Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: A Cosmos Imperiled, Chapter 2: The Devourer of Worlds

by Libbylawrence

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At Stonehenge in England, the battle between the Rehab Squad and the Female Furies was just heating up.

Lisa Snart, the Golden Glider, smiled in her sensual way and taunted an approaching Female Furie called Speed Queen. “Female Fury? With that so-called figure, you look more like a male wrestler,” she said defiantly.

“Little maiden!” Speed Queen sneered. “I’ll tear your mortal head off!”

“You’ll need to catch me first, Bertha!” said Glider, skating off on the special icy ramp created beneath her fleet form by her skates. Speed Queen lowered her hulking shoulders and followed at top speed. Glider jetted upward over the cold sea and spun suddenly in the air. She ducked low, and the massive Speed Queen hurtled by her, unable to stop in time. As Speed Queen plunged down into the sea miles below, Golden Glider blew her a kiss. “Ta-ta!”

Robotgirl faced the angry Lashina. Her jagged metal whips or coils did not harm the shiny platinum robot named Tina. She merely twisted and entwined her own body around the struggling Female Furie. “I guess my super-supple form is one your whips can’t harm,” said Tina happily.

Captain Comet wrestled with the raging Knockout. “I will kill you all!” she said fiercely. “That mortal witch enslaved me and used me as a lackey!

Shoving her backward, Captain Comet mentally blasted her to her knees. “Just leave now!” he said. “We’ll punish your abductors.”

The vampiric Bloody Mary posed above Dolphin and blasted her again and again with energy beams. Dolphin struggled to her feet, shoving herself forward against the burning energy stream, and with grim determination, the platinum blonde girl slapped her foe to the ground.

“I can’t be beaten that easily, you would-be Lugosi!” she said as she tried to pin Mary face downward.

Starman and Argus faced a monstrous, cat-like beast of shadow who obeyed the childlike Malice. “It’s real, yet shadow-like,” said Will as he flew Argus to safety from its gaping jaws.

“I can’t see through it,” said Argus grimly. “The darkness of the beast baffles even my vision.”

“I’ll add some light to the situation,” said Starman as he blasted out with stellar fire. The cat screamed as it burned and yet re-formed after every blast.

Argus spun in a grim determination. “Child or not, I’ll take this pet’s mistress out for a start,” he said, kicking Malice down the hill. He prepared himself as she immediately got back up.

“Mortal food! Hunger Dogs!” she shrieked in a tantrum. “Granny will crush you!”

A beautiful blonde in a brief pink costume chopped out at Captain Comet, and he winced. She’s super-strong and ruthless, he thought as Gilotina attacked him over the stunned Knockout’s prone body. I sense her muddled mind. She exists almost only as an extension of this Granny Goodness. They all lack independent thoughts.

He flew upward, scooping her up in his arms to drop her back on top of the angry Malice, who rolled aside as Speed Queen struggled back up on shore. “They stink of New Genesis,” cried Malice as she pointed at Starman and Argus.

“They do reek of Highfather’s power,” mused Mary.

At that moment, Lashina struggled free of Tina and said, “Get Knockout and flee to fight anew later.” They did so, and Starman’s final blast separated Gilotina from the pack. Knockout was dragged off by Malice’s shadow cat. The boom tube closed behind them.

Captain Comet sighed in relief. “No one was hurt. Good,” he said. “Nadir has secured the captured the Secret Society villains. Take Gilotina, too. They either forgot or abandoned her.”

A radio broadcast stopped the hero in his tracks. “Great Scott! The news says riots are breaking out everywhere! Soldiers are rebelling and seizing bases,” Comet declared. “We’d better investigate at Fort McConnell.”

Soon, he was piloting the skimmer across the Atlantic Ocean back to America.

Golden Glider frowned. “Do you think it’s some mind game? Or just angry troopers?”

“I sense mental energy in flow,” said Captain Comet. “That could mean mind-control or something worse. Something is coming through space. I think it’s somehow alive and yet pure mental energy.”

“Cap looks grim,” said Will.

“It must be very bad to worry him,” said Dolphin.

Captain Comet was worried about the impending arrival of the energy beast, which had destroyed Almerac and had now appeared in Earth’s solar system as if drawn by magic. The hero could vaguely sense its power and the hunger that drove it.

I can sense it, whatever it is, he mused. It is so massive I can barely shut out the beast’s hunger. It is mental energy fueled by a hunger and formed out of such energy like a huge serpent of space. I sense it came here after the last feeding due to Enchantress’ ruined chant. That spell had a totally different purpose, yet it drew that beast here. The magic must be something like a frequency that can attract it. Maybe Nadir can lure it away.

The creature was his biggest worry, even as he parked the skimmer near Fort McConnell, where Doctor Bedlam’s robots in human form led their troops in revolt.

One problem after another, he thought.

