A Siren’s Calling: Independence Day
July 4, 09:01 PDT
"Ugh! Where is it?"
A blonde teenage girl was digging through her dressers and checking under items on her desk in urgency. She was clad in black and white spandex, dressed from head to toe, but she was still missing something important.
"Jenna, are you ready?" a voice asked from the hallway.
"Hang on!" Jennifer called out, grumbling under her breath in frustration as she turned to her bed. She pulled the covers completely off to hang on the footboard. She let out a cry of victory when she spotted a mask at the very bottom of the bed, nestled in between sheets. She pulled it loose, quickly remaking her bed, then ran out of her room.
Jenna slipped the mask on her face just as she approached her sister, Dinah. "Sorry, I forgot I just tossed it on my bed the other night after patrol," Jenna said with a grin.
Dinah chuckled, "Well, we have a bit of time before we need to meet with Oliver and Roy to head over to the Hall of Justice. Junior is causing some mayhem."
Jenna made a face. "Icicle Junior? Robin just texted me a little while ago about him and Batman having to take care of Mister Freeze before they could head out too."
Dinah frowned. "It may just be a coincidence, but the Leaguers will discuss it later."
She glanced down at her phone as a text message tone rang out. "They're done. Are you ready?"
Jenna grinned again. "Obviously! Today's the day!"
July 4, 14:00 EDT
Siren stood beside Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Speedy, standing in a heroic pose, her palms against her hips while standing tall and so on, to try to look professional in front of the crowd waiting at the bottom of the hill. With them stood Batman and Aquaman, along with their protégés, Robin and Aqualad.
Siren had a hard time keeping the grin off her face as she gazed at the building up ahead. The Hall of Justice looked amazing. It wasn't her first time being there, but things were going to be different from then on.
Siren felt Black Canary rest a hand on her upper back. Canary grinned proudly down at her, sensing her excitement.
"Today is the day," Batman said.
Green Arrow spoke up, "Welcome to the Hall of Justice-"
"-Headquarters of the Justice League," Aquaman finished.
"Ah man!" someone very familiar cried out from behind the group.
The heroes all turned to see The Flash coming to a stop, with his nephew and protégé, Kid Flash, skidding to a stop beside him. The kid crossed his arms in a pout.
"I knew we'd be the last ones here," he said. How ironic.
The heroes walked past the photographers and fans to enter the building. Siren listened to the voices that stuck out from the rest of the chatter.
"Is that Batman?" Well, duh.
"I see Flash and Flash Jr!" Flash Jr?
"His name is Speedy, duh." No.
"No, Speedy is Green Arrow's sidekick!" Yes.
"Well, that makes no sense." Yeah, and?
Green Arrow leaned towards the teens, grinning. "Ready to see the inner sanctum?"
Speedy turned back to him. "Born that way," he answered with confidence. Siren nodded in agreement.
"I'm glad we're all here," Aqualad commented.
"Have all five sidekicks been together in the same place at the same time?" Kid Flash asked.
"I don't think we have, but I'm glad it's finally happened," Siren answered.
"Don't call us sidekicks. Not after today," Speedy reprimanded. Siren frowned at him for being rude before turning to KF.
He shrugged in return. "Sorry. First time at the Hall. I'm a little overwhelmed."
Siren could practically imagine Robin's eyes behind his mask as he spoke up, "You're overwhelmed. Freeze was underwhelmed. Why isn't anyone ever just whelmed?"
"Maybe you should be whelmed and drop it," Siren said with a laugh.
The first thing Siren noticed upon entering the Hall was the gigantic, bronze statues of the founding members of the League. Her eyes widened in awe. "Whoa."
"Oh. Maybe that's why," Robin said, referring to his previous question.
They came to a stop in front of doors, with a sign that read 'Authorized Personnel Only', which slid open to reveal Martian Manhunter and Red Tornado.
