Colonel Rick Flag was thrilled that Task Force X’s Rehab Squad had worked well in stopping Metallo. He was less happy with the missing women, however. His science and weapons specialist assured him that the subdermal tracking devices should have worked.
“Should we turn out the newer, untried members?” asked Karin Grace.
Flag answered, “I suppose so — but after one quick call.”
Cat Grant of WGBS News, a pretty blond in a short red suit, smiled for her audience. “This is Cat Grant here at the special press conference for the U.S. Government’s new Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency, or MHRA. This section of the federal government will take established heroes and match them with former villains eager to pay their debt to society through fighting the very kinds of crime they once indulged in. MHRA’s leader is Rick Flag, and he is here to say a few words.”
“Thanks, Cat! I am pleased to announce that the MHRA’s field team, the Rehab Squad, is off to grand success under the able field leadership of Captain Comet, trusted associate of the JLA. He recently saved the life of the Man of Steel himself with the assistance of his newly trained aides, Debbie Domaine, Dolphin, Lisa Snart, and Starman. We have a statement from Superman himself.
“It reads: ‘I appreciate the service that Captain Comet and the Rehab Squad have rendered both to me and for justice itself. I have known and admired the heroism of Captain Comet for some time now. He inspires these former villains as he does us all.’
“I believe this support speaks volumes. Thank you,” said Flag.
“That was an endorsement of Captain Comet — and by extension his new Rehab Squad — from Superman himself,” closed Cat.
At the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency, Captain Comet slammed his fist on the desk in Rick Flag’s office.
“What kind of self-serving nonsense was that? You don’t save a life, then call him up to brag! Superman, of all people, should not have been made to feel this statement was required. Flag, I don’t like this sensationalism at all!” he yelled.
“That’s too bad. Our press agent felt it useful,” said Flag.
“Who is he? Funky Flashman?” said Comet sarcastically.
“Funny you should say that,” replied Flag.
Soon, the annoyed Comet stared in dismay at Funky Flashman himself — the felon turned Public Relations agent for the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency. “Cappy, darling, that costume’s got to go! No scintillatin’ super-dude would be so L-7! Add some claws or an arm cannon! Yeah, that’s the ticket, true believer!” spouted the garrish conman.
“Fire him. Now!” Comet shouted as he left the office to gather his team. Flag nodded and did as he was asked.
“A visitor for you, Rick,” the cheerful assistant Karin Grace said to her tired boss a few minutes later.
“I just tossed out that Flashman guy at Comet’s orders. Now what?” asked the ex-hero. His frown quickly turned into a grin at the sight of his old friend from the Forgotten Heroes. “Rip Hunter!” he exclaimed. “Come on in, pal.”
“I am here on important business. I — my machine — I can save them! I can save them all!” he rattled on. Hunter seemed nervous, distracted, and not at all himself.
“What? Slow down. You look as if you haven’t slept in days,” said a worried Flag.
“I mean the Crisis dead — Flash, Supergirl, Dove, Wonder Woman, and all the others. I can use my time machine and rescue all of them — will you help me?” he said feverishly.
“I’ll do anything to help. Explain yourself,” said a now-fascinated Rick Flag.
Constance d’Aramis perched with feline grace on a window ledge thirty stories above the city streets. Dressed in her Crimson Fox costume, she arched her lithe form through an air vent and crawled down silently into a plush office. Her pretty eyes had the vacant stare of the entranced, since she was now under the mental sway of the mysterious Achilles Dahmmon. She prowled the office like her namesake and curled up in a ball on the rug to wait. Her prey soon entered.
“What? Help!” he cried as she leaped through the air and brought the old man down effortlessly.
A brief costume change in the quiet office followed. Soon, the glamorously dressed Constance d’Aramis swayed down the halls pushing a wheeled cart from a mail room. Her costly clothes and sexy legs attracted stares, but she left the Stagg offices unchallenged — with her kidnap victim Simon Stagg hidden in the cart.
Sapphire Stagg Mason, the gorgeous daughter of the old CEO, soon noticed the signs of his brief struggle and claw marks on the rug. She cried and called desperately, “Oh Rex, it’s Daddy — someone has attacked or kidnapped him. Can you and your team find him? Oh, please!” she cooed.
“No sweat, doll. The Outsiders are on the case,” promised her husband, the famous Rex Mason, AKA Metamorpho.
