by Martin Maenza, Immortalwildcat, Starsky Hutch 76 and Libbylawrence
In the countryside of Europe, shots rang out, and explosions filled the sky and dotted the ground. A figure dressed in a blue uniform with red pants and cape, orange piping, and gloves led a valiant charge. “Troops, attack!” barked out Sonar, his black hair flopped to one side. Using his sonic gun, his weapon of choice, he blasted at some scurrying alien forces. “Yes! Run, cowards! No one threatens Modora!”
A number of men dressed in gray and red armor soared past with a low hum. These troops, dressed in nucleo-sonic armor, opened fire on a squad of advancing troops. Sonar was very pleased to see how Dr. Szackas’ design was faring in this battle. Though his intent was to use them to conquer other neighboring countries and thus expand Modora’s base of power, plans changed when the invasion began to strike too close to home. Now, instead of conquering nearby countries, Sonar and his forces were defending them.
Lost in thought, Sonar failed to see an alien craft bearing down on him.
“Look out!” a voice called out in a thick accent covered by a mechanical filter. A large armored figure slammed into the dictator, knocking him away.
“What the–?” Sonar gasped as he turned in the air. It was just in time to see the alien craft’s guns lock on a Rocket Red and fire. The blast hit the Soviet squarely, knocking his systems offline and causing him to plummet to the ground below. As two Rocket Reds appeared and aided his own troops in driving off the craft, Sonar flew down to the ground to check on the fallen man.
The armor smoked from where the charring blast had torn through it. The man groaned in pain but could not move a muscle. The smell of charred flesh turned Sonar’s stomach slightly, but he knelt down anyway and removed the face-plate. A bearded man stared back at him wearily. “Are… you… well?” the Soviet gasped.
“Hush,” said Sonar. “Save your strength.”
“I… fear I shall… cough… not make it,” the Rocket Red Brigade member moaned. He began to mutter in Russian, and his words were lost to the Modoran native. His body convulsed once more, and his eyes fluttered shut. He was gone.
One of Sonar’s men landed next to them. “Is he…?” the man asked.
“Should I join the others as they drive off the troops?” the soldier asked.
“After,” Sonar said. “First, get this man back to Szackas’ lab.”
“Szackas?” the nucleo-sonic soldier asked. “Why?”
“Szackas can learn much from these systems, even damaged,” Sonar said.
The soldier nodded and picked the fallen warrior up. He was heavy, but the trip was a short one. “What of the man? Should he be returned to his comrades?”
“No!” Sonar snapped. “We shall give him a burial, for he did save my life. But it will be an unmarked grave. Now, go!” The soldier took off, and Sonar contemplated his next move.
“OK, gentlemen, welcome to our little home away from home!” The door opened into a large, luxurious living room. On one side, large windows looked out over downtown Washington, D.C. On the other, a pair of open doors revealed large bedrooms. Hidden speakers played a Mozart minuet, and there were fresh flowers in several vases around the room. Slade Wilson led the way in, followed by Ben Turner, Floyd Lawton, and Paul Kirk. They all looked around, and Lawton let out a low whistle.
“Man, Slade, remind me to never doubt you again when you talk about how well your contracts paid!” Paul Kirk shot Lawton a dirty look. “Hey, it’s not like it’s any secret among us now, is it?”
“How did you manage to hold onto your assets when you got busted, man? Doesn’t the government seize the money and stuff that you earn for crimes?” asked Ben Turner.
“Only if you still have it. Technically, I don’t own this or any of the places I have in a dozen other major cities.” As another figure entered the room from one of the other doorways, Wilson smiled. “Speaking of which, here’s someone I’d like you all to meet. Wintergreen, these are the men I told you about. Paul, Ben, Floyd, this is my man Wintergreen.”
As introductions were made, Paul turned to Slade. “A faithful manservant, hmm? I remember when that was a sort of running joke among all the mystery-men back in the late ’50s.”
“All the what?” asked Slade.
“Mystery-men. You know, costumed heroes?”
“Oh, yeah, OK. Had to be a pretty small group back then, eh?”
“Not really. Nothing like there is now, though.” Paul turned to the others. “OK, get your gear stowed in your rooms, suit up, and let’s get down to the Capitol.” He looked out the window, then at Wilson. “Nice view of the Capitol from here. Do I want to know why?”
