by Dan Swanson, based on a concept by Tynnechris
Action Team B: Kid Terrific, Star Lass, Golden Boy, Hourboy, Hawk Lad, WildCat:
Over seven-thousand cities spread across the three continents and thousands of islands of the Utopian States of America sponsored annual Heritage Day celebrations — but not all on the same day. Every day was Heritage Day somewhere in about twenty different cities spread throughout the nation today, and then twenty more tomorrow, and so on, and then start the cycle again on New Year’s Day. All members of the producer class were required by law to attend at least one Heritage Day celebration each year. Without pay, of course, since they weren’t working.
Yorktown’s Heritage Day Festival and Celebration was very similar to celebrations in other cities. Large outdoor auditoriums with 3D holostages were set up throughout the Colonial National Historical Park on the bluffs above the Yorktown River, and members of the producer class were treated to a day of spectacles and free food. Today’s feature presentation was a live broadcast of a SWAT team training exercise on an island in the Yorktown River. The training grounds on the island were dotted with holographic cameras to catch all the action.
“Modern SWAT Teams are equipped with military-grade battle-suits, which greatly increase the strength, durability and firepower of the individual officers. A fully trained, five-member SWAT team equipped with these battle-suits is the equal of a twentieth century Army regiment.” The hired PR flack was really getting into his spiel, but at that instant, a large figure materialized in front of the waiting teams.
“But how do they stack up against the Legion of Doom?” It was Boomer of the Legion of Doom. In short order, three more Doom Legionnaires blinked in. “Well, not the whole Legion — just us.” The Guardians immediately recognized their deadly opponents: Boomer, Bluefire, AbsolutZero, Smashin, and Sonix. This smash squad was as deadly as they came.
The crowds at the remote theaters thought it was all part of the show, but the professionals involved knew differently. Even the PR flack didn’t think that five fully trained and equipped SWAT teams could do more than slow down a Legion of Doom smash squad, so he quickly alerted his command that they were going to need reinforcements. The SWAT teams quickly spread out to surround their opponents.
Bluefire and AbsolutZero usually worked as a team — hot and cold. Bluefire burst into blue flame and took to the air, raining fireballs on the Guardians far below her. AbsolutZero iced up and shot streams of cold at the ground, coating it with slippery ice as she tried to freeze the Guardians in place, making it more difficult for them to dodge the fireballs. Their shields were able to deflect the flames, and their battle-suits could protect them from temperature extremes for a while. The flames crashing to the frozen turf melted the ice, and soon the Guardians fighting the Temperature Twins were enveloped in a dense white fog, which was fine with the villains. AbsolutZero lowered the temperature, and the Guardians were now frozen into a giant block of ice.
Boomer pointed at the bunker where terrorists were supposedly holding hostages, and it exploded violently. Three Guardians charged him, moving far faster than normal humans could. Another blast knocked two of them down, but the third tackled him and began pummeling him. His teammates recovered and closed, and the three Guardians and the super-villain were soon involved in vicious hand-to-hand combat. Boomer was stronger than any one of them, and his power gave him high resistance to injury, so it seemed to be a fairly even fight. But every time one of his punches connected, there was a nasty explosion, and the SWAT suits were taking damage.
Smashin yelped in glee and leaped into the air, spinning and tumbling, and came down between two Guardians. They both charged at him, and he jumped again, just high enough so they crashed into each other. He landed on top the two and leaped again, cackling and laughing manically. Two more charged at him, and he landed flat on the ground and rolled between then, tripping one into the path of the other.
Several officers fired at Sonix. Projectile weapons disintegrated in the air as they approached him, vibrated to dust by his high-frequency sonic barrier. Laser and lightning weapons were equally ineffective; laser blasts reflected dangerously off his costume, and the lightning was somehow shorted directly into the ground at his feet. A powerful aimed magnetic field slowed him down but didn’t stop him. The Guardians facing him noticed that their armor was starting to slow and the joints were heating abnormally. If this kept up, they would be frozen in place shortly.
The biggest problem for the SWAT teams was that they were equipped for a training exercise. They hadn’t expected to need live weapons today, and their power and ammo reserves were low. So far the fight seemed to be a standoff, but that would change shortly.
