by Martin Maenza, based on Super Friends #8 by E. Nelson Bridwell
In the outback of New Zealand, two more costumed figures convened.
“Ours is an extremely difficult situation, Tuatara,” the figure in red with yellow stripes and a blue cape said with clear, cold logic. “Our instruments show there was a shift in time here recently, but the exact nature of it we do not know.”
A man dressed all in green with yellow spikes about the top and back of his mask said, “We can find out, Red Tornado. You see, I get my name from a reptile of this land — the sole surviving species of its order. It has three eyes, as have I.” Indeed, the masked man had a third eye in the center of his head, just above the other two most men would have.
Red Tornado nodded silently. He had noticed the man’s third eye upon his arrival but said nothing. After all, it was not his place, that of a mere android, to remark upon a human’s appearance.
Tuatara continued. “What the reptile’s third eye is for, we do not know. But mine serves a special purpose. With one eye, you can see in two dimensions. There is no depth perception. With two, you can see in three dimensions. With my three eyes, I can see in four dimensions…”
“And that fourth dimension is time,” Red Tornado concluded.
“Correct,” said Tuatara. He began to focus, his eyes glazed over. “And since you were able to calculate the exact time of the shift, I can tune in on it.” He stood silent for a moment as things came into focus for him. He saw a four-armed alien figure working over a bomb-like device. “Ah! There’s Grax now, or I should say then. He’s attaching some sort of extra device to his bomb.”
“What do you suppose the device is for?”
“It’s a time-travel device,” Tuatara said with some confidence, based on the image he saw. “I can follow it with my 4-D vision. The bomb is… exactly 122,368,514 years and 296 days in the past. It’s set to return to the present on this very spot one second before it explodes!”
“Not a problem,” Red Tornado replied, using a colloquialism he’d often heard his fellow Justice Leaguers use when similarly faced with a seemingly impossible situation. He placed his arms to his side and began to rise into the air. “Superman explained how to break the time-barrier to me once.” His legs began to spin about him, creating a whirling storm about him. “However, I have never spun at anything like the speed necessary to do so. Still, I must try.” And the android set his focus to the task.
Tuatara tried grabbing for a nearby tree. “You’re whipping up a real tornado!” he shouted, trying to be heard above the ever-roaring wind.
Red Tornado’s extra-sensitive hearing circuits picked up the words all the same, but he did not respond. He concentrated all his resources on the task at hand. Suddenly, he felt a change. Time was shifting about him, moving him through the past. Although Superman’s instructions had always been theoretically possible, he had never attempted such a feat before, and he did not know why it was possible for him at all. He wondered if the Construct had somehow improved him when he put Red Tornado back together. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Inner Mission,” Justice League of America #146 (September, 1977).]
Finally, the crimson cyclone halted and staggered to his feet. “If my calculations are correct, I have succeeded.” He glanced about him, and indeed the landscape about him, including the vegetation, was startlingly different.
“Uhhh-hhh!” groaned a figure beside him. The android turned to see Tuatara fall to the ground.
“My friend, how did you get here?” Red Tornado asked in surprise.
“You didn’t know your own power,” the hero of New Zealand said as he tried to get his head to stop spinning. “That whirlwind dragged me along.”
“I am sorry,” Red Tornado apologized. “I did not dream–”
Suddenly, a loud roar filled the air, followed by the sound of crashing trees behind them.
Tuatara jerked his head up suddenly and pointed. “Look! Coming toward us — what are those?”
Red Tornado launched into the air without thinking, his legs spinning into a cyclone. “I am not familiar with the species,” he said, taking in the large dinosaurs that walked on their hind legs and snapped large jaws of teeth at the newcomers. “I will try to hold off these dinosaurs nonetheless.”
Tuatara glanced about and saw a cylindrical item — the bomb from his vision. “Right! And I’ll take care of the bomb!”
Spinning about the great beasts, the whirlwind wonder literally bowled over the first of the creatures. Meanwhile, the time-seer worked over the device of doom.
“I don’t know how to defuse this bomb,” he admitted, “but I don’t think I’ll have to.” Tuatara focused on the small red device attached to the outer hull. “In my vision, I saw how Grax attached this time-travel device to it.” Grabbing with two hands, he gave it a twist. “There! Got it!”
Red Tornado, meanwhile, was flying circles about the snapping jaws of his attackers. “This should overcome it without any permanent damage,” he said, his winds buffeting the beast’s head about. In a moment, it staggered and fell. “There. Now you are too dizzy to make trouble.”
Tuatara came running up. “Tornado, hurry!” He waved something in his hand. “Hold this with me, and we’ll be transported back to our own time.”
