by Martin Maenza, based on Super Friends #8 by E. Nelson Bridwell
High above the Earth, in a satellite in orbit 22,300 miles above the surface, the air inside the transporter tube shimmered and started to glow, accompanied by a slight humming sound. Three figures slowly came into view, revealing a blonde woman in red and blue, a tall, thin man in red and black, and a second man attired in crimson with yellow lightning bolt trim.
A youthful, black-haired male noticed the arrival and tapped his similarly dressed twin sister on the shoulder. Both Zan and Jayna watched in awe as the three Earth heroes stepped out of the tube.
Another young man seated near one of the consoles tried not to look up in surprise. Will MacIntyre, like the two alien youths, was very impressed by the surroundings — the satellite headquarters of the Justice League of America — and by the array of heroes that had come and gone in the last half-hour, but he tried his best to hide it all.
Got to stay cool, he told himself silently. Don’t want to look like an overeager fanboy.
Which, in part, Will was. Having grown up in Canada, he had idolized the American heroes just south of the border for many years, particularly following the exploits of Superman and Batman. Now eighteen years of age, he had come to the States with his costume and unique abilities in hopes to make a name for himself as his nation’s first super-hero, just as many Canadian celebrities had gained fame in the United States first before being recognized by their own country. What he ended up doing, though, was landing smack dab in the middle of a worldwide crisis.
After two alien teenagers from the planet Exor came to Earth with a warning of imminent doom, Will had figured that this would be his big moment to shine. Instead, he had been forced to stay in the satellite with the Musketeer, hero of France, to help coordinate the teams and to keep an eye on the Exorians.
Some big debut, Will thought to himself.
“Whew!” Supergirl sighed. “Quite a job, but it’s done.”
“Our part of it anyway,” Elongated Man added. “There’s more work for the others.”
Will started to perk up at hearing that. Aided by heroes of various lands, the Justice League members had successfully deactivated the first four bombs planted by the evil Grax, which were intended to destroy Earth’s cultural history. But now there was a new threat. In twenty-six minutes, five more bombs would wipe out the minds of this planet’s populace, unless they were similarly stopped. Will had hoped that he’d get a chance to go into action along with them, but so far he hadn’t been picked for any of the teams.
“Did they get off all right?” asked the Flash.
Turning from the monitor board, a man dressed in a forest green uniform with a large black belt and swashbuckler boots, and a purple cape and matching hat with plume, turned around. “Oui, oui,” said the Musketeer. “The next five teams are already moving into place as we speak. In fact, see the Atom is about to get into action in Japan!”
Soaring over the skies of Japan, two figures left the populated regions behind them and headed out toward a majestic mountain range. One of the figures was an Asian man dressed in white robes with red cuffs and a red circle insignia at the center of his chest. The other was a six-inch-tall man dressed in a red and blue costume.
The latter one spoke. “I glide on the air currents, Rising Sun,” the tiny titan said, “but how is it that you manage to fly?”
“I draw on the sun for a magnetic field which enables me to defy gravity,” Japan’s hero explained.
As physicist Ray Palmer, the Atom was always fascinated to learn about the science behind the super-powers. His own discovery of a white dwarf fragment was the key to his successfully changing his size at will. He made a mental note to have an in-depth conversation with the Japanese man after the crisis had passed.
“There is our target!” Rising Sun said, pointing ahead of them to a large shape amidst the foliage.
“Yes,” the Atom agreed. “The mind bombs were said to be placed on four inhabited islands and the fourth largest continent. Japan must be one of the sites, since that glass cube appeared at just the time Grax was on Earth.”
Rising Sun landed, and the Atom took perch on his outstretched left hand. He held forth his right hand, and a beam of energy shot from his fingertips into the cube. “Yes, I see the bomb inside,” the Asian replied. He frowned slightly, his mouth matching the downward curve of his slight mustache.
“This glass has a remarkable transparency, considering its thickness,” said the Atom, nodding.
Rising Sun looked down at the hero in his hand. “How do we get to the bomb?”
The Atom pondered for a moment, applying his years of experience to the problem at hand. “If we smash the glass, or melt it with solar rays, I have a hunch the bomb would be set off.”
Rising Sun nodded in agreement. “Rarely is the solution so simple.”
“I could shrink to microscopic size and pass between the glass molecules,” the Atom continued. “But I’d be so small the journey would take hours, and we have only minutes.”
Rising Sun suddenly perked up. “Wait! Suppose you could get there at the speed of light?” He gestured with his right hand again, shooting a beam into the cube. “See? I shine a beam of light through the glass. If you could ride on a particle of light…”
“Just like a photon!” the Atom exclaimed. “I’d be there in a fraction of a second! Good thinking.” The mighty mite activated the controls in his gloves, shrinking himself smaller and smaller. In a blink, he was gone from view and into the stream of light. Still, he grew smaller until he was able to hitch a ride onto the molecules of the light beam itself.
