by Martin Maenza, based on Super Friends #9 by E. Nelson Bridwell
Will MacIntyre returned from the bathroom and stepped onto the observation deck on the spectacular JLA Satellite orbiting 22,300 miles above the Earth. Zan and Jayna, the two super-powered twins from Exor called the Wonder Twins, were watching the monitor screens while a man in Roman armor worked the controls on the screen.
“Say,” asked the young man from Canada. “What’d I miss while I was gone? Where’s the Musketeer?”
“He and I swapped places,” replied the Legionary, hero of Italy. “I was successful down in Ireland, mostly due to the efforts of Jack O’Lantern. Turns out all the groups have done well so far in working with the heroes of various countries.”
“The Musketeer’s gone?” Will said. He had enjoyed spending time with the hero of France. After all, since he was forced to cool his heels here in the headquarters of the Justice League of America, it was at least enjoyable to spend time with someone with whom he could practice his French. Although Canada was a bilingual country, Will grew up in Vancouver in the West, far from Quebec, and he rarely had a chance to use his high school French with anyone. Then it hit him.
“Where’d he go?” the young man asked.
“On his way down to Australia,” the Legionary replied. “We still have three more bombs left to go.”
Man, Will thought. I could have gone to help out. How can I impress these heroes with my amazing talents when I’m totally shut out of the mission?
“Sir,” the alien girl spoke up. “Have any of you found any indication yet what these last three bombs might do? We never learned that from Grax.”
“No idea yet, my dear,” the Italian warrior replied. “Hopefully we can figure that out before we stop them from going off.”
“I hope so, too,” replied Zan, the alien boy. He put his hand on Jayna’s shoulder and spoke to her in their native tongue.
“It will be all right, sister,” he said. “We had to alert these people of the plan of Grax. We cannot let others die if we can help it.”
She nodded and replied in the same tongue, “I know, brother, I know. These heroes are so brave. I pray to the gods that they succeed in their mission.”
Will eyed the two cautiously, not knowing what they were saying. He then turned to the Legionary. “Is there anything I can do?”
The Legionary kept his eyes focused on the monitors. “I believe Elongated Man and some of the others went down to the galley on Deck C. If you could bring me some coffee, that would be wonderful.”
Will sighed. “Sure.” As he walked off, he thought to himself, Here I am, waiter to the super-hero set.
Two heroes moved cautiously across the Australian outback. One was a man dressed in a forest green uniform with a large black belt and swashbuckler boots, a purple cape, and a matching hat with plume. The other was slightly taller, dressed in head to toe in an all-black costume, with a scary fang-full face and pointed ears. Only the large white letter T on his chest kept him from being something totally out of a nightmare.
The Musketeer had attempted to contact a fellow member of the Batmen of All Nations and the Club of Heroes known as the Ranger, but he was currently on an important case and was thus unavailable. But the Ranger had told him all about a newer hero called the Tasmanian Devil, whose powers would be useful.
“Strife!” the latter one named the Tasmanian Devil said as he noticed the vegetation becoming increasingly brown and burned out as they moved toward their target. “I ain’t ever seen things look this bad out here, not even during the worst of draught conditions.”
“There is a reason for that,” the Musketeer replied as they saw the bomb in the distance. A huge white rock was sitting behind the explosive, easily twenty feet in diameter. “That explains the radiation readings our instruments picked up as we got closer. There is white kryptonite with that bomb.”
“White kryptonite?” the Devil exclaimed. “Gorblimey! Is that the stuff that can hurt Superman?”
“Not exactly,” the hero from France replied. “Being in the Club of Heroes, I know all about the Man of Steel. White K is a special kind of rock whose radiation can kill all plant life. It looks to me like Grax means to make the planet uninhabitable.”
“Right! Without plants doing their photosynthesis thing to give off oxygen, the air supply we humans and animals need gets diminished fast. Then we all will end up dying by suffocation!” the Devil concluded. “Let’s go take it out, then!”
Suddenly, from behind the rock, huge four-legged alien creatures with snapping jaws and whipping tendrils appeared. They spotted the two heroes, hissed loudly, and started to advance upon them.
“Uh-oh,” the Musketeer said. “Looks like we’ve got company.” He reached for the sheath on his belt and pulled out his rapier blade. It wasn’t much, but he hoped it would be enough to defend himself against the alien nasties. When he started to advance, he realized that his partner was already ahead of him. And he had changed. “Sacre bleu, Devil! Are my eyes deceiving me, or are you actually getting bigger?“
“That’s fair dinkum, cobber!” the Australian hero replied as he charged forward. “In a crisis, I get stronger and faster!” He lunged forward at the two beasts and grabbed onto one as it charged. “Watch me chuck these bunyips like they was little bandicoots!” And with that, he picked up the first and tossed it toward the second.
The beasts roared in frustration as the rolled off one another and righted themselves. Soon, they were charging again. The Tasmanian Devil swung his fists at the two of them, keeping both busy. But a third emerged from behind the rock.
“Oh!” the Musketeer exclaimed. “The Devil’s too busy to notice the third one sneaking up on him!” Moving at remarkable speed for a normal man, the swashbuckler lunged forward. The steel of his blade gleamed in the sunlight. “Normally I don’t like to take the life of another living creature, but in this instance, the fate of the world has to outweigh the life of one.” He drove his blade deep into the creature’s back. The creature howled out in pain.
