by Libbylawrence and Immortalwildcat
On an island called Vumania, the team known as the Forgotten Heroes went about their duties with customary courage and skill. They had separated to deal with various emergencies created by the invasion, and their base was nearly empty except for two blonde women. The woman who operated the sophisticated communications center wore a short orange dress and heels. Her name was Tharka, and she had once been known as the Superwoman of Zor in another universe, but now she was merely an ordinary woman. (*) She was happy to be of use to Captain Comet’s team, and she hoped that her efforts truly enabled her to contribute to making the world a better place. Still, when she saw destruction like that caused by the invaders, Tharka longed for her former superhuman might and regretted its loss.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: Devastation (Unnatural Woman).]
“I’ve passed along Aqualad’s message to Dolphin,” Tharka said. “She was relieved to know that her father Arion and the other natives of Atlantis were OK. I’ve also given her the news that Starman has left Earth for a quest of his own. Meanwhile, Captain Comet and the Golden Glider just rounded up a band of aliens who were rampaging in Boston. I wonder if they had a chance to visit Richard Gray. I think the former Black Condor lives near that historic city.”
“You’re working too hard!” said the other woman, Zinda Blake, who stood at the doorway dressed in her custom pilot’s uniform. “You need to take a break. I can relieve you.” The woman known as Lady Blackhawk entered the room. She was the team’s pilot, but she had many other skills drawn from her own adventurous career. She wore a pleated black skirt and boots with a dark jacket.
Tharka smiled and said, “Zinda, I see you are back. Is Dolphin well?”
At that moment, a platinum-haired beauty in a light blue top and shorts entered and said, “I’m fine. We were just flying some supplies into one of the combat zones. The Red Cross can only do so much. Thanks for passing along the messages to me. I am sure my father can handle anything that occurs below the surface. His magic is remarkable!”
“You say that from personal experience,” said Zinda. “I know that not too long ago, Arion removed a protective spell he had cast around you after you were informed about the spell from Adam. (*) Imagine, anytime you faced certain death, the spell would teleport you away and remove your memory of the event! That was thoughtful, but mighty troublesome for a girl in your line of work.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home.]
Dolphin smiled and said, “Exactly! He always thinks that as the Lady Mara of the City of the Golden Gate, I need to be sheltered. But he’s a dear man, and I’m thrilled to have him.”
At that moment, an alarm echoed, and the women activated several security cameras. Zinda said, “Goodness! What is that creature?” She pointed to a huge orange being with pointed ears and absolutely no facial features.
“I know exactly what it is — I’ve fought him before with the original Forgotten Heroes!” said Dolphin. “His name is Chun Yull. For obvious reasons, he is called the Faceless Hunter from Saturn!” She hit an alarm. “Summon help! He’s more than a match for us. We’ll try to delay him, but we need Captain Comet fast!”
In the shadows of a Gotham City factory district, a bizarre figure flitted from shadow to shadow. Tall, impossibly thin, yet quick and nimble, he was never visible for more than a second or two — or so he thought.
Got to keep low, he thought. He watches over this city like a hawk, he and his helpers. If I can just make it to Willow Field Cemetery, I’ll be all set. The cache I left near Arkham isn’t enough if he finds me first.
He referred to the half-dozen capsules and spray bulbs that had been tucked into a hollow tree near the local asylum for the insane. The night before, a missile from one of the ships patrolling the city had struck near the rambling old building, and a corner wall had crumbled. He and a few others had managed to escape before the guards sealed off that wing, and he alone had been able to slip through a gap in the fencing. A smile played over his masked face as he recalled the sight of Killer Croc grasping the electrified fence, his eyes going wide.
Serves him right, the great hulking brute. Only one who uses his brain will survive in this world, and nobody understands the brain and its functioning better than I.
A low roar above him halted him in his tracks. He looked up and spied one of the small scouting craft that the aliens seemed to favor over the populated areas. He waited as it passed over.
There is more to worry about in Gotham than him now. I must not forget that.
In the silence, he moved forward again. He reached the end of the building and faced a large, open parking lot between himself and the next building. Beyond that one, he could just make out the dotted landscape of the cemetery in the moonlight. With the patrol ship just recently passed, and no signs of life anywhere around, he decided to chance it. He took off at a loping run across the expanse of asphalt, feet striking the ground with an odd swishing sound. He was a mere twenty feet from the next building when an overhead door opened. Framed in the light from within were three large, hulking bodies, with one thin, reptilian one in the middle of the group.
