by CSyphrett, with Doc Quantum
“This is the new field commander, Hank Hennessy,” Sarge Steel said to the new team without preamble. “He’ll be going into the field with you when you’re ready.”
“But he has only one functioning arm,” said Syntac, stating the obvious. The whole group turned on her. “I am merely stating a fact,” she said, nonplussed. “He only has one.”
“That’s right,” agreed Hennessy, not offended in the least. “I only have one. I’m willing to see how I stack up against those of you with both appendages.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?” asked Destiny Fox.
“Wise or not,” said Hennessy, “that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Sarge Steel faded back to watch from the door. He wanted to see what Hennessy could do himself.
“Free for all!” yelled the Puppeteer, leaping into the air and rocketing forward feet-first, carried by a beam of wildly colored light. He landed on the floor behind him as Hennessy ducked and aimed himself at Syntac.
The female android known as Syntac focused her eyes and shot a laser beam at him. Hennessy ducked to the left, heading for either the Red Knight or Specs. He wasn’t sure which. The Puppeteer flew at him from behind. The one-armed man ducked at the last second, luring Destiny Fox in, and the Puppeteer struck her head-on as Hennessy ducked. She slammed into the floor, out of the battle until she could get free, while the Puppeteer seemed unhurt.
“Oops,” said the Puppeteer. “This isn’t a good time to ask you out, is it?”
“I’m going to kill you,” Destiny said.
“That’s what I thought.”
Hennessy turned and kicked the Puppeteer in the gut too quickly for Specs to telepathically warn him. The clown fell to the floor with, “He got me, Unca Lou! I’m not long for this world.”
The former Fightin’ Five leader then spun to leap at Specs with a flying drop kick. That was a mistake, since Syntac used her android strength to knock him for a loop. He landed next to a wall, dazed from the blow. He looked up to see a fist coming at him and rolled out of the way. He got to his feet and knew it was over because the Red Knight had been able to close with him.
Hennessy decided he wasn’t going down without a fight and aimed for her leg. She grabbed his ankle and threw him to the ground. Hennessy rolled across the ground to get away from the martial artist. The tactic failed because, as he climbed to his feet, she sent him reeling with a kick. He noticed that Specs kept the others back out of the way as he went. It was just Hennessy and the Knight now.
He tried for a takedown. If he could take the Red Knight off her feet, maybe he would have a chance to put her out of the fight. A kick, and he found himself flying through the air again. Before he could recover, a choke hold trapped his neck in a grip of steel.
“Surrender,” the Red Knight demanded.
“You win,” Hennessy gasped out.
“Thank you,” said the Knight as she stepped back, releasing her hold.
“Training’s over for the day,” said Hennessy, grinning as he rubbed his throat gently. He was impressed. The group headed for the door, talking quietly about their new commander.
“Smooth moves for a retiree,” said Sarge Steel from the door.
“Some things you don’t forget,” said Hennessy. “How long did I last?”
“Tiffany?” asked the director.
“About two minutes,” said Tiffany Sinn. “Pretty good for someone who’s been out of the game like you have.”
“We need to put them in the field to see how they react in the real world,” said Hennessy.
“We’ll get you a target,” said Tiffany. “Something small.”
Tiffany Sinn was as good as her word. Two days later, a criminal with super-speed apparently decided to rob everything in sight, beginning a crime spree. Ordinary police were stymied by the speedster’s extremely fast reactions. It seemed a perfect case for the fledgling team.
Hank Hennessy read the reports before gathering his team in the briefing room on the gym level. He was already planning tactics as he began.
“This is the target,” he said, displaying a grainy black and white picture. “The locals are calling him the new Blue Streak. None of you are old enough to remember the original Blue Streak, who was a super-speedster mystery-man operating during World War II. This new speedster by that name has robbed five banks, eight jewelry stores, four pawn shops, and three armored cars, demonstrating sonic speed and some vibratory ability. The mission is to capture him and transport him to a holding facility with minimum problems. Any questions?”
“How are we supposed to even get close enough to engage this guy?” asked Destiny Fox. “None of us are as fast as he is, not even the Puppeteer.”
“Satellite surveillance has given us a general operating picture,” said Hennessy, using a remote control to pull up images of a city block on the screen before them. “Intel believes that the target lives in one of these apartment buildings because of an IR trail traced from the scenes of the crime. If Specs can ID him, we can stage an attack in his home and take him off guard.”
