by Dan Swanson
“ALL RIGHT YOU GUYS! SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” As Sue had been stunned, so too were the other heroes stunned. They didn’t hear that very often! She lowered her energy somewhat, but she tried to keep a tone of command in her mental voice. “If we keep sitting here, sooner or later that monster will kill us all. But if everybody keeps fighting everyone else, we’re not going to be able to do anything. So stifle it, all of you!”
She thought quickly. “Captain Thunder, with your Wisdom, you should be able to best figure out how to use all our powers. The rest of you, stay as quiet as you can, but chime in with anything you observed about your earlier opponents!”
The dragon turned and headed back at them. “Cap, let me have the right arm!” Mr. Scarlet thought. “C’mon, Pinky, help me out here!” With two of them concentrating, Synthesis’ right arm came up, steadied, and she pulled the trigger of her ultra-utility gun. Another thick red cloud blasted out, obscuring the dragon’s vision and apparently irritating it, as it struck them with its tail as it zoomed by. Synthesis’ costume was ripped by the stinger on the tail, and it penetrated even her invulnerability, but the poison on the stinger didn’t hurt her — because she had no real body to poison.
“My turn,” Golden Arrow yelled, and in a flash, Synthesis had pulled an arrow out of her belt quiver and fired it at the dragon. The dragon saw it coming and breathed fire at it. But the magical arrow was immune even to dragon fire, and it flashed into the monster’s mouth, slashing into the back of the throat. The dragon bit down, and the magical arrow broke, but part of it remained inside the dragon’s mouth.
Just at that second, Captain Thunder spoke up. “OK, Bulletwoman, I can do it — I can control this body and her powers. But someone is going to have to tell me what to do.”
Sue resisted the perfect straight line — after all, he was the greatest hero of his world and deserved some respect. “OK, back on our feet, and then let’s see if we can fly!”
Slowly and shakily, Synthesis stood. Cap found that if he assumed he was in control, and then he willed his own body to do something, Synthesis did that very thing. They were in the air in seconds.
Synthesis had the combined super or superior strength of Captain Thunder, Bulletman, Bulletwoman and Golden Arrow, the speed of Captain Thunder and Bolt, Pinky’s gymnastics skills and Mr. Scarlet’s detective skills, among other skills and powers. The fight with the dragon didn’t take long. Using Bolt’s oldest trick, Synthesis pummeled the nearly invulnerable beast with trillions of powerful blows in nanoseconds, and the dragon never made a third attack — it just drifted apart into vapor, which then dissipated!
Just in time, too, because Sandy finally passed out from the strain of her spell, and Synthesis came apart! They once again headed for the power room, but those who still had radio receivers got a message from Americon “All units, disengage and withdraw! BattleWorld has activated some kind of self-destruct protocol. We have 19 minutes! Go go go!”
With no more foes to block their way, and Captain Thunder and Bolt to hurry them along, they were able to rendezvous at Thad’s spaceship within a couple of minutes.
Chapter 31 — ‘A Blinding Flash… ‘
Staquejaevo soon proved his combat skills. Captain Marvel thought he might have a marginal advantage in strength and speed, but that was offset by the Scort’s large size and extra pair of arms. They rained blows on each other that would have shattered mountains with no more evident effect than raindrops.
In the control room, Thad was examining the keyboards, dials and gages. He had hoped that, with his advanced intellect and the clues he had picked up from talking to Staquejaevo earlier, he would be able to decipher some of the functionality. But he quickly realized that not even a Sivana can read an unknown language without any starting point. Assuming, of course, that any of the markings on these panels had anything to do with a language!
Maybe he could reason something out. This control room had been built for use in an emergency, when Staquejaevo might be either injured or hotly pursued or both. So it should be designed for simplicity. Thad would have designed things so that a single button would activate his disaster-recovery process — and that control panel over there had only a single button! But who knew what would happen when he pressed the panic button, if indeed that was it? Maybe to a Scort warrior, blowing up BattleWorld would be preferable to losing control of the vessel…
So he looked like around for a more complex control panel. Over there, those monitors and keyboard looked like a general purpose workstation. Still, how was he going to figure out the language? He wished Staquejaevo was still on their side. Then he had an inspiration! Thad stuck his head through the hole in the bulkhead and saw Minute Man engaged in wild hand-to-hand, keeping a being with a sword away from Thad.
He wanted to watch, but he knew there were at least two super-powered warriors (the giant in the space suit, who Thad dubbed ‘Uber Man’ for quick reference, and Staquejaevo) and this sword-armed warrior, all of whom wanted him dead — and if they got past his teammates before he figured out how to shut down BattleWorld, it probably meant not just death for him, but his entire world!
He fired a shot from his energy pistol at the warrior with the sword — but the energy beam never reached his enemy. Instead it somehow vanished into thin air, and the enemy warrior never noticed. Thad guessed that he had just given Angel of Death a little extra power. Well, Minute Man was holding his own so far. He would just have to hold out alone a while longer.
Thad carefully approached the area where Captain Marvel and Staquejaevo were exchanging blows. Kid Eternity was flying around the Scort’s head, hindering it by interfering with its vision whenever he could. But the alien was maneuvering so that Captain Marvel was always between Staquejaevo and El Carim, which hindered El Carim’s ability to help. That was fine with Thad!