“What isss thisss?” hissed the thinner one. “I thought thisss sssector was sssecured!”
“It was, Krissstik! This little twig ain’t no problem at all!” replied one of the large, over-muscled figures. It reached for an oversized weapon hanging from its belt, but the thin man was faster. He slid a capsule from his belt and threw it at the feet of the four aliens. It burst upon impact, and cloud of clinging, sweet-smelling gas enveloping them all.
“What the–? No, not banthas! Nooo!” cried the one who had reached for his ion blaster. He fell to his knees.
“Father! Stop! Leave her alone, I have selected her as my mate!” cried another as he rushed at some unseen tableau playing out in his mind.
The last of the large figures turned to the smaller one. “I can’t stand it! I know all about you stinking Psions! You’re just going to use us, then kill us like all the rest, aren’t you? Well, you aren’t going to get the chance!” He pulled his own ion blaster from his belt and fired it several times at the small, lizard-like being. The first shot vaporized its target on impact, but he kept firing, igniting the building around him.
Spying a key switch by the door, the Arkham escapee ran quickly to turn it, then ducked and rolled under the closing door, leaving the three Khunds to the flames.
By the time he reached the cemetery, he could hear sirens approaching. He made his way to a mausoleum bearing the name Jung and twisted the letter J. It turned easily, and a portion of the paved walk opened up. He climbed down a ladder set into the wall of the tunnel, and the panel closed again over him.
At the bottom, he reached for a switch, and lights came on, revealing a small but well-equipped laboratory with a sleeping area and a small kitchen off to one side. He reached up and pulled the bag-like mask off his head.
“Interesting. The one they called a Psion did not seem affected by my gas at all. The others, however, seemed especially susceptible to fear formula twenty-seven.” Tossing the mask on a counter, Jonathan Crane, alias the Scarecrow, started making notes in a ledger book. “Most useful to know, if things go the way I think they will.”
On Vumania, Dolphin raced out of the room as Tharka placed an emergency call via their team communications system. “Attention, Captain Comet! You are needed back on the isle immediately!”
As Dolphin charged out to confront the huge alien, she recalled their previous meeting. He had challenged her when he had served as part of a group called the Forgotten Villains. She had, of course, been a member of the loosely knit band of champions who had dubbed themselves the Forgotten Heroes. With the help of Superman himself, they had defeated the faceless predator and his allies shortly before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but this time they were clearly on their own. (*) She said, “I thought you had fled our world in disgrace!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Triad of Terror,” DC Comics Presents #77 (January, 1985) and “The Triad,” DC Comics Presents #78 (February, 1985).]
The looming alien said, “Fled? I merely allowed you to believe that I was so humbled. I knew that I could wait and learn more about my foes and then strike when they least expected it. That is the way of the Hunter!” He glared at the woman. “I am here to kill Captain Comet. He was not one who opposed me before, yet I have accepted a bounty to slay him for others. I am delighted that your death will be part of the deal!” He brought his fist down, but the nimble girl had darted aside seconds before. He smashed a huge crater in the sand, and as he lifted his arm, he sprayed a blinding storm of sand in her direction. “Know that all I touch becomes a weapon! Such has always been my way!”
Dolphin gasped as the barrage of sand swirled around her. She could neither see, nor could she move with any speed. The force of the sandstorm was far greater than that of any natural storm. “Choking! Got to fight free!” she gasped.
Meanwhile, Zinda Blake had raced across the beach and entered one of the team’s airplane hangars. “Adam’s got the real Cometeer, but I can use one of the less-advanced models to buzz that thing!” said the woman. She piloted the sleek plane skyward and zoomed around to circle the base.
Below, she saw the cloud of sand, and she shook her head in concern. “Dolphin is having a rough time! I sure wish Nadir or the Enchantress had been here!”
Dolphin reached the alien and tackled him. She was considerably stronger than an ordinary woman, but her best efforts had little effect on the huge alien. “I absorb your strength and return it as a weapon!” he said as he tried to crush her struggling form.
