by Vendikarr DeWuff
Manila, the Philippines:
The PT boat slipped into the bay during the black of night, with Neptune Perkins swimming ahead, navigating the mines. They found the boat hangar arranged in advance by the OSS and hid the PT boat there.
“Captain Storm, you stay with the boat and have it ready to move out at a moment’s notice,” said Agent Liberty. “Our host, Mr. Ferrer, will help you if need be.”
“I will. I want the Japanese gone so we can get our promised independence from the USA,” replied Ferrer.
“Good,” said Liberty, and he turned to his team. “We have a map to take us to an old Spanish fort. That’s where the rally is being held. We have to be in place for the attack before sun-up.”
“Why the sneaking around, Liberty?” asked Matches. “Let’s just hit them at their hotel and be done with it. We have a better chance of getting out alive with a sneak attack. Even the Japs know that.”
“Because our mission isn’t just a hit. We — I — am here as a symbol of America to show the Phillippines and the other occupied territories that America hasn’t forgotten them, and that we can match anything the Axis can come up with.”
“Well, mate, let’s be off. I’m looking forward to finishing up this business and heading home. I could use some kangaroo stew about now,” said Captain Boomerang. He then noticed his teammates staring at him, then replied, “I’m kidding. Don’t you boys know a joke when you hear it?”
“Not from you,” said Matches Malone, alias Torch. “You’re the quiet one. And I think I like you better that way.”
Boomerang just smiled at Matches, and then Liberty said, “Fun-time over?” He paused to see his teammates standing there quietly, then continued, “Good. Let’s move out.”
After the team had moved out, Ferrer went back to his house, and Captain Storm started going over his boat. He checked the oil and went over the engine. He also made sure his deck gun was loaded and ready. Even though he had been harassing enemy shipping in the Sulu Sea, he had never felt so alone, so behind the lines as he did right then.
He heard a sound in the brush outside the boat. Then heard, “American, come out. I have a surprise for you.”
As the sun crept over the horizon, Agent Liberty waited for the festivities. He and his squad had hidden themselves throughout Fort Santiago. An old Spanish garrison, these days it was being used by the Japanese as a staging ground for their most unruly Filipino prisoners. But today it would be more than that.
The Axis planned a rally for the politicians of the Philippines to show the people how futile resistance would be. The superhumans born and created by the Axis powers would show them they were nothing.
Liberty smiled to himself, able to keep still and quiet himself; he knew this hiding was driving Matches crazy. The man had a tendency to always be talking or moving. Liberty hoped that he would be moving when the time came.
The guests had been assembled, and then, shortly after their arrival, the superhumans arrived. Some were very powerful and very scary. He knew that it was very likely that he could lose his entire team here. Battling normal men was one thing. His squad couldn’t be stopped. But other superhumans? That could be lethal.
But it was also necessary. Not only was his team there to pick up the defector, but also to give a lesson to the Philippine people and all the conquered peoples that the Allies had not forgotten them, and that they would one day be free.
Liberty pulled himself out of his wandering thoughts to pay attention, because the speaking had begun. In their arrogance, the Germans and Japanese spoke their own tongue and had a Spanish translator working overtime.
At that moment Arn Munro, the man known as Agent Liberty, wished he had taken Spanish in school. He’d thought French was cooler. Besides, it was a great come-on to the girls.
His squad was waiting for his attack, and it was agreed that he would not begin until the speaking began. His intent was to catch them off-guard when leaving the stage.
However, that plan was quickly dashed by the sounds behind the stage. Liberty’s first thought was that Matches’ impatience got the best of him. However, that was not it. Liberty saw a man screaming and charging the stage. And as he charged, he was changing. He grew in size and took on a rocky appearance not unlike the walls of the fortress itself. Liberty didn’t know what the man was capable of, but he couldn’t let his attack happen alone. Liberty leaped up and screamed, “Attack!” And he landed promptly on the stage.
Matches struck a match and leaped into the air. The first thing he noticed was the rock-thing charging the stage. Matches decided not to attack that one and left him alone.
He also noticed there was a body or two more on the stage than anticipated. But this was no time to quibble about Allied intelligence. It was time to do his job. He saw the Great Horned Owl and his kid the Bat on the stage, preparing to throw something at him. Probably a grenade, thought Matches as he launched a pillar of flames at them, incinerating them in their place; he was pretty sure the defector wasn’t either of them, anyway. Then Matches heard the sound of machine-gun fire and saw that the Japanese soldiers were firing at him. He turned in midair and launched an attack against them.