Manhunter stepped forward. "Robin, Siren, Speedy, Aqualad, Kid Flash. Welcome," he said. Robin and Kid Flash grinned as they fist-bumped and looked back at Siren. She shook her head fondly, grinning as she followed.
Manhunter and Tornado gave a tour for the sake of the young heroes, showing them places like the gym, the gallery, and-
"-of course, our library," Manhunter said.
"Make yourselves at home," Flash invited.
KF, Aqualad, and Robin grabbed the seats, leaving Speedy and Siren to stand. Siren trailed over to Robin's chair and leaned her arms against the back of it. He tilted his head up to look at Siren, a grin on his lips. Siren returned the expression, lightly tugging on his hair that brushed her arm.
Siren turned to the Leaguers as Batman said they would have a debriefing about four ice villains attacking the same day. She leaned forward a bit, interested in hearing the conversation. There was something weird about the mayhem from both Junior and Freeze, but two others as well?
"We shouldn't be long," he said to the teenagers watching. He turned back to the door and a camera popped out, scanning the seven members and reading off their respective designations. The doors slid open as Siren's shoulders slumped. She was hoping to get to hear more about the attacks.
Movement caught her eye and she looked over as Speedy stormed forward.
"You promised us a real look inside. Not a glorified backstage pass," he continued, crossing his arms across his chest.
Aquaman stepped forward to assure him. "It's the first step. You've been granted access few others get," he said.
"Oh, really?” Speedy exclaimed, gesturing up to the glass windows where photographers were seen taking pictures. "Who cares which side of the glass we're on!"
Siren bit her lip, uncertain. He wasn't completely wrong, even if he was pretty angry about it.
Green Arrow walked up to his protégé. "Roy, you just need to be patient," he said calmly.
"What I need is respect," Speedy said angrily. He turned to the four others.
"They're treating us like kids! Worse, like sidekicks!" He spat out that last word like it was poison. "We deserve better than this."
The other protégés glanced at each other. Siren met Speedy's glare and frowned. He wasn't normally as upset over something like this. Speedy scowled at the silence.
"You're kidding, right? You're playing their game? Why? Today was supposed to be the day! Step one to becoming full-fledged members of the League!" he yelled.
"Well, sure, but I thought the first step was a tour of the H.Q," Kid Flash said, leaning forward.
"Except the Hall isn't the real H.Q!" Speedy insisted.
Siren flinched. What?! Her head immediately whipped to where Canary and Green Arrow stood. Canary made direct eye contact and she subtly shook her head in a silent request. Not now.
"I bet they never told you it's just a false front for tourists and a pit stop for catching Zeta Beam teleporter tubes to the real thing," Speedy continued. "An orbiting satellite called the Watchtower."
Siren's eyes narrowed slightly as she watched Speedy become more and more agitated. Thoughts were swirling in her head. Why didn't they know about this? What was so important up there that they had to be lied to about it?
Green Arrow turned toward Batman, who crossed his arms defiantly. "I know, I know. But I thought, maybe we could make an exception?" GA asked. Bats narrowed his eyes, which meant nope. GA sighed. "Or not."
"You're not helping your cause here, son," Aquaman commanded. "Stand down, or-"
"Or what? You'll send me to my room? And I'm not your son! I'm not even his," he said, that last sentence shot at Green Arrow.
Siren cringed at Speedy's anger. She's seen the guy angry, but nothing like this. He was almost like a different person. "I thought I was his partner. But...not anymore," he said, throwing down his yellow cap.
Speedy walked past the rest. "Guess they were right about you four," he said. "You're not ready."
Siren stood up, intending to follow him. "Speedy!"
The doors closed.
The silence was thick with tension. One thing stood out from all the questions in Siren's mind: why would Speedy just leave like that? Siren's eyes cast to the side as she wrapped her arms around herself.
The moment passed when a video call came through. "Superman to Justice League. There's been an explosion at Project Cadmus. It's on fire," the Man of Steel said.
