Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors, Chapter 2: Meta-Human Task Force

by Libbylawrence

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Before Captain Comet and a few members of his team could even reach the Cometeer, the first alien ship zoomed into sight and hovered ominously above Washington, D.C.

“Great Scott!” he cried. “That’s a Khundish vessel. I recognize it by the side thrusters.”

Seconds later, a portal dropped back and released a missile. As it streamed downward, Captain Comet started to react, almost immediately moving toward it in an effort to stave it off.

But before the mutant born 100,000 years before his time could even move, the purple-clad form of Lesla-Lar suddenly rocketed toward the deadly projectile, flaring her heat-vision as she approached. The missile ignited harmlessly, high above the city, while the ship itself shook at the sudden impact.

As the ship tottered, it suddenly dropped a second missile. This time Captain Comet, having flown up toward the ship already, intercepted it and slowed down the device with his telekinesis. As it lost momentum, the hero caught it and hurled it back at the Khund ship. Having aimed at the unoccupied thruster on the left side, it struck its target. Consequently, the ship veered off to its left, leaning dangerously and now impotently to the side.

Crowds cheered loudly below as Lesla-Lar flew at slow speed, smiling and waving for the cameras from every major network that had arrived on the scene to capture some, if not all, of the action. The name of Captain Comet was also loudly cheered as he returned to the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency facility.

“Captain Comet!” said a middle-aged military man who met him with a handshake, standing next to Colonel Rick Flag in the facility’s lobby. He wore a dark military uniform and service cap, and he had graying brown hair, a small mustache, and, despite his tough exterior, a friendly face. “I’m General Phillip Darnell, U.S. Army. (*) You’ve got a proven record of service, and now a position with an important new government agency. Will you head up a new Meta-Human Task Force needed to deal with this alien armada our scanners have picked up?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “To Everything a Season,” Wonder Woman #328 (December, 1985) and many other issues of that series.]

“I’ll serve any way I am needed, sir,” vowed Adam Blake.

***

Within a matter of mere hours, Captain Comet was addressing a hastily assembled group of super-heroes.

“Thanks to Harbinger, we were able to round up all of you for your much-needed help,” he announced to a crowd of heroes that included Green Lanterns, the Metal Men, the Outsiders, and the New Titans, as well as a few unaffiliated heroes, while others from around the world listened in via a live television feed. “The alien fleet Pariah warned you all about is above us even as we speak. We know there are several zones that require your attention, but three immediate trouble spots are our problem today.

“The entire continent of Australia has been ensnared in some type of energy cage. No transmissions in or out are possible. The worst event may only be summed up with a statement that sounds seemingly absurd — the United Kingdom has vanished! The entire land mass is gone. Finally, alien troops are making simultaneous landings in numerous locales all over the globe as we speak. We appreciate your help, and you’ll all get your assignments as you file by.”

Arisia had just returned to the Rehab Squad in time for the conference. She was miffed that Hal Jordan had still treated her like a little girl despite having a grown-up body, but was determined to not let it bother her during the current crisis. After all, she was a Green Lantern. “The JLA is working on the Despero situation some of you may have heard about,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that just one alien creature could be such a danger, but the tyrant of Kalanor has somehow gained enough power to take on the entire membership of the Justice League of America. (*) I’m sure the League will help us with the alien invaders once they’ve dealt with their old enemy.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Pyre, Chapter 4: Full Circle .]

As the Monitor’s assistant, Harbinger had inherited his vast array of computer files, which she could access via her helmet’s link, giving her contact information for almost anyone she needed to find. “I’m assembling hero teams as needed, Dolphin,” she said.

Pariah spent his time pacing the floor and wringing his hands nervously. Around him, Green Lantern power rings flared and dimmed slightly, while meta-human abilities flickered in and out of existence. He, unknowingly, carried a sample of the equalization plague that had once ravaged Thanagar, and which had recently been implanted in his DNA by the Controllers, who had also erased all memory of the encounter from his mind. (*) Even technical skills seemed diminished by his close contact, though this condition had not yet been noticed by anyone.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “I Have No Wings and I Must Fly,” Justice League of America #117 (April, 1975).]

***

The New Titans raced out into the streets of Gateway City, where raiders from Thanagar and Khundish soldiers, along with an odd assortment of aliens drafted into service from their home planets, were battling U.S. Army troops.

Taking charge of the team as he’d done many times prior to the Crisis, Nightwing expertly assessed the situation and started shouting orders: “Kole, keep them away from the civilians with your crystal barriers. Robin, help her group them together so we can take them down! Cyborg, sonics to that small cluster now! Donna, don’t waste time with the lasso — just disarm and subdue them! Changeling, fly over and see if reinforcements are close!”

The young hero led easily and never outwardly showed the strain he was under; however, much was going on in his troubled heart. Can’t believe we had to call in the old Teen Titans West members like Bat-Girl and Mal Duncan, fighting together for the first time in years under Lilith’s leadership! he thought. Still, even if some of them might be a bit rusty, they’re doing their part in the Northwest.

A Thanagarian swooped down with a plasma gun, intent on destruction, until he was handily knocked senseless by the agile former Boy Wonder.

Nightwing turned to see how his team was doing. Donna Troy, the erstwhile Wonder Girl, lifted a mobile alien tank over her head and launched it effortlessly seaward. Cyborg blasted the sturdy Khunds with white sound until even those battle-hardened aliens fell, covering their ears in a futile effort to escape the excruciating sound. The quick-changing Changeling darted along, transforming from a tiny moth to a giant elephant before crashing down with his full weight onto a group of idle troopers from a dozen odd worlds.

