“You sure this is the place?” Ultraman asked as he hovered in midair, looking down with his ultra-vision.
“This is it, all right,” Owlman verified. He kneeled on the glowing green platform created by Power Ring and peered through a stylish set of binoculars modeled on an owl motif. The Crime Syndicate hovered over an army base in Maryland. “The government is storing their new laser cannon there for testing tomorrow. President Ferraro says it will give America the edge in the Cold War with Switzerland.”
“Ha!” Power Ring laughed shortly. “It won’t be the United States of America or the Union of Swiss Socialist Republics that comes out on top, will it?”
“Not once that laser cannon has been added to the Crime Syndicate’s arsenal,” Superwoman agreed. “Come on — let’s go!”
“On my word, Syndicate,” Ultraman said, not letting his authority be usurped. “OK… now!”
As one, the five villains swooped to earth like vultures. Ultraman prepared to batter through the steel doors of the cargo shed, paving the way for the others. He was confused to see the doors opening.
“What the–?” Ultraman watched his old enemy, Alexander Luthor, fly out of the shed. And someone else was with him, a red-skinned man in a yellow and black costume.
“Surprise, Ultraman!” Luthor shouted and launched a bolt of golden energy from his gauntlet. The beam struck Ultraman in the chest and seared him with pain. It was concentrated solar energy, and it drove the kryptonite radiation from his cells. A single burst like that could not depower him totally, but many more like them would. Ultraman flew high into the sky to escape the bolts and give himself time to think.
“I recognize Luthor — but who’s that alien bozo next to him?” Power Ring asked, gesturing at the red-skinned man.
“Name me the Yellow Flame,” the hero said, a brilliant beam blazing forth from his own ring. “And name me justice!” Power Ring barely had time to erect a green shield before the golden beam struck. When the bolt struck his shield, hairline cracks formed all over it. He stared in slack-jawed surprise. He had never seen anything affect his ring creations like that.
“Luthor’s found himself another partner,” Owlman snarled. “Quick! Go in and get that laser cannon while the heroes are busy!”
“Right,” Johnny Quick said before speeding off. He braked to a halt inches from the shed when a looming dark figure reared up from the shadows within. It looked like a demon, fifteen feet tall with gaping mouth and clutching claws. It also appeared to be made of shadows. Quick had seen such a thing before, and it terrified him.
“Yah!” Johnny screamed and turned to run the other way. A man in a black-and-gray costume stepped from the shadows inside, smiling.
“That cowardly speedster,” Superwoman spat with contempt. “Wait here, Owlman — I shall retrieve the cannon.” The proud Amazon strode toward the hangar. She stopped in wonderment when a lithe figure came somersaulting out of the building to come to a stop ten feet before her. It was a woman in an animal skin costume.
“Where do you think you’re going, Amazon?” the woman asked.
“Is there no end to you fools?” Superwoman asked, hurling her magic lariat. The Lynx easily avoided the toss, leaping in the air. She did a back-flip in midair and came down hard with her feet planted in Superwoman’s stomach. The evil Amazon went down hard but recovered quickly and tried to grab the Lynx’s ankle. Her costume was sleek like animal fur, however, and that coupled with her own agility and flexibility made her very hard to hold onto. She twisted free of Superwoman’s grasp and came around again, claws popping out of her gloves with a fierce click.
“Sure hope this doesn’t tickle,” Lynx mocked her foe as she made a swipe with her claws. The special alloy designed by Luthor ripped four lines through Superwoman’s costume and raised four red welts along her ribcage.
“Must I do everything myself?” Owlman asked the air as he raced into the cargo shed. No one came out to challenge him. He saw the laser cannon standing unguarded and made his way toward it.
“Surprise!” came a high, cheerful voice from above. Instinctively, Owlman looked up, and a cream pie was smashed into his face. As he wiped the cream from his eyes, Owlman saw a white-faced man in a jester’s costume dancing around him.
“My high school math teacher once said pi r2,” the jester said. “But as you can see, pie are round!”
Owlman felt himself growing dizzy. The room was spinning under his feet. The pie — it must have been drugged. The villain concentrated, trying to shake off its effects.
“Power Ring!” Ultraman shouted as he struggled to free himself from an energy net cast by Luthor. “Get us out of here — now!”
Power Ring, struggling to keep his ring-shield up under Yellow Flame’s barrage, nodded. In five green flashes of light, the Crime Syndicate vanished.
“Not a bad first time out,” Doctor Shadow said confidently.
“Indeed. Our foes have been thwarted,” Yellow Flame said.
“I’ll say,” Lynx purred, grinning wickedly at the tall Korugarian. “You were magnificent, big guy!”
“You were right, L-hombre,” the Clown said as Luthor landed to join his comrades. “That was fun!”
“Yes, the element of surprise was on our side today,” Luthor said grimly, looking to the sky. “But you can bet there’ll be a next time.”
In the Eyrie of Evil, the secret headquarters of the Crime Syndicate of America located in a cave outside Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, the team licked their wounds. Owlman injected himself with a stimulant, trying to counteract the anesthetic in the pie cream. Superwoman applied ointment to the scratches left by the Lynx’s alloy claws. Johnny Quick sat huddled in a corner with two bright floor lamps shining on him. Ultraman paced the floor angrily.
“Who were those jerks, anyway?” Ultraman snarled. “We’re supposed to be the only ones with super-powers! How dare they?”
“Take it easy, U-man. You’re going to burst something,” Owlman said. “Go take a hit of K. It’ll calm you down.”
“I don’t want to be calmed down!” Ultraman growled. “I want to be angry — it’ll help me think.”
“What’s to think?” Power Ring said. “The game has changed, that’s all. Had to happen someday.”
“No — no, I don’t accept that,” Ultraman said thoughtfully. “So Luthor’s found himself some help, has he? He thinks it’s even odds now, five to five? Well, if he can find new players for the game — so can we!“
Ultraman stormed off to consult the Eyrie of Evil’s computers. Owlman merely sighed and tied off his arm for another injection.