The League members walked over to the computers. "I've had my suspicions about Cadmus. This may present a perfect opportunity to-" Batman was cut off by another video call.
A magician's face appeared on a screen off to the side. "Zatara to Justice League. The sorcerer Wotan is using the Amulet of Aten to blot out the sun. Requesting full League response."
Batman turned back to the first call. "Superman?"
"It's a small fire. Local authorities have it under control," the Man of Steel answered.
"Then Cadmus can wait," Batman said.
Siren's eyebrow lifted. Interesting.
"All Leaguers rendezvous at Zatara's coordinates. Batman out," he ordered, having pressed a button to send out the call. The video calls ended, spurring the four teenagers to approach their mentors and the other adults to file over to the elevators.
"Stay put," Batman said. Siren placed her hands on her hips, glaring right at him and Black Canary.
"What?" Robin asked. "Why?"
"This is a League mission," Aquaman said. Siren scoffed, feeling stung by those words.
"You're not trained," the Flash put in.
"Since when?'" his nephew demanded, raising his arms.
"I meant, you're not trained to work as a part of this team," the man finished, gesturing to the adults.
Siren's frown deepened as she spoke in a calmer tone. "Then what have you trained us for?"
"There will be other missions. When you're ready," Canary assured.
"But for now, stay put," Batman ordered, his eyes narrowed in warning.
The four mentors joined the others and they all left. Silence hung over the room as those left behind processed what had happened.
"When we're ready?" Kid Flash asked, his green eyes flashing dangerously. "How are we supposed to be ready when they treat us like- like- sidekicks?"
"It's not like this is our first week of fighting crime. We've been at this for years!" Even though Siren tried to keep her cool, she still felt betrayed. She was about to punch the closest thing to her, which at the moment was a very mad speedster.
Aqualad looked down, hurt. "My mentor. My king. I thought he trusted me," he admitted.
Siren scoffed, "Join the club. Thanks a lot, sis."
"Trust? They don't even trust us with the basics! They've got a secret H.Q, in space!" KF exclaimed, raising his hands in the air for emphasis.
"What else aren't they telling us?" Aqualad asked, voicing everyone's thoughts.
Robin let out a sigh from beside Siren. "I've got a better question. Why didn't we leave with Speedy?" he asked.
They all fell silent. Why didn't they? Siren's heart ached for her friend. Would he seriously throw this away because he wasn't treated fairly?
Finally, Aqualad spoke. "What is Project Cadmus?" he questioned, directing it to the residing Boy Wonder.
"Don't know," Robin said, lips rising into a smirk Siren knew all too well. "But I can find out."
He turned to the computers. Robin started typing in commands on the keyboard as the others moved over to join him.
"Access denied," the computer said.
"Wanna bet?" Robin continued to work on the keyboard, codes that seemed like gibberish pulling up on the screen. Encryptions started scrolling past on the screen as it turned green.
"Whoa, how are you doing that?" Kid Flash asked.
"The same system as the Batcave," Robin stated as he pressed one last button. The computer granted access, opening up a file on the intended topic.
"All right. Project Cadmus, genetics lab here in D.C." Robin paused. "That's all there is."
Siren frowned in confusion. That was it? "You'd think there would be more info," she noted.
"But if Batman's suspicious, maybe we should investigate?" Robin grinned at her.
"Solve their case before they do. It would be poetic justice," Aqualad said.
"Hey, they're all about justice!" Robin joked, ignoring Siren as she elbowed him in the ribs.
Aqualad sighed, shaking his head. "But they said stay put," he repeated Batman's words.
"For the other mission, not this!" Robin defended.
Aqualad then looked at Siren, probably to get some backup. She simply shrugged. "I bet we could be there and back before they even return."
KF grabbed her shoulders. "Wait, are- are you two going to Cadmus? Because if you're going, I'm going," he declared. The three of them looked at Aqualad expectantly.
