As a result of his help rescuing most of the Guardians from Camp Atterbury ( see last issue), Bounder is offered provisional membership on the team. As a result of his doing pretty much nothing during said rescue effort, Brigade was returned to his holding cell in the lower levels of Guardians headquarters. Bounder’s place on the team is contingent upon several things, notable among them that he is officially on probation, and that he refrain from sexually harrassing Fortress, who can unilaterally boot him from the team at any time. He reluctantly agreed.
New to the team as well is Torrent, also known as Lani.
Between the rescue and the next scheduled team meeting:
Lightning Bolt realizes he needs help running The Knockback, since Shannon was injured and then disappeared. After several disappointing candidates, in walks a leggy young blonde. Larisa Bolotnikov, 28 years old, is a Russian immigrant. She ran a restaurant in Kiev.
“I’m not sure you’re right for the job,” Lightning Bolt said. “Your name…there is no alliteration.”
“Ah,” Larisa replied, “but my initials are LB.”
Darlene, in her day job as a defense attorney with a reputation for paranormal cases, has already been approached by Mr. Jensen, Kid Green’s father, about ensuring that he be allowed to serve his sentence at Stronghold, where his son Sam will eventually be taken.
Today she’s contacted by two of the villains who are scheduled to be transferred to Stronghold tomorrow, Microwave and Vulcan, and one still in the Marion County Jail, Ditty. Vulcan (businessman Muhammed Abdul) and Microwave (Bjorn Christensen) both assure her they have access to money.
Darlene’s other active case is the disappearance of Dr. Liefeldt. Her investigators have nothing new yet.
Babs Bennett, local TV newsbabe, airs a story featuring a crusading mother, Drusilla DeWitt, who claims that the government and the Guardians killed her boys. The woman scoffs at denials from the Army and the State Police. “If the law won’t hold people accountable, then it’s up to the people!”
After seeing this, LB contacts Babs. When she had come around asking about an alleged incident in Southern Indiana, he had told her to look into General Stone. She tells him that she’s hitting a wall, that the Army denies he even exists. Twice he comes close to divulging the truth, that the team’s bodies had been taken over by nanobots and four people ended up murdered. But he hesitates, instead telling her again that she needs to track down Stone.
The FOX producers attend the weekly team meeting to announce the episode lineup for the premiere season. There will be nine episodes, presented as such:
S1E1 – History of the team
S1E2 – Lucas Oil Stadium fight with PIPER
S1E3 – Security cam footage from inside the jail during the attempted jail break of Alyssia
S1E4 – The raid on Unicorn’s HQs and the battle with her team and Foundation
S1E5 – Fighting the giant Hedge that was Sam Jensen
S1E6 – The first battle with Conductor and her escape
S1E7 – The funeral of the people killed by Conductor, and their rising as electric zombies
S1E8 – The first raid on Camp Atterbury and the capture of the heroes
S1E9 – The return and rescue.
After the producers leave, team benefactor Arthur Donaldson enters, trailing lawyers. They’ve seen the news report and want to have a discussion. Most of the team believes they should track down Stone, to get concrete proof that they were not responsible for their actions. Lightning Bolt insists that the truth be told. “It’s dishonest, it’s not fair to Mrs. DeWitt! She’s asking questions about her dead sons, as she should, and we have the answers!”
The lawyers, of course, urge silence. “Say absolutely nothing. If they had any proof they’d have you in an interrogation room by now.”
“It’s not just you that we’re talking about here,” Alyssia speaks up. “It’s me and Kid who are in this as well. You can’t speak for us! We know we’re innocent, we need to go get the proof!”
LB is finally convinced, reluctantly, to remain silent. For now.
Kid Green, still in anguish over Amy’s brush with death and her persistent coma, blows up. “We need to stop all this talking and go find Stone NOW! We should be doing nothing else!” With that he stormed from the room.
The team has also been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security. They want to hire the team to provide escort to the Stronghold transport train tomorrow. On board the heavily modified Amtrak train will be: Miscountess, Brigade, Bulldozer, Microwave, Anti-Matter, Mortar, and Vulcan. The cars have been reinforced and provided with a dampening field that will suppress most paranormal powers. Each villain has also been fitted with dampening cuffs.
Lightning Bolt assigns himself, Fortress, and Bantam to escort the prisoners.
