Justice League of America: Crisis After the Great Disaster, Chapter 5: Revenge of the Killer Germ

by Libbylawrence

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The reunited Justice League of America soon stood before the massive Great Western Wall along with Kamandi and his odd allies. Each group had been thrilled to see their friends again. “I’m glad to see you were able to restore Pyra,” said Kamandi. “I guess that means her world is safe now, too!”

“Yes, that’s a fact, lad,” replied Dr. Canus. “We do have good news for you. Pretty Pyra is going to take me to visit her planet! It is like a dream come true for a dog of science!”

The red-hued alien woman smiled warmly. “Canus and I are happy to announce that we are uniting!

“Congratulations!” said Ben Boxer. “I wish we had time to celebrate, but we’re in deep trouble!”

“What’s wrong?” asked Hawkman. “This may be why we were brought here! There may be more to this case than just reuniting your group.”

“Ben, is it something to do with your powers?” asked Kamandi. “You are not sick again, are you?”

“Negative,” said Ben. “It’s related to our old home.”

“Wait a minute!” said Firestorm. “Didn’t you tell me that you and your nuclear men buddies were born on a space station called Tracking Site?”

Ben nodded grimly. “Correct. That station also houses a monster or two. A sentient germ of immense size is on that satellite. We launched it into space in order to kill the morticoccus and a mentally powered freak called the Misfit, but Renzi and Steve, here, learned that our plan failed. In some weird way, the mutant called Misfit has bonded with the morticoccus germ. His mind now controls it. They are one, for all practical purposes.”

“Ben, that plague killed your folks!” said Kamandi. “It ended all life on Tracking Site! Don’t tell me you’ve contracted it, too!”

“No,” explained Ben. “You see, Steve detected the return of Tracking Site right before I became ill. They merged with me, as you know, when our ritual of healing was disrupted more than once. My life was more important to my friends than the larger threat. Now we’re back together, and we may be able to face what they detected.”

“You keep saying they detected the threat,” said Starman. “I assume you mean your satellite has returned to Earth, and one of your devices picked up its flight path?”

Renzi scowled and said, “Flight path? That’s fancy talk. Tracking Site is crashing to Earth! It’ll hit any time this day! The impact will be deadly, not to mention what might happen if the morticoccus virus gets loose in our atmosphere!”

“We’ll stop it,” vowed Aquaman. “I think we’ve found our reason for being here now.”

***

The JLA wasted little time as they gathered more data and then formed a plan. The heroes and Kamandi’s friends soon soared into space aboard Pyra’s Translator Ship.

“A disease that can think and anticipate strategy is a deadly force,” said the Martian Manhunter. “To make matters worse, the Misfit is now one with it, and I can feel his powerful thoughts. He senses us, and it is taking all my own efforts to try to shield our minds from his own!”

“We could blow it up, but that wouldn’t help matters,” said Firestorm. “We can’t kill the Misfit.”

“None of us are truly immune to its power, either!” said Hawkman.

“That’s where you are wrong!” said Starman. “Pyra and I may be safe from it, due to our energy-based metabolisms!”

“Steve and Renzi and I should be safe as well!” said Ben.

“Firestorm, can you use your own powers to slow its path down?” said Aquaman. “Try to alter its structure until it becomes more aerodynamic!”

“Got it!” said Firestorm.

Departing from Pyra’s ship, the nuclear man approached the hurtling vessel, now wearing a spacesuit taken from the JLA Satellite that was designed to offer him some protection from the germ. The other heroes wore similar gear as they waited and watched from Pyra’s ship. Starman and Pyra emerged from her ship as well and drew closer to Firestorm.

Concentrating, Firestorm slowly altered part of the damaged satellite. He knew what to do, since he had conferred with Hawkman before trying the stunt. Slowly, he changed the design of the craft by a delicate process of altering the outer hull without penetrating to the interior. He managed to slow the plunging craft down even as Starman and Pyra drew closer.

“Ben’s team will be backup,” mused Starman. “We’d better get check out the lay of the land for them.” He flew into the satellite, and Pyra followed. They managed to enter without being attacked or stopped, since the damaged space vehicle now lacked any defensive capabilities beyond those of the deadly beings that occupied it.

Starman streaked ahead of Pyra. Even in this strange setting, Will Payton was more experienced with adventure than Pyra. He frowned as he melted through a portal inside the craft and came face-to-face with a serpentine creature with a rippling, segmented body and an odd, green-complexioned dwarf atop its head. I’d say I’ve found the Misfit and the morticoccus germ! Neither of them will be on People’s most beautiful list anytime soon, he thought. Suddenly, he grabbed his head as a blinding bolt of mental force struck him.

“Mock us now, fool!” echoed in his mind as the Misfit unleashed a telepathic assault.

***

Back on Pyra’s ship, J’onn J’onzz turned to his friends and said, “Starman’s hurt! I can sense as much. I fear we need to risk exposure.”

“Our suits will protect us enough,” said Hawkman. “Let’s go!”

Kamandi cried out, “Let me go, too! I may be able to help!”

“Fine,” said Aquaman. “This is your era, after all.”

“I’d like to work on something with Canus, here,” said the Atom. “Steel, Spirit, Bloodstalker, and Doile can help us.”

“All right,” agreed Hawkman. “We’ll try to stop them. If we fail, you may be our last hope!”

“We can’t afford to fail,” said Aquaman.