He yelled as loud as he could — which was barely loud enough. “El Carim! I need your help! RIGHT NOW!” he added, putting as much command as he could into the tone. His father had once trained as an orator, and Thad knew just how powerful Pop’s voice could be. His voice, too, he hoped! El Carim did see him, and realizing that Captain Marvel and Kid Eternity were doing pretty well without his assistance, he hurried to Thad’s side.
“Can your magic translate written languages?” Thad asked. He was a little uneasy asking that — some part of him realized that might not be exactly the right question to ask. But he was in a hurry!
“Why, I’ve never tried. But I have used my magic to allow me to speak and understand other languages. We’d have a better chance of success if I commanded the magic to let you understand the Scort language instead of translating it for you!”
“Yes, that’s it exactly!” Thad was relieved; this was what his subconscious had been trying to suggest. “Please do so!”
“Smsinahcem eseht fo egaugnal eht dnatsrednu ot snamuh ew elbane, tcelletni dna dnim fo stirips!” El Carim chanted. As the two looked at the various control panels, a weird change occurred. The meaningless scribbling on the panels seemed to blur, and then gradually sharpen again, and this time they could understand the various labels. “I knew the spell would work on me, so I included myself, in case it didn’t work on you,” he explained to Thad.
“Good thinking! If we hadn’t been in such a rush, I probably would have suggested that myself. Thanks!” Thad turned back to the more complex control panel, and concentrated on figuring it out. El Carim returned to the outer chamber, and Kid Eternity screamed at him as he slipped through the tear in the wall.
“DUCK, El Carim!”
With hair trigger reflexes, El Carim dropped to the deck, and a war ax spun through the space where his head had been. Another fighter had appeared from nowhere. This one was armed with a brace of hatchets, a war ax and a net. The weapons were makeshift, apparently quickly cobbled together from the debris in this room, but no less deadly for their makeshift character! He quickly cast a protection spell, and rejoined the battle.
“Sedalb eseht morf em dleihs snaidraug lacigam!”
Cap had slowly driven Staquejaevo into a narrow ‘tunnel’ between two massive pieces of machinery. The tight quarters interfered with the Warrior’s ability to dodge, allowing Cap to land more punches. Cap’s attack had clearly begun to take its toll. Staquejaevo was spending more energy defending against Cap’s blows than launching its own attacks, which were becoming less frequent — and easier to block or dodge as the Warrior began to slow down.
To say Cap never saw it coming is a slight overstatement — his intuition (or more likely the Wisdom of Solomon) blasted a warning in his mind, but even with the Speed of Mercury he was unable to escape the trap the Scort warrior had set for him. He did see it coming, at the last nanosecond, but it was too late for him to do anything about it.
As the Scort backed up to the rear of the tunnel, its wings blurred into incredibly fast motion, moving so fast, in fact, that each flap of the wings produced a hyper-intense sonic boom! At the same instant, Staquejaevo used its tail as a spring, and, also pushing off the wall behind it with both lower legs, it leaped forward with all the power at its command. The sonic booms from the wings, confined in the narrow tunnel, produced an explosive effect, blasting the Warrior toward Captain Marvel like a shell from a cannon.
Staquejaevo’s own strength, added to the explosion, propelled it at incredible speed and the Scort smashed into the invulnerable body of Captain Marvel. Cap was driven backward, and unable to control his direction, he and the Warrior smashed through El Carim’s foe, killing him instantly and barely missing the mage. Kit didn’t know what would happen if one of the ghosts he summoned were to ‘die’, but with the way everything else had been going wrong today, he figured it might be better to find out some other time!
Staquejaevo pressed the advantage, using its wings to drive forward even faster, and the two combatants slammed into and through a wall into another large room, this one mostly empty. Cap was groggy, but still conscious — the Power of Zeus made him pretty resilient. He was getting a little tired of this battle. He grabbed the alien in a bear hug and flew backward, adding the Speed of Mercury to the already incredible velocity the Scort had achieved on its own. With Cap accelerating their flight with every last erg of power he possessed, they smashed through two thousand miles of space battleship almost instantly, puncturing holes in the toughest alloys know to Scort science as if they didn’t exist.
Inside BattleWorld, ‘Blowout’ warning sirens blared into voice, and automatic self-sealing processes started. These processes were designed to run to completion regardless of the status of anything else on the vessel, so Angel of Death was unable to make them stop. All it could do was watch as precious power was stolen from it, drained away by automatic machines over which AoD had no control.
Cap had been counting on Staquejaevo needing to breath, and was disappointed to discover that his opponent was as comfortable in a vacuum as Cap himself was. However, he quickly found he had an unexpected ally — Mary Thunder had seen the eruption of a ‘missile’ through the surface of BattleWorld, and had come to check it out. Although they were unable to communicate in the vacuum of space, the two worked well together, almost as if they knew each other well — as, in a way, they did. As powerful as it was, the Scort was no match for a Marvel and a Thunder. Cap wasn’t sure if they could hold Staquejaevo this time, or if it would pull the vanishing trick again, but the Scort remained solid as they enclosed it in solid asteroid stone as a temporary prison, fusing it shut with their combined super strength.