I do not OWN Young Justice, just making sure I'm legal around here.
Superboy was the first to arrive at the top of the building, almost crashing through the concrete with his landing.
"M'GANN!", the clone screamed, all attempts of stealth tossed aside.
Silence. There was nothing there, just a roof, exactly the thousand others throught out the city.
He could feel the tingling sensation in the hairs of his arms. He pinpointed the source with his heightened vision, a few grains of the green rock, left behind, just there at the edge.
'M'GANN, WHERE ARE YOU?', he mentally shouted, his thoughts, desperate.
'Could she be invisible?', he thought, but rejected the idea immediately. M'gann would never play a prank like that against them, especially in a situation like that.
'Not giving up! Have to focus my senses, just like Canary taught', he heard from the bottom of his own mind.
There was wind and smoke in the air. Something else. More subtle…
'Chocolate and butter', he finally recognized. Fresh, although still faint.
Her smell. He could recognize it anywhere in the world.
That was all that was left of her.
All the noises, the cars and bikes, far away. Televisions. MP3 players. Chatters. Laughs. Cries. Normal people living their normal lives in their apartments, unaware of was happening above them.
Something shuffling slightly. Paper. He noticed the weak smell of ink. Newspaper.
He saw it, under a brick, laying on another side of the roof.
Not important right now.
No breathing close to him.
No heartbeats nearby, above or bellow.
His mind raced, imagining various scenarios, each worse than the previous.
He finally admitted it.
She was taken. Someone took her away from him.
'I'll be watching you FAIL.', he could hear the dry tone of the Riddler, over and over.
Something broke Conner's concentration. A muffled bang, far behind him. He already knew what it was.
A familiar grappling hook stuck to a wall close to him, a sturdy polymer cable tied to it. Robin followed suit, landing almost noiseless after gliding through the gap between the buildings.
The Boy-Wonder was silent, already sure of what had just happened.
The Riddler had played his next move.
He now had another hostage with him.
They were back inside the BioShip, Artemis doing her best to pilot the alien vessel.
She remembered M'gann teaching her about it.
She had said that the Ship liked her.
Liked the 'sound' of her thoughts.
'What do you mean by that, if I'm thinking, how can there be a sound?', she asked, trying to understand. And M'gann just laughed away.
Artemis was definitely feeling a whole new level of hate for the Riddler now.
The rest of the Team was busy, they had just started checking their next clue, the newspaper Conner had noticed before was now spread all over the ship.
Robin knew it was important to the whole Riddler game. It was a barely out-of-the-presses copy of that Saturday's issue of the Daily Planet, left on the same roof Miss Martian had disappeared.
Kal asked him if the newspaper itself could be a clue.
"Normally, yes", Robin said. "But not this time. The Riddler is playing at a different level tonight. No fingerprints, no genetic samples, no residual dust or smell. If there is anything for us here, it must be inside the newspaper, a clue or a riddle for us to look for and find in the printed text."
"Kidnapping M'gann, doesn't make sense", their leader remarked, checking the 'ads'-section.
Superboy stared at him, as if Aqualad had suddenly said something offensive.
The clone had been too quiet this whole time, their leader realised. An angry response was expected, but silence?
That could only spell trouble, Kal was sure of this.
"Yeah", Robin answered, in a conciliatory tone, almost oblivious to the quiet exchange. "I was thinking the exact same thing."
Nygma's holographic message was clear to him now.
'The Riddler will be watching you CLOSELY.'
That had been a warning for the whole Team, not just Superboy.
They were looking for clues to find their friends, while the Riddler would be keeping them under surveillance.
'… watching you FAIL', Robin recalled. 'If we get distracted, we get punished. Make a mistake, people get hurt.'
'I'm going to prove a point… what happens to kids who think they can play adults' games… they lose."
'Hide and seek, cat and mouse. Kids' games. Adults' games.'
'There's one VERY important rule… No help from the grown-ups!'
'Rules' Robin wondered. 'Rules… and penalties.'
'Speedy here is the one who gets the penalties.'
'And now Miss Martian as well? Why?'
Robin could not see the bigger picture just yet, but he could already understand one thing.
There had to be another plan in motion.
"Guys, I've been thinking about something", Artemis said, keeping the ship steady while they kept flying in circles, since they really had nowhere to go, for the moment. "The Riddler might be an evil genius and all that stuff around Gotham, but… he's just one man, no way he could have captured M'gann!".
Conner added, with the same reasoning: "Not alone, yeah."
"Indeed", Kaldur said, picking up the sports section. "This makes our situation even more troublesome."
They all remained quiet for a second.
They did make many enemies in such a few months.
The Cult of the Kobra, the Injustice League, Professor Ivo, the League of Shadows, Professor Morrow, Klarion, Vandal Savage, Queen Bee… could any one of them be helping Nygma?
"But no one fits, that's just it!", Robin said, a bit more frustrated now. "The Riddler has a lot of contacts in the criminal world, but to pull THIS off… it must be someone else... but who?"