“Harbinger reports the West Coasters are holding their own, too,” yelled Cyborg, whose real name was Vic Stone.

Nightwing nodded grimly as Kole surrounded their prisoners with reinforced crystalline formations, assisted by Jason Todd, the new Robin who had joined the team in his absence. (*) I hope Lilith’s team is okay, mused Dick Grayson.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Fragments.]

***

Elsewhere, two dark-haired men were singlehandedly turning over buildings with their bare hands. These twin Daxamites bore the unmistakeable Superman-like powers of their race, seeming unstoppable as they wreaked havoc wherever they went.

Then, into the fray streaked Lesla-Lar. Recalling Supergirl’s heroic past, which she remembered as if it were her own, she pulled frightened people to safety, even as she comforted them with a reassuring smile.

These guys must be Kryptonian! she thought as she completed her rescue operations in the area and prepared to battle the causes of destruction head on. How else could we account for their might, unless…?

Lesla-Lar decided to get their attention before they could continue their rampage, since they were currently taking a break, surveying their paths of destruction and seeming to be pleased with what they’d done. As the blonde in the purple minidress flashed her blue eyes, heat suddenly radiated the support structure of a deserted bridge a Daxamite was hovering beneath.

The bridge crashed down upon him, something that would have killed any normal man. He emerged unharmed some moments later, looking outraged as he sought who had done this to him. Finding only a pretty blonde who looked more like a homecoming queen than a powerhouse standing defiantly on a grassy hill nearby, he shouted in English, “You dare challenge our might, girl?”

“You abuse your powers by harming the weak. I’ll stop you,” Lesla vowed with determination, even as she braced herself for their attack.

Instead, the powerful twins laughed at her, thinking her to be an easy target. They then separated, flying away from each other, only to close in on her position. The twins planned to smash her into the ground like an insect beneath their boots.

Unexpectedly, Lesla-Lar pushed herself down into the Earth, and the rocketing twins struck each other instead. “Haste makes waste!” she taunted. Plus, they aren’t used to flying like I am, she mused, forgetting that her supposed memories were not her own. After the twins helped each other up and took to the air once more, she then slammed into both of them at top speed and watched them fall. If I’m right about their being Kryptonian, then all it’ll take to hide myself from their view is a little bit of lead.

Racing off behind a metal pile of debris at super-speed, Lesla-Lar began to hastily construct a cage behind a leaden mass. The Daxamites soon caught up to her, but while they couldn’t see behind the lead as she’d planned, something else happened as well. They swooned, seemingly harmed by being in proximity to the lead, and each passed out as they made contact with the element that was deadly to their species.

Great Rao! The lead acts like kryptonite on them! They must be from Mon-El’s world, she finally realized, drawing upon her memories. Although she could not recall it, Lesla had been an incorporeal being of energy at the time and had observed the real Supergirl for several years in this fashion, and had thus seen her interact with Mon-El and other members of the Legion of Super-Heroes a few times. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Strangers at the Heart’s Core,” Superman Family #206 (March-April, 1981).]

Having defeated the aliens, Lesla-Lar was surprised when a crowd of people erupted in cheers for her. She felt happier than she could ever remember when a small girl ran up and hugged her. “Thank you for saving us from the aliens!” she gushed. “You’re wonderful!”

Lesla returned the hug, finally feeling as if she had found a home and a purpose.

***

A hulking brute of a Khund, snarling as he spoke threatening words of his guttural language, menaced a family trying to escape the destruction of the alien invaders. It seemed were certain that they were going to die, until a figure dressed in a red and white costume emblazoned with the symbol of a comet suddenly intervened. Captain Comet had arrived to save their lives.

The Man of the Future rushed forward, crashing into the huge Khund soldier and rocking him off his feet. Ducking a massive club as it swung past his head, he lashed out with a strong left, and the Khund reeled under his super-strong assault. But he was not the only threat in the area.

As a squad of Thanagarian Wingmen swooped down on him, Captain Comet sent a mental blast that disoriented the flyers enough to cause them to crash. Comet then fell to the ground as he was struck by an energy bolt from a circling skimmer of Dominator origin. He groaned, then surged upward, carrying a metal shield from a second disabled tank. Flying into the huge craft’s gun barrel, he folded the armored tank shielding around a firing gun. As he dropped to safety below, the craft exploded as the blast recoiled back up through the barrel.

Starman, darting to and fro through the air, dodged cannon fire as he used his strong body and energy blasts to disable the fleet sky sleds used by the unknown purple aliens above. His job was to provide cover for the Rehab Squad on the ground by disabling or eliminating the attacking air ships.

Dolphin leaped over another Khund soldier and kicked him in the head. With a spin she’d learned from training with Captain Comet, she flipped the massive brute into a wall. The Khund staggered from the impact, and a left hook from the platinum blonde finally dropped him. “They’re retreating again!” she announced.

“It’s never that easy,” said Adam Blake. “It must be a trick! Stay on high alert, everyone!”

Captain Comet’s words were eerily prophetic, as he was proven to be absolutely correct a moment later when a ship fired a gleaming bolt toward them. Instinctively, the hero hurled himself in front of Dolphin, but instead of bouncing off his chest or just knocking him down, the bolt of energy seemed to completely destroy him. For in a second, no trace of the hero remained.

“No! They’ve killed Captain Comet!” screamed Dolphin. Watching the scene from nearby, Starman gasped in shock and disbelief.

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