Captain Comet led the Rehab Squad forward to engage the Force of July in battle. Too bad Rachel has turned into the apathetic Blossom, or she could have been here to talk sense into her former pals. “Stop! This hate ends here!” declared Captain Comet as he landed in Major Victory’s path.
“You a traitor? I can’t imagine it,” said Victory as he slugged Comet hard enough to move him back a few feet.
Comet ducked a second swing and brought Victory to his knees with an uppercut. “I’m no traitor. Your view of who is and who is not American is too narrow!”
Lady Liberty fired her torch at Comet, and Neutron intercepted the heat effortlessly. “I can stand nuclear blasts, so a babe in a funny dress can’t raise my temperature,” he said, grabbing Lady Liberty, who struggled helplessly in his powerful arms. She could generate heat without her prop torch, but she could not overpower him.
Nearby, the Eradicator faced a fast-moving foe called Minute Man, one of the two new members of the Force of July. He darted just out of range of the grasping Creed’s burning touch. “You can’t touch this,” he sneered in a New England accent.
“I’ll get you yet, you parody of our founding fathers!” called Creed as he tripped.
“Nah,” said Minute Man. “I’m actually more than a few minutes ahead of the rest of the world, so I know your every move before you do.”
A blonde with long hair and a pink blouse and skirt blinked, and Paragon fell into a comatose state, though still standing. “American Dreamer can make your every dream a reality,” cooed the other new member of the Force of July. In his mind’s eye, Paragon saw himself defeating the Justice League of America and eliminating ninety percent of the population, while the rest bowed to his obvious superiority.
Moonbow sent a blunt arrow streaming downward toward Silent Majority, but her blow did nothing to slow his rapidly multiplying doubles.
Captain Cold staggered as a black man thundered toward him like a rhino. He was knocked flat by the super-dense Freedom Train, the third new member of the Force of July.
“It’s all a trap!” cried Victory as Comet knocked him down a second time. “Doss moved like an athlete, not an intellectual!”
Neutron flexed, and Lady Liberty fainted in his arms as heat and energy sparked from his containment suit. “All the babes are affected that way by–”
“By your breath!” quipped Moonbow as she kicked Silent Majority, then backflipped over his head to land outside the circle of his doubles. She fired an arrow in mid-flip, and a net snared the quiet man.
“Hey!” he muttered.
The Eradicator tried to tag the darting Minute Man, who was true to his name, always a step ahead of the dark-hooded man. “I don’t need this aggravation. You make your own fate by this,” he said.
Minute Man spun aside and let the Eradicator crash through the wooden piling on the platform. His superhuman strength brought it crashing down around him, while Minute Man stood safely aside. “It’s redundant to say that I knew you were going to do that,” he laughed.
Sparkler blasted out at Neutron with no effect. “Punk, you can’t harm a guy who wrestled with the heart of a nuclear reactor,” said the sneering Neutron as he flipped Lady Liberty over his shoulder.
“Retreat, my Force, to better fight again another day!” shouted Major Victory, who flew off. Before leaving himself, Sparkler blasted the net off of Silent Majority, thus allowing him to re-merge with his doubles. Minute Man had already left, along with Freedom Train, who had dismissed Captain Cold as a useless weakling.
American Dreamer smiled sleepily and left Paragon to wake with a start to a vastly different reality. “How is this possible?” he muttered. “I just destroyed Superman and enslaved Black Canary!”
Captain Cold laughed. “For a guy who thinks he is so superior, you sure didn’t do too well.”
“I assure you, I had greater power than that American Dreamer stripling,” he sputtered.
“Yes, but she got the drop on you first,” said Neutron. “I got this doll for ya, though.” He held the prone form of Lady Liberty in his arms.
The Eradicator arose as Moonbow reached out a helping hand. “Back, child!” he warned. “My slightest touch could destroy you. You risk much by your association with these felons.”
“I guess I’m a felon, too,” she said, shrugging. “Though I saw it as pure Robin Hood-style adventure.”
“You did well,” said Captain Comet, “except for that fact that none of you worked together as a team. That will come in time, if we practice. Now let’s take Lady Liberty in for questioning.”
Later, as they did so, the pretty French woman revealed nothing. “I am loyal to my cause,” she said coldly.
“Just probe her mind, Comet,” said Captain Cold. “Lisa says you got all kinds of mental hoo-doo going on.”
Captain Comet frowned. “Len, I can’t do that casually. I hate infringing on another person’s mind except for a brief surface scan.”
“Did it already. Don’t trouble your oh-so-moral soul,” said a smug Paragon, crossing his arm triumphantly. “I have your powers at a higher level, so I just scanned the little strumpet. I now know her from inside out — her measurements, her childhood, her naughty past, and — oh, yes — the address of her team headquarters.”
“Paragon, that type of violation–” began Comet.
“Is what it takes to do the job,” interrupted Paragon.
Lady Liberty, crying silently until now, cried, “You pig! I feel so used!”
Moonbow patted her on the back and led her to a cell. “Poor woman! Did you have to do that to her?” she said angrily.
“Don’t trouble an advanced mind, Green Arrow Barbie,” he said dismissively. She spun around and kicked at his head, but he caught her leg and pulled her off balance. She landed hard on her bottom as he laughed. “Little girl, go back to the Kappa Kappa Gamma’s. I have your martial arts skills at a higher level.”