Neptune Perkins approached close to the stage and leaped up at the Sea Wolf, striking him hard. The Wolf staggered but was not dropped to the floor. The Wolf then hit Perkins and knocked him a few steps back, almost to the point of losing his balance. Wiping a trickle of blood from his mouth, Neptune charged at the Wolf.
Gudra the Valkyrie warrior readied her spear, taking aim at the flaming man attacking her allies. But before she could launch its magical energy, she heard the word, “Now!” And she was struck in the head from a two-pronged assault. Staggering, she turned and saw two of the people she had believed as allies challenging her.
“Again,” called Tsunami, and she and her Mongolian companion struck Gudra again and again until the Norsewoman collapsed.
Knowing she only had moments, Tsunami launched herself at the Sea Wolf, while her companion turned and swung his powerful sword, glowing with an unearthly energy, at the man known as Kamikaze, just as he was lifting off the stage. The sword cleanly severed his legs at the knees, and Khan reached out and grabbed the man’s rocket-boots, complete with severed feet.
“I have them, Tsunami,” called out the Mongolian giant. But Tsunami was herself occupied. Khan then turned toward his fallen foe and neatly severed his head.
“I believe that is the penalty for failure in your society. If I’m wrong, please forgive me.”
Captain Boomerang got into a duel with the Italian archer, trading weapon after weapon. Boomerang noted the archer was skillful in his weapon, but he doubted he had the versatility to use others effectively. Boomerang tried a two-pronged attack, throwing boomerangs with each hand. Usil the bowman shot down one headed directly at him as the second sent flying far to the right of him.
Usil taunted Boomerang. “Is that the best you have? I have bested you with my skills, and you cannot even throw straight.”
“Fool! Your ignorance is your death!” screamed Boomerang as Usil loaded another arrow into his bow. Taking aim, Usil stopped abruptly as Boomerang continued, “My weapon doesn’t need to fly straight. Your limited knowledge dooms you.”
Usil began to sag to the floor but first let his last arrow fly. The gloating Boomerang was struck by it and hit the ground, just as Usil dropped, bleeding from the back caused by a razor-sharp boomerang.
Khan kicked Gudra’s spear out of reach and held his sword at her neck. When he prepared to decapitate her, she jumped up with superhuman speed and knocked his legs out from under him. She took his sword and received a shock.
He said to her as she fell again, “My blade only works for me. Its power is mine and mine alone.” As she fell again, he held his hand out toward the blade, and it left her hand and returned to his. He approached her once again.
Tsunami and Neptune Perkins continued their battle with the Sea Wolf until Perkins managed to get the Wolf into a headlock. His fighting away from water weakened him, and he began to lose consciousness. Tsunami then pulled a syringe out of her costume and removed a sample of his blood. She told Perkins, “A communique informed me Project M needs this.”
Gudra once again eluded Khan, using a swift kick to his privates. He went down, and she called out to her winged horse. She climbed atop her steed and flew toward Sea Wolf, grabbing him and throwing him over the horse’s backside. She called out to Overman to join her, but he was deep in the throes of battle and could not hear her.
The rock-like being was smashed by Ubermensch, as Overman was known in his native Germany, again and again, and went flying backward. Agent Liberty got there and stopped Ubermensch from smashing him by grabbing his forearm. Stunned and immobile, Ubermensch turned toward Liberty.
“Your strength — it matches my own.”
“Let’s see how well,” replied Liberty as he threw a punch into Ubermensch that sent him flying several feet.
Getting up and holding his jaw, Ubermensch said, “Not bad, Amerikaner. Not bad. But let us see if you can handle my punch.”
Ubermensch then charged at Liberty like an angry rhino, and Liberty leaped away from his lunge at the last moment and landed to see Ubermensch crash through the wall of the fort. Liberty then went to aid the rock creature, only to find it had changed into a man.
“You all right?” asked Munro as he leaned over the injured man. He was a small Filipino man, blood dripping from the side of his mouth.
“I will live, Senor. I have survived worse,” replied the man.
Liberty then heard a sound moving behind him and stood to confront his attacker. The tall German was charging him, and then he was stopped in his tracks by a blast of blue flame. His uniform was singed and burned, and obvious hatred shone from his face.
Behind Liberty stood Tsunami and Khan, while Perkins cared for the fallen Filipino. Beside Ubermensch landed Gudra with the Sea Wolf laid across her horse.
“You win this time, Amerikaner, but there will be another meeting. And at that time, I will be the one to walk away.”
