In his private cell, the prisoner of Project M moaned slightly as his eyes opened for the first time since his capture by that blue-clad demon called Quicksilver. He looked around, realizing he was in some type of hospital, judging by the monitoring systems hooked to his body.
It was time to leave, he decided as the rage began to build, ripping out the IVs and pulling wires loose from his chest. He was Germany’s greatest hero, not a lab rat. Someone would pay for this indignity.
He staggered to the door, fighting the remains of the drugs in his body, and pressed on the barrier. It seemed to be solid steel. Checking the walls, he noted that the concrete was thicker than he expected. These people were intent on keeping him under lock and key.
Turning toward the door, his deep-set red eyes lit with fire, which blasted at the lock on the vault-like door. The beam worked on the steel, softening it. He threw his body against the door, which swung open, crashing against the wall.
The Manhunter was free.
Roy Miller gradually awoke from his drugged sleep, repressing the screams he felt trying to claw their way out of his throat. He was a soldier, and he could take this. If only he didn’t see transparent men and women everywhere. If only his own body was opaque as it used to be.
The man with the x-ray eyes glanced over at the plastic bathtub next to his bed. At least he hadn’t wound up like Stefan Queen, he mused. X-ray eyes were preferable than being a blob of Jell-O, as far as he was concerned.
An alarm began to siren its call-to-arms. Miller looked around, searching for the source of the trouble, and frowned when he saw soldiers running to the stairs to the lower levels. Using his x-ray eyes, he traced their path through the building until he found a group of soldiers massing in the lowest level of the base. One look at their opponent made him lurch out of bed.
“Hey!” Miller shouted as he kicked Queen’s tub and looked around for clothes more decent that a hospital gown. “Hey, wake up!” he shouted, kicking the tub again before he went to a closet and dug out a lab coat. He pulled on the coat, then kicked the tub a third time, shouting, “Queen! Get your ass up!”
“Lemme alone, Mom,” said a bubbly, high-pitched voice from the blob made of a pudding-like yellow substance. “Get up in a minute.”
“At-ten-tion!” Miller ordered in his best parade ground voice.
Queen’s blob-like body suddenly formed itself a pillar, sloppily saluting with a makeshift arm. Then he saw who gave the order and splashed back in his tub. “What’s the idea?” he grumbled.
“Get your mucous butt in gear,” ordered Miller, heading for the fish tank set up for the amphibian at the end of the row. “The Manhunter’s coming to get us.”
He slapped the fish tank hard and watched as large, black eyes regarded him coldly. “Get up, buddy,” Miller told the scaly horror that had once been Martin Cove. “Let’s go.” He wished he had a pair of shades to cover his eyes. He felt the fish man was staring at them, and he didn’t like it.
“Wake up, Vincent!” Miller shouted, overturning the bed. But David Vincent continued to float in the air, unaware or uncaring of any disturbance.
Miller glanced at the other two, noting he had finally got them on their feet — or whatever they now used to stand — in order to help him out. The question was what they could do that a squadron of soldiers couldn’t. “Right,” he began. “The troops are blocking the way out of the basement with some heavy firepower. The Manhunter is waiting at the other end of the hall. He doesn’t look too steady, so we might be able to take him.”
“With what?” asked the bloblike Queen. “Our devastating good looks?”
“I’ve got a plan,” said Miller, smiling as his eyes burned unnaturally. “Phase one is for you to get down there and keep him busy.”
“Then what, genius?” asked the gelatinous mass.
“Me and Marty will get some equipment and ambush him,” said Miller. “How simple is that?”
Queen shrugged his whole body, then began to flow out of the room. “You’d better be there,” he warned.
Flowing through the ventilation system like thick syrup, Stefan Queen’s new body was both amazing and horrific. He would never have thought he would be jelly on the run. Reaching a shaft leading down, he dropped into it, his blob-like body compacting as he fell to the basement level.
As he hit the grill covering the shaft, the piece of flimsy metal flew out into the basement room, and Queen’s semi-liquid body splattered against the floor. Looking around quickly, he hoped to find the Manhunter and distract him from beating on the security guys.
Queen saw a staggering shadow, and a small dripping smile crossed his lumpy face before sinking out of sight. It was time to do his job. He hoped Miller appreciated this.
Flowing across the floor, Queen waved at Lieutenant Shrieve when he saw him lined up behind a plastic shield. He paused when he saw the Manhunter leaning against the wall. The Nazi super-soldier looked strung out from whatever he had been through. The private could imagine that they had pumped him full of drugs to keep him quiet.
“Would you like to go back to your cell quietly?” Queen asked in his bubbling voice, “or do I have to get tough and pound you into the ground?”