“Could you just get that line printed on a card and save time in the future? We’re tired of hearing it,” said Comet. “And don’t try that scanning again without my permission,” he ordered.
“Is that any way to talk to someone who can lead you to the Force’s headquarters?” said a smug Paragon.
“I could kill him for you, Captain,” offered the Eradicator.
Captain Comet sighed. “Valor and Dolphin, where are you when I need you?”
Later, Captain Comet flew the team’s skimmer to a remote section of the Northern Rockies. “The base is in that forest,” said Paragon.
“OK, watch each others’ backs this time,” said Comet. “Try to use the strategies I planned for you all.”
Paragon began, “Actually, I’ve come up with a better plan, since I–”
“Shut up!” yelled Neutron.
The team landed in the forest to see a building nestled in the woods. “This must be the place,” said Comet. “Go in quietly.”
They entered to see the members of the Force of July sitting in front of a hooded man. “The only way to make America great again is to teach those A-rabs a lesson. We can dust that dustbowl of a region and drive them into the night in their bedsheets,” he roared as the Force cheered.
“I disagree!” shouted Comet. “In fact, I am shocked at your hypocrisy, Oil Minister Ghanem!” He shoved forward and pulled off the white hood to reveal the angry features of Ghanem.
“We’ve been duped,” cried the Force.
“He wanted to foment war between America and the Middle East so his war-related investments would boom,” explained Captain Comet as he pulled up the evil schemer. “He used you all for nothing idealistic except for cold, hard cash in his pocket. I learned of his holdings with a computer scan and deduced the rest.”
“It’s all true!” he cried as the Force menaced him. “But I beg you, don’t let them kill me!”
“Get that faker!” ordered Major Victory.
“Team, protect him and subdue the Force of July,” said Comet as he shoved Ghanem behind him. Sparkler’s energy bounced off of Comet’s broad chest as the fight began.
Captain Cold fired at Silent Majority, freezing him and all his doubles to the floor. “With the nozzle set wide, I can get all of you, Silent Sam,” he laughed.
Comet mentally blasted American Dreamer before she could enslave Moonbow. The platinum blonde archer kicked the blonde girl’s sleepy face, ending her role in the fight. The Eradicator thrust his hand out to the hulking Freedom Train, who yelled in pain and backhanded him.
The Eradicator surged forward with his limited invulnerability in play. “You are unstoppable when you get moving, Freedom Train, but my touch can keep you still forever!” he laughed madly. Freedom Train screamed as Eradicator dissolved him into dust.
“Nooo!” cried Captain Comet, witnessing the act of murder. “Creed, you murdering savage!” He tackled the Eradicator, pinning his deadly hands behind his back, and wrestled him to the floor.
Moonbow leaped over Sparkler’s flight path to fire a gooey substance in his way. The chemical foam reacted with his explosive nature to stun him and muffle his blasts. “Good show!” she giggled. “Comet’s plan worked.”
Major Victory charged Neutron. “I owe you for taking Lady Liberty!”
“I’ll take her for free, like others have before!” sneered Neutron, who slammed his energetic fists into the blond Victory, causing an explosion to rock the room. A second and third blow left the Force of July’s leader dazed, but not out.
Paragon slammed into him with a copy of Neutron’s blasts and finally left him stunned. He smiled coldly and said nothing.
The team, having achieved victory, was leading Ghanem out when, without warning, Neutron slammed into Captain Comet, who was forced to release the Eradicator in order to protect himself. “What are you trying to do?” he yelled as Neutron hit him again.
“This is freedom time for me!” said Neutron as his blasts increased.
The Eradicator grinned beneath his hood. “I, too, fear my time with you ends now — as does your life. You are too soft on crime!” He reached out and touched Comet with stunning force.
Captain Comet screamed in pain but nevertheless mentally blasted the Eradicator through a wall. Paragon surged up with a copy of Comet’s own mental blasts to attack him as well. Moonbow ran confused as most of the team tried to kill Captain Comet.
“Hey, for Lisa’s sake,” said Captain Cold, standing nearby, “I’ll just watch!”
“I also see this as a good time to make my exit and teach you about superiority,” said Paragon.
Moonbow spun through the air to drop Captain Cold to the floor. She grabbed his cold-gun and blasted the others. Neutron’s energy melted it before it hit him, as did the heat from Paragon. The Eradicator stirred slowly.
Captain Comet grabbed Neutron and flew high above the others. As he raced upward, the struggling Neutron realized his plight. “If you explode at me, I’ll drop you,” said a determined Comet. As he cleared Earth’s atmosphere, Neutron fainted.
Then Comet raced back down to meet the flying Paragon, who had briefy lost Comet’s powers as the range between them grew. “I don’t want to do this, Dr. Cochin,” warned Comet.
“Oh, but I do,” declared Paragon. As they began wrestling in midair, Paragon suddenly stopped and declared, “I don’t want to fight anymore. The closer I get to your futuristic mind, the more I see it is futile to act with hate and selfishness.”
Captain Comet didn’t know if he could trust this psychic influence to last. He saw Moonbow drag the stunned Captain Cold out of the building, and as soon as they were clear, Comet slammed into the wall of the headquarters below and let the bricks cascade down on the Eradicator. The sheer weight left Creed Phillips buried, but not seriously harmed. “Let’s get help and turn everyone in,” he said to Moonbow.
Paragon merely smiled, as if he was above the situation, mentally and morally.