"Just like that? We're a team on a mission?" he asked.
"We didn't come for a play date."
Aqualad trained his eyes to the ground at Robin's words, seeming to think it through. A small smile formed on his lips as he looked back up. He was in.
The five heroes took off together by foot seeing as Cadmus wasn't that far away. However, Kid Flash had gotten a bit eager and sped on ahead. By the time the rest arrived, KF was hanging off a window ledge.
Siren burst out laughing at the speedster's clumsiness. "Way to go, Kid.”
"So smooth," Robin sighed.
"Does he always have to run ahead? We need a plan, we-" Robin had disappeared before Aqualad could finish. "Robin?"
The Atlantean sighed looking over at Siren. She shrugged. "These are the friends we ended up with," she said wryly.
Aqualad shook his head. "Go on ahead, try to keep them out of trouble."
"Am I a babysitter now?" Siren called out teasingly as she picked up speed into a run.
She pulled out the grappling hook attached to her hip, shooting it out to the extended fire truck ladder to use as height to swing up to the window. She released the grappling hook as she reached the opening, the momentum dropping her inside. Siren straightened up to see Robin and KF digging through files and a computer.
"Apparently I have to babysit you two," Siren quipped, crossing her arms.
"No need," Robin waved his hand as if to brush her off.
Aqualad dropped in beside Siren, glancing at the boys. "Appreciate the help," he said sarcastically.
"You handled it. Besides, we're here to investigate. Poetic justice, remember?" Robin reminded.
Aqualad walked down the hall toward the elevators. Siren faintly heard the elevator ding so she dropped what she was doing and followed him with the other two.
"Elevators should be locked down," Kid Flash pointed out.
"This is wrong," Siren said as she ran up beside Robin. It wasn't a normal elevator. It looked like something in Wayne Enterprises or Queen Industries, not a building as small as Cadmus.
Robin pulled up his computer to scan the elevator. "Thought so. This is a high-speed express elevator. It doesn't belong in a two-story building." Siren nodded in agreement.
"Neither does what I saw," Aqualad added, stepping forward. He gripped the door and pulled it open forcefully.
Siren looked down the long elevator shaft. "It looks like KF's stomach. Bottomless," she joked.
Siren grinned as Robin knelt in front of her. "And that's why they need an express elevator," he realized.
Siren rolled her eyes. "You think?"
Robin stood up and shot his grappling hook at the ceiling. It latched on and he dropped down into the shaft.
"What is he doing?" Aqualad sighed.
"Well, we're not going to let him go alone, are we?" Siren pointed out.
She made the short jump to grab onto the rope, sliding down after the Boy Wonder. "Sub-level 20, 21, 22," she muttered to herself, keeping an eye on how far they were going.
She glanced down and saw Robin swinging over to a door. Sub-level 26. He leaned against the wall to prevent falling off. Siren slowed to a stop, making eye contact with him. He extended a hand out to her and pulled her across to the ledge.
Siren steadied herself against the wall while Robin sat down to begin hacking into the system. Kid Flash and Aqualad joined them shortly after as Siren watched the animated Robin faces turn from red to green.
"Bypassing security. There. Go," Robin confirmed. Aqualad pulled the door open and led the way through.
"Welcome to Project Cadmus, " Robin announced. Kid Flash ran ahead as Siren looked around.
"Kid, wait!" Aqualad called out.
A cry rang out so they quickly followed to find KF. Siren stopped in her tracks once she saw several gigantic, gray, monstrous creatures stomping down a hall. Siren gasped as one of the monsters' feet came down toward a yellow-and-red figure laying on the ground, nearly crushing him. Thankfully, KF had time to roll out of the way and run back to the others.
"No, nothing odd going on here," Aqualad muttered sarcastically, watching the line of monsters stomp by.
"Batman was wrong to suspect Cadmus," Siren joked, albeit nervously.
