Juvara was a small country in Central America. It was so small, in fact, that locals used to joke that you needed your passport on you when you laid down to sleep, just in case your toes extended over the border. That was how small it was. No one joked about that now.
For the last twenty years or so, the corrupt government had been fending off a group of insurgents called the Liberty Rebels, who were gaining popularity and demanding government reform, or there would be a coup. And, as a matter of fact, there had been social reforms in the form of changes to the status quo, which had begun to make a difference in the people’s everyday lives.
One of the leaders of this reform movement was a man named Ricardo St. John. Some of the more diehard members of the government thought that he had merely capitulated to the demands of the Liberty Rebels. In reality, the man had seen what had been happening to his tiny country and the wolves that bordered it, waiting for all-out war so that they could come in and sweep up the pieces.
That was why St. John was holding a press conference on this day. He planned to tell the world that Juvara was going to be a new country.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the world press… I would like to announce that the social reforms called by the U.N. and the Liberty Rebels of our own nation will be passed. With every breath of my body till its last, I will fight for them!”
The crowd ate it up. Thousands of Juvarans watched it on television. Many more listened via radio.
“Our nation will be whole once–”
Ricardo St. John stopped in mid-sentence, a silent pause that was deafening, even more so than the scream that erupted once everyone could see that the growing red stain blossoming from beneath his shirt was indeed blood.
A man who had promised to bring peace to a nation was murdered, live, in front of the world. Days later, various TV and newspaper media outlets received copies of a letter claiming that the Liberty Rebels themselves were responsible for assassinating this would-be peacemaker.
Less than three weeks after that, the top-tier leadership of the Liberty Rebels met to find out who had ordered such a brazen assassination, since none of them claimed to know who had sanctioned it. They had barely started such a meeting at their headquarters when it was destroyed by incoming missiles — retaliation from the Juvaran government for the assassination of Ricardo St. John.
That was the match that set off the powder keg, for less than a week after the rocket attack, full-fledged war broke out across the tiny nation. In six months, the war had become so horrible that even the threat of mutually assured destruction was not enough to sway the Juvaran people to stop their fight for justice.
Then in stepped another entity who promised an end to all the fighting, all the death, who promised a stable government that would work for its people just as Ricardo St. John had wanted, but would also keep Juvara’s proud traditions. A new government was installed, with democratic elections temporarily postponed until a firm peace had been established. A private police force would serve to keep the peace for the duration.
The people of Juvara praised this peacemaker, which was neither a foreign country, nor the United Nations, but the one party that had the most at stake in Juvara: Helstrom Industries, which employed nearly sixty-nine percent of the population.
During an appearance on Larry King Live, when asked why he had stepped into this political cauldron, CEO Darius Helstrom stated that he did only what was best for the people of Juvara, and that his dearest wish was to see Juvara become the small but great nation it had formerly been.
That was October, 1985.
Washington, D.C., May, 1987:
It would take Operation Liberty forever to sort through all of Vandal Savage’s files and papers, which they’d seized nearly eight months ago now. (*) Even with the sheer number of technicians and researchers chipping away at it, the job would still take forever. This made sense, since they were also reviewing a good portion of human history while they were at it.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Suicide Squad: Path of the Immortal.]
Commander Steel and General Steve Trevor had been kept busy on smaller missions as they tracked down various assets of the Illuminati, Vandal Savage’s organization. He knew Trevor’s wife, Wonder Woman, wasn’t too happy about his absences, especially since they had both a newborn son and a newborn granddaughter. (*) But the compartmentalized way the Illuminati was run meant that even a mission’s success didn’t necessarily do much damage to the organization itself. It was well-funded by international bankers, and its members were scattered in leadership positions throughout all aspects of society, from governments to Hollywood; this meant that Trevor and his team had to tread very lightly.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman: The Amazon Prince and Infinity Inc: Child of Dreams, not yet published.]
Trevor often lamented that he felt like Sisyphus, tasked with having to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, over and over again. But all of them knew that taking on the Illuminati would take years, if not decades, and it might even be too big a task for them in the end. That was why they tried to focus on individual parts of the organization at a time, hoping that the small fry would eventually help them find evidence to prosecute the big fish.
One file did set off some flags; it was labeled H.I. Ltd. War Profits ’84-’85. This caught the eye of Commander Steel. During the war, he’d used an H.I. Rapture once or twice, as well as a Jury. But what he read in that file made his blood boil. Helstrom Industries wasn’t just content with making money off of wars; no, that would be too simple.
They began wars. And, upon starting them, they profited by selling weapons to both sides, even as they coaxed the participants to continue fighting. And when it was no longer profitable, they ended the war, swooped in, and profited off the rebuilding of the blasted landscape.
As a wealthy industrialist himself, with investments in armaments manufacturers on both Earth-One and Earth-Two, Hank Heywood was especially concerned with these types of rogue operations that gave the entire industry a bad name. He had barely finished the report when he made his decision. One of these days, he was going to show H.I. Ltd. a real hostile takeover. All he needed was a good enough reason, and, given the industrial espionage Helstrom was known for, he was sure a good reason would drop into his lap sooner or later.