Senator Pressman turned to a group of darkly uniformed men and women. “My brethen, I stand before you proud to say that in a few days, during the D-Day Monument unveiling, we will see the deaths of the president and the prime minister,” he said passionately. “And following that grand gesture of revenge, we will see the noble patriot Pressman rise to power on the ashes of the martyrs. Then we shall see a new Bund, a new solidification of the ideals of Hitler — a new Reich that shall reign over America and the world!”
Cheers echoed, along with shouts of “Heil Hitler!”
One man watched quietly from the side. He was Aldrich, the trusted aide of Pressman. Some would say this blond man shivered in the summer air as though chilled by some cold wind or some remembered horror.
Will Magnus, the new Robotman, explained anew what Chuck had earlier told the reunited All-Star Squadron. “This fake arm merely resembles a cyborg limb. It is truly just a exoskeleton over Danette’s real arm. It has a tracker inside in case she gets lost. More importantly, as we said before, we identified the maker of the real Heatmonger’s arm — Josef Hechler. His warehouse is in front of us. After Dann goes in and makes contact, we’ll hear all that is said via the mike in the arm cast. We’ll go in or follow her as circumstances dictate.”
“Libby had her connections leak a fake story about the ‘Monger’s escape as well,” said Johnny.
Paragon was excited to be included amongst all these heroes of yesteryear. He especially admired the Shining Knight and was proud to see this gleaming paladin in person.
Firebrand flew inside, and the others listened as she was received with welcome.
“She’s fooled them,” said Magnus. “The flaming nimbus, the metal arm, and that costume make her seem all too lifelike as Heatmonger.”
“Right,” laughed Johnny Quick. “I mean, how many blonde torches with metal arms and peek-a-boo costumes do those guys inside expect to see flying in?”
The Shining Knight gripped his horse’s bridle. “Steady, Winged Victory — battle most fierce awaits us anon.”
Paragon could not adopt the powers of Robotman, since they were artificial, but he could access Liberty Belle’s sonic powers, Johnny Quick’s speed, and even the flight of the horse.
“You are not Heatmonger!” cried a woman’s voice. “You are an foolish spy!”
“Well done, Blind Faith,” said a harsh voice. “You read her vibes accurately when we failed to see truly.”
“Oh, no!” cried Liberty Belle as Johnny Quick tossed her over his shoulders and raced forward, with the Shining Knight soaring along and Paragon matching them step by step.
Firebrand had soared higher and generated a flame barrier between herself and the costumed members of the neo-Nazi group called the Aryan Nation. She dodged the elongating arms of Backlash as he snaked up for her legs.
The hulking Iron Cross tossed crates at her with alarming speed. One melted into kindling at her burst of heat, but all would not do so. One would hit her sooner or later.
Blind Faith, the extrasensory witch, tracked her even in the shadows of the warehouse. “There!” she screeched. “She is to the left!”
“Oh, shut up!” said Liberty Belle as they burst inside and she kicked Faith to the floor.
“I see enough to trace you by your perfume and your heartbeat!” cried Blind Faith, rising up again. She lunged at Belle with martial arts skill and felt a solid right connect on the heroine’s chin.
Johnny Quick crashed through the uniformed Nazi thugs with speed and skill. “Say, you get the idea that I’ve done this before!” he joked as he slammed into dozens of them in the blink of an eye. But beneath his glib and cocky manner, he was worried. He had seen the Nazi horror up close, and he knew how this evil had almost ruined the world once. He could not let it ever get close to doing so again.
Sir Justin swooped in and sliced a crate to splinters with his mighty sword. “Back, cowardly and craven knave!” he called to the Iron Cross. “You defile yon emblem with such base and ignoble acts.”
Iron Cross grunted and leaped for him with his powerful leg muscles. Justin leaned back and swung the flat of his blade to knock the man down anew.
Firebrand flamed the area to circle her friends and keep reinforcements back. This is like the old days, she mused. I wonder how the others are — Tarantula, Rex, Sandy, Steel?
Robotman dropped his palm, and tiny metal devices scuttled out and crawled across the floor, reaching Nazi troopers and scurrying up their legs on metal hooks, shocking them to the floor at his command. “All stunned, and none seriously hurt,” he said, smiling.
Paragon raced around the screeching Backlash at slightly faster than Johnny Quick’s speed. The lack of air in the whirlwind sent the rubbery man to the ground in pain. “I left him… well, you know!” he said with a grin. He watched as Iron Cross charged the Shining Knight, who sheathed his sword.
“Come on, you perfidious fiend!” cried Sir Justin. “Face one who walked the hallowed halls where once Gareth, Gawain, and Lancelot trod — steeped in glory and lore!” He ducked the Iron Cross’s punch and connected with one of his own. He had a mighty arm, but this super-Nazi did not feel his punch at all. “Zounds!” he muttered.
Liberty Belle thought quickly as Blind Faith flipped her on her bottom. Extra senses mean this sonic blast should rock her world, as the kids say, she thought, then the sonic blast into Faith, who shrieked and fainted. As Belle glanced around, she saw that her little team had almost won.
