by Martin Maenza
A few minutes later, as the shaking continued, two costumed women appeared in the skies over the Capitol. “I recognize you,” Firehawk said, leaving a flaming trail in the air behind her. “You’re Superwoman. You’ve been seen around Metropolis lately.”
The blue-masked heroine nodded. “And you’re Firehawk. Is your sometime-partner Firestorm around, too?”
“No,” Firehawk replied. “Working solo today.”
Superwoman smiled. “Not anymore. Perhaps we can work together to resolve this little situation.”
“I’d like that,” Firehawk replied. She noticed the woman of steel glancing around the ground with her eyes focused. She assumed that she was using one of her vision powers. “See anything unusual?”
Superwoman nodded. “Definitely! Come on!” The woman in red and blue rocketed downward. The colorfully costumed Firehawk followed after her, doing her best to keep up with Superwoman’s great speed.
A massive figure in white armor with red trim and a yellow sine wave emblem on the chest stood on the ground before the building and stared up at the nineteen-foot-tall marble statue seated at the top of the steps. “Yo, Abe!” Shockwave called out mockingly. “I think you’ve been sittin’ too long! Time to shake your groove thang!“
He stomped his foot once on the ground, sending a tremor through the ground. He laughed. “And what makes this destruction so much fun is that the pay’s good, too!” He stomped again.
“Back off, big guy!” a female voice from the sky called out. Shockwave barely had time to look up before Superwoman slammed him in the jaw with a right hook. “That’s a national monument you’re messing with!”
The armored villain skidded across the ground, tearing up the lawn. He stopped a few feet from the Reflecting Pool’s edge. He rubbed his chin as he hoisted himself back up. “Jeez, and here I thought Supergirl was dead!“
Superwoman shook her head as she landed on the ground between the villain and the Lincoln Memorial. “Obviously you don’t read the papers,” she said, readying for an attack.
“Nah!” Shockwave said. “Gives me a headache! Kind of like this!” The villain stomped down on the ground a number of times, creating a crack in the ground that rumbled toward the heroine.
The unexpected strength of the quake caused her to tumble to the side. Then Superwoman realized the fissure was heading straight for the monument. “Oh, no!” The heroine rocketed toward the statue and used her super-strength to lift it out of the way in time. “Can’t have anything happen to this.”
“Now stay out of my way, chippy!” Shockwave said, realizing the heroine was detained.
“No can do!” a voice called from behind him.
Shockwave turned around to see the flying figure of Firehawk. “Jeez, what is this? An all-girl super convention?” The villain suddenly got an idea, a rarity for him. He started to stomp the ground again, sending vibrations toward the Reflecting Pool. Though not very deep, the water convulsed with the waves, causing a surge of water to catch the heroine from below. “Haw-haw! How’s the water, sweetie?”
“Why don’t you find out yourself?” Superwoman said as she tapped him on the shoulder. Before Shockwave could turn around, her right fist slammed him in the back. The force of this blow sent him flying out over the pool, where his armor skipped off the surface a few times like a thrown flat stone. Before he reached the edge, he dropped into the water.
Superwoman glanced up at her partner. “You OK, Firehawk?”
The heroine kicked in her powers a bit more to dry herself off. Steam rose as the water evaporated quickly. “Just fine,” Firehawk said. “Let’s go finish this creep!”
Superwoman paused for a second as there was a buzzing in her ear. “One sec,” she said. The special earpiece that she added to her mask was going off. She knew exactly who was getting in touch with her.
“Superwoman, it’s me,” said the voice of Oracle in her ears. “Turns out the quakes were a diversion!”
“What?” Superwoman said, the microphone in her mask broadcasting it back to her occasional ally.
“Yes,” Oracle’s voice said. “Barbara just overheard some new details back at the ceremony. Turns out someone killed a Secret Service agent and took his place! The man’s body was just found in a Dumpster. The phony agent has the president and vice-president and has taken off in a black sedan!”
Superwoman nodded. “I’m on it!” The heroine turned back to Firehawk. “Something’s come up! The president has been kidnapped! Can you take care of our playmate, here?”
Firehawk nodded. “Sure thing, but…” However, the woman of steel had already taken to the air. “Well, she doesn’t let grass grow under her feet!” She turned back to Shockwave, who was trudging his way toward the opposite shore.
“I didn’t sign up to battle super-babes!” the villain grumbled to himself. “I’m outta here!”
Suddenly, Shockwave was nailed from behind by a powerful energy blast. “What’s the rush, big and ugly?” Firehawk said. “Don’t tell me I’m too hot for you to handle!”
Shockwave lifted his face out of the water and cursed. He hated flying foes, especially when there was nothing in reach to throw at them. “Back off, birdie! I’m going, already!”
Firehawk shook her head. “Not so fast,” she said. “We’re just getting warmed up!” And with that, she concentrated her powers with a blast to his armor. “Let’s see if you can stand the heat!”
Shockwave’s armor took the initial brunt. He laughed at that. But in a moment, his laughter started to fade as sweat started to form on his brow. “She’s serious!” he exclaimed. “She’s tryin’ to cook me from the inside!” The villain dived back into the Reflecting Pool, but the water was of little help in this situation. Firehawk continued to pour out the heat with no obvious signs of stopping.
“OK, OK, OK!” yelled Shockwave. “I give! I give!“
Firehawk smiled at her victory.
A dark, sleek sedan sped through the streets of the Capitol, eluding the police motorcade. All of this was according to the scenario of Chiller, the ultimate assassin, who held two very important prisoners.
