Sentinels of Justice: Superpowers, Prologue: Ground Control to Major Tom

by Doc Quantum

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August, 1985:

“Back in the USSR… don’t know how lucky you are, boy… back in the USSR… dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-DUN!”

The tune blared through the cockpit of a USAF SR-71 Blackbird as its pilot sang along. He had been sent from Andrews Air Force Base to fly on a top-secret photographing mission over Russia and China in order to fully ascertain the amount of damage in the two communist countries caused by the recent events of what was referred to as the Crisis. The aircraft was currently over Siberia in Soviet airspace while in sub-orbit on the edge of space.

“Cut out the music, Lieutenant, and keep your mind on your job,” a radio voice suddenly interrupted.

Lt. Christopher Pike grinned his trademark grin and shouted into his two-way radio, “Hey, can I help it if I can concentrate better with a tune to sing along to?”

“Keep it short and sweet, Lieutenant,” the voice said, breaking off contact for now.

“Aye-aye, sir,” Pike said. He started humming to the next song as he snapped a few more shots of the damaged landscape below. “Ground Control to Major Tom… commencing countdown, engines on…”

This was a piece of cake. The SR-71 had made numerous trips into enemy airspace in the past without ever being caught. Why would this time be any different? Part of the government’s interest in this was the role the Soviet super-powered operative Redstar played. As the Soviet Union’s primary superhuman operative, Redstar was seen as a possible threat similar to the Soviet Union’s nuclear buildup decades earlier. A few other Soviet superhumans had been seen in the past, but Redstar was by far the most powerful and enduring as yet.

NATO was now deeply concerned about rumors of a Soviet buildup of superhumans as of late. Had they cracked the code — the secret of superhuman powers? Or had they simply lucked out as the USA and now other countries had of late in getting their superhuman action-heroes completely by chance? If the Russians had discovered the secret of superhuman powers, would an army of Redstars be the next weapon on the horizon? If so, nuclear weapons would become virtually useless for defensive purposes. America needed to know, and they had sent one of their best pilots — Lt. Christopher Pike — to find out.

An alarm suddenly began blaring a red alert. “What the hell?” Pike muttered as he looked at his instruments, finding that they were going completely haywire.

A loud CRACK sounded as the narrow window first fogged over and then blew apart. It was no use, Pike realized as the plane began to shake to pieces. This plane was going down. He was, of course, prepared for this and wore a pressurized suit made for suborbital flights, and at the moment he saw sparks and then flames begin to form, he aborted.

Lt. Pike was shot into the air mere fractions of a second before his plane completely exploded. He screamed as shrapnel punctured his suit and his flesh, briefly engulfing it in flames until lack of enough oxygen put it out again. He fell toward the earth.

As he fell, he retained consciousness for several minutes, although he was in shock and had no idea now where he was. He started singing to himself the last thing he remembered:

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control…
I’m stepping through the door…
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way…
And the stars look very different today.
For here am I sitting in a tin can, far above the world.
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

“Though I’m past one-hundred-thousand miles, I’m feeling very still.
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.
Tell my wife I love her very much.”

Lt. Christopher Pike fell unconscious before he crashed to the ground near Tunguskhaya. It took the Russian military only forty minutes to find his battered but miraculously still-living body.

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