The train moves Southwest out of Indianapolis. After a couple of hours, as it nears a trestle in Southern Illinois, and explosion up ahead rocks the cars. The train screeches to a hault just head of a chasm, filled with the smoking ruins of the track.
From the woods surrounding the tracks step several figures, each wearing dark clothes. A male figure is flanked by three hulking dogs, slavering and growling. LB and Fortress disembark, Bantam zips on top of a train car. He shoots electricity at the dogs, but misses. They respond by making an incredible standing leap onto the top of the car, on either side of him.
A small female suddenly whooshes into view. Fortress grabs her and holds on. The girl then begins to vibrate violently, causing Fortress to not only lose her grip but to be sent flying back into the side of the train car. No sooner does she hit the ground than a cloud of insects flies from the woods, swarming her face.
The third dog, still beside its master, flings itself at LB. He tries to get his shield up to block it but the beast is too fast. Fortunately, it’s also got lousy aim: it sails past LB and slams into another train car.
On top of the car, Bantam tries out a new trick: from his tiny size of 1/15" he suddenly grows to his full six feet, directly beneath the jaws of the dog, and then shrinks again. The result is a violent uppercut which sends the dog tumbling end-over-end past the engine and out of sight, landing with a thud and a whimper.
The girl Fortress had tangled with says, “I’ll be right back.” She gets very blurry for a second but is still standing there. “You can get up now so I can knock you down again.” LB flings his shield at her but misses. Referring to LB, she says, “Joe-Bob, yours is gettin’ squirrelly.”
“I’m on it, Daisy, you worry about your’n.” Joe-Bob, the one with the dogs.
Fortress jumps up and swings at Daisy but misses. Daisy responds by pointing her hands at Fortress and vibrating them until they’re nearly invisible. LB throws his shield, attempting to deflect away from Fortress whatever is coming next, but his aim is errant; the shield wings off the ground and bounces into the treeline. A shockwave erupts from Daisy’s hands that slams into the hero, driving her back into the same train car. This time the force is enough to punch her through the side of it, and then send it toppling over.
Fortress glances up from the floor of the car (actually the other side of the car) and sees tossed about, still in their dampening shackles, two unconscious guards, along with Bulldozer, Brigade, and Miscountess.
LB dashes over to Daisy and punches her, knocking her back into the dirt. She vibrates and is suddenly standing upright. LB feels a tap on his shoulder and turns to see another woman. Her face is mostly concealed under a hood, but what he can see appears to be scaley. He can also see fangs. She hisses into his face, spraying a foul-smelling mist, and says, “Go down to the last car and open it. Let those people out.” LB is filled with a sudden urge to do just that.
Daisy dashes into the treeline and tries to grab LB’s shield. Unfortunately it weights 400 pounds and she can’t budge it.
On top of the train car, Bantam is dodging huge canine fangs. He uppercuts another one, sending it flying away like it’s brother, just as the first dog, now recovered, returns. “Hey, stop hurtin’ my dogs!” Bantam hears their master yell.
Inside the upended train car, Fortress pauses and looks around very carefully. Miscountess, or rather the demon inside of her, shrieks to be let free so it can kill everybody. Brigade gets to his feet. “Well well, how about this? Looks like I’m gettin’ out after all, I didn’t need to join your stupid team.”
“Sit down, Brigade.” Fortress stands. “Make me,” he says. So she does, giving him an elbow in the face which drops him to the floor.
The fog in LB’s mind clears as he starts toward the rear of the train. So instead, he turns and tries to grab snake-girl. “What’s your name?” he asks as she slips away from him. “Penny McCoy,” she spits back. “What’s your code name? You’ve all got code names, right?”
“Pygmy. For the snake. But the name you need to remember is McCoy, and DeWitt! We know you killed those boys! Alpha’s dogs seen it happen, and told him everything! And you’re gonna pay!”
“The dog didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Bantam is again facing off against two dogs on top of the train car. He uppercuts one, again sending it spinning away into the woods. “I’m gonna kill you!” he hears, and sees the dogs’ master moving away from the tree line and toward the car. Bantam dodges another set of fangs and fires off an electrical bolt at the man. The smell of ozone fills the air as he’s struck and is knocked back into a tree. The dogs stop and lift their muzzles to the sky, howling plaintively.