“Ha-ha!” the blond driver of the sedan said as he tossed a few objects out of the open window of the car. They fell into the street behind the car, bounced, and then exploded with a loud boom just as the two police cars got near them. Both cars were incapacitated by the explosives. “My shock grenades are almost makin’ this too easy!” He glanced in the rear-view mirror at his captives in the back seat. “Hope that blast didn’t muss yer hair, Mr. Commander-In-Chief!”
President Ronald Reagan leaned forward. “You’re not Agent Zimmer!”
“Good thinkin’!” the blond said as he reached for the gun on his seat. He waved it menacingly at the two men to remind them who was in charge. “The name’s Chiller, boys! I’m just takin’ Zimmer’s place so’s I can escort you out of D.C. in yer very own bulletproof limo!“
Vice-President George Bush leaned over to Reagan. “From what I recall from CIA briefings, this Chiller is an international hit man of extraordinary ability,” the bespectacled man stated. “I’d say we’re obviously his next targets.”
“Well, George,” Reagan replied, sitting back, “if that’s so, then what the devil are we going to do about it?” The two men silently pondered the situation.
Soon enough, in an isolated farm outside of the Capitol, the assassin pulled the car to a stop and got out. Gun in hand, he opened the back door of the car. “We shook those cops easy enough! Nobody’ll ever find us here! Now get outta the car, you two! It’s time to boogie!“
“Mr. Chiller, you must not go through with this mad plan of yours!” Reagan stated. “The consequences–“
“Don’t matter to me!” the assassin said. “I’m being paid big money for a hit like this one!” With his free hand, he discarded his suit to reveal the armor he wore underneath. He then readjusted his features to those of his normal appearance. He hoped the transformation would further unnerve his captives. “See, I’m a shape-changer, ‘n’ after I knock you off, I’m gonna take your place, Mr. President. The cops’ll find Georgie’s body here, but not yours. See, I’m gonna take your place, only to be rescued by a certain senator. Then I appoint the senator my new V.P., ‘n’ he becomes the big enchilada when a weakened President Reagan has to resign! Nice, huh?”
“You won’t get away with this!” Bush exclaimed.
“Yeah?” Chiller smiled. “Just watch me. Adios, amigos.” He raised the gun.
“Not so fast!” a voice from the sky said. Chiller was knocked forward by a blast of heat-vision from Superwoman as she swooped out of the sky.
The assassin rolled with the blow and sprang to his feet. “What are you doin’ here?” he said as he fired his weapon at her. The red-haired heroine dodged the plasma blast easily enough. “Don’t matter, though! I’ll take you out, then finish my mission!”
“I don’t think so!” Superwoman said as she swooped in. “You had a good head start, but I’m fast enough to catch up. It was just a matter of using my super-senses to keep an eye and ear on the situation!” She swung back her fist and punched the man in the jaw. “I heard all about your plan! You’re not going through with it!” She eyed the fallen gun and stomped on it. Her great strength crushed the weapon as she ground her foot into the dirt. “Time to surrender!“
Chiller rubbed his aching jaw with one hand. “Hardly! A good assassin never gives up!” He flipped a dagger from its sheath in his armor and flung it at the heroine.
While the assault surprised her, the blade bounced off Superwoman’s invulnerable chest. “Oh, please! Was that meant to hurt me?”
“No,” Chiller said smiling as he fingered one of the controls on the front of his armor. “Just delay you!” His body began to glow with a strange energy. His appearance began to shift, blur, and fade. “Someday, I’ll get even! I’ll hunt you down, sweetie, ‘n’ when I do, you’re gonna wish you never messed with the Chiller! Ha-ha-ha!” And with his laughter, he vanished.
“Where’d he go?” Bush asked.
“Gone, I hope,” Reagan said.
“A teleportation device,” Superwoman said. “I wouldn’t have expected one in this era.” She turned to the two men after a moment. “I think the danger has passed for now. What say we get you two back to the ceremony?”
Not too long after, the ceremony honoring the accomplishments of women in American history continued. President Reagan returned to the podium with a special guest of honor by his side: the red-and-blue-costumed Superwoman.
“We’re here today to celebrate the great women of the past,” Reagan said, “but we also need to look to the future. Young women in this country can draw their inspirations from many sources, and this here young lady is going to be one of them. I can feel it.
“Superwoman is a hero in every sense of the word. This brave American risked her very life to save both Vice-President Bush and myself from certain death. We owe this young lady a debt we can never fully repay, but we can express our deepest thanks and heartfelt appreciation.” Reagan turned to one of his aides, who held a box. He opened the box and lifted the contents out of it. “Ladies and gentleman, I would like to present this token of thanks. The Presidential Medal of Honor for bravery and heroism is presented here today to Superwoman.”
There was a swell of applause as the heroine ducked her head, allowing the president to place the ribbon over it. She smiled as the medal hung proudly about her neck, sitting in the center of the S-logo she also wore proudly upon her chest. Reagan smiled and gestured to the microphone, indicating that she could say a few words.
Superwoman cleared her throat. “Thank you, Mr. President,” she said. “I — I am truly honored. Like the other heroes who inspired me, we don’t do what we do for the praises or the rewards. We do these things because we know that we must share our gifts with the world. We do them because we can.” There was great applause. She waited for it to subside before she continued. “I’d like to accept this honor also for a new friend, an ally who handled the situation at the Lincoln Memorial and stopped the cause of the earthquakes. Firehawk, wherever you are, this award goes to you, too.”
As the crowd applauded once more, Walter Reilly smiled and turned to his daughter Lorraine, who had returned a bit earlier. The red-haired young woman smiled back at him and then looked up to the podium once more as Superwoman flew off. She truly appreciated the acknowledgment by the heroine.
Barbara Gordon was smiling, too. Despite her reservations about this new heroine, she was growing more and more fond of her. She continued to remind her of her friend that she had lost a year ago. I think Kara would approve, she thought to herself.