by CSyphrett and Doc Quantum
In a chateau high in the Swiss Alps, Christopher Smith — a peace-loving scientist and diplomat who occasionally used the masked, uniformed identity of the Peacemaker — stood behind a plastic window looking over a large gymnasium. The agents of his prospective new team were training below. He expected a few more members from their native countries to arrive in the next few days. Besides his occasional work as a Sentinels of Justice reservist, Smith was new to committing to a group, but so were the rest of his agents. They were all in training right now, but they would soon enough become a commando strike force to rival any in the world.
The Peacemaker had sustained injuries during the Crisis on Infinite Earths when one of the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons grabbed his gun, causing it to explode. The injuries caused by the explosion and the shrapnel from the gun, along with his advanced age, had prevented him from going into action very much these days. Thusly, ever since then Christopher Smith had been working to establish a small team of agents who would carry on the work he had begun as the Peacemaker. Since the composition of the team came from several nations, he liked to think of it as a modern-day Foreign Legion. Given that he was now in his mid-sixties, much older than any of the other active action-heroes, he wondered why he hadn’t set it up years earlier.
His new team-in-training was based out of his private chateau in Switzerland. While it was out of the way high in the Swiss Alps, it was still accessible to mountain hikers and the like. Thus, he didn’t raise his eyebrows at the two men standing outside the estate walls until they revealed colorful costumes under their coats. One, dressed in green with a white chevron across his shoulder, took to the air. He pointed at the chateau, and a giant fist formed and smashed through the outer wall. The other man, dressed in red, disappeared in a flash, apparently moving faster than the eye could see.
Throughout his long career, Smith had never allowed himself to be taken aback by any surprises. “Suit up,” Peacemaker ordered his trainees over the loudspeaker as he grabbed his helmet. “This is not a drill.” Without much hesitation, the recruits ran for the special Peacemaker commando suits and helmets and shot off into the air using belt-mounted jetpacks.
“Gazoo, stop that hand. Huckleberry, back-up for Gazoo. Underdog, Bullwinkle, Magilla, grab the other man.” The goofy, cartoon-based nicknames had been his wife Nora’s idea; it was a way of keeping the recruits from getting too cocky until they were ready to be full-fledged agents. The Peacemaker headed for the door and the launch pad on the roof. His own jet pack would take him into the fray as fast as he could fly up the emergency stairs.
Huckleberry flew out of the room at high speed, but Gazoo was already gone. Gazoo and Underdog were the fastest commandos in training. Almost as soon as the attack started, they were suited up and in motion, leaving jetstreams in their wake.
Underdog rocketed through the front doors, the man in red racing to meet him. The speedster on the ground began to swing at the commando from the air so fast he seemed to be a multiple image mixed with strong wind and flying dust and turf. “I’m Red Light!” the speedster shouted as he brought Underdog to a stop through the pummeling.
Gazoo flew to where the giant fist smashed at the building. “I’m Green Light!” cried the green-clad intruder controlling it as he brought the fist down again to shatter brick and concrete. Using his power-suit and entire body, Gazoo caught the glowing appendage, his muscles straining and his jets groaning as he held it back.
The Peacemaker and Huckleberry flew from the roof of the chateau. Their target was Green Light, who was trying to hold Gazoo in place. The Peacemaker and Huckleberry aimed the automatic weapons they carried at Green Light and cut loose. Instantly, a green bubble cut off the flow of rubber bullets.
The glowing green hand made of energy plasma disappeared as Green Light turned his attention on the two commandos flying to intercept him. It was a mistake. Gazoo rocketed through the air in a blur of motion and struck full-force on Green Light’s steely glowing arm. The green bubble buried itself in the ground like a baseball being hit for a home run. The bubble popped as the man tried and failed to regain his concentration.
The Peacemaker shot knockout gas capsules into the crater, knocking the man known as Green Light unconscious. The gas dispersed quickly on the slight mountain breeze.
Underdog and the speedster calling himself Red Light battled across the chateau courtyard. Neither saw Bullwinkle and Magilla drop by close at hand. Magilla waited for the perfect moment until he swung his right hand at the speedster. The unexpected punch caught the invader in the side of his red cowl, and he skidded across the grass.
