curiously. "You know, hitting your sore spots. A nonbeliever, a naysayer, a know-it-all. Give me someone who's been giving you a hard time. They want you to focus, how about you focus your anger on them? From what I heard, emotions can effect your concentration of magic."
"Well…" she hesitated. "Okay, but you can't say a word."
"Your secret is my secret."
"The Brain has been making fun of me a lot lately. I don't say why its any of his business what a H.I.V.E. member but he keeps busting my chops about every little thing I do and then he compares me to Surge and Vixen. It makes me so mad-"
"Good. But don't light up. Keep thinking about it and focus on that." She pointed to the android's head. "Just think, the Brain is always so self-centered and full of himself. What if his circuits accidentally overheated?"
"Okay, I gotcha." She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Don't light up." She told herself. She focused on the head. She thought back.
["You imbecilic little pyro! You've done it again! You keep ruining my experiments with your failures!"] Her eyes narrowed and KABOOM! The android head combusted.
"Oh my god! I did it!"
"I knew you could."
"Oh! Thank you, Sheila!" she hugged her.
"Anytime, Em." She hugged back. "Since we're up, want to spar a few rounds? I can teach you a few moves that'll be helpful in a bind." She winked.
"Sure." They took some steps back and took fighting stances. "On three?"
"Three!" She blitzed towards Ember.
"So we just sit here and wait?" Wally asked.
"We have no choice. We sent Superboy in. Hopefully he can establish a connection with the Black Cat. If not, we have to assume the worst and pull out to contact the League."
"No way." Artemis shook his head. "We don't need them. School of villains or not, they're just students. Meaning half of them-"
"Still have the training wheels on." Wally finished. He paused and noticed Cat's distant expression. "Uh, Miss M?"
"I haven't been able to make telepathic contact with her at all since she entered the H.I.V.E. I can sense her mind but there's no response."
"M'gann, don't worry. Conner will find her and I'm sure she's okay." Kaldur added.
"I hope so."
"And that's a good way to get out of a hold." Neon smiled as she helped Ember up.
"I never would've guessed that you could get out of that kind of hold that way."
"Keep practicing and no one will ever have you pinned for long."
"I'm too hot to handle as is, imagine if I had a few tricks up my sleeve. By the way, where did you learn all that stuff?"
She shrugged. "I've been in combat training for as long as I can remember."
"Really? Your family must have- Oh! My bad! Sorry. It's totally not my business."
"Thanks for keeping away from the touchy subject but it's really no big deal. My family dumped me in the street as soon as they thought I'd never live up to their standards."
"Hey! Ember! Neon!" A swarm of young villainesses came bouncing into the training room.
"Siren, what's up?"
"Guess what we found lurking around the dorms?" Angel asked gleefully.
"Well, less of a what, more of a who." She corrected herself.
"Okay. So you know how you said you didn't know what you'd do if you saw Superboy again?" Siren moved aside to reveal Conner, his arms restrained by two guys. He groaned and looked up at her as he heard Siren say "Ta da~!"
"I'm not sure how he got here or why he was snooping around but we caught him, If he's here, then his team must be close behind." Angel laughed. "He's our gift to you."
"We should torch them before they show up-"
"Hold up." Neon stopped Ember. "He's my gift, right? I've got a game in mind." She smirked deviously.
Neon sat back in a chair above the coliseum like room. In the area stood Conner and several across from him that were wearing vicious smiles. She snapped her fingers. "Go." The teens rushed him. He dodged a blade. He grabbed the boy by the arm and slammed him into another. He dodged a blast of energy, grabbed a boy by the face and slammed him into the ground. He turned on his heel and socked one in the face.
"Wow~" Vixen walked up to where Neon was sitting. "If he keeps this up, everyone in H.I.V.E. will get a turn with him."
Neon watched closely. No one could really keep up with him. "You're right." She rose to her feet and, with two whistles, released a deafening whistle. They all froze as Conner pushed one of them into the ground. "I thought this would be entertaining but I guess I can only get satisfaction if I do it myself." The teens scattered as she jumped into the arena. "So," she smirked. "Let's make this one on one. Show me that Kryptonian might."
She blitzed towards him, jumped in the air and brought her boot down on him. His arms shot over his head to block her. The force pushed him back only an inch before she landed on her feet, spun around and brought her fist crashing into the side of his ribs. He quickly turned, grabbed her wrist and pulled her closer. He swung but she quickly ducked. She punched him twice in the stomach, causing him to back up. He dodged her next few swings and pushed her back.