Slade put his hands up in front of himself in a defensive gesture. “I swear to you, I never took a contract against an American government official!”
“Nice to know you drew the line somewhere.” Paul turned as he heard the others reenter the room. “All right, let’s get over to the Capitol!”
A small jet rocketed across the ocean sea, heading for an area known as the Bermuda Triangle. “Are you sure you know where you are going?” the blonde in a red costume with blue cowl and cape said from the cockpit.
“Indeed, Superwoman,” replied a brown-haired man in red and black. “See those mists down there?” He stretched his neck thanks to the Gingold chemicals that flowed through his body.
“Yes?” the heroine from the far future replied. She squinted with her eyes, using her telescopic vision. “But there is nothing there! Just mists.”
Elongated Man laughed. “I wouldn’t expect you to be able to see the island for the steam. That’s a magical mist, and it plays havoc with your Kryptonian powers as it would the most advanced radar equipment. But trust me, there’s an island down there — a paradise, in fact.”
The jet cut through the mist, which eventually parted to reveal a plush tropical retreat. Buildings of white marble in a Greek architectural style dotted the entire area. This was Paradise Island, home of the Amazons. Elongated Man adjusted the controls after steering toward the outlying land mass known as Science Island. “You’ll have to take the controls now,” he said to Superwoman. “The VTOL system will keep it hovering just off the edge of the island. While we’re expected, we cannot land.”
“Right,” Superwoman said. She had heard about this wondrous place, both from legends in her time and from talks with Clark and others. How she’d love to take a tour and explore it. But now was not the time for that. They had to hurry and then get back to the others.
Elongated Man opened the side door. A gush of wind rushed in. “OK, ladies, this your stop!” He turned to a dark-haired woman who held a small child less than a year old in her arms. “I’ll take you two first, Sue.”
“Oh, Ralph!” Sue Dibny said as she hugged her husband. “We’ll miss you terribly.” Their infant daughter Debbie let out a cry. “Both of us!”
“I know, honey,” he said as a tear formed in his eye. “But you’ll be safe here. Hippolyta and the Amazons are the best protection for you guys!”
“But you’ll stay safe, too,” Sue said. “Promise me!”
Elongated Man gave her a big squeeze. “I promise!” He then scooped the two of them up in his arms, latched his legs to a holding of the jet, and stretched out of the door with the two in his arms.
A number of Amazons were waiting for them on the ground, including the beautiful blonde queen and her curly haired daughter Diana, now nearly age two. “Hola, Elongated Man,” Hippolyta said. “Remember to not set foot on the island!”
“I remember, your Majesty,” he said as he put his wife and daughter down and released them. “Thank you for watching over them for us.”
“Our pleasure,” the queen said. Diana tugged at her mother’s skirt and pointed at her old colleague that she recognized.
Ralph smiled to see her again. The Justice League wasn’t the same without Wonder Woman around. “Hiya, Diana!” he waved. “Got someone else for you to play with, too!” And he stretched back up to the jet.
There, an elderly woman and a blonde little girl around age four stood waiting at the doorway. “OK, ma’am, you and Jasma are next!” Elongated Man announced.
“Oh, pooh, sonny,” Gerta Gim-Zee said, picking up the child in one hand and their travel tote in another. “I’ve crossed the galaxy all by my lonesome. I think I can handle getting off a jet ship just fine.” And with that, the elderly Kryptonian stepped off the vehicle and lofted down slowly to the ground.
“Oooh,” Jasma cooed as she looked around. She saw the Amazonian warriors standing guards, some of them mounted on kangas. “Hop-hops!” She turned to Gerta. “Me ride hop-hops?”
“We’ll see, child,” her elderly family member said.
Elongated Man watched as the Amazons greeted their guests. He smiled and waved to Sue and Debbie. Another tear formed. He quickly wiped it away and joined Superwoman back in the cockpit.
“You know it’s better for them here,” the heroine reminded him.
“I know,” Elongated Man said. “Gives me an extra something to fight for, is all.”
Superwoman nodded. She thought of Clark, who had left to help his people on Rokyn. They all had extra things to fight for.
The jet took off and headed back toward the United States.
