by CSyphrett and Doc Quantum
Connie Webb, the Red Knight, continued telling her story.
“My grandfather, Winslow Drake, became a member of Naval Intelligence in the 1930s and made a name for himself fighting pirates, Nazis, saboteurs, and other villains. His only child was a daughter — my mother — who would have joined the Navy herself if it had been possible at the time. Instead she settled on marrying a Navy man named Palmer Webb.
“Although my father was never the renowned hero my maternal grandfather had been, he had a few adventures of his own in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, including a legendary encounter with the monsters Gorgo and Ogra during the Venusian invasion of 1962.”
“What?” gasped John “Specs” Anders. “Are you telling us that alien invasion was real?”
“Yep,” said Connie, smiling. “Those giant extraterrestrials, although they almost certainly weren’t from Venus or our solar system, almost completely totaled Melbourne, Australia. My dad’s naval vessel was called in near the end, and he witnessed Gorgo and Ogra battle the Venusian giants and then batter their gigantic spacecraft but good, and the aliens never returned again. As my grandfather tells it, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were so grateful for the monsters’ help that they enacted a do not engage policy, reasoning that they had done more for the free world and all of mankind than against man and were not to be considered hostile. Of course, that policy only applied when Gorgo and Ogra weren’t causing damage to coastal cities.”
Van Dale, the Puppeteer, said, “I know they exist — I’ve seen Alex Berlitz’s film, Gorgo’s Triumph — but it’s still hard to believe there were giant monsters walking the Earth in the early ’60s.”
“Oh, monsters do exist,” said Destiny Fox enigmatically.
Connie nodded. “Yeah, there was Gorgo and Ogra, and also Konga and Reptilicus — or was it Reptisaurus? I’ve always wondered what happened to all of them. Anyway, my mom and dad raised me as a Navy brat. Because my father was stationed in Japan at the time, I began my training in martial arts as soon as I could walk, learning martial arts from the greatest teachers growing up. I’d always dreamed of joining the Navy like my dad and grandfather, so it was no wonder that I enlisted as soon as I was old enough. Like my grandfather, I made a name for myself that got me noticed by naval intelligence. But I guess it was only a matter of time before I outgrew the Navy.
“My dad was among the casualties when the red sky event happened. A wall fell on him while he was helping to evacuate a building of people. I found his log book when we — my mother and I — put his things away. Sarge Steel heard about me through my grandfather and contacted me to join Checkmate, where I became a Knight. I soon beat out all other candidates to become the Red Knight for the new LAW team Steel was putting together. And here we are.”
Major Force took a deep breath. The tingling in his legs had finally stopped as he considered his next difficulty — the vault. The man whose real name was Emil Forsa seized the exterior of the vault in both of his hands. He began to pull on the metal as energy traced into his hands, heating the alloy.
Usually, Major Force would form a fireball with the energy. This time he directed it into a cloud of heat between his skin and the metal. The surface of the metal slowly split apart under the treatment and formed a strand that Emil pulled out of the way. As soon as he had melted enough of a hole from the metal, he entered the vault. He began exploding the small metal cases in the walls as he looked for a life-saving miracle.
“What about you, Syntac?” Connie Webb asked the female android in an attempt to push the spotlight away from herself. “How did you… start out?”
“I was designed and built in 1974 by the famous Canadian inventor Jonathan Burns, who had earlier invented the robot known as Rog 2000,” stated Syntac matter-of-factly. “Unlike Rog, who was built with a chrome exterior, I was constructed with an electricity-conducting soft plastic that emulates human skin, based on the work of Dr. Chester Dolenz. In November, 1974, I was first put on-line and assisted Rog 2000 in apprehending a criminal named Charles Magno.
“In June, 1978, I was recruited to become an agent for the Office of Scientific Intelligence, and I was an agent of OSI until June, 1985. In August, 1985, Sarge Steel recruited me for LAW. I had a number of unremarkable adventures in the intervening periods, during which time I received several upgrades from my creator, including a telepathic communications receiver. It’s all very simple and straightforward.”
“I’m sure it is,” said Connie. She turned to the taciturn Destiny Fox, the most mysterious one in the group. “Destiny, why don’t you tell us a bit about–?”
She was interrupted as the group’s pagers began to beep quietly. “Phone’s over there,” John “Specs” Anders said, pointing to a public phone stand.
The team ran over to the row of telephones. Connie put in a quarter and dialed an anonymous number. An operator on the other end gave her an address and hung up. “We have a mission straight from the boss-lady herself,” she said, referring to Tiffany Sinn, the director of the LAW division. “Too bad Hennessy is out of town.”
“Where?” asked Syntac. Connie gave them the address. “Van, you’ll have to go there and hold the situation in place until the rest of us meet you there. Destiny, you’re going to have to transport Specs,” said the female android.
The Puppeteer pressed a hidden button on his watch. A foam sprayed over his body as he ran forward. Garbed in fighting colors, he shot off into the distance on his psychedelic V-beam. Destiny Fox created a seat of water from the reflecting pool for Specs to sit on and hovered in the air, flying away at a somewhat slower pace than the Puppeteer.
Emil Forsa, known as Major Force, bathed in the titanic glow that surrounded him. It was like sitting in a hot tub, except radiation was substituted for water.