The Tasmanian Devil heard the cries as he polished off the two beasts he was fighting with. He turned in time to see the wounded monster, the blade still in its back, turn to lunge for his ally. “Hold on there, mate!” The Australian avenger ran forward and grabbed the tail section of the attacker.
The Musketeer saw the jaws approaching him. “Even without my blade, I won’t go down without a fight!” he cried as his booted heel slammed into the beast’s snout. Then he prepared himself for the ripping retaliation that would come.
The Tasmanian Devil yanked the beast back and spun it around with all of his might. His super-strength was enough to toss the creature a good distance away. “Go on, Musketeer!” he cried. “Take care of the bomb!“
“Oui, monsieur,” the hero from France replied. He hurried over to the bomb that now lay unguarded. In a few moments, he was able to defuse the bomb. As he did so, the creatures faded from view.
“Pity, in a way,” the Devil replied, picking up the Frenchman’s fallen weapon from the ground. “I was havin’ one of the best stoshes in months.”
“Sorry about that, friend,” the Musketeer said. “What about this? When this is all over, I’ll buy you a pint.”
The Tasmanian Devil laughed. “A pint? I could go for a lot more than that.” He clasped his arm about the Musketeer’s shoulders. “Tell me, have you ever had a Foster’s?“
From out in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, a blonde figure of a man dressed in orange and green concentrated as he swam at great speed. The king of the seas directed a wave of telepathic thought out across the waves toward the coast of Denmark. “Aquaman calling Little Mermaid! Come at once…”
On the shores, some birds scattered as a teenage girl ran down the beach toward the ocean. She was dressed in a purple one-piece bathing suit and had green tights about her legs. Besides the costume, which would make her stand out in a crowd, she also had slight fins upon the back of her forearms.
With grace and agility, she sprung into the air and made a strange dive toward the ocean. As she soared, her legs suddenly fused together into a fishtail. However, initially she did not hit the water. Instead, she soared through the sky, like a fish swimming in the air.
Her Danish name was Ulla Påske, but she had been born in Atlantis. Her father was a legged Atlantide, like Aquaman and the people of his city, Poseidonis. Her mother was a fishtailed mermaid of the underwater city of Tritonis. Her unique breeding made Ulla a mix of the two races, but she was also different in that she had been born a mutant with strange powers.
Moving at incredible speed, the Little Mermaid soon reached her goal and submerged. There, beneath the ocean waves, she met up with the legendary Aquaman, who had first met her years ago in his capacity as King of Poseidonis.
“This is why I called you telepathically, Ulla,” the sea king explained as he pointed to an anomaly before them in the water. “Grax has somehow put approximately one cubic kilometer of air down here with a bomb far inside of it.”
“A bomb!” the young girl gasped. “But what can it do down here?”
“It is no ordinary bomb,” Aquaman cautioned. “This kind of super-bomb can split the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the plates on which the continents drift are joined.”
“I learned about them in school,” the Mermaid replied. “Isn’t the Earth’s crust more vulnerable there?”
“Yes!” Aquaman said. “If that bomb explodes, it would start a chain reaction along the other continental plates. Such an act would cause the very planet to be destroyed.”
“Then how do we stop it?” she asked.
“You have a unique talent in that you can survive under the ocean as well as travel through the air quickly,” he said. “With Supergirl busy elsewhere and Superman and Green Lantern missing, I was the only one able to get down to this depth. But I doubt I could traverse the air cube fast enough to defuse the bomb. Now, quickly, fly in there.”
Without hesitation, the girl launched herself toward the cube. There was a slight disorientation when she passed through from liquid to the gas environment, but she did not stop. “But I know nothing about how to defuse such a thing,” she said.
Suddenly, she heard Aquaman’s voice in her head telepathically. “I will instruct you on that! Now hurry!”
“Yes, sir,” she replied. After a few moments of flying at top speed, the bomb was in view. “I see it! I’ve found the bomb!”
“Good,” Aquaman projected to her. “Open the panel on the side and tell me what you see.”
“There are a few switches and some wires.”
Aquaman nodded. At least the design was similar to what the others had encountered. He’d had the Musketeer brief him as he traveled to meet the young heroine. “All right,” he told her with his mind. “Throw the two switches.”
The Little Mermaid did as instructed. “Done.”
“Good, now pull the small wire…”
And as the tailed teen did that final step, the huge cube of air collapsed. Water rushed in from all sides, sweeping her up into an incredible current.
“Great sharks!” she cried. “Being an Atlantide allows me to survive being crushed as a normal surface human would, but this current is incredible!” Indeed, the young girl fought hard as the water displacement swept her along the ocean.
“Hold tight, little one!” a voice said firmly as a green-gloved hand grabbed her by the arm. “I’ve got you!” Without much effort, Aquaman was able to pull her along to calmer waters.
The young heroine smiled at him. He truly was a marvel, and everything she had ever heard about him was true. “Thank you for saving me,” she said.
“Thank you for saving the Earth,” Aquaman replied. He then noticed the rather moony eyes she was giving him. He quickly let go of her arm. “You did a nice job, child.” He emphasized the last word, in part to sound more fatherly and more like the happily married man he was.
Little Mermaid blushed in embarrassment for having acted like such a schoolgirl around him.