Harry Hokum stepped into the meeting room filled with representatives of the various alien races of the alliance. “Greeting, all,” he said with his usual smug demeanor.
“You’re late,” one of the Khund representatives thundered.
“I’m a busy man,” Hokum said, taking a drag from his cigarette holder. “Be glad I showed up at all.”
“Do not take that attitude with me, Earth-man!” the Khund said. “Why you are allowed to be a part of this at all is beyond me!”
“If you want the involvement of the New Citadel, then you deal with me,” Harry Hokum said, leaning back into his chair as he pressed his fingers to his chin and stared at the Khund warily.
“It doesn’t bother you that we’re attacking your homeworld?” the Psion representative asked.
“Why should it?” Hokum said. “I’d always planned to do it myself, eventually. This just saves me some time. Now, why have you called me here?”
“There’sss a problem in your territory,” a Dominator representative said. “A sssignal encouraging those we ssseeek to sssubjugate. In sssome casssesss, refugeesss are beamed away by this sssignal to elude capture.”
“Ah,” Harry Hokum said. “You mean the Tweener Network.”
“You were already aware of this problem?” the Khund said, outraged.
“Of course,” Harry Hokum said. “There’s very little in the Vega system I’m not aware of. The Tweener Network belongs to the Omega Men, a resistance force that’s been a thorn in my side for years. We are working on the problem.”
“I assume by your demeanor that you are close to a resolution?” The Durlan representative asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am,” Harry Hokum said, folding his arms behind his head. “We’ve finally tracked them down. He pointed his cigarette holder to the center of the table, and a holographic image of a planet appeared above it. “Gentlemen, here is the world that has somehow evaded our sensors for over two years. The Omegan colony world, Kuraq. Very soon, the voice of freedom will be silenced.”
“Lord Darkseid, the Earth is under siege!” the hunched-over man in the purple robes announced, turning from his viewers to address his leader. The imposing stone-fleshed man stood with his arms crossed behind his back, his dark eyes held fast to the large screen.
“I can see that, DeSaad,” the rough-voiced ruler of Apokolips said. “Do you think me blind?”
“No, great Darkseid,” DeSaad groveled. “I just thought–”
“You will think when I tell you to think,” Darkseid said.
“Father, should we not strike now?” a stone-fleshed female said as she stepped forward. “Attack our enemies while they are vulnerable?”
“No?” Pandora asked. “I don’t understand!”
“Daughter, I have learned a great deal over my long lifetime,” Darkseid said. “One thing is patience and the importance of striking at the most opportune time. That is why I took you away from training with Granny and her Female Furies. You can learn much by observing how I handle things.”
“But we will strike at them, won’t we?” Pandora asked.
“Eventually,” Darkseid said. And he began to silently watch the monitors as the battles on Earth played out before him.
The individual who now stood before the shadowy figures was a rugged man with long, tangled red hair and a beard who wore a purple costume with an ornate green collar. His eyes had a stark white gleam about them, and his hands moved ever so often, as if a nervous habit or a strong compulsion prevented him from keeping still. He was confident, and he had an aura of danger about him. He had no fear of the mysterious beings around him, although he could see nothing of their features or determine their true nature.
“I will kill Superman. I hate him. I hate him!” he said as his voice grew louder, and he spoke more quickly.
“He isss taken care of. We do not require your ssservices for the Man of Sssteel,” said one of the shadowy beings.
Another of them spoke in the same sibilant manner. “Your hatred isss not ssspecccifically for him. It extendsss to all membersss of hisss raccce, doesss it not?”
“I see your point,” the redhead said. “I anticipate your request — his pretty little cousin! I can still remember how it felt to have my hands around her throat. It sustained me during those long years of recovery since I died. It did! My hate did, too! Very well! I will let him suffer whatever fate you imagine for him. I will satisfy myself by killing Supergirl!” He spoke softly, as if to an unseen being, and then departed.
The shadowy aliens nodded in approval. “He isss mad, yet sssuch insssanity could be enough to kill the Maid of Sssteel.”
“Indeed! Hatred like that knowsss few boundsss!” replied another of the mysterious beings.
The man called Amalak smiled as he entered his own ship. “We hunt!” he announced, rubbing his hands together in pleasure.