“What happens if he discovers our presence?” asked Syntac.
“We let him go and try again later,” said Hennessy.
“When do we get started?” asked the Puppeteer, whose real name, Hennessy now knew, was Van Dale. His grandfather was Alan Dale, the original Puppeteer of the mid-1940s, who had begun his patriotically themed mystery-man career under the name Captain V.
“As soon as you’re ready to go,” said Hennessy. “Read the file before you leave the room to get your things. Duty assignments will be given once we’re on site.”
Later, after the team had reached the scene, Hennessy asked, “Ready, Specs?” He adjusted the new holster and pistol he had got from Equipment back in Washington.
“Yep,” said John Anders quietly. “I’ll try to keep him from being alerted before the team can get into position.”
“If this goes bad, fall back and handle communications,” said Hennessy.
“Got it. Anything else, ‘mother’?”
“Not off the top of my head,” said Hennessy, rolling his eye.
“I’m gone, then,” said Specs. “If you hear screaming and the sound of rending flesh, try to save something.”
Hennessy watched as the telepath began his sweep of the apartment building. It was a shame that Specs wasn’t able to focus his mind-reading ability to a large group all at once. Checking his deployment, the only one he wasn’t sure about was the Puppeteer, who seemed ready to charge in and inadvertently alert the target that the authorities were on site. He sat in the captain’s chair in the back of the surveillance van he had been provided with by Equipment. Cameras and recorders were storing the team’s performance for future reference.
Posing as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, Specs walked through the building talking to anyone who answered the door and scanning their thoughts. He scanned each apartment that didn’t answer his knocks to pick up any stray thoughts. He had scanned twelve apartments before he found one that seemed promising.
The target didn’t answer Specs’ polite knock on the door. He went on to the next door in line while training every mental sense on that one apartment. Anders did not like what he was picking up. “He’s coming out,” Specs telepathically communicated to Hennessy.
Hank Hennessy frowned with concern. Everyone was in place and hidden. He hadn’t seen them, had he?
“He’s planning a job,” said Specs. “Some jewelry store.”
“Get ready, Puppeteer,” said Hennessy. “The reports say this guy’s fast.”
“No problemo, El Capitan,” said the Puppeteer. Hennessy saw him burst through a window on a beam of multicolored light, which Van Dale called his V-beam. Five seconds later, he was thrown back out.
“Guy’s mad,” said Specs. “Puppeteer broke some of his stuff. He’s coming out to kill him.”
“Get ready, Fox,” Hennessy ordered.
The Puppeteer seemed calm as he started his five-story fall. The new Blue Streak sped through the window and ran down the side of the building, waiting for the harlequin to hit. The Puppeteer spun in midair and turned on his multicolored V-beam, heading straight for the speedster feet-first. The Blue Streak dodged the Puppeteer easily, laughing at the agent’s poor aim.
He didn’t laugh long as Destiny Fox flew from her hiding place and blindsided him with a powerful blast of water. He slipped onto the ground, rage all over his soaked face as he was caught in place by watery chains controlled by Destiny. He began to spin on the ground, spraying the water outward. Destiny hovered upward to dodge the spray.
The Puppeteer, who had landed lightly on the ground thanks to his V-beam, bounced back up and spun a puppet by its strings over his head. He threw it as it reached the end of its arc. The puppet wrapped around the Blue Streak’s legs like a snake. The villain grunted slightly as he spun the other way to unwind the restraint. When he stopped rotating, the Red Knight was right there with a quarterstaff to knock him over and send him flying into the wall of the building.
“Coming down,” reported Specs. “I just passed the fourth floor.”
The Blue Streak got to his feet, shaking his head. “You want me? Catch me!” he said as he bolted for freedom.
“He’s coming your way, Syntac,” said Hennessy.
The female android stepped into the path of the running Blue Streak. The speedster made an effort to push the green-and-black-clad figure out of his way, but she slammed him into a nearby telephone pole. Before the Blue Streak could recover, Syntac applied a choke hold and strangled him into blackness, then quickly applied manacles for his legs and arms.
“He’s down, team,” said Hennessy. “Let’s secure him and get him to jail.”