Just then the heroes’ signal devices go off. “Oi, mates, this is Bounder…is this thing on?…we’ve got a problem ’ere…” An explosion is heard. “’ey, knock it off!” Bounder yells to someone. “Wanker! That’s it then…” and the transmission goes dark.
Pygmy, still facing down LB, calls out. “Gnat, secure that shield!” Another person emerges from the trees, this one a male. He stands over the shield, and LB flings himself at him. The hero slams into Gnat, sending him flying back into the trees. He picks up his shield and sends it flying at Pygmy. It connects with a “CLANG” and she’s sent sprawling.
Daisy appears at Joe-Bob’s side, trying to rouse him. One of his dogs have joined them, frantically licking his face. Bantam dispatches the last dog on top of the car and then fires a bolt at Daisy, knocking her out.
Inside the train car, Bulldozer has risen to his full height, towering over Fortress. He looks down at her, then up at the hole in the car, then back down at her. Sensing that he’s preparing to jump out, she latches on to one of his legs. As Fortress she weights close to 12 tons. With the dampening cuffs on, Bulldozer’s strength is gone. Try as he might, he can’t budge. But he doesn’t give up. After a few minutes she gets tired of hanging on and punches him hard right in the berries. He sits down.
Outside, LB is about to advance on Pygmy when he hears buzzing in his ears and a thick swarm of wasps surrounds his head. It persists for only a few seconds, but when it disperses, Gnat is gone.
On the other side of the train, Daisy has recovered from Bantam’s blast and zips away. Pygmy has moved over to Joe-Bob and is lifting him up. Bantam takes a shot at her and she drops. The heroes collect Pygmy and Alpha and try to get back in touch with Guardians headquarters.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT HQ…
Gathered at HQ are Bounder (he lives here now), Torrent (learning her way around), Vapor (he still lives here), and Dark Witch (just hanging out). Torrent is asking the others’ impression of being a Guardian.
Vapor says, “We work about 14 seconds a week. But those fourteen seconds are punctuated by extreme terror. Otherwise, not a bad job.”
Ernest calls up to the meeting room. “There’s some scraggly guy out front taking pictures.” The quartet move out to the front porch, where they see a man walking up the driveway. “Can we help you?” Lani asks.
“Hi, my name is Bentley McCormick. I run TruthTeller.com. I got an anonymous call to meet some people here, they said there was some bombshell story about excessive force? You guys know anything about that?”
Sid mutters, “We are about to be attacked.”
Just then a van screeches to a halt at the end of the drive. Four people emerge. Two adults, a man and a woman, are clad in jeans. A larger figure emerges behind them, who seems to be covered in all black, from head to toe. Finally a young boy steps out, wringing his hands and muttering to himself.
The woman starts to yell. “We is here to get the story out that the Guardians are murderin’ bastards! They killed the DeWitt boys on orders of the US government!”
Sid sighs. “So, what do you call yourself?”
“You ‘bout to find out, boy. I’m Wildfire!” Flames sprout from her downturned palms and she lifts into the air.
The large black figure steps away from the van, toward Bentley. Dust wafts from him with every move. “So, what’s your name,” Vapor asks. “I’m also obligated to ask why none of you wear costumes.” The figure says nothing. The other adult male gives a rebel yell and then grows before their eyes, topping out at about thirteen feet.
Bounder speaks up. “So, I’ll just be going inside, right? To coordinate the attack plan.” To which the others respond in unison, “NO.” He bounces off the porch, into the driveway moving toward the van.
Dark Witch teleports to the top of a parked car and points her wand at Bentley. His eyes go wide as he’s enveloped in writhing dark energies. “Relax,” she croaks, “it’s to protect you.” At the same time, Vapor transmutes the air in the car she’s standing on to propane, just in case somebody needs a bomb.
Torrent runs off the porch to the fountain in the center of the driveway. She beings filling her body with rocks. Wildfire sees her and flies toward her, shooting a flame blast. The force of the blast slams Lani to the ground and knocks her out.
Bounder’s about to land just in front of the van, but as he’s coming down from his bounce the small boy says, “Scary. Scary shit. Go away.” He flicks his hand at Bounder almost imperceptibly, and the large round erstwhile villain is struck by an invisible force. He careens backwards as if smacked with a giant baseball bat, arcing across the driveway and smashing through the front windows of the HQ. “Scary man gone now.”