She pried his fingers from around her slender hips and flipped free. She disappeared beneath the waves and tried to think of a plan. He can follow me, since he can adapt his body in an endless variety of ways for almost any environment! Still, in the water, I am far faster! Maybe I can lure him away from the others until help arrives.
As she moved with a classic grace and beauty, she saw her foe following as he used the very properties of the water around them to attack. The current is sweeping me back into his reach! He has control of it, too! She slammed into him with both legs and kicked furiously. He is so enigmatic! Can’t tell what he is feeling, since he lacks any face! She punched at him and held him back for a few additional moments.
Then he caught her, and with a powerful embrace, he stunned her and brought her still form to the surface. “She has fallen! I will flay the skin from her bones!” he announced.
A barrage of energy beams suddenly struck the ground around him, and he hurled her aside. “Bah! Your primitive attack only fuels my rage!” he shouted as Zinda’s attack from above did nothing to slow him. He spread his arms and sent a blast of energy back at the plane. Only the woman’s amazing piloting skills enabled her to evade his fiery attack. Zinda banked the plane and tried to get out of his range.
The Hunter laughed and turned to where Dolphin had fallen. “Now, for a pleasure before my business!” he said.
“I wouldn’t count on any fun just yet!” said a mocking voice as a blonde woman in a brief gold costume skated into view on a self-manufactured stream of ice.
“You seek an early death. You cannot stop one who walked across the galaxies in search of his victims!” said the alien.
The Golden Glider laughed and raised a diamond-shaped object in her hand. I don’t have to stop you — I just have to keep you occupied, she thought, her hypnotic gems flickering as she spun around in a fast circle. The light reflected off the gems, and the woman’s movements created a strange-yet-captivating pattern in the air.
The Faceless Hunter moved closer. He was drawn by her display, and the mesmerizing lights confused even his alien senses. “I will kill you as well, although I will enjoy your beauty while I do so!” he said.
“Sorry, pal, but she’s spoken for!” said a newcomer as Captain Comet emerged from the base.
“You are the one I was hired to kill!” said the Hunter as he turned away from the Golden Glider.
“So I heard from Tharka. I’m afraid your employers will need a refund, since I’m going to be alive and well long after your defeat!” Comet said boldly.
The Faceless Hunter from Saturn raised his hands and sent energy blasts at the man of destiny, but his foe had already dodged and attacked with a swift punch. The Hunter reeled backward and stopped. He swung at Captain Comet again and barely missed. He was naturally drawing upon the force of Comet’s blow to power his own attack.
Captain Comet noticed that the Golden Glider had skated aside as well, so he pulled out a small gun.
“Your weapon intrigues me,” said the Hunter as he stood confidently in front of the hero. “I studied you when I was given the contract. I have never known you to use that gun! Still, I defy you to harm me with it. No matter what it does to me, I may use that same power as a weapon of my own!”
Captain Comet fired the gun and hit the Saturnian in the chest. The orange alien gasped and vanished from view. Comet smiled as Dolphin woke up next to the Golden Glider, who helped her to her feet as Zinda landed her plane nearby.
“Dolphin’s OK!” said the Golden Glider.
“I am,” said Dolphin, “but I’d like to know how you beat that thing!”
Captain Comet shrugged. “That gun was not my usual one. As soon as Tharka radioed me to tell me that the Faceless Hunter was after me, I made a few preparations aboard the Cometeer on the flight here. I switched the gun I normally carry with one I designed in transit. It fires an energy that acts purely as a metabolic depressant. All it did was anesthetize the cells that allow the Hunter to grow from his normal microscopic size to the giant form he uses on our world. Once that function of his anatomy was inactive, he was returned to his true size. He won’t be able to grow again for quiet some time. By then, I’ll have designed a means of containing him. I made a point of noticing just where he was standing when I shot him.”
The Golden Glider embraced him and said, “See? That’s one of the things I love about him. He has such a big brain!”
Dolphin said, “Adam, it seems like the whole universe is attacking Earth!”
“We’ll need all the help we can get,” said Captain Comet. “I probed his mind, and while even the Hunter could not identify his employers, it is clear this invasion makes the last one look like a mere training exercise. I’m going to touch base with as many of our allies as I can.”