Without hesitation, Bullwinkle kicked, sending the man down for the count. Bullwinkle fell on Red Light’s back and cuffed his hands to his ankles. He looked around and asked, “Is that it?”
In New York City, a pale-skinned woman stood outside what she knew to be the building that housed Project Dragon. She let her coat fall to the ground, revealing a one-piece black bathing suit and boots. She tossed back her mane of jet black hair as she leaped over the security wall.
Alarms sounded as she smashed a hole in the ground floor face. It was time to destroy the Dragon Force before they could interfere with the plan, although she wished she knew more about said plan. Still, with a wicked grin on her face, she shouted loudly, “The Dark Angel has come. Your destruction will quickly follow!”
Within a few moments, an athletic man in his early forties with sandy brown hair and a mustache bounded down the stairs to confront the woman pounding her way through the building. His name was Robard Fiermont, and he was Mindfire, leader of the Dragon Force. Although only seconds ago he had been having a nice, quiet nap on the couch, Robard had managed to awake and slip on the white costume with a horned white helmet, a red cape, and blue gloves that enabled him to remain in contact with the advanced crime-fighting ship called the Dragon. It was the Dragon that gave him his amazing mental powers.
But he was only one-third of the trio; his son and daughter — both in their early twenties — filled out the team as the warrior known as Battleclaw and the speedster called Speedwing. Together they had been an athletic troupe called the Flying Fiermonts long before they became the Dragon Force. They had once worked as athletic thieves and had been imprisoned as criminals, but now they were action-heroes and had long ago been given a pardon from the governor.
What a time for his son Warren to be on a date somewhere across town! As Battleclaw, Warren was the powerhouse of the group and took the lead in every fight. Robard didn’t think he could match his own physical power against that of his female opponent. She seemed far stronger than he was. Still, he was not only Mindfire but also the head of the Flying Fiermonts, and a Fiermont never gave up the fight.
Mindfire reached the ground floor and headed right for the wall. He leaped forward, planting a boot in Dark Angel’s lovely face. She fell back from the unexpected assault. Robard pressed his momentary advantage with a flurry of telekinesis-enhanced blows that drove the woman back from her improvised entrance. “Is that all you got, witch?” he yelled hoarsely.
Robard Fiermont and Dark Angel squared off against each other in front of the Project Dragon building, the woman swinging at Mindfire with a fist that had already punched through brick. Robard slipped the punch over his shoulder, ramming her in the ribs and knocking her back several inches.
The brunette known as Dark Angel dug in her toes and punched Mindfire in the chest. He flew against the wall. His Dragon suit had taken the brunt of the blow, but he knew he would be carrying a large bruise in the morning.
Then a blur whizzed by the Project Dragon building, and Dark Angel suddenly fell under a volley of super-fast punches.
“Nobody! Hits! My! Dad!” said the blur, which quickly formed into the figure of the blonde Christine Fiermont, dressed in an almost identical white suit with a white helmet, a red cape, and blue gloves. Robard had contacted both his offspring through their Dragon suits, and his daughter was always the fastest and the first to arrive. It was time for Speedwing to take a hand.
Just as Dark Angel was about to react, Speedwing suddenly thrust Moto’s female agent into the ground, creating a crater there in the street.
Mindfire rushed forward. The powerful woman called Dark Angel was on her hands and knees, trying to stand. Another flurry of strikes from Speedwing drove her back into the ground like a giant wrecking ball.
“I think you got her, Christine,” Mindfire said.
“Good,” said Speedwing, standing with her hands on her hips. “Serves her right.”
In Tokyo, young Akira Moto half-listened to the radio as he worked on fine-tuning his remote control of the android body of Volton. So far he had only used its super-strength, invulnerability, flight, and the ability to shoot bolts of electricity, but Akira knew it had other powers he had not yet been able to tap. He would need to better define the android’s offensive capabilities. He couldn’t count on being underestimated when he met an enemy as he had been the last time.
After several hours, Akira finished his work for the time being. He hoped he had finally solved the problem of temporary loss of control that had plagued him a few times during his trial runs and when he had stopped the bank robber. He had also dressed the android in a specially designed red and yellow Volton costume that replaced the tattered original one. He thought it looked amateur and barely serviceable for an action-hero, but he knew deep down he had done a good job.