Starman pulled Dolphin close and said, “Did you hear those Furies? They said Argus and I are powered by Highfather — by New Genesis. What does that mean? Are they from this New Genesis place?”

Dolphin kissed him. “We’ll figure it out together,” she promised.

Golden Glider shivered, noticing how Captain Comet looked so serious. She had feelings for him that had grown from flirtation to a real passion. She often hoped they could have a life together after all this ended. What, after all, could come between them now?

Suddenly, a beautiful woman came from the air above and landed gracefully before the group. “I am Maxima,” she said. “I seek you, Captain Comet. I desire you as the regal mate of the line of Almerac. Be honored and defer to my royal passion!

Captain Comet’s problems just kept growing.

***

Highfather turned to the blonde Melisande. “I gave power to Argus, Starman, and a few others to be the new blood of Earth’s heroes, serving us in crises such as these. Now you, too, must play the role fate deigned to prepare for you, my child.”

The pretty blonde smiled in eager anticipation. “I won’t fail you. I will make you proud,” she said as she flew off to transport to Earth via Boom Tube, the New Gods’ main method of transportation to other worlds.

“Bless you, my child,” said the worried old leader of New Genesis. “I only hope you may live up to what the portents spelled out for your destiny.”

***

In space, the glowing, snakelike energy beast hovered ever nearer to Earth. Its hunger and its name were potently manifested to mentally aware natives:

Moxumbra. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Food for a God,” Superman #357 (March, 1981).]

***

At Fort McConnell, Argus glanced past Maxima’s rather imposing and impressive form to see several soldiers and their leader. “That guy has something weird about him,” the Central City crime-fighter muttered. “He’s not human. I see a robotic under-shell.”

Captain Comet tried to handle everything in order. “Maxima, I sense that your homeworld was lost to the same threat looming above our planet. I will help you in any way I can. But we also need to address this civil unrest here.”

Maxima frowned and stomped a foot in impatient passion. “That man is a robot powered by mental orders from beyond. I sense that and suggest you merely take severe actions against the mind who is directing them. Now come with me.” She grabbed him.

Captain Comet did a quick mind-scan and turned to his team. “Argus, you are right as well. Detect and expose the robots, and that should end their troops as a threat, too. I shall accompany the lady Maxima with Starman. Dolphin, you are in charge here.” He flew off with Will Payton and Maxima in tow.

“Captain Comet, I shall make your rank a royal one when we are wed!” said Maxima. “That shall follow our destruction of yon beast to avenge my homeworld.”

He said nothing, for he was shocked to see the gleaming energy snake looming ever closer to Earth, its maw appearing like some gaping mouth ready to feast. This beast is draining world after world of mental energy and thus killing all life forms. I can sense its hunger, and I wonder how we can stop it. Sheer force won’t do the job.

Maxima raged forward and blasted out at the yellow creature pulsing in the stellar planes. “Die, you carrion spawn!” she said telepathically.

Starman acted on the signal Captain Comet gave him. The creature known as Moxumbra flared up, and Maxima was bathed in energy and left floating limply. Captain Comet swooped between the jaws of the monster and carried her to freedom as Will blasted out with all his stellar might. Moxumbra merely drank it in like sustenance.

I can take it down, Starman vowed to himself. I’ll just get closer.

But Captain Comet sensed his intent and said, “No, don’t risk yourself!” He was saddled with Maxima and could not stop the fleet Will Payton from exploding down the yawning jaws of the monster. He flared like a human star and, in a moment, was gone.

“Starman!” cried Comet as the monster returned and hungered more. He sadly flew earthward once more with Maxima. He had lost a friend, and he was not about to lose a world, too.

***

Back on Earth, Dolphin had allowed Argus to direct her to the robotic leaders of the mad troops. Golden Glider spun madly and cast her blinding gems before the troops. They fell back for now. “Darling, take us to the leader, already!” she yelled.

Argus could see which troops were real and which were robotic. He wondered if this exact mission was why he had been granted his powers. He called out to Dolphin and the others, “Hold them off for me!”

Dolphin charged forward and ripped free a metal gate. She lifted it up like a shield and drove back a squad of falling troopers.

“I can use an EM pulse to try to shut down the robots!” said Robotgirl. But as she did so, nothing happened. “No use — they’re run by mental force, not electronics,” she said sadly.

“Nice try, Tina. I’ll take it from here,” said Argus as he leaped up and tumbled acrobatically through the sky. He missed a trooper narrowly and kicked the man in the back of the head. The metal plate fell off, and he yelled, “See? You’re being led by an alien robot! Is that what you men want?” Some of the confused troopers threw down their guns, while others now began firing them at the robot.

“It’s no use!” Dolphin cried out. “Even with the human soldiers helping us, there are still thousands of the robots across the country!”

Golden Glider was pinned by one, and she only escaped being crushed by the timely descent of Captain Comet.