Robotman stretched up to catch the newly entering Golden Eagle. “This is a no-fly zone,” he said in a speaker modulator that sent his voice echoing through the warehouse. He gripped the winged neo-Nazi and pulled the wings from his costume. Golden Eagle fell forward with a scream, only to be caught and decked by the rapid Johnny Quick.
“You’re as good as Bob ever was,” he said to Will Magnus.
“Well, he helped make me the man I am today,” said the second Robotman.
“Now, why did I just know you were going to say that!” said Johnny Quick as he checked on Libby, who was wrestling a neo-Nazi to submission.
Paragon stepped up and said, “Sir Justin, I crave the boon of combat with this rogue!”
“Well spoken, lad!” said the Shining Knight as he stepped gracefully aside.
Iron Cross sneered. “No inferior being can stop the Nazi juggernaut!”
Paragon slapped him in the face, drawing in his power at one level higher. “Just call me Superior Man!” he said, grinning as he hit the ogre three super-swift blows at a greater power level than his own. Iron Cross dropped like a rock.
The team, having defeated the neo-Nazi thugs, tied them up and congratulated each other. “We’ve got them. Why so grim, legs?” teased Johnny.
Liberty Belle frowned. “I suspect more is going on here. Something will happen at the D-Day monument unveiling ceremony, and I have to be there as Libby Lawrence, remember? I doubt I can make two such public appearances as both blonde bombshells without revealing my secret.”
“So we’ll do the heavy lifting and you can just smile and look pretty,” said Johnny, and she elbowed him in the ribs.
D-Day soon arrived, and while Libby Lawrence stood on stage near the veiled D-Day monument, wearing a peach sun-dress, her friends watched from the crowd. Will Magnus made himself look human, and the others were in civilian clothes.
Senator Pressman hovered nervously as the president of the United States and the British prime minister each stood poised to unveil the monument. Pressman moved slowly back as his aide Aldrich moved closer.
“There’s a hum from within it!” cried Will Everett. “Some radio signal being broadcast — a bomb!”
Johnny Quick leaped forward and carried the president to safety along with his scattered security men. Sir Justin the Shining Knight dropped down on Winged Victory to swoop off with the prime minister.
Libby waved to Danette Arthur and told her, “Pressman has a detonator in his wrist like the tip we received suggested!” Firebrand flew up and surrounded the angry senator.
“Nothing happened!” cried Pressman as Firebrand held him firm with her ring of fire. “This is a travesty!”
Paragon moved at super-speed to shove the others down. “That device in his hand proves his guilt, but what happened to the bomb that signal went to?” asked Will as he scanned the interior of the monument with his extra-sensory lens.
“I disconnected it prior to the day’s events,” said Aldrich, who stepped over to them and pulled off a mask. “Call me Christopher Chance. I took the place of the real Aldrich when I learned he was a neo-Nazi. I watched you all and bided my time in case I was needed, but you performed beautifully.”
He walked off as the guards led Pressman away.
“Chance? Weird name,” said Johnny Quick.
“He was wearing a disguise as Chance, too,” said Will. “I could detect it when I stepped near him. At least he was on our side… a real unknown All-Star.” He turned to the others and asked them, “Wasn’t there a master of disguise in the Squadron back then? Mister America?”
The eternally young Tex Thomson slipped off into yet another identity. He was happy to have seen his old friends again, but he preferred to allow them to think he was dead these long years. He could do more in any one of a number of civilian identities, anyway.
Senator Pressman screamed, shoving his way through the guards. “I can still kill you!” he cried, and charged Libby Lawrence. She prepared herself to trip him when a blonde woman suddenly swung down to tackle him.
“Who are you?” asked Libby. “You’re wearing a modified Tarantula costume!”
“I am the great-grandchild of the first Tarantula’s housekeeper,” she said. “He is old and ill, now, but he taught me all he knew and gave me his weapons.” She turned to Will Everett and said, “You spoke to him yesterday, did you not?”
“Yes,” said Paragon. “He was too ill to help, so he sent you?”
“Call me the new Tarantula!” she said, and she began to swing off on her line.
“Wait!” said Sir Justin. “I would ask you to join us in a heroic assembly of all former All-Star Squadron members to be held in the future!”
The blonde in the black mask and brown and black body-suit, black fishnets, and slippers smiled. “I’d be honored,” she said. “I’ll call you!”
“But, wait!” began Johnny Quick, even as she vanished into the shadows. “Well, another successor of the old Squad. Maybe that reunion you spoke of, Justin, should be for good. We could restart the Squadron as a new team to aid the JSA!”
Libby frowned at his boyish enthusiasm. “First, we hold a general reunion. Then, we’ll see.”
In a dark room, an old man sat up in his bed and faced a tall man. “Well, did the accursed Squadron stop the idiot Pressman with his very public display?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” said the aide. “He was exposed and caught, but even we did not know Aldrich had been replaced by some vigilante.”
“In any case, while the world saw the pawns of the Aryan Nation fall and the heroes congratulated themselves, and some came out of hiding anew, the others quietly found the parts needed for my precious machine,” said the old man. “Through it, the Reich will live again, as will its greatest champions!”