The android landed and grabbed the other side of the item. “Good thought. It was set to take the bomb back, but it will carry us instead.”
“Exactly,” Tuatara said. “I don’t think I could take another super-speed time-trip.”
“I do not think I could, either,” Tornado conceded. The trip indeed had taken a good bit of his power to achieve. Suddenly, he felt a sensation about them, one he was familiar with from just a few moments before. “Ah, it is activating.”
“Just in time, too,” Tuatara said, “to save us from the bomb!”
“What?” Red Tornado said unblinking. “You failed to defuse it?”
“I didn’t have to,” Tuatara said. “It was designed to destroy human minds, remember? And since we departed so timely, there are no human minds left in that ancient time period for the bomb to affect.”
Red Tornado nodded in enlightenment. “I see you have something besides time-vision. You have a brilliant brain as well. What a blessing it was not destroyed by Grax.”
Flying high above the jungles of Venezuela, a three-seater jet soared. At the stick in front was an older British man with a bushy mustache dressed in chain-mail armor. His breast plate was decorated with a family coat of arms. “At this speed, we should be there in a few minutes,” remarked the Knight, alias Percival Sheldrake.
Sitting directly behind him was his son Cyril Sheldrake, dressed in a yellow costume with a matching hat and orange gloves. In this costumed identity, this son of the Earl of Wordenshire was better known as the Squire. Together the two were Britain’s equivalent of Batman and Robin. He paused for a moment to realize that his son was now a grown man and almost too old to be running around in a costume such as that. The two had been at this side career for over ten years. Was it time to retire?
The Squire chatted with a man in an orange costume that resembled almost reptilian-like scales. He also wore blue gloves, boots, and trunks. “I’ve read about you, Bushmaster,” the young man said to the hero sitting next to him. “But I’ve often wondered how you developed your special equipment.”
The local hero smiled. “I’ve studied reptiles from all over the world and copied their adaptations. It’s the science of bionics, copying nature with science.”
“Fascinating,” the Squire said. He always had an interest in technology. “I’d love to hear more.”
“You can talk shop later,” the Knight announced. “I’ve just spotted our target below.” Indeed, as the jet roared over a section of the jungle, the sunlight glinted off a large, rectangular shape.
The Squire squinted as they passed. “You’re right, father,” he said. “I don’t know how Grax did that, but he has managed to create a giant cube of water in the middle of the jungle. We should touch down and investigate.”
Bushmaster reached for the sliding door above the cockpit. “I will precede you, amigos,” he announced, pulling himself up.
“Wait!” the Knight called. “Our jet has the capabilities of vertical takeoff and landing!”
“No, good Knight,” the Bushmaster replied. “I can get down faster this way!” And with that, he leaped from the plane, did a somersault, and was soon in a perfect dive position.
“He jumped!” the Knight exclaimed in surprise.
The Squire watched the hero fall, and then something appeared underneath his arms. “No worries, father. He unfolded a pair of flying dragon wings, like those used by some Malaysian lizards.”
The serpentine super-hero glided down in a graceful arc toward the water. As his feet neared the surface, his wings folded and vanished, while strange, toe-like appendages sprung from his boots. “I have to get off to a fast start,” Bushmaster said to himself. “I don’t want to sink.”
The hero broke into a run across the watery surface. “Like this, my boots are like the feet of a basilisk.” Like the iguana of the same name, the man was able to run across the top of the water. “Eat your heart out, Flash,” the hero chuckled.
The hero of Venezuela had little time to waste, though. There was a click inside his hood mask, sliding a pair of lens into place. With these, he was able to see in a wider range than normal human vision. He scanned about the watery depths below him as he ran over the cube’s surface. “Bueno!” he exclaimed, picking up the sight of something in the water. “There is the bomb! I will fetch it.”
And with that, Bushmaster stopped his run and dived into the giant cube of liquid.
Climbing down on a rope ladder from the hovering jet, the two heroes from Britain noticed him go. “He must have spotted the bomb,” the Knight pointed out.
The Squire glanced upward to where his father was speaking. “The way he’s going at it, we may wind up being nothing but his chauffeurs,” he replied. “I feel about as useful as Mr. Lucas on Are You Being Served?”
The Knight gripped the ladder with one hand and pointed with the other. “Don’t bet sitting this one out just yet, son,” he said. “Look what’s after him!” Indeed, a quartet of giant alien sea beasts were circling about the reptilian hero, eyeing him as if he were a fat, juicy worm.
The Knight and the Squire wasted no time in dropping the last few feet from the ladder into the water. “Quickly, son! We have to intercept those things! No matter how many gimmicks he may have, he’ll never fight off all those creatures without help!”