The black figure aims a hand at Dark Witch, atop the car. Thick coal dust shoots forth, scouring and blinding the hero and pushing her off the car and across the drive. At the same time, Vapor moves toward the center of the drive and manifests a dense white fog across the area.
He then causes the air in front of the tall male to become tear gas. He starts gagging and flailing his arms about, nearly striking the young boy. “Mule, calm down!” Wildfire says.
Inside, Bounder picks himself off the floor and activates his brand-new Guardians signal device. “Oi, mates, this is Bounder…is this thing on?…we’ve got a problem ’ere…” At that moment, outside, Wildfire hits Darlene’s car (the one filled with propane that she’s standing near) with a flame blast. It goes up in a brilliant fireball. Dark Witch is sent tumbling across the grass.
“’ey, knock it off!” Bounder yells. “Wanker! That’s it then…”. He slams down the signal device and heads back outside. He sees the boy, now hovering several feet in the air. “There you are you little sot!” He bounds into the air, swelling one fist to gargantuan size, ready to pummel the child. The boy gestures slightly and Bounder is suddenly caught in mid-air, giant fist raised. Immobile.
The dark figure again points at Dark Witch, and again fills her face with coal dust. This is more insidious, however. It works its way into her nose and throat, choking off her air. She struggles to stay conscious.
The giant is still flailing around, blind. He manages to make his way to the center of the driveway and kicks through the side of the fountain. Water and pieces of concrete flow everywhere.
Wildfire and Vapor trade attacks, both missing. She does manage to set a concrete pillar on fire. So rather than continue to miss her, Vapor concentrates and draws the oxygen from the air in a 60’ radius around him. The flames on the porch and those eating what’s left of Darlene’s car die quickly.
Dark Witch turns the tables on the black figure, blasting him in the face with a shot from her wand. Dark energies swirl around his head. This doesn’t seem to slow him down, though, as he fires back with more coal dust. She teleports away.
The boy, still holding Bounder immobile, now wiggles a finger and sends him flying away, toward Vapor. Sid dives for cover as the large round Bounder sails over his head and slams into the ground. Vapor stands and takes aim at Wildfire, bursting a cloud of poison gas in her face.
Mule, eyes now clear but temper still stoked, reaches out and grabs the nearest car (Lani’s). He picks it up and flings it toward the headquarters building, smashing in the front doors.
Torrent, conscious again, fires one of her projectiles at Wildfire. Between Sid’s gas and a rock striking her forehead, Wildfire drops from the air in a heap.
Instantly, the young boy beings to cry and scream. “Becky hurt! Becky hurt!” He glares at Torrent and pain erupts in her head. She drops, unconscious again. Vapor moves quickly and blinds the boy with gas in his face, then hits him with a second dose and he drops.
Dark Witch reappears near the black figure, who punches her. She fires her wand but misses. He swings again, knocking her out.
Mule and the black figure are now staring at Vapor. “I take it all back.” The black figure sends coal dust flying at him, but misses. Sid moves quickly to Dark Witch’s side and heals her, but she remains out. Torrent flings a piece of concrete at Mule, missing.
Just as Wildfire begins to get up and it looks bleak for Vapor and Torrent, crashing down onto the van comes Kid Green! He whips out a stalk and grabs the black figure, pulling him back violently and delivering a mighty punch, knocking him back into the ground. He gets up, looks around briefly, and then moves toward the unconscious boy.
Kid Green moves on to Mule. He does a leg sweep that knocks the giant villain onto his butt. He tries to kick Kid but misses. Kid launches himself straight up into the air and comes down in a piledriver on Mule. That does it.
Wildfire is back on her feet, and both she and the black figure are menacing Torrent. “I fried you once, you best git before I do it again!” The black figure swings a backhand at Torrent, but it splooshes right through her. Wildfire lights up her hands again, preparing to take to the air, when another burst of knockout gas hits her and she collapses.
The black figure again moves toward the boy, picking him up. Dark Witch, now recovered, teleports near him and shoots him with her wand. “Jeremiah is scared!” the boy cries, and in that instant, the villains all disappear in a flash of light.
Kid Green looks around to make sure everybody’s okay, then leaps away. “I’ll be back when I find Stone. Stop calling me.”
Darlene is hurt and is taken quickly to the medical bay.