And even worse news, the SWAT reinforcements that Kid Terrific had called for weren’t going to get here in a hurry. Many of them were committed to the same type of live demonstrations these teams had been involved in, and they wouldn’t arrive until well after Action Team B. When Cathy heard that news, she totally changed her battle plans and told the pilot to blast at emergency hypersonic speed all the way. Instead of landing, they would eject from the Dart over the island. By driving the Dart at emergency speed and skipping the landing, they could be there in less than ten minutes rather than the earlier conservative estimate of twenty minutes.
Kid Terrific got on the radio to the commanders of the SWAT teams and ordered them to withdraw. They were reluctant, but her boss outranked their bosses. The Dart roared over the island, giving them one last quick look at the tactical situation. Hourboy vanished from the cabin, carrying a knapsack of antipersonnel weapons, and then the remainder of Action Team B of the Legion of Justice launched into action.
The results of Hourboy’s sneak attack on the smash squad were immediate and impressive. At the exact instant he disappeared, a number of things happened.
A small bomb filled with quick-expanding flame-retardant foam exploded in the air near Bluefire. It was about fifteen feet off-target, but there were several hundred cubic feet of foam compressed into the bomb, and Bluefire was drenched. The foam around her instantly hardened, and she fell to the ground.
An electrified crowd-control wire mesh net erupted from its container only inches from AbsolutZero and wrapped around her, jolting her with current designed to stun up to twenty people captured in the net.
The ground around Boomer’s feet suddenly writhed with hundreds of snakes, which were attracted to his body and crawled all over him, leaving trails of sticky thread behind them. In seconds he was solidly wrapped in a cocoon of steel-hard threads.
Hourboy himself materialized directly in front of the capering Smashin, and before the villain could spin away, he landed a solid kick to the jaw of the freakish fiend. Unfortunately, whatever trap Hourboy had set for Sonix had no effect.
Mekanique was conscious again. But she was still trapped and even worse off than before. She had no physical sensations whatsoever — none of her six human-style senses or the other four that Rotwang had created for her were working. She floated in an empty universe. She had no way of knowing how long she’d been unplugged, though it really didn’t matter.
She focused her mind and sent a mental command — it was the only kind of command she could make right now — to a specific portion of her positronic brain. And she got a response. She activated the nanites that were hidden in one of her positronic brain cells and sent them out to explore.
Smashin bounced back to his feet, right into Hourboy’s grasp. Randall Tyler knew his fighting prowess was no match for Smashin’s superhuman agility, and his dive computer told him he couldn’t dive back in time again for another thirty minutes yet, so he had to do his best to contain the freakish fiend until help could arrive. He pulled the villain close and viciously head-butted him, and Smashin reeled. Randall wrapped one ankle around behind the villain’s ankles and pushed forward as hard as he could, and the two fell. Hourboy twisted so he fell to one side, and just as Smashin hit the dirt, Tyler drove his elbow powerfully down into the villain’s solar plexus. Smashin gasped for breath and screeched in pain. Vicious tactics, but Randall knew this particular villain would kill him and laugh about it if given the chance.
He grabbed a tangler and was about to slap it on the retching villain when he felt his body tingle, and the tangler exploded in his hand, wrapping him in an expanding pile of writhing mechanical snakes. It wasn’t possible. He built his weapons himself, and there was no way Sonix should have been able to activate this one. And then the snakes injected him with a sedative, and he stopped thinking.
Smashin rolled to his feet, performed a formal bow toward his teammate, and stood over his fallen foe, mocking him. “Looks like you spend too much time wrapped up in your work, Minute Waltz! Your hour of fame is used up!” He laughed loudly. “That was good! I slay me!”
While he was laughing, WildCat leaped toward him from behind, catching him off-guard. Cat’s claws ripped the back of the fiendish freak from waist to shoulders and knocked him down as well. Smashin ducked his head as he fell forward and turned the fall into a somersault. He sprang up to his feet and used his momentum to launch himself high in the air, passing over the man-panther as he sprang again. “That was a fowl blow, tabby!” he cackled. He tore off his jacket as he fell to reveal an identical jacket underneath, and the second jacket was not even torn. “Oops, that’s your teammate who’s fowl! Say, I hope you remember where the litter box is this time! You know how hard it is to get the smell of cat urine out of clothes?”
