(Wooded Area – Polluted Lake)
Jesse had found a lake full of murky, disgusting water. He scooped some up in his hands, and then began rubbing them together and incredible speeds, generating friction. The friction created enough heat to purify the water. Or at least, Jesse was pretty sure it worked that way. He drank the handful of water and stood up.
His stomach growled violently. "Man, there's gotta' be something I can eat around here." He grumbled, looking around the rotting, dead treetops for any sign of food. There was nothing.
Then there was a rustling in the bushes. "Hmm… a rabbit maybe?" Jesse grinned. "If friction can purify water, it can cook a rabbit." He zoomed over to the bush and pulled the brush away; looking for whatever furry creature might be inside.
There was a low growl, and then a spout of fire burst out toward Jesse! "Whoa!" Jesse ducked to the ground. "Not – a – bunny." Jesse leapt back as a flaming beast leapt out at him. He dodged out of the way, and more began to surround the area. Jesse sprinted away so fast that he broke the sound barrier.
Back at the camp they had set up, Tommy wound the gauze around the wound, still stinging from when the bullet had been pulled out. He looked over to Quinton, and saw that he was leaned against a tree, still scribbling on the notebook.
"Hey Q, what are you doing exactly?"
"Getting my thoughts down on paper." Quinton responded.
"Is that why you're disappearing all the time? You're writing down your thoughts?"
"Not writing. Drawing."
"Huh?" Tommy was surprised. He couldn't imagine Quinton being much of an artist.
"Where'd Allie go?" Quinton changed the subject.
"She's out looking for firewood. I wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let me. Said I needed to recover more."
"Why are you so… different all the sudden?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, normally you'd have threatened me at least three times by now. But we're actually sitting down and having a conversation."
"There's no reason for us to be bickering right now, Q. We're in enough trouble already. I can restrain myself."
"I'm proud of you then. But that's not the real reason, is it?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You seem really distraught over Dinah's death. I don't blame you, we all are, but you almost seem… guilty."
"I am." Tommy looked away. "If I had just listened and stayed in the cave, none of this would have happened. Deathstroke only found the cave because he followed me there. If I hadn't left… Dinah would still be alive."
"Yes, she probably would." Quinton agreed.
"Thanks for the encouragement Q." Tommy sighed, absently sharpening his knife. "I'm so stupid. I should have known I was being followed. I should have known not to go right back to the cave. How could I be such an idiot?"
"Tommy, you're beating yourself up too much. I don't know a whole lot about feelings and such, but I do understand the flow of time pretty damn well. And I know that what happened, happened. You can't change it now. So move on."
The conversation was interrupted when Allie came back, carrying a few logs. "This should get us through the night if we keep the fire low, which we should. We don't want to draw attention." She said.
Then a fast-moving blur knocked her over. Allie tumbled to the ground, with Jesse lying right on top of her, breathing hard.
"Jesse! What the hell are you doing?"
"Whoa, I, uh-" Jesse started to stutter, surprised. Allie shoved him off of her and got to her feet.
"What's the matter with you?"
"I was going to kill this rabbit, ok? I was hungry. So I went over to the bush, and then there was like, fire! And it almost killed me! So then I started running away, and more of them started to come, they were like these burning dog-things! And I think they followed me, and they were really, really scary!" Jesse spouted off at a hundred miles an hour.
Allie stood for a moment trying to process what Jesse had just told her. Something about rabbits and fire and burning dogs. "Jesse, are you feeling ok?"
Then there were a serious of vicious roars, and what looked like a mass of fire started moving toward the group!
"See! They followed me!" Jesse pointed.
The mass of fire began to separate in several individual flaming orbs. And the orbs started to reshape themselves, taking on the form of large, ferocious dogs!
"What are those?" Tommy whipped out his knife.
"They're Apokoliptian weapons called Hellhounds." Quinton started. "It's actually very sophisticated technology. These small floating orbs generate intense fire, and then mold that fire into any form they choose for a body. Usually dogs, hence the name Hellhounds."
"Bad news?" Tommy guessed.
"Very." Quinton nodded.
A Hellhound leapt at Tommy, who slashed at its throat with his knife. But the knife simply passed through the fiery body, and the hound bit Tommy in the upper arm, burning him. Tommy rolled out of the way before the burn became serious, and whipped a baterang at it. The baterang passed through its body as well, just as he had expected.
Quinton was using the laser javelin he had stolen from a parademon, but that was having about as much effect as the baterang. Jesse ran around throwing rocks at them, doing no good at all.
Allie shot one with a cryogenic arrow and froze it, but it simply melted through the ice in a matter of seconds and continued attacking.
"You had to lead them here, didn't you?" Tommy yelled.
"Sorry, I couldn't think of anything better." Jesse yelled back.
"How about leading them into water or something? That probably would have worked!"
"Well I'm not as smart as you are Tommy, ok?"
The onslaught continued, and it pretty much became a matter of dodging the Hellhound's lunges. But more and more of them were arriving, and it was becoming increasingly hard to evade them all.
Quinton's blue hoody caught on fire at one point, and he was forced to rip it off, revealing a yellow t-shirt underneath.
"Yellow?" Tommy shot him a glare.
"Shut up." Quinton grumbled, leaping out of the way of a Hellhound.
By now there were at least a couple hundred Hellhounds in the clearing which was now almost completely draped in a roaring wild fire, the hounds closed in on the group. Jesse, Allie, Tommy and Quinton backed into a circle, and were completely surrounded by the Hellhounds.
"Well, this sucks." Allie sighed."We are so screwed..." Jesse said, bracing himself.
Then, at the last moment, an EMP pulse struck several of the Hellhounds. Their cores malfunctioned, and they died out, the fire fizzling away.
"What just happened?" Tommy looked at Quinton.
"I don't know." Q shrugged.
Then a man landed in front of them, probably between seventeen and twenty years old. He was tall, and wore a dark blue jacket completely zipped; overtop pants of the same color. A simple black facemask conformed to his skin and shielded all facial features. His hair was a sandy brown color, long on the sides.
"Looks like you guys have gotten yourselves in pretty deep." He said confidently.
"Who are you?" Tommy demanded.
"Call me Ricochet... And I'm a professional pain in Apokolips's a**!"