Now he had to get some sleep before school in the morning. Tomorrow he would take it on another test run, but before then he had to rest and think about his other responsibilities. He didn’t realize that school would be the last thing on his mind as he turned in. His not-so-dear Uncle Tetsuo’s scheme would see to that.
As the sun rose the next morning, Akira readied himself for the day. The morning news was fixated on a strange growth exploding just outside Tokyo. He wondered if he should do something but decided to wait and see what the official forces could do about the problem. If they needed a hand, he would gladly see what he could do. Until then, school beckoned him on.
At Checkmate headquarters, Washington, D.C., Hank Hennessy blinked at the sudden change as he lay on his back. The intruder was still here in the building. The Living Assault Weapons (LAW) team leader forced himself to get up. He picked up the remote detonator, knowing the gadget man had planted explosives in the command center below.
Destiny Fox appeared in the doorway. She looked around the wrecked cover area, eyebrows raised, and asked, “What happened here?”
“Intruder,” said Hennessy quietly, placing a finger to his lips to indicate that the intruder was still close enough to hear them.
She nodded and, hovering in midair, looked around the room. She saw someone crouching behind the counter from her elevated point of view and flew silently over the wooden barrier. The genius intruder known as Egghead lashed out, but he was frozen in place with a mere gesture from Destiny Fox.
“The human body is ninety percent water,” the woman who had made herself a river goddess said, holding her hand out and turning it slightly one way, and then the other, Egghead’s body following every slight movement. “How interesting that we all walk around with these tiny rivers constantly flowing through our veins.”
Egghead squirmed ineffectually for a few moments.
“Oh, don’t struggle,” said Destiny. “Embrace the rivers inside you, the bringers of life, the…”
“You do like the sound of your own voice, don’t you?” said Egghead, suddenly thrusting his bald cranium forward, knocking her out and freeing himself.
The gadgetry genius known as Egghead was caught between two options, both of which looked poor to his accelerated thinking. He jumped the counter and headed for the door. Hennessy tried a simple kick to try to slow him down. Egghead swept him to the floor and continued. He heard the one-armed man in pursuit, but once outside he expected to escape.
Egghead opened the door, but a wave of foam swept over him before he could get out of the way. Instantly, the white stuff hardened in place, holding him in a grip of stone.
“Now ain’t that a bummer?” said the Puppeteer, grinning as widely as one-half of his mask.
Sometime later, in the main section of Checkmate operations, Sarge Steel sat in his chair rubbing his eyes with his normal hand. The gas had given him a migraine, but he was back on the job and mad as hell. Someone was going to pay dearly for this, he vowed to himself, almost shattering his coffee cup with his robotic steel hand.
“The team is interrogating that guy down in the brig,” said Tiffany Sinn from the door. She was in charge of the LAW program. “Also, we weren’t the only ones.”
“What do you mean?” asked Steel.
“The Sentinels of Justice, the Dragon Force, and Peacemaker and his new strike force were attacked, too,” said Tiffany. “The world’s most formidable action-hero teams.”
“Right,” muttered Steel. “My guess is that THUNDER and its super-agents would have been on the list as well, if they hadn’t closed up shop years ago. Any intel on the attackers?”
Tiffany Sinn shrugged. “All were new, unknown superhumans like our guy.”
“Where are the other attackers now?” said Steel.
“Dragon Force left theirs with the NYPD,” said Tiffany. “The Sentinels have theirs in custody, while Peacemaker is en route to New York with his two attackers to meet with the other Sentinels. They plan to interrogate all three.”
“Get him on the phone,” said Steel. “See if he’s found out anything about them yet.”
“Right,” said Tiffany, vanishing from the door.
Dr. Tetsuo Moto studied the information being fed to his control center. All of his secondary creations had been stopped by the world’s main action-heroes. They had wreaked havoc and caused destruction during their brief assignments, but the heroes in residence had finally stopped them.
He turned his attention to his twin seeds of destruction. They were growing without interference where they had been planted by his hirelings. Soon they would completely cover the island nations where they grew. All he needed was time, and his strange plants would be unstoppable by any conventional means.
Moto tapped his fingers against the arms of his captain’s chair. These heroes might be more of an obstruction that he had planned on. He didn’t want his pods to be destroyed like Fido had been.