The Cheetah gasped as she saw the dwarf called Doctor Psycho leering down at her and the other captured women. “Doctor Psycho, so you’re behind this,” she growled.
“I am behind this little arena as a hobby. My associate Achilles Dahmmon is employing my talents in his own little project. This is pure pleasure, not business,” he sneered.
Golden Glider said, “Oooh, who is that creep?”
“He’s our captor,” said a determined-looking auburn-haired beauty in a green, ragged bikini and thigh-boots. “I’m his first victim. You can call me the Thorn,” she said.
“I guess that makes me number two,” smiled a famously costumed second woman.
“The Catwoman!” gasped Glider.
“Ah, my fame precedes me,” she joked.
The other, Crimson Fox, muttered in French as the women exchanged glances in the arena.
Captain Comet looked over his newest team. Dolphin stood close to Will Payton. Near the wall leaned the Killer Moth. Across from Comet sat Mayflower, the British recruit, and lastly paced the Hooded Hangman.
“I know you new recruits understand that a lot is riding on your performance. If you follow orders from me or Dolphin, then it all adds to making your rehabilitation that much closer. We are in search of some missing team members — Cheetah and Golden Glider. Here’s what little we know: They were abducted by thugs working for some mysterious employer who spoke of self-actualization. That reference comes up after some computer work by Dolphin to a seminar around the city. Could be harmless, but we need to check it out.”
Killer Moth grinned beneath his green mask. “Sounds like some infomercial to me. Next you’ll be hawking those Ginsu knives,” he joked.
“It’s not funny. Debbie and Lisa could be in danger,” said a worried Dolphin.
“That’s all part of the game. In the ring or out,” grunted the former wrestler called the Hooded Hangman.
“Spare us the Hulk Hoganisms, luv,” said Mayflower as she tossed her long brown hair.
“OK, let’s move out,” ordered a worried Comet.
Metamorpho paced nervously around the office of the missing Stagg. “He’s a rat. He’s a crook. He’s a heartless old money grubber. But he’s my angel’s dad, and I said we’d find his rotten hide.”
Halo giggled. “It sounds like you and he aren’t any closer than ever.”
Rex Mason relaxed his chalk-white features. “Kid, he’s not the warm and huggly feely type.”
Katana scowled. “His type of ruthlessly efficient businessman has ruined the traditions of the East.”
Looker posed on the desk and said, “I hate his decor. It clashes with every possible shade of eyeliner.”
Batman cleared his throat. “Regardless of his personality, ethics, or sense of style, he deserves to be found. Halo, what do you notice about the room?”
The pretty little blond started up and looked around. “Uh… the rug is frayed — torn as if by sharp heels, or claws, maybe?”
“Exactly. Artificial claws tore the rug and scored the outer air vent. His abductor entered that way and obviously did not fly. They climbed with catlike agility and claws or talons. That suggests a few potential suspects, almost all of whom are unaccounted for, officially.”
“I’d say he’s at 1611 Bayside,” offered Black Lightning.
“What led ya to that, Holmes?” asked Rex.
“Oh, keen deduction — and this business card he dropped,” said Jefferson Pierce. Geo-Force laughed.
“Let’s go,” commanded Batman.
Cheetah and the four other imprisoned females were barely aware of each other’s presence when a new arrival tumbled into the pit. She had flowing blond hair and cover girl looks on display in her skimpy white costume. “The Silver Swan! I thought you worked for these creeps,” said Cheetah.
“Yeah, I owe her for a few bruises,” snapped Golden Glider.
The Swan shook her curls and said, “I was under Psycho’s sway, as you all will be soon. He frees me — and all his women from time to time — to torment them. I am sorry for any pain I’ve caused you.”
“I’d say we should work together instead of playing cat fight — no offense to some of you,” said Thorn.
Catwoman nodded. “Nicely put. How do we get out of this arena?”
“I have an idea,” offered Crimson Fox.
Doctor Psycho soon returned to the pit and smiled as Cheetah flung herself on Crimson Fox. “I’ll show you who is queen of the cats,” she snarled as she shook Fox by her straggling blond locks. They rolled around frantically as the Glider spun into the flying Swan, and they wrestled in midair.
Catwoman pummeled the dodging Thorn, whose green bikini showed her exquisite atheletic form. The battles between the six women raged on, until suddenly and without warning they all attacked their netted prison cage roof. The sonic blasts, razor claws, and cutting blades tore it to shreds, and the agile women were on Psycho before he could react.