The bomb quickly approached up ahead. The Atom leaped off in time and started to grow again to his six-inch size. Using his greater strength, he popped open the panel with ease and began to pull apart the detonator. As he finished the last of it, he felt a strong tug pulling him back.
The Atom emerged from the cube to see his smiling ally. “Say, how’d you get me out so quick, Sunny?”
“Easily,” Rising Sun said. “I just used my magnetic field to pull you. Were you successful?”
“Yep,” the Atom said. “This bomb won’t be wiping out the brains of millions of people, thanks to us working together.”
High above Ireland, another pair of figures soared, this time both kept aloft by the power of a purple-masked man in green and purple with a cape. His passenger was a muscular man dressed in golden armor who resembled that of an ancient Roman, complete with a golden cape and a black domino mask beneath his helmet.
“I am duly impressed,” the Legionary, hero of Italy, said to the man who easily conveyed them over the rolling hills of Ireland. “Is your power anything like that of Green Lantern’s?”
“Nay,” said the purple-masked man. “There’s an old legend of a man who was neither good enough for Heaven nor bad enough for Hell. So he wandered about between the two with a lantern.” Jack O’Lantern, Ireland’s hero, held up the item in his left hand, which looked surprisingly like the mask he wore, dark with foreboding yellow eyes. “As for me, I got this magical light from some friends of mine, the fairy folk.”
“Fairies?” the man in armor asked. As someone who didn’t possess super-powers, even the Legionary had a hard time swallowing that one.
“Aye,” Jack replied. “I know ’em all — the Trooping Fairies and the solitary ones, like the Leprechaun and the Pooka.”
The Legionary nodded. “I’ll take your word for it.” He turned and noticed something on the horizon. “Look! A gigantic emerald!” Indeed, there was a giant, glass-like structure that appeared unnatural among the rest of the countryside. Only its color allowed it to blend in so quickly.
“Glory be!” Jack O’Lantern exclaimed. “Nothing like it’s been seen before on the Emerald Isle.” He commanded his magic lantern to land the pair on the ground near it.
Just as they touched down, strange, lizard-like creatures began to spring forth from the giant gem. “Saints preserve us!” Jack cried. “What manner o’ beasts are these?”
“Some kind of trap!” The Legionary quickly withdrew his expandable battle staff and prepared to defend himself against the onslaught of lizards. “Grax was expecting some resistance!” One leaped toward him. The hero swung, swatting the creature in the snout and knocking it away.
“So it’s a fight they want, is it? Well, there’s nothing I like better than a good donnybrook!” Jack O’Lantern swung his right fist, punching at the creatures as they approached. The two heroes engaged them together, clearing a path toward the emerald. “It’s almost too easy. The wee beasts are no match for a pair o’ healthy super-heroes.”
The Legionary frowned. “Looks like you spoke too soon, friend,” he said. For each monster they knocked back, another replaced it, but each replacement was larger and more fierce than the last.
Jack noticed it, too. “Themselves are getting rather big, aren’t they?” he said. “Well, I can still give ’em a good thumping!” The Irish hero struck another. “Lie down, ye plaguey spalpeen.”
Swinging his staff, the hero of Italy took out one with his front swing and then another on the back swing. “Look, I like a good brawl as much as the next man, but this isn’t getting us closer to stopping the bomb. We need to get these things out of here!”
“Leave that to me,” Jack said. Suddenly, a huge winged creature appeared where the Irish hero was, causing the monsters to recoil back in terror. The winged creature reared out with a mighty roar, its wingspan impressive.
The Legionary was surprised to see the creatures run off. “How did you pull that one off?”
“’Twas easy,” Jack O’Lantern said. “I used pishogue! ’Tis a power that makes one’s opponent see things the way they aren’t.”
“Sounds good to me,” the Legionary said, “but we still have a bomb to fetch!” He leaped up onto the emerald and raised his staff high. “I hope this works!” He brought the weapon down hard on one of the facets of the gem, causing the structure to crack. He leaped to safety just as the shards spilled down about the bomb.
“Now it’s my turn to be impressed,” the Irish hero said. “How’d ye do that?”
“Just a matter of knowing how to spot a weak point in a structural design,” the Legionary said. He popped open the hatch and began to disarm the bomb with skill.
“Very impressive,” Jack O’Lantern replied. “For a man without any special talents, ye truly are a wonder.”
“Thanks,” the Legionary said. “We all serve however we can.”