'She's not pulling any punches.' Conner thought.
'I still can't reach her telepathically.' M'gann's voice rang in his mind.
'Maybe the League has a point-'
'Don't even suggest that, KF.' Artemis thought shrewdly.
'She may just be trying to keep her cover.'
'Aqualad's right. Blowing her cover in a room of angry super villains is not a good idea. Besides, the backup plan is already in motion.' Dick added.
'Kind of hard to focus with a conversation going on in my head.' Conner jumped back and dodged Neon's next kick. 'Wait, what backup plan?'
'Cat and I came up with it in case she was in a situation where her cover could be blown and there's no way out.'
Neon flipped backwards to avoid Konner's fist. "You know, when I imagined this battle; I imagined you putting up more of a fight."
"Ha. You're not as smart as they say. Why put too much effort into a distraction?"
"A distraction-? You were stalling-"
"Until your luck runs out." Suddenly the lights went out and the whole H.I.V.E. went black.
"Wha-Hey! Hey! Get your hands off of me!" Neon shouted in the darkness as a few crashes and bangs echoed. The back up generator kicked in and the lights flickered back on. Neon was no where to be seen.
"Neon? Neon!" Creeper looked around frantically.
"Sorry." Cat appeared in the center of the room. "She ran into a bit of bad luck but I'll give her a message id you like."
"The Black Cat!" Ember growled. Cat vanished and reappeared next to Conner.
"Hey, Superboy. Mind if I steal a few of your playmates?" she smirked.
"Steal? What are you, a cat burglar?" He joked.
"Oh, ha ha." She rolled her eyes and chuckled a little. "Let's see? Should I be selective? Or should we split 'em down the middle?"
"How about a free-for-all?"
"With one exception." Her eyes fixated on Vixen. "It's been a while. What was it you said about fighting some other time? How about we go a few rounds? I'll even give your students a free lesson."
"What's you do with Neon?" Creeper growled.
"Nothing too bad though she might break an arm if she keeps trying to wiggle out of her restraints like that." Cat shrugged.
"You mangy little stray!" He growled. His voice got raspy as his eyes turned black. The shadow under his feet shifted and then shot up- covering him? No, that didn't seem to describe it right- consuming him. They shifted and settled into form, Creeper- the villain version.
"I guess the time for talking is over." She twitched as she heard singing coming from Siren. Cat vanished and reappeared in front of her. She pulled Siren close, smashing heads with her and then flung her into the other teens. Now everyone was moving in one way or another. Cat dodged a kick and returned it in a roundhouse fashion. Conner dodged Creeper's first whip, grabbed it and flung him. He turned and rolled sideways to avoid a knife.
Cat was gone again and then she dropped out of thin air, forcing a boy's head into the ground. She quickly flipped backwards to avoid a fireball.
"You!" Ember growled. As flames began to form around her- she took Artemis's foot to the side of her cheek.
"Thanks but I could have done that myself."
"She had it coming." Artemis smirked. She spun around and shot a smoke screen arrow. There were several banging sounds and pain filled moans as the smoke blinded everyone. She shot an arrow straight up, it was a direct hit to the sprinkler and the system turned on. Ember rubbed her eyes.
"I can't see!" As soon as the smoke started clearing, she could see them. The team had taken control of the training room. Robin knocked out the last student.
"Wow~ You kids sure are special, aren't you?" Vixen snapped her fingers and Angel, Kid Wykkyd, Siren and Creeper gathered. "Elite class, time for finals. Take them down."
"With pleasure." Angel said.
"Sorry but-" Cat appeared above Vixen. "-I don't have any intention of fighting them!" She swung down, Vixen leaned back to avoid her fist then dropped to the ground to sweep her feet. Cat used her hand as a spring to bounce back and avoid it. "What say you? Up for a cat fight?"
Vixen smirked as the 'kachink!' sound of her claws releasing caught Cat's attention. "Why not? I was bored out of my mind until you showed up. Your friends can ask Ember to cremate you because when I'm done you won't have much of a body left."
"Ready, set, go." Cat joked as she vanished.
"You think sprinklers can douse my flames?" Ember felt insulted. The little water droplets evaporated into steam as they hit her body.
"Nah, but it's a good water source." Wally moved as Kaldur motioned a flood of water towards her. She barely avoided it before it came rushing at her again. She threw up a wall of fire before jumping out of the way. The water released a cloud of steam as it hit the wall of fire.