Now everyone turned, to stare Kid Flash this time.
He pulled off his mask, a triumphant smile in his face.
"I have an idea!", he said, zooming past everyone and bringing all the newspaper in one place.
Without any further explanation, Wally blurred in front of everyone, a pile of discarded pages increasing by his side.
"He's reading everything?", asked Artemis.
"Don't have to, the Riddler was hinting the section all along - and I found it!", said Wally with a specific section in his hand, presenting it to both Robin and Kaldur.
"Kids section", Aqualad read out-loud.
"I really HATE this guy", Superboy finally commented, voicing Robin's exact opinion.
The Boy Wonder read the small article quickly and smirked: "That's it, Wally!"
"Uh, can anyone bother to tell me what is it?", asked Artemis, still sited.
Robin humoured his friend: "The Riddler is teasing us, listen to this: Grandma Dewy's Words for Troubled Children."
"Grandma Dewy?", Artemis asked, not really understanding.
"It's him, alright", Robin confirmed.
His other friends joined him, reading what was written bellow:
"... what?", asked both Superboy and Kid Flash, at the same time.
"Doesn't make sense to me. Robin?", asked Aqualad, but the leader saw the Boy Wonder's face. He was already figuring it out.
"Guys, seriously, either someone tell me something right now, or I swear I'm going to park the ship in..."
"Here", Wally said, pulling the paper from Robin's hands and showing the article in front of his friend's eyes.
There was a grey picture of an old woman, with glasses that kind of looked like question marks. There was a dialogue baloon coming out of the picture, with a question in bold letters.
"'When does the weight of a building matter to the Ocean side?'", Artemis spoke. "I... I don't think I know this one."
"Robin does", Wally said, showing the Boy Wonder was already speeding through a list of sites and photographs at his wrist holoscreen. "Care to share with the rest of the class, dude?"
"The Riddler is giving us a location. The problem is, it's not enough."
"What, then?", asked Superboy. "What's the answer?"
"Oh", replied Kaldur, figuring it out by himself. Robin knew at least him would understand it right away. "I see. This is a really lame joke, even for the Riddler's standards."
Aqualad took the newspaper out of Kid Flash's hands, before anybody else could reply. "The weight of a building would only matter to the Ocean...", he spoke, staring at Artemis, "... if it's a lighthouse."
Artemis groaned and Wally face-palmed. Conner was... quiet.
Aqualad took a mental note, to watch over his Kryptonian friend.
"Okay, great", Artemis replied, asking what Robin had already stumbled upon. "So it's a lighthouse. Where?"
"I don't know that... yet", Robin replied.
"I think I do."
They all stared at Superboy.
"It's in the question itself", he said, pointing at the riddle, or more precisely, at the end of it. "'To the Ocean side', see?"
Robin 's grin was the widest so far. "Brillant, SB!", he congratulated his friend, already changing his on-line search. "Checking for a 'Lighthouse' plus 'Ocean Side'... got it! Five results. Four in North America, one in Australia!"
Kaldur took a moment to think.
Five different locations. Few, yet still too many options, and not enough time.
'Time', the leader thought to himself.
The Riddler was clearly toying with them, sending them from one location to the next, with traps and messages, forcing them to continue their quest.
But he did not give them any time limit, yet.
'Why? Kidnapping Miss Martian means he is putting us into even more pressure. We were already set to rescue Red Arrow. This means something else...', he concluded.
'No time limit. What does it mean?'
The Riddler did not set any time limit, but every second now felt like an hour.
'Think of the team', he said to himself. 'The Riddler is planning something, but my priority now - OUR priority now IS rescuing the hostages.'
They had to speed things up.
"Robin", Aqualad suddenly ordered. "Show us the nearest locations, using the city of Metropolis as a map reference."
The boy Wonder pressed a button and two holoscreens appeared in the air.
"Oceanside, Oregon", the teen pointed to his right, then to his left. "Oceanside, California."
"Where to, first?", asked Artemis, already turning the Bioship around.
Robin smirked, but it was half-hearted. "California. We should start with the Oceanside of California."
"Why?", the leader asked.
Robin raised an eyebrow. "'Eureka'."
"Huh?", Wally asked, surprised.
Robin looked to his side, and his other friend got the hint.
"'Eureka'. Greek for 'I have found it'", Superboy said, and seeing Wally's expression, added: "The official motto of California's state."
"Oh", was Wally's only comment, before shifting his gaze and asking: "Just out of curiosity..."
"'Alis volat propriis'... or 'She flies with her own wings'."
"... thanks", Wally added, surprised, looking back to the main view window.
M'gann woke up.
She was inside a room. A dark room.
She could not see much, and could not sense anyone near her.
'Conner...', she thought, worried, before hearing steps.
"Hello?", she asked, not sure of what to expect...
I'm sorry for the delay, people, I really, really am.
So, here it is! The update I promised so long ago.
Next chapter... there will be some graphic content. Maybe.
Please, feel free to share any thoughts, or suggestions, ok?