“Get away from me, schweinhund,” said the German hero, and twins beams of energy leaped out of his eyes at the yellow pudding man.
“Yikes!” said Queen, bouncing out of the way.
Elsewhere, Roy Miller led the way as he searched for what he needed. He hoped that the weird blob his fellow prisoner had become had enough strength to help him carry out his plan.
Checking quickly on Queen, he could see that the yellow pudding man had started distracting the German ubermensch. Miller saw that the Manhunter was visibly enraged by his fellow experimental subject. The basement area was becoming a war zone as the two went at each other. He turned away and focused on the job he was supposed to be taking care of while Queen did his.
Moments later, he found what he was looking for in a supply closet. The silvery tanks were transparent as glass to his new x-ray eyes. Focusing on the writing caused the black letters to stand out. Have to remember that for later, when I’m not about to be killed, Miller thought.
“This is what we want, I think,” he said to Martin Cove as he gestured at the large tank. “Do you think we can carry it between the two of us?”
“Step back,” said Cove, rubbing his scaly arms with webbed hands. He grabbed one end of the tank and lifted it, testing for strain on his amphibian body. “We’re in business.”
“Let’s get this sucker to the basement,” said Miller, leading the way out of the supply room.
“And we are helping that #&*$&@ Shrieve for what reason?” Cove said, hefting the tank on his shoulder, easily following behind the man with the x-ray eyes.
“Cause if that so-called Martian gets away, we might be lab rats forever,” said Miller. “It’s bad enough we’re the only successes.”
“Got it,” said the green-scaled Cove.
As they made their way to the basement of the lab building, the amphibious creature held the tank on his shoulder easily. Cove didn’t put much thought into that fact, since it was one of the few side-effects of his condition that he liked. He glanced at a polished piece of wall tile, flinching at the sight until he recognized himself. Looking like a fish was just something he would have to get used to, he realized.
Roy Miller gestured for the soldiers watching the blob-like Stefan Queen bounce around the basement to get out of their way. The men silently complied, some blanching when they saw his malformed eyes and Martin Cove’s scaled shape. Lieutenant Shrieve saw the men but got out of the way with a frown.
“He’s about ten feet away, at two o’clock,” Miller said quietly.
“Got it,” said Cove, stepping around the corner. He flung the tank like a javelin, and the metal whistled as it flew forward.
The Manhunter turned at the sound, and the Nazi superman’s eye-beams fell on the tank, slicing it in half. White gas sprayed out in a cloud over the escapee, and when it cleared, a statue of ice stood in his place.
“Good job, Marty,” said Queen, impulsively rolling up in a wave of yellow pudding and smashing down on top of the statue. The laboratory-created man broke apart in a spray of splinters. The Manhunter of the S.S. Ubermenschen was dead.
“We might have needed him alive, Stefan,” Miller said, wincing at the sight of frozen pieces of tissue spread out over the floor like a broken vase. “Like maybe for a cure for our conditions, you idiot!”
“We don’t need no stinking Martians,” said Queen, his bubbly voice buzzing slightly.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” said Lieutenant Shrieve, joining three of his four test subject prisoners. “Is Vincent with you?”
“He’s up in his room vegetating,” growled Martin Cove. “He was floating in some kind of bubble the last time we saw him.”
“Let’s get you guys tested out,” said Shrieve, gesturing with the rifle he had borrowed from a regular security soldier. “The brass can figure out what they want done with this mess.”
“And what happens to us?” Miller asked.
“The brass will have to decide that, too,” said Shrieve, scratching his forehead with a thumb. “I doubt you guys will see any type of combat.”
“Don’t believe that,” said Cove quietly. “We’re the perfect expendable weapon. Just call us the Creature Commandos.”
“Got that right, brother,” said Queen. “I’m gonna be the new Plastic Man.”
“Don’t kid yourself,” said Lieutenant Shrieve, leading the way from the room. “You don’t have enough class to pretend to be Plastic Man.”
Across the continent, Dr. Josef Mengele walked along a cat walk in an underground laboratory complex on Long Island, New York. Below his feet were clear tubes suspended from a network of life-supporting cables. Inside the life-support system, albino men with cobalt eyes were growing to adulthood.
Dr. Mengele smiled. Soon his creations would flood the world in the name of the Fourth Reich, and no force on Earth would be able to stop it. The Allied armed forces would be ineffectual, and not even the Freedom Fighters, the Blackhawks, the Marksman and his Resistance, or that English popinjay the Jester would get in the way of the Reich’s cloned army. If they did, they would be crushed by the powers he was bringing to bear against them.
Uncle Sam would weep at the loss of freedom in the world, and no otherdimensional forces would arrive to help him preserve the United States this time.