Not wanting to stick around any longer, the four heroes continued down the hall where they ended up at another door. Once it was hacked and open, Siren's eyes widened in surprise at what she saw.
"Okay, I'm officially whelmed," Robin announced.
"Speak for yourself," Siren said.
There were rows and rows of tubes. Inside were strange creatures crackling with electricity. It was horrifying but interesting at the same time. Then it clicked.
"This is how they hide this massive underground facility from the world," Kid Flash said in awe. "The real Cadmus isn't on the grid."
"It generates its own power with...whatever these are," Siren concluded. "Is that what they're bred for?"
"Even the name is a clue. The Cadmus of myth created a new race by sowing dragon's teeth into the earth," Aqualad explained.
"And this Cadmus creates new life too," Robin added, walking to a computer. "Let's find out why."
He pulled out a USB cable from his glove and plugged it into the computer. His screen popped up and he started to search through them.
"Called Gee-no-morphs," Siren read, leaning over his shoulder.
"Whoa, look at the stats on these things!" Robin pointed out. He pulled the stats up and read through it. "Super-speed, telepathy, razor claws."
"Living weapons," Siren muttered, her stomach twisting uncomfortably.
"They're engineering an army. But for who?" Kid Flash asked.
Siren frowned as she saw a file name scroll past. "Hold on, what's that?" she asked, pointing to the screen. "Project K-r?"
"The file's triple-encrypted," Robin said. He tried to hack in. "I can't-"
"Don't move!" Siren whirled around to see a man with more of the thin creatures run in.
"Wait. Robin? Siren? Aqualad? Kid Flash?" he asked.
"At least he got your name right," Robin said to KF. Siren glanced over to see him working on decrypting the file.
"I know you. Guardian, a hero," Aqualad revealed.
Siren thought she recognized the man. Jim Harper, a relative of Roy's.
"I do my best," the older man replied.
"Then what are you doing here?" Kid Flash demanded as Siren came up beside him.
"I'm chief of security. You're trespassing. But we can call the Justice League and figure this out."
"I doubt the League will be very happy when they find out you've been breeding weapons," Siren countered, crossing her arms.
Guardian's eyes widened. "Weapons? What are you- What have I-"
Siren zeroed in on the little creature on the man's shoulder, its horns now glowing a bright red. That combined with Guardian seeming to have a sudden headache, Siren suspected that was due to the aforementioned 'telepathy'.
Guardian groaned, bringing his hand up to his helmet before his eyes opened. "Take them down hard, no mercy!"
What? Robin jumped in front of everyone and threw down a smoke pellet. Siren immediately let out a screech, throwing the creatures that were charging at her far away. One creature pounced on her back, claws gripping tightly onto her shoulders. She reached around, grabbing it by the neck and throwing it off. She whirled around, kicking a few others back before taking off after Robin.
"Let's go!" Siren yelled at the two others. There was no use in sticking around.
They sprinted further down the main hall before Kid Flash slid to a stop at an intersection. Siren looked down the next hall to find Robin hacking away. Kid Flash ran over to him with Siren trailing behind to ensure Aqualad would make it.
"Way to be a team player, Rob!" KF snapped.
"Weren't you right behind me?" Robin asked innocently.
The elevator doors slid open and the boys ran inside with Siren quickly following. Aqualad jumped in just before the creatures reached him. Panting, Siren glanced over to see the elevator level numbers increasing.
"We're headed down?" Aqualad asked.
"Dude, out is up!" Kid Flash said, glaring down at Robin.
"We need to get out of here!" Siren exclaimed, crossing her arms.
"Excuse me? Project K-r? It's down on sub-level 52," he pointed out.
Aqualad rubbed his head, walking to the door. "This is out of control," he sighed. "Perhaps...perhaps we should contact the League."
Siren hesitated, considering it when the elevator dinged and opened. She tensed up in preparation for a fight, but the corridor was empty. Robin ran forward and crouched beside some equipment, the rest close behind.
