Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Suicide Mission, Chapter 1: The Cardialink

by Libbylawrence

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It was a few weeks later when Captain Comet and Colonel Rick Flag looked over a sheet of photos of the team’s new recruits. These prisoners had already been transferred into the custody of the MHRA, where they had more freedom than they’d had while in prison, and the two men had just started training and evaluating them. As usual, when working with super-villains — even those hoping to reform — some personalities were a bit more unstable than others.

“I like the use of Golden Glider, Killer Moth, and Mayflower… but Cheetah?” asked Comet.

“Deborah Domaine is no longer consumed with madness, now that Wonder Woman is dead,” replied Flag. “In fact, the news of her death seemed to settle Cheetah’s mind totally. Her skills will be useful for your team, and your aide Dolphin can help watch your back if she steps out of line.”

“Agreed. I guess all of them are entitled to a second chance,” said Captain Comet. “Any luck contacting the woman called Moonbow?”

“I’ll keep trying. She does seem a perfect choice, too.”

“Let me know when we can start,” said an eager Adam Blake.

As if on cue, Karin Grace entered the office and shouted, “This is it! There’s a break-in at STAR Labs by a high-tech gang wearing costumes. Your team may make their name on it if you’re quick enough!”

Colonel Flag gave a brief nod and said, “Good luck, Adam.”

Captain Comet had no desire to take the full team out without more training, since he barely knew some of them. “We’ve got our first mission. Come on!” he called as he passed the quarters of Dolphin, the Golden Glider, and the mysterious Cheetah.

“Yes, darling. I’m right behind your dreamy bod,” cooed the Golden Glider, whose real name was Lisa Snart. Dolphin frowned and hurried on the posing glamor girl.

Bounding out, the Cheetah said, “I was born ready, and I’m eager to prove myself.”

Given her unstable personality, Comet briefly considered sending her back and getting Mayflower or Killer Moth, but the Englishwoman was out shopping at the moment, and the Batman’s rogues gallery member was in the medical laboratory for a final check-up by Dr. Grace and her staff. Besides, Comet really didn’t want to turn both Cheetah and Moth loose at once, given their respective mental health issues. “This may be the start of new careers for all of you. Just follow Dolphin and me as we lead you.”

The pretty Dolphin wore a brief halter top and light blue hot pants. The aquatic-based platinum-blonde was the only one he trusted fully, having worked alongside her and some of the other Forgotten Heroes during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. (*) In fact, thanks to his mental abilities he had been working with her to help her overcome a speech impediment that had caused her to speak slowly and in a halting manner. She had grown in confidence since then to such an extent that her speech impediment was hardly noticeable at all.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Aftershock,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 (February, 1986) and “Final Crisis,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March, 1986)]

“Don’t worry, Adam,” said Dolphin as she opened the door to their Sky Skimmer. “I’m sure this will work out just fine.”

Minutes later, the Cheetah — Debbi Domaine — was almost ready to leap out from the Skimmer as the team swept onto the STAR Labs facility. I must prove myself, Debbi thought. I can do good for both the environment and society as a whole if they trust me. Now that my hated foe Wonder Woman is dead, I have nothing but a desire to use my gifts for the betterment of myself and others. All my dark anger is gone with the death of that witch.

Dolphin eased the Sky Skimmer to a perfect landing, having been taught well by Comet. Admiring him greatly, she hoped that his plan for these villains to redeem themselves would work. She sighed and awaited his orders.

“Let’s go,” ordered Captain Comet. “The raiders are still here. Pick a target, and be careful. Be sure to watch out for civilians — their safety is of paramount importance.”

“Don’t worry that gorgeous head of yours, darling,” cooed Lisa Snart, the Golden Glider. “I’ve got your back.”

Dolphin frowned in irritation at her partner’s blatant flirtations but merely herded the others inside. There, amidst the blaring alarms and the workers in lab coats cowering in fear, they saw costumed men with matching nondescript green uniforms racing out with blasters firing.

That technology looks advanced, thought Adam Blake as he charged forward.

“Get him!” yelled one of the green-uniformed men.

The gang’s blasters flared, hitting Captain Comet’s chest without harming him or even slowing him down. “Not strong enough, boys. You need to get your money back,” he joked, making himself the obvious target of the gunmen by deliberately attracting their gunfire.

Lisa Snart glided gracefully to another group of shooters, traveling on a steady sheet of ice generated by her golden skates. She came to a perfect stop and spun around rapidly, almost blindingly, then kicked the guns out of the hands of three green-suited gunmen. “And now, a triple axle to your faces,” she laughed. A quick balletic spin sent the men tumbling down, buffeted by the speed and force of the graceful blonde’s skillful movements. After one of them got to his feet, she belted him with a swift left kick. “Not bad. Now where are my adoring fans?”

Meanwhile, Dolphin watched as the STAR Labs staffers desperately ran from the remaining gunmen chasing after them. Charging forward, the demure blonde ripped a gun from one thug with the same power that had enabled her to dwell on the ocean’s floor for years. She slammed him into a wall, where he slumped down, unconscious.