“Will’s lost. I am so sorry,” he said, hugging Dolphin. She gasped and fell into his arms. Just then, he stiffened as a mental bolt struck him.

“I am Doctor Bedlam!” said the man responsible. “I wanted you to know who it was who ruined your country. I am the mind driving the robotic army. They are me. I am them. You will never match our numbers. My mind is everywhere at once.”

“I will stop you!” Captain Comet vowed. “You may be powerful, but I won’t rest until I bring you down — you and that rotten cesspool you live in as well!”

Captain Comet argued with Maxima as soon as the fiery redhead woke up. “I am in charge here,” he told her. “I can do my best and nothing more. I lost a friend to that monster, and I know you lost a world. Let me handle things my way. Your idea was correct — we need to shut down this invasion at the source, this Doctor Bedlam. And Nadir can take me there. I have an idea that dealing with Bedlam will let me stop Moxumbra as well.”

Maxima placed her hands on her hips and said, “You have a warrior’s spirit, but I caution you to remember to whom you speak!

“I do remember,” said Captain Comet. “There aren’t that many warrior princess types running around my life.” He flew off, leading the angry Maxima and a solemn Dolphin and Nadir the Master of Magic out.

“Wait! Let me join you!” called Argus.

No! You need to keep picking out the robots for the others,” replied Comet.

Nadir, Master of Magic, concentrated all his innate mystical powers, and the four soon found themselves on the rocky and evil world of Apokolips. “Great work, Nadir!” said Captain Comet. “Now let me track our mental foe.”

“Oh, let me do it,” said the haughty Maxima. “I shall find him quicker, since I see you have some weak reluctance to probe minds at will.” After a moment’s concentration, she smiled and said, “I sense this Doctor Bedlam worm.” Comet followed her red-and-green-costumed form as she flew forward.

“This nightmare of a world is worse than the very Stygian depths themselves,” said the turban-wearing Nadir.

“Perhaps one day the JLA and I can do something about it,” said Comet. He blamed himself for Will’s death, and he knew Dolphin was hurting as he carried her along. She was tight-lipped and stressed out.

They landed, and Nadir muttered a chant, causing them to appear directly before a startled Doctor Bedlam. “This is uncalled for,” he said. “I would have killed you on Earth and saved you the trip!” He laughed madly, showing obvious contempt for them all.

Maxima stalked forward and slammed him through a machine with brutal force. “I will rend you asunder! You trifle with the fate of a world. I should execute you on the spot.”

Doctor Bedlam’s eyes grew vacant, and his body sagged in her arms. “He’s sent his mind elsewhere,” said Comet. “That is nothing but a robotic husk now.”

Dolphin pointed to a device. “That is what he touched last.”

“It must be the means by which he mentally travels — I suspected as much,” said Comet. Tearing it free, he said, “Nadir, take us home.” They blinked out of the fiery pit of a world before the legions of Doctor Bedlam rushed in.

“Comet, what is this plan, and how does it slay Moxumbra?” demanded Maxima.

“It doesn’t slay him. It stops him. I hope,” said Comet. He flew straight into space, where the gleaming beast waited. Goodbye, Earth. You were a good home, he thought, aiming himself in front of the monster’s mouth, then switching on Bedlam’s mental dispersal device and preparing to enter the great maw of energy.

At that moment, the shapely blonde called Melisande appeared from a Boom Tube. “I can help you. That Moxumbra cannot harm one such as me,” she said girlishly, then snatched the device from Captain Comet, who was caught off-guard by a girl flying in outer space without any protection. She flew directly into the monster, and as Comet hoped, the device sent its mental energy through the thousands of Doctor Bedlam robots on Earth.

Below, Argus and Robotgirl cheered as the surge of mental power destroyed the robots all around the Earth at once.

“That rids us of Bedlam’s robotic army,” said Nadir. “But what of Moxumbra?”

Captain Comet watched as the energy beast vanished into the device, for it was almost all raw mental energy. Melisande then appeared, carrying the familiar form of Starman, thought killed by the beast.

“Will Payton!” gasped Captain Comet. “How did you survive the energy? Are you unhurt?”

“I guess this altered body of mine is made of sturdy stuff,” said a grinning Starman, shrugging and looking only somewhat worse for wear. Dolphin silently rushed forward to embrace Will, overjoyed to see her fiancé well and fighting back the tears.

Melisande smiled assuredly. “Highfather does good work.”

“You saved the world again, Comet,” said Melisande. “Your plan destroyed all the robotic armies across the nation. That last surge of the mental energy that composed Moxumbra burned them all to dust. It also left Moxumbra itself hopelessly dispersed forever. He may never re-form.”

“I hoped I could make use of Bedlam’s equipment to convey Moxumbra through all the robots and thus solve two dilemmas at once,” said Captain Comet.

“You avenged my homeworld and thus proved most worthy of me,” said Maxima. “I shall reign here with you, my love.” She kissed Captain Comet passionately before he could react.

The End

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