"Which way?" Aqualad asked, examining the two hallways.
"Yeah, take your pick, Si. Bizarre looking hallway one or bizarre looking hallway two?" Robin asked, gesturing with his Birdarang.
Siren gave him a sharp look. "Don't put this on me, you're the reason we're here."
"Hold," a voice called.
Appearing from one of the halls was a man-like creature similar to what was found on the computer before Guardian showed up. The creature levitated a barrel with his mind, throwing it at the four intruders. Robin threw a Birdarang which immediately stopped in front of the man-creature's face as if interrupted by a barrier. He threw another barrel at them but it was dodged, sending them running down one of the halls. Siren glanced behind her to see Guardian and more of the Genomorphs on their tail.
When they reached Kid Flash who had sped on ahead, a female scientist was found on the ground and KF was in front of the rapidly closing door. Shit! There's no way Robin can hack into it fast enough before they catch us! Siren didn't have to worry for long; KF grabbed a canister to lodge the door open.
"Hurry!" he called, motioning them forward.
They all jumped through the gap then Aqualad kicked the canister out of the way, the door slamming shut as a result.
"I disabled the door. We're safe," Robin assured, looking up from his computer.
"Trapped would be a more accurate word," Siren corrected. "There's no way we can get out of here without them waiting on the other side."
"Uh, guys? You'll wanna see this," Kid Flash called. He pressed a button on a computer, making lights turn on.
Siren's eyes widened into saucers as she approached. "Oh my god," she whispered. Inside a pod was what looked like a younger Superman.
"Big K little R," Kid Flash said, realization dawning on him. "The atomic symbol for Krypton. Clone?"
"Robin, hack," Aqualad ordered.
"Right, right," Robin answered. He started typing in some codes then found something. "Weapon designation Superboy. A clone force grown in sixteen weeks!" he read.
Siren read the information over his shoulder. "DNA was taken from Superman," she confirmed. Siren considered that, technically, he'd be Superman's son.
"Stolen from Superman," Aqualad corrected.
"No way the big guy knows about this," Kid Flash said.
"His solar suit allows him to absorb yellow sun twenty-four-seven," Robin continued.
Aqualad pointed out the creatures inside the pod with Superboy. "Genomorph Gnomes. Telepathic, force-feeding him an education," Robin read.
"And we can guess what else," KF said. "They're making a slave out of, well, Superman's son.
"And I think that's putting it lightly," Siren added, feeling more uncomfortable by the minute.
"Now we contact the League," Aqualad said firmly.
Siren nodded as she pressed her comm-link in her ear only to be met with static. She pulled out her pager to find the same result.
"No signal," Robin said.
"We're in too deep," Kid Flash commented. "Literally."
Siren glanced over at Superboy then the guys. "We shouldn't leave him," she said. "That's not what we do and he shouldn't have to suffer anymore."
Aqualad rubbed his chin. "Set him free," he agreed. "Do it."
Robin input some codes and the pod opened. Siren started having second thoughts as the clone started waking up, pulling his hand into a fist. The unsettling feeling in her gut increased.
Superboy's eyes opened and he growled upon seeing the others. Everything suddenly seemed to move at top speed, barely giving them time to think much less react. Superboy lunged forward, tackling Aqualad, leaving the rest to run to the Atlantean's aid as Superboy punches him in the face. KF and Robin grabbed Superboy's arms while Siren wrapped an arm around his neck.
"Hang on, Supey!"
"We're on your side!"
The three of them struggled to hold him back, but it wasn't enough.
Superboy punched Kid Flash in the jaw, throwing him back into a glass tube. Siren used her grip on Superboy to jump up to sit on his shoulders. Siren tightened her legs around his neck, pressing her knees into his chin, in an attempt to choke him out. He struggled a bit to gain purchase before grabbing her by the waist and throwing her across the room.
That was the last thing Siren recalled as her head hit something hard and she passed out.