Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors, Chapter 4: World at War

by Libbylawrence

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At that very moment, Captain Comet was ducking energy blasts from the wild-shooting Terra-Man. With a spin, he kicked the space cowboy across the room.

Kasta the Thrill-Killer of Thanagar fired that weird energy from his hands once again. “You fall to me, and I shall feast upon your unworthy liver,” declared the mad huntsman.

Lord Malvolio of the Green Flame charged in as well. “Do you believe in miracles? You’ll need one, Future Man,” he scoffed.

Captain Comet knew that all power rings, even Malvolio’s, were operated by will power. Using his advanced mind and strong will, he sent a desperate command to the nearby ring on Malvolio’s hand. Sure enough, it flared up, then exploded in green flame across the  form of the Thrill-Killer, who screamed in agony before shooting his own energy back at Malvolio. “You dare attack me?” Kasta screeched.

Allowing the two to engage in a duel of their own, Adam Blake took that moment to deliver a right hook that knocked Terra-Man out. He turned to see Malvolio fall and almost begin to shrivel up beneath the mad Thanagarian who feasted on the emerald energy from the ring of his former ally.

Taking a chance, Comet flew up to a nearby huge array of monitors and speakers in the arena and ripped out the electrical wires, which he then shoved down to Kasta below. The yellow energy that sparked through the Thrill-Killer’s form suddenly knocked him out cold. “I figured that while the emerald ring’s power surged through you,” he said, “yellow energy could do you more harm than good.”

As the last of his challengers finally fell, the audience watching the arena remotely erupted into a deafening tumult of wild applause and cheering. The announcer, meanwhile, was shouting into his microphone but could not be heard in the arena now that the speakers were too damaged to work.

Running to the door at one end of the arena, Captain Comet charged through troopers as if they were tenpins. He then flew into the control center and located a self-destruct button, having used his telepathy to read the minds of the alien crew.

“Get out now if you want to live!” he shouted into a microphone. The remaining alien troopers could see that he meant business when he hit the button, beginning a rapid countdown. They fled into nearby escape pods, ejecting from the massive starship as fast as possible.

Terra-Man, Kasta, and Malvolio, having come to by this time, picked themselves up and chose to save their own skins rather than continue the battle where they’d left off. They were joined in their escape by the Dominators and the rest of the crew, who knew that the self-destruct sequence could not be stopped.

Captain Comet himself found a nearby airlock with a missing escape pods and smashed out of the ship through it, holding a thin bubble of air around him with his telekinesis until he could fly down into the atmosphere.

Just as he reached the ground below, the huge starship imploded in a fiery cataclysm that could be seen from the Earth, the explosion large enough to take several other ships with it. Exhausted, Adam Blake leaned against a building to rest for a moment and catch his breath.

***

Unknown to him, Captain Comet had been watched the entire time not only by an alien audience across the universe, but also by a small spacecraft that was not part of the invading armada of the Alien Alliance.

“Hmm,” murmured a beautiful redheaded woman dressed in warrior garb, reclining on a plush bed. “He is dynamic. Perhaps this Captain Comet would be the perfect mate for the Empress of Almaran. He could be the chosen husband of Maxima.” She looked at him wistfully and said, “If you survive this war, I’ll make you an offer you’ll never regret, noble warrior.”

***

Dolphin and Starman had not remained idle since they’d witnessed what they had thought to be Captain Comet’s destruction. They had continued to fight bravely against various alien species, each wondering all the while if this species or that one might be responsible for their unique powers. Dolphin was like a beautiful dervish as she raged against the aliens that had killed her friend. Captain Comet was one of the best men I’ve ever met, she thought.

“Calm down, honey,” said Starman as he punched out a tentacled beast. “We don’t know if he’s really gone. He’s certainly survived worse!”

The Cheetah pounced from one foe to another with reckless abandon. “These monsters care nothing about Earth’s fragile eco-system. How can we stop them before environmental ruin is irreversible?” Leaping from foe to foe like her feline namesake, Debbi Domaine fought fiercely, yet she also stopped to take care of the innocent around her. Her natural beauty was enhanced by her newfound compassion.

As this Rehab Squad team fought on, they wondered about the team sent to the lost United Kingdom. The newly added Silver Swan was among them. I hope she’s okay, thought Dolphin.

As for Lesla-Lar, the Kryptonian was quickly becoming a heroic legend as she tirelessly soared across the country, battling the aliens to ever-greater public acclaim. It helped that her gorgeous looks enhanced her popularity as a freedom fighter. She was everywhere at once, or so it seemed due to her super-speed.