***

Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Firestorm, and Kamandi boarded the satellite as Ben Boxer, Steve, and Renzi brought up the rear, aching for action. The threesome had turned into their metal forms, and they offered the JLA considerable force. But what good was brute power against an insidious germ?

Starman was blasting away at the morticoccus virus and smiled as his brilliant light blinded the Misfit and, in turn, left the germ helpless due to their odd symbiosis.

Pyra had been generating fiery bolts of her own, but she knew that she could only do so much. None of them wanted to shatter the ship and free the germ. If deep space had failed to kill it, then it could easily survive exposure to Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Kamandi leaped forward recklessly and said, “Could we freeze it? Didn’t they used to do that to contain old virus infections before the Disaster?”

“I’m not certain about your grasp of science, there, but anything is worth a try,” said Ben. “I won’t see Earth fall to that murdering creature!”

“Misfit, you must stop this!” said J’onn. “You are a native of Earth. Don’t let the bitterness that separated you from your fellow man lead you to this kind of violence!” He tried to project thoughts of reassurance to the warped little man, but the telepath ignored him and smiled broadly.

“We are one now!” he hissed. “Morticoccus is my only friend! We will rule the world and punish all who dare to stop us!”

Starman said, “Firestorm, could you create an antivirus?

Firestorm shook his head. “Sorry, but my powers don’t work that way.”

Aquaman slammed into the huge germ, and his might sent the creature flailing around the ship.

Hawkman dropped into the beast from above and said, “My photon lance wounds it! I’m glad I got it from the JLA Satellite before coming inside.” He brought a sparking lance around and plunged it into the creature even as it hissed and mental blasts threatened to drop the heroes to their knees.

Kamandi saw his nuclear men allies pounding against the creature with their metal hands, but the beast was so big and lacked a true nervous system, so much of their efforts were limited in effect. The last boy on Earth said, “Misfit, I saved you from the Bats! Don’t you remember? I could have left you to die, but I fought them off and pulled you to safety! (*) I tried to be your friend! Can’t you remember that and help us now? You and I are the last humans alive with real minds!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Tracking Site,” Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth #9 (September, 1973) and “Killer Germ,” Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth #10 (October, 1973).]

The Misfit scowled and said, “You think of me as human? I sense as much in your thoughts. You truly offer me a place among your society. You are a rare being, Kamandi. You make me ashamed of my deeds.”

“He’s pulling away from the germ,” said Starman. “Kamandi’s getting through to him! All our wild powers couldn’t do as much as one boy’s courage and compassion!”

“I’m projecting the same type of sentiments via my own limited empathic telepathic,” said Aquaman. “It is all I can do, since my other powers are useless.”

The Misfit jumped forward and said, “I will join you! Take me from this cursed tomb!”

Kamandi grabbed his hand and led him away from the ship as the heroes followed behind them.

“I’m getting a signal from Atom,” said Hawkman. “He says evacuate the ship now!”

They fled as the tiny hero’s message commanded, and as they returned to Pyra’s ship, they saw an excited Steel. “Atom and I made a quick trip to our own satellite for some gear,” he said. “We’ve got the answer!”

“Don’t be too cocky!” said the Atom. “I may still end up with egg on my face.”

The others watched as the Atom pressed a button, and a beam of energy swept from Pyra’s ship to the falling Tracking Site. Instantly, the satellite shrank down to the size of a football, just as J’onn J’onzz received the Atom’s thoughts and flew out to catch it.

“You used a variation of your own shrinking ray to make the whole site small enough to contain, along with morticoccus virus inside it!” said Hawkman.

“Right,” said the Atom. “I took what Ray Palmer had left in the JLA Satellite and used it to reduce the Tracking Site. Since the morticoccus virus was such a pliable being, I knew reducing its home would also force it to return to its original small size.”

“I thought items reduced by your ray exploded moments afterward,” said Aquaman.

The Atom shook his head. “Nope. Ray and Ira fixed that flaw. That’s why I can carry various tools like the mini-laser.”

“Now that the satellite is small enough to be carried,” said Steel, “we figured we could just store it in a stasis chamber on our satellite.”

“I’ll place it there now,” said Firestorm. After doing so, he returned to Pyra’s ship, where Kamandi and his allies had been joined by Cosmo.

“Well done, my parents!” said the android being called Cosmo. “You have defeated the threat of the morticoccus germ and the reformed Misfit. You have reunited young Kamandi and his allies. I knew you would succeed, since I saw it all in my own vigil in the time-stream. Now I shall return you to your own era.”

Aquaman shook hands with Kamandi and said, “Kamandi, you called me a legend from the era of heroes. Well, from what I’ve witnessed of your own wit, courage, and heart, this era has at least one pretty special hero in you.”

Kamandi smiled and said, “Thank you! I will try to honor your own legends by helping my people return to their old level.”

The JLA vanished and soon found themselves back aboard the JLA Satellite in their proper era.

“You know, I thought I saw another satellite in our orbit for a moment there!” said Firestorm. “It was like when our headquarters returned to this time, it replaced another one that had briefly taken its place!”

“Hey, it’s time travel,” said Steel. “Who knows what you saw? You might have witnessed the next model of our base after an upgrade in the future!”

“Curious. I thought I saw it, too,” said Hawkman. “Perhaps a different satellite occupies our location in Kamandi’s era.”

The Atom turned to his friend and said, “Starman, what do you think? Was this some adventure, or what?”

Starman smiled and said, “It sure was. The whole thing made me think about being a whole lot nicer to the next animal I run into!”

The Atom laughed as his friends and teammates relaxed once more.

The End

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