“What are they after?” she asked the redheaded scientist who acted as the director of STAR Labs.

Dr. Jenet Klyburn replied, “I haven’t been able to tell what storage pod they hit yet. I–” She suddenly screamed as several gunmen raced up and roughly carried her off.

“We’re gonna need you, babe,” said one.

Dolphin tackled the closest gunman and pummeled him quickly and effectively.

Cheetah pounced on three thugs, delighting as their cries rang out. She clawed their uniforms to shreds but managed to hold her temper and refrain from hurting the men — much. Flipping backward, she landed an unexpected kick that dropped a fourth man.

As Debbi smiled, she glanced over and noticed Dr. Klyburn’s struggle. Leaping up, she soared through the air to land exactly on the back of the doctor’s abductor. As she brought both fists down on his head, he fell. She rolled off and helped the grateful scientist to her feet.

“Thank you,” said Jenet Klyburn.

“No need to thank me. It’s what I do,” said Debbi with a new feeling of accomplishment. I could get to love this “hero” stuff, she thought with a smile.

Meanwhile, Captain Comet jumped onto a flying craft as it lifted off carrying the rest of the gang. Pressing his hands into the metal, he gripped it with his considerable might, slowing the craft’s rise, even as turbos strained to escape the grip of this amazing man. “Got to ground this ship,” he muttered. The others watched as their leader slowly wrestled a technological miracle to defeat in his own hands. The strong-willed man brought down the craft with a final heave, the impact shaking the building and causing the gunmen inside to lose their footing. With a final electric groan, the craft moved no more. The sliding doors were disabled as well, trapping the gang within.

“Nicely done! Solid six-point-zeros,” said Lisa.

Dolphin ran up to congratulate Comet as he forced open the ship. “They seem to be all out cold,” he mused.

“Not that one,” said Debbi.

Captain Comet saw Dr. Klyburn run out, and he approached to ask her, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, thanks to you and your team,” she said. “It looks like no one at STAR was hurt, either. You really saved the day, all of you.”

“Just doing our job,” said Dolphin, speaking both for herself and the others. Golden Glider and the Cheetah in particular seemed to enjoy the accolades.

“Dr. Klyburn!” said a scientist who ran up to her, panting and out of breath. “I-I found out what they wanted, and it looks like they took off with it. Comet stopped the flying craft that held most of them, but one or two had already slipped out unseen with the missing item.”

“What is it that’s missing?” asked a determined Captain Comet.

“A device called the Cardialink,” replied Klyburn.

“I’ve heard of this Cardialink,” said Comet. “It was covered in a science journal a few years back. It was designed to stabilize a weak heart in a radical way, by linking a custom-built pacemaker to the earth’s core itself.”

“My heart is weak around you,” cooed the Golden Glider.

Dolphin glared at the flirty blonde and asked, “Who invented the device?”

Dr. Klyburn and Comet both answered, “Dr. Alex Atley.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Man Who Was the World,” DC Comics Presents #24 (August, 1980).]

Nearby, the Cheetah was prowling nervously around STAR Labs and noticed a young man who was being tested in some manner by some men in lab coats.

“Will Payton is here now, Dr. Klyburn,” said an aide.

“Oh, excuse me,” Dr. Jenet Klyburn said to Captain Comet. “This young man has received odd powers from a ray of some sort originating from space. I’ve been working with him ever since he came here for help. You might be of some assistance, actually, given your experience in outer space. Could you…?”

“I’d be fascinated to look into the matter,” said Comet, “after we recover the Cardialink. May I have Dr. Atley’s address, please?”

After giving the hero the information, Klyburn resumed her work with the brown-haired young man named Will Payton. “Was that Captain Comet?” he asked.

“Yes, Will. He may be able to help you with your situation,” she said.

“I admire him a lot,” said Will, “him and the noble heroes of the JSA from that other Earth that teamed up with the Justice League several times over the years. Ever since I first heard of them, I consider Starman, Doctor Fate, and the other Justice Society members even more appealing than our world’s JLA. I’d like to use my new gifts like they used theirs.”

Dolphin reluctantly agreed to stay behind at STAR just in case more trouble loomed on the horizon. The pretty platinum blonde passed the time talking to the young test subject.

“It’s so odd,” Will explained. “I was just hit by the proverbial beam out of the blue. It gave me powers of flight, strength, and energy blasts. There could even be more I haven’t learned about yet. The Doc has been helping me learn if I’m going to blow up or something.”

Dolphin sat on a table top and swung her shapely legs as she listened. “I am also… the product of some kind of… alien science fair project… as far as I’ve been able to determine,” she said, unconsciously relapsing into her old halting speech as she spoke with the handsome young man. “I can live underwater… and have extra strength and speed.”

“Maybe we have some common UFO ancestors,” he joked.

As she laughed, she considered asking the friendly, altruistic man to join their team. “Let’s stay… in touch. I am… at this number and extension,” she added, and quickly wrote it down on a nearby notepad. Why am I so nervous around him? she thought to herself.

“I’d like that very much,” answered Will with a genuine smile.

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