WildCat turned and leaped again, growling as he leaped. Even Smashin was astonished at how far the Cat jumped, and though he contorted his body wildly, Cat once again managed to sink his claws into the villain’s back. This time he held on and did a forward roll, dragging the struggling villain with him, and completed the roll by slamming Smashin into the ground. This move would have broken ribs, at least, in a human opponent, but Smashin tore lose and rolled away.
AbsolutZero decreased the temperature of her icy covering, and it became a superconductor, shorting the net’s battery to ground. She aimed an ultra-cold blast at the cocoon surrounding Bluefire. Heated to an incredible temperature inside by the straining Bluefire and cooled almost to absolute zero on the outside, the cocoon shattered. Bluefire immediately melted the net holding her partner, and the terrible Temperature Twins were free again.
This was fine with Star Lass. She blasted AbsolutZero with a force-beam, knocking her backward, and the villain skidded across the shattered landscape on her icy frictionless rump until she smashed into some rubble. Bluefire screamed in rage and blasted into the air, then fired her blue-hot flame blasts at the dark-clad heroine. They splashed on Theresa’s force-field, and she deflected them downward where they blasted steam from the frozen ground.
Bluefire thought that was a good idea, so she continued to blast the ground. A giant column of superheated steam rose from the rubble, and Theresa had to wrap her force field around her for protection. AbsolutZero, who had finally managed to sit up, froze that steam into a solid icy column, trapping Star Lass inside.
The sedative that the tangler snakes injected into Boomer had no effect on him, but the same couldn’t be said of his explosions on the cocoon holding him. He blasted himself free in seconds, but that was just enough time for Golden Boy to reach him. Sandy swung a fist, and that fist grew as it moved until it was the size of a boulder when it hit the villain, knocking him violently off his feet, and he flew backward and finally skidded to a halt. He didn’t even try to rise, but aimed both arms at Golden Boy’s stomach and blasted away. The concussive blasts hit like cannonballs, and Sandy’s golden body stretched and then parted, letting the blasts through, then melded together again, leaving Golden Boy unharmed. His legs changed shape into tightly compressed coil springs, and then they sprung, and he was launched skyward. His body quickly changed shape again until he resembled the sleek body of Dart One, and he swooped down on the villain, agilely twisting and turning to avoid the concussion blasts Boomer was firing at him.
Not far away, Kid Terrific was stalking Sonix. The sultan of sound was disappointed in the makeup of Action Team B.
“I was hoping for another go ’round with Canary. She’s such a blast — we make beautiful music together!”
Meanwhile, he was blasting Cathy with subsonics, which had long been known to science to induce terror in people — people who were touched by it, that was, but that didn’t describe Kid Terrific right now. She was currently an expert on Sonix and his tactics, and she was carrying a subsonic neutralizer — it sampled incoming sound waves and produced similar sounds, one-hundred and eighty degrees out of phase, which cancelled out his attack. Her small unit couldn’t match his power, so it only protected a small volume, but it was enough. It was already burning out, but she had other tricks up her sleeves — and an ally.
Hawk Lad stopped on Sonix using his own sonic weapon. The fighting cry of a hunting hawk had also been known to induce terror, and in Horus’ case it was backed up by deadly fighting talons and a beak designed for ripping and tearing, thanks to his Feitheran genetics. Sonix had to break off his attack on Cathy to dodge the stooping bird of prey, and Kid Terrific closed the distance before he could recover. Hawk Lad flew up to Sonix and started buffeting him with his powerful wings, knocking him around, and then Kid Terrific landed a powerful one-two punch that staggered him.
Still, his power wasn’t limited to his voice. His body was constantly vibrating, and this made it difficult to hit him squarely. He turned his voice on the ground and screamed at the top of his powerful voice, and the rubble around him virtually exploded, spraying his foes with stinging shards of stone and creating an opaque cloud of dust. Horus used his giant wings to quickly clear away the cloud, but Sonix was nowhere to be seen.
Miles away in his private office, General Urbane monitored the battle via satellite surveillance. It wasn’t going nearly as well as he had hoped. He would have to step in quickly.