“Until then, Ubermensch, let me leave you my name to dwell upon. Remember it as the name of the leader of free men who defeated you today. It’s Agent Liberty.”
Ubermensch again started to take steps toward Liberty, but Gudra raised her spear in his path. “Now is not the time, Ubermensch,” she said.
He looked at her, then at the heroes assembled against him, and climbed upon her horse, and they flew off.
Outside the hole created by Ubermensch, Liberty heard gunfire, and he charged toward the waterfront. “Matches, with me. Perkins, care for our friend, there, and try and find Boomerang.”
Agent Liberty sprinted toward the opening, and Matches flew over the wall to see the PT boat approaching, being fired at by Japanese soldiers. Liberty leaped into the air in the midst of the firing Japanese, and Matches fried the gun emplacement. In no time, the Japanese had stopped fighting.
Captain Storm called out to Liberty, “You better get aboard — all the Nips in the Philippines will be on our backside soon.” Just then, Liberty noticed that Storm had a small crew with him.
Storm noticed his glance and replied, “Ferrer had these boys hidden. Gunner and Sarge, here, were cut off from their unit while covering the withdrawal to Bataan. Johnny Cloud, here, had his B-17 shot out from under him when evacuating Hicks.”
The other soldiers waved as they were mentioned, and Liberty called out, “Captain, between your crew and the extras we picked up, your PT is too small.”
“If you can get us to Hicks, I can fly anything the Japs have on the ground,” said Johnny Cloud.
“Better yet, there’s a sea plane. Pilot, how far south can you get us?”
“I’d be better off flying that to Hicks and getting us a troop plane or cargo carrier.”
“Deal, pilot.” Liberty turned to Matches. “Get the squad over here. We need to pull out right away. Our wounded will need attention.”
Matches looked at him and, instead of fighting, just did as ordered.
“Captain Cloud, if you could get that plane started up so we can take off, I’d appreciate it.”
The plane landed at Hicks, and everyone filed out. Captain Boomerang was in bad shape, and the Filipino was not doing well, either. After the soldiers loaded the wounded into a liberated troop carrier, Munro looked across the airfield.
“I know this was a U.S. field, but it’s a shame to leave it in Jap hands. I would love to just level this place.”
“But that would just make it easier for them to land planes,” replied Matches Malone. Munro just glared at him.
Just then, another troop carrier took off with a fighter escort. “Are they coming for us?” asked Khan. Big and burly, the Mongolian seemed to be itching for another fight.
“No. It appears they are getting that plane out of here.” He paused, then called out for Tsunami. After she appeared at his side, he asked, “Any idea what that is all about?”
“That would be one of the designers of the Axis project making superhumans. I never met him but have heard plenty about him. He was coming here to witness the show. Guess he was called home abruptly.”
“He have a name?” asked Malone.
“He’s German… or at least I assumed he was, based on his name. Hugo something. Danker or Damler.”
“Danner?” asked Munro.
“That’s the name. Why, you know him?”
“We never met, but my mother told me about him. He’s actually an American, and if he’s working with the Germans, then he’s also a traitor. He’s my father, and he’s responsible for me being the way I am.”
Munro thought for a minute about how much damage Danner could cause if he got away. Danner had an above-average intelligence, but the most dangerous thing he possessed was the research of a long-dead scientist named Abednego Danner, Hugo’s father and Munro’s grandfather. That research was directly responsible for what Hugo Danner was, and what Arn Munro was as that superhuman’s son.
“We’ve got to stop that plane!” screamed Munro. He then looked at his squad, and no one moved.
“We’ve got wounded, Liberty. The team has to come first,” said Neptune.
“You’ve haven’t completed your mission, Liberty,” said Captain Storm. “We still need to get Tsunami and Khan, here, out of the Philippines.”
Arn looked at them, shocked that he wasn’t being listened to. Then he turned to Malone. “And you?” he said.
“Liberty, you know I love a good fight, but this isn’t the time. You gave me a fair shake even when others wouldn’t, and if you really want to go, I’m with you. But think. You yourself have said no one stays behind. If we don’t go, no one gets away. They need me to fly air cover, and you to give the command codes so we aren’t killed by our own boys.”
Arn Munro turned and punched a wall, leaving a gaping hole in it, then turned to Matches and said, “Damn it, you’re right. Everyone on the plane.”
Then he turned his eyes skyward toward the escaping plane, and said softly, “You got lucky this time, father. Next time, you’re mine.”
They all got into the plane and headed south toward Australia and their next assignment.