Swiftly, the heroic duo attacked the marine menaces. The Knight tackled the largest one and began to wrestle it, avoiding the snapping jaws and keeping the monster focused on himself rather than the Bushmaster.
The Squire, a bit more fit and younger than his father, was also able to move more easily in the water. He was hardly encumbered by the armor-like costume the senior hero wore. This freedom allowed him to grab onto the tail-end of one of the beasts and to whip it around toward the others. He then swam up to help his father.
Bushmaster, meanwhile, had reached the bomb near the bottom of the cube. Grabbing onto it, he found it was chained to two steel stakes driven into the ground. Caramba! he thought as he tugged on it. I can’t budge it. I’ll have to defuse it down here! And so he went to work.
As the Batmen of Britain held off the alien water-beasts, the lizard lord worked over the bomb.
At last, as the bomb was defused, the water cube collapsed, the alien beasts vanished, and the water rushed out over the jungle. Bushmaster raced the tide and grabbed onto the trunk of a tree. “Here,” he called out with an outstretched hand. “Let me help you, or you’ll be swept away!”
“Thanks.” The Squire grabbed his hand and then reached out for his father with the other. “Father, here!”
The Knight grasped it firmly, but the fight had taken a lot out of him. This was starting to be harder for a man his age. Perhaps it was time to pass the armor down to his son. He watched as the Squire conversed with Bushmaster. An idea came to him. Perhaps he could give him something more than the simple armor he wore.
Meanwhile, on the island of Taiwan, two more heroes raced to stop another of Grax’s bombs with only the moonlight above to guide them. One was a dark-haired man in a domino mask with a wide-brimmed black hat. He was dressed in dark pants, a light shirt, and a very stylish, dark short jacket. He ran alongside a bald Chinese man dressed in light blue robes with lightning bolt yellow trim on the sleeves and a matching sash belt.
“I have read about your incredible voice, amigo,” said the Gaucho, hero of Argentina. “And while I may be able to serenade the lovely senoritas with my soothing songs, I understand you can shatter walls when you sing.”
“That is true,” Thunderlord, the local hero, replied. “Though I hope it will be enough for the task at hand.”
The Gaucho nodded. Still, in the back of his mind, he wondered what good a man whose primary skills were a mastery of roping and riding would be in this situation. He was snapped out of his moment of self-doubt when Thunderlord pointed to the path before them.
“Look! There is the bomb!” Indeed, where the man pointed ahead floated one of Grax’s bombs.
The Gaucho paused and realized that there seemed to be some kind of shimmering field about it in a rectangular shape. “Looks like some kind of force-field.” He stepped forward and put his hand against it. It appeared to be solid. “Brute strength won’t help here, I fear.”
“Perhaps I can shatter it, then,” Thunderlord suggested. “Shall I try?”
The Gaucho put his fingers to his ears. “Go ahead.”
Thunderlord opened his mouth wide and began to vibrate his throat. “Karaaa-aaa-aaa-mmm-mmm!” A sonic blast shot forth, filling the air with a shrill sound. After a few moments, the man stopped his sonic song.
“It is no use,” he said in disappointment. “It is as if the field was like a vacuum. My sonic blasts had no effect.”
The Gaucho put his hand on Thunderlord’s shoulder. “Not so fast, big guy,” he said. “Look again.” Both men turned back to the field, which now appeared to be a bit farther away from them. “See? Your sonic blast moved the field.”
“What good will that do?” Thunderlord asked.
“The bomb didn’t move!” the Gaucho pointed out. “It is still exactly in the same spot. Which means…”
The hero of Taiwan caught on. “If I keep singing, the field can be pushed away entirely, allowing us access to the bomb.”
“Exactly!” the Gaucho said. “So, my friend, you keep singing!” He plugged his ears again and waited.
Thunderlord opened his mouth once more. “Kalabam-mmm-mmm! Kahuhummm-mmm! Karaaa-mmm-mmm!” It was if the heavens was raining down a thunderous storm upon the spot. Seconds passed, then minutes. Still, the hero did not let up.
The Gaucho watched and waited. The field kept moving, slowly at first and then with some steady movement. As soon as the bomb broke free of the field, he darted toward it. “I’ve only got seconds to deactivate this!” he said with determination. He flipped open the hatch and started to pull the wires left and right. In a moment, the doomsday weapon was neutralized.
Thunderlord realized what was happening and stopping singing. He rushed over to the other hero. “Gaucho! Are you all right?”
“Just un grande of a headache!” he replied. “Nothing a few aspirin cannot cure! And certainly much better than having our brains wiped out had this bomb exploded.”
“True, very true,” Thunderlord replied.
Thus, with five more bombs down, only the final three remained. Would the heroes be able to locate them in time? And if not, just what would their deadly effects be?