Eventually, Captain Comet himself found his way back to his own team, where he was joyfully greeted by Dolphin, the first to see him alive. “Adam! Thank goodness!” she cried, embracing him. “We thought we had lost you!”

“Not this time,” he said with a smile. Above, the alien mothership pulsed strangely and drew nearer.

***

On a spacecraft above, the yellow-hued Dominators frowned as they witnessed the heroes’ successes. “Even if Pariah’s equalizing plague is weakening them,” said one, “it is not happening quickly enough. They are still winning. Captain Comet has been especially deadly.”

The other smiled oddly. “I have what it takes to kill Captain Comet. It’s currently gestating in the laboratory. I call it Project: Armageddon, or simply Doomsday for short.”

The light-gray, spiked monster called Doomsday slept peacefully in a tube, awaiting freedom and a fateful order to kill from his creators. He would soon face Captain Comet in mortal combat.

***

The Outsiders and a few heroes of Gotham City were in the midst of a battle with the alien invaders in the city. The new Batwoman had taken the missing Batman’s place as she traveled ceaselessly through the city. She and two members of her new Secret Six team — Man-Bat and Ragman — were bringing helpless citizens to safety while battling the shock troops.

“Batwoman, these Thanagarians seem so cold and ruthless, it’s hard to believe Hawkman is one of them,” said Man-Bat.

“That’s like saying it’s hard to believe Two-Face and the Joker are humans,” the former Batgirl said in a grim mood. She still had her unfinished work with the Secret Six on her mind. Too many of the escaped Gotham City super-villains were still out there. (*) “There are good and bad members of every race and every species. It’s our misfortune that our job brings us in contact with the bad element more often.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: The Secret Six: Wanted.]

The Outsiders were hard at work. Halo flew up and used her tractor beam to haul away rubble from a crashed ship. Geo-Force strained as his powers brought down numerous attacking spacecraft, as the gravity he created overwhelmed their engines. Black Lightning dodged a Khund warrior and slammed his energy-pulsing fists into the creature’s armor. The alien soldier glowed brightly with electricity, then passed out, and Jeff Pierce ran on to tackle another trooper.

Katana’s blade sliced through alien armor, and her swift kicks downed the creature wearing it. If Looker weren’t busy helping Batman deal with Despero at the moment, she thought to herself, she’d probably have the Wingmen of Thanagar fighting each other over a chance to shine her boots.

Metamorpho’s snaking arms wrapped up countless foes as they charged into his swelling body. “No rush, guys, I’ll be here all night,” he bragged.

***

In other cities, the amazing Metal Men were performing amazing feats such as creating bridges out of their pliable bodies to lower folks to safety, or battling their inhuman foes.

“Bah! People are bad news no matter what galaxy they come from,” sneered Mercury.

“Oh, that’s not true,” cooed Platinum as she spiraled around a raider. “Just think of Superman, Batman, and Doc!”

The rest of the Metal Men battled on with the help of certain lone wolves like the Creeper and the Thorn, along with civilians such as Jason Bard and Johnny Peril.

***

In Europe, the Global Guardians drove out the invaders with their unique skills and powerful magic. Doctor Mist, Bushmaster, the Mermaid, and the Olympian, to name but a few, rescued their countrymen, risking all to stop the weird alien technology from encroaching on their homes.

“I hope Godiva is okay,” mused the Danish heroine formerly known as the Little Mermaid as she thought of their missing British ally.

“She’ll be avenged, if they’ve harmed even one hair on her head,” vowed the Wild Huntsman.

***

In the skies above the missing United Kingdom hovered the Green Lanterns Arisia, John Stewart, and Katma Tui, as well as the former and current criminals Silver Swan, Deadshot, and Signalman.

“There’s no sign of the land,” declared the Silver Swan as the lovely ex-ballerina hovered above the dark sea.

“My power ring is picking up some faint traces of energy, though,” said John Stewart.

“Can you identify it?” asked his lover, Katma Tui.

“No,” he said. “But I’m transmitting the info to Harbinger, the Monitor’s girl. She has records that rivals that of the Guardians of the Universe, even!”

***

Back in Washington, D.C., Harbinger rubbed her tired eyes. Lyla had been drawing upon the computer info gathered over decades, if not more, by the late Monitor to coordinate all the defenders of Earth. She had done remarkably well to follow this directive by Captain Comet, but she was still just a young woman and was growing tired.