Artemis swung around quickly and kicked at Siren. She dodged and swung back. She used her bow to knock Siren's arm away and swung up, hitting her in the jaw with it. As Siren rolled back, Artemis was thrown by a gust of wind coming from Angel's wings. The wind stopped as Wally sped by and socked her. As soon as he did, Kid Wykkyd rose out of the ground behind him. He dodged Kid's claws and then Artemis blasted him with an explosive arrow. She then ducked under Creeper's whip like tentacle. She quickly shifted, pulled two arrows from her quiver and shot Creeper. They exploded into a blinding flash, causing Creeper to retreat back a few feet.
"Like that? Here, have more!" she hit him with two more before turning and bolting towards Siren who had risen to her feet. Siren took a deep breath and unleashed an opera like note that had the same shattering effect as a Canary Cry.
"Nice singing." DIck rolled to the side to avoid it and punched her. "It's too bad we don't have time for an encore." He turned and blasted Creeper with two flash grenade discs and then back flipped to avoid Kid Wykkyd.
"Well, well." Surge's voice echoed through the training hall. He was watching from the balcony above, leaning over the railing. "It's seems like a mongoose family has strayed too far into the viper's pit." he vaulted over the railing. Static danced around his gauntlets as he cracked his knuckles. "And I assumed this little business trip was gonna be boring." he spotted Cat and winked. "Hey, Kitty-Cat~ I'll be with you in a moment. As soon as I deal with Junior here." He looked at Conner. "What? Get fed up with Daddy's negligence so you came here?"
"Shut your mouth." Conner growled.
"Oops. Seems I hit a sore spot. How 'bout I hit a few more?" he bolted towards Conner and they grappled. Conner made him slide back a few feet before Surge shocked him. It made him let go long enough for Surge to sucker punch him.
Cat blitzed at Vixen again. She vanished as she got close to her face. In a split second; she reappeared, crouched down at Vixen's side. She noticed but couldn't react in time. Instead, she got Cat's fist to her ribcage. She quickly swung around with a kick, expecting her to teleport and dodge- but she didn't. She took Vixen's kick with her upper arm and recoiled with her left fist to Vixen's jaw. Vixen's body quickly retreated from the shock of the blow.
"Wow. I didn't expect to purposely take a hit you could have avoided just to strike back."
"Well, you don't know me very well, then-" She flinched as the sharp pain in her head returned. M'gann could sense her pain.
["She's so small. Are you sure she's one of them?" A man asked.
"Of course! Look at that dark hair!"]
["-are you alright, General?"
"I'm fine." A familiar female voice said.
"Why did you take that blast?!"
"So I could hit him up close, of course."]
"Rrr." Cat's stance became unstable as she flinched in pain.
"Cat!" Conner noticed her. Surge socked him in the face as soon as he was distracted.
She shook the pain off and ducked under Vixen's claws. "I'm okay." She rolled back and booted her in the chest.
'Now there's the Cat we know and love.' Wally thought. He dodged Kid Wykkyd again, turning on his heel as he arose from the ground again. Angel blasted wind towards M'gann. She stood strong and after a moment of focus, she blasted a force back towards Angel that swept through her winds and slammed her into the back wall. Dick ducked under Siren's fist and hit her in the stomach.
'We should get out of this fight while we still have an advantage.' M'gann thought.
'Yeah. Creeper's recovering faster than before.' Artemis blasted him with explosive arrows. His body shifted and lunged at her again. 'And I'm all out of flash arrows.'
'Ember is not as timid as well.' Kaldur placed a wave of water between himself and a fire blast. He quickly rushed past it, rolled under another blast and was less than a foot from Ember. He moved to the side, grabbed her arm, turned her around and put a water blade to her throat; still restraining her arm. "This fight is over."
"One of the many facts I know about Atlantians. They're not good with heat." Her hair moved like fire and he could fell her body temperature rising so fast he was starting to sweat. The water in his blade began boiling. "Either you let go or you fry." She smirked. Her eyes twitched as the blade burst. She moved forward, twisted and booted him in the chest. He only slid back a few feet but it was enough for her to get away from him. Water reformed as a mace in his bearer and the rest swirled into a wall around them, blocking them from the others. "Wow, private lesson."
"Where are you receiving your information on Atlantians? Black Manta?"
Her smiled vanished. "Huh, you're just like them, you know. Always looking at me like I'm stupid or ignorant. It's not that hard to figure out by your physical structure, abilities and the fact that you lived underwater. I'm not stupid." She launched a fireball at him. He rolled out of the way and back onto his feet. "This time, I will fry you!"
To be continued…