Walking out of the now-valueless vault, Emil’s footsteps burned into the concrete floor. He hadn’t felt this good in a long time. He was unprepared for the pellet that impacted his chest armor. A cage of sticky foam surrounded him in an instant. Major Force directed some of his new energy outward, burning his prison away in a cloud of smelly smoke. He stepped forward to confront his opponent.
Major Force and Van Dale, the Puppeteer, glared at each other through their respective masks. It was a long, silent moment. Then Emil released a pure bolt of energy at the orange-and-black-costumed Puppeteer. The LAW agent bounced over the plasma stream. The wall melted from the impact as the Puppeteer tossed a grenade to the floor. Snake-like coils exploded from the grenade, wrapping around the villain.
“You’re beginning to really piss me off!” said Forsa, melting out of the trap.
“I haven’t even started,” said the Puppeteer, crushing handfuls of pellets in both hands. He was hurled backward as Major Force was slammed into a wall by the fire retardant. The former stunt man flipped in midair and landed on his feet.
Destiny Fox and John “Specs” Anders arrived moments later. Specs held his hand up for his companion to halt. He wanted a second to look things over. Besides, it looked like the Puppeteer had everything in hand at the moment. The retardant foam expanded outward around Major Force as he channeled his nuclear energy into it. Finally, it gave up the ghost and exploded outward in thin ribbons.
“I don’t have time for this,” Forsa growled as he flew for the hole he had blown in the side of the building. He released a long stream of plasma at the puppet-themed agent as he went, but missed.
Specs motioned Destiny back to give the atomic criminal room to fly. His talent had already picked out the man’s destination. That would give the team time to regroup and strategize a better way to handle the menace.
A black van rolled to a stop beside the agents. Syntac was at the wheel, and the Red Knight rode shotgun. She waved impatiently for the rest of them to get in the back.
“Major Force,” said Specs. “He’s burning up with energy. He has a room across town where we might be able to catch up to him, but we will have a hard time stopping him if we can’t touch him. I think he’s a time bomb.”
“Then how do we handle this?” the Red Knight asked.
Syntac drove through the city streets silently. “I think I have a plan,” she said. “It will be dangerous.”
“Well, then, don’t tell me about it,” said the Puppeteer.
Several minutes later, the ex-stuntman grumbled, “It’s always, ‘Puppeteer, go distract the bad guy.’ Never send Specs or Syntac. Oh, no.”
“Shut up,” the Red Knight’s voice hissed over his cowl radio. “We want the element of surprise, remember?”
“Easy for you to say,” said the Puppeteer as he looked through the windows adjacent to the hotel’s fire escape. He found the one he wanted and paused. Emil Forsa had powered down for the moment as he gathered his belongings. He seemed unconcerned about pursuit. Van admitted to himself he wouldn’t be concerned either if he could turn into a ball of fire.
“I’m ready,” he said into his mike. “Let’s get this over with.”
“We’re in position, Puppeteer,” said Syntac. “Go for it.”
The Puppeteer burst through the window, hands taking aim at the surprised villain. It had taken a few minutes of work, but now Van Dale could spray his special foam like a fire extinguisher.
Emil Forsa’s face registered surprise just before he was buried in a cocoon of gray material. He grimaced as he was bound for a second time. Fury erupted inside the nuclear man, and he triggered his change. The overcharge of energy ate away at the foam even as he sensed his body in motion.
Impact in the dark. He barely felt it as he burned the rest of the sticky substance away. Forsa realized he was in some kind of enclosure with the heat resistant foam all around him to protect the surfaces of the cell.
Major Force grabbed hold of the foam to secure a stable grip. His cell was moving at a high rate of speed. Sudden turns threatened to spill him from one side to the other if he did not latch onto the soft substance. Filled with the power of a sun, he decided it was time to escape his prison. He channeled all the energy he could stand in a massive stream of plasma. Foam and metal melted away from the super-heated air.
“How much longer?” Specs asked as the sky lit up behind the agency van. A trace of anxiety was in his voice.
“Almost there,” said Syntac, as calm as if she were taking a drive in the country to admire the scenery.
“On the maximum range mark,” the Red Knight said.
The van slammed to a halt. Destiny Fox floated out the back door and began concentrating, hovering far above.
Major Force ripped through the top of the converted dumpster that he had been trapped in. “You again,” Forsa said when he saw the Puppeteer grinning at him. His energy aura distorted the nearby air. “I’m gonna enjoy killin’ you.”
“Hello,” said the Puppeteer, “and good-bye.”
A funnel of water tore into the dumpster and retreated back like a coiled spring, pulling dumpster, villain and all through the air to the Potomac. Emil Forsa saw the waters of the river reach up to meet him in the shape of an open palm just before he hit.
“Aw, $#!^,” was all he had time to say. Then everything went black.
The LAW members fished Major Force out of the river. Most of his energy had been depleted by the onslaught of the cold water. They put the restraints on the nuclear man and turned him over to the federal prison authorities. Special materials were already in place to hold his nuclear powers in check.
“I’d say we did a good job here,” John Anders said, cleaning his glasses with a soft cloth.
“You know what Hennessy will say when he gets back,” said the Red Knight.
“He’ll say, ‘Could have been a lot better,'” said the Puppeteer with a laugh.
“Exactly,” said the Knight as the group walked back to their vehicle. She looked at Destiny. “You never did get around to telling us your origin story.”
Destiny Fox shrugged. “What can I say? I consumed the Apache river god that I had been sacrificed to in a previous life and gained all its powers.”
The group laughed, thinking she was joking. She wasn’t.