Thankfully, she had just received good news when the Martian Manhunter contacted her telepathically. The Justice League of America had just defeated the powerful Despero and were now able to join the battle against the alien invasion forces. (*) That news cheered her up a bit, as had the liberation of Australia, but the mystery of the missing British Isles still weighed on her. She turned to look at her friend through a monitor; he was obviously in pain as he stood behind a hastily erected force-field far away from anyone else.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Pyre, Chapter 6: The Conquest of Earth.]

Even without his moans and groans, Pariah’s agony would have been evident. The equalization plague that he carried had by now been detected, and measures had been taken to isolate him from everyone else. But he was deeply troubled that he had become a direct source of danger for the defending forces of Earth, and knew that his very presence endangered not only the super-powered heroes but the equipment itself.

Far away from all others, Pariah could do nothing but fret and worry while Harbinger worked elsewhere. “I am the source of the equipment failings, Lyla,” he said sadly, his voice carrying over the speaker. “I am a true ill omen.”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Kell. You couldn’t have known,” said Lyla, referring to his true name of Kell Mossa, which she had learned shortly after the Crisis when she and Pariah, along with Lady Quark of Earth-Six, had become traveling companions for awhile until Tashana later disappeared from Earth-One altogether. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Challenge of the Volt Lord,” DC Comics Presents #94 (June, 1986) and The Night Force: The War of Darkness and Light, Chapter 5: Contact.]

Receiving John Stewart’s signal, Harbinger set to work, using that bit of information to cross-reference with the Monitor’s files. “I’ve found a match for the energy patterns over the missing U.K.!” she announced with excitement. “They are identical to those of the alien computer-being Brainiac and his famous shrinking ray. My guess is that the aliens used that shrinking ray or something based on it to shrink the entire United Kingdom and then just beamed it aboard a spacecraft.”

***

Signalman, scanning the skies for any sign of the aliens, suddenly yelled as he detected one. “A ship is directly overhead! It’s cloaked, but I can detect energy signals,” he said boastfully. “It’s a kind of electronic morse code used between ships — silent and rapid, but not out of the range of a master of signals like I am.”

Arisia and her fellow Green Lanterns used their power rings to create a gigantic spotlight designed to bring the cloaked ship into visibility. It was huge.

“That thing could almost hold the U.K. full-sized!” yelled Deadshot.

Arisia and the Silver Swan took that moment to fly closer to it, then returned to report to the others. “If we have a suitable enough distraction,” said Arisia, “I’m sure we could get inside.”

“If I had the right ammo, I could hit the inside of that mother and blow her engines up,” vowed the master marksman called Deadshot.

“If we supply you with the firepower you’d need, can you shoot it accurately?” asked John Stewart.

“I never miss,” Deadshot replied coldly.

“That’s not what Batman says,” crowed Signalman, laughing.

“Hey, at least I have better weapons than flashlight guns,” said an angry Deadshot.

Flying herself between them to stop any further arguing, Arisia said, “If we power ring up a gun of sufficient power and energy, will you be able to aim it?”

“As I already said,” replied Deadshot testily. “No doubt about it.” John shot Signalman a look to keep him quiet this time.

“What about those within?” asked Silver Swan. “We can’t let the British people get hurt!”

“Listen, gorgeous, those are the breaks of war,” said Deadshot.

The Swan recoiled in horror. “You sicken me.”

“Don’t worry,” said John Stewart. “We’ll get the British Isles out first and restore the whole landmass to full size, and then have you shoot the ship.”

Deadshot shrugged. “Either way is fine by me.”

Katma Tui frowned in thought. “That brings us to our next problem. How do we find them?”

“Signals!” cried the red-and-yellow-garbed Signalman. “I know the cities of the U.K. have hundreds of ’em — traffic lights, train signals, bulletin boards, et cetera. All neon or neon-based, and all detectable by the devices I use to take them over at times.”

“Cool!” said Arisia.

With the Green Lanterns’ power rings, the group soon phased into the massive alien spacecraft, and they began their search. Sure enough, they soon traced electronic signals emitting from a miniature cityscape upon a bigger landmass within a large bottle, and Signalman grinned in triumph as his plan had worked. “This is the place!” he said. “We can free the British people now.”

“Too bad your imminent deaths will happen before you can do even one more thing,” vowed an ugly alien squad leader as his troops surrounded the heroes and villains.

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