In the meantime, the team meets with Sam and Terry, producers of the proposed reality show. They report that they screened the footage they had so far (including last issue’s battle with Miscountess and warriors of the Brotherhood of Senghala) and FOX has optioned the show. For a lot of money.
They then introduce some new toys: remote-controlled hovering cameras, encased in translucent spheres about the size of a basketball. They also introduce personal cameras, very small units that attach to each hero’s costume. Unfortunately, after a few seconds each one shorts out. They try three of them, and each ends up looking like it melted.
Lightning Bolt meets with the team and tells them that after they return from Sri Lanka, elections for team leader will be held. He explained that most of the team has joined recently and had no say in who leads, so he wants to give them that chance.
The team flies to NYC to meet with the Sri Lankan ambassador, His Excellency Jaliya Wickramasuriya. Lightning Bolt explains the situation and asks that they be allowed to travel to Sri Lanka to apprehend Brother Ashari. The ambassador explains that he must consult with the President.
The next day the ambassador reports that the President will be delighted to receive the heroes. The ambassador tells them that there has recently been some political strife in the country, both from political opponents and armed rebels. A grand reception is planned, including a parade. The ambassador pleads for two days to prepare, and the team agrees.
Upon leaving the embassy the team decides they’re not going to wait. They borrow a C-jet from the Champions and make the 18-hour flight around the globe to Sri Lanka.
They locate the national park that the captured warriors had revealed to be the location of the Brotherhood’s HQ. As they’re approaching it from the air, storm clouds begin to form. Suddenly an alarm starts pinging: weapons have acquired a lock on the craft. Lightning Bolt yells, “Strap in!” and begins evasive maneuvers.
He manages to shake one missile, and ejects chaff that causes another to explode behind them. He takes the C-jet into a tight dive but the third missile finds its mark and the craft explodes around them! Suddenly they’re in free-fall, thousands of feet above the ground.
Baron Mind is stunned by the explosion. The team manages to get everyone gathered together as they plummet through the clouds.
They land safely, having been guided by the strong winds to the foot of an ancient, overgrown temple. Large columns stand in various states of decay around the steps of a crumbling zigguraut. As they look around, warriors of the Brotherhood emerge from behind columns and boulders. From the side of the temple steps a man in replendent robes, carrying a staff. He speaks in Senghalese (which Baron Mind translates): “Brother Ashari welcomes you to Ceylon. It is good that you survived the explosion, now we won’t have to scour the landscape for the Mind Gem. You may surrender it, or your lives.”
When they refuse, another figure emerges: a tall, beautiful white woman dressed in a flowing green dress. She carries a long wooden staff topped by a glowing globe of Earth. Original members of the team recognize her immediately: the woman who calls herself Mistress of Gaia, a filthy-rich international eco-terrorist.
LB orders the heroes to surround Baron Mind, knowing that his gem is the goal. As they gather the ground rumbles and four figures emerge from the ground at various points around the clearing:
Lodestone – A towering grayish-black figure wielding magnetic powers
Firestone – A hunched creature spewing smoke and lava from volcanic vents on its back
Marl – A swirling, animated pile of gravel
Ganister – Milky white and shiny, he stands guard beside Brother Ashari.
At the same time, Gaia gestures towards the storm clouds and four small tornadoes develop quickly, swirling around the clearing.
LB’s orders go by the wayside quickly: Graviton moves to engage Firestone, hitting it hard with his Gravi-punch. As the punch lands, Firestone spews flaming embers from his back, which themselves are animated. They dance around for a second then they all fling themselves at him, exploding on impact. He freaks out, but then realizes that they’ve done very little damage thanks to his gravity field.
Bantam moves among boulders to get a better vantage point and unleashes an eletrical blast at Gaia. The bolt of electricity is redirected to the glowing orb atop her staff, leaving her untouched.
Fortress launches herself at Lodestone, barrelling into the towering magnetite creature and knocking it down.
Baron Mind uses his TK to scoop up Marl and uses it to knock out one of the warriors.
LB rushes toward Gaia, Brother Ashari, and Ganister, just as Kid Green whips out a stalk and swings a broken column at the trio. The column falls to the side and LB misses his punch.
Gaia cries out and a lightning bolt stabs from the pouring rain clouds, but misses her target. LB then grabs her by the arm. She shrieks and then takes to the sky, flying herself and LB straight up into the clouds as LB tries with his other hand to grab her staff.
Marl stretches out and Baron Mind, now left unsurrouned by heroes, is enveloped by gravel.
Kid Green turns his attention to some of the surrounding warriors, leaping into the air and landing among them with a foot stomp, sending warriors flying. Others are dodging tornadoes; Bantam picks one off with an electrical blast.
Vapor engages Marl, trying to get Baron free, but two warriors attack him as well. He becomes a mist to avoid their nunchuck attacks.
Lodestone rises from the ground and gestures toward Fortress; a magnetic field pins her to the ground just as one of the tornadoes slams into her. She’s conveniently blown several feet, next to Marl. She reaches into the gravel and yanks Baron free.
Lodestone steps toward them and generates another magnetic field, pinning Baron and Fortress to the ground. Noticing this, Kid Green propels himself at Lodestone, slamming into the creature with tremendous force. Lodestone goes flying into the temple wall, and the magnetic field dissipates. He gets up and responds with a magnetic force beam, sending Kid Green flying across the clearing.
In the air, Gaia strikes LB with a lightning bolt, which does no damage but causes him to release his grasp. As he plummets toward the ground he flings his shield at Gaia but misses.
On the ground, more Lapilli erupt from Firestone’s back and launch themselves at Grav. This time the impact stuns him. Firestone moves toward the reeling hero; Kid Green shoots out a stalk to entangle the creature, but it burns away quickly.
Fortress again flings herself at Lodestone, but doesn’t knock it down this time. Still, cracks appear across its body.
Bantam and Vapor are dealing with warriors, Bantam sparking them and Vapor gassing them. All the while Marl is still trying to smash Vapor and keeps missing, until Fortress lands another mighty punch on Lodestone, knocking him into Marl and causing an explosion of gravel.
Graviton lifts into the sky and arrests LB’s fall my making him lighter than air. And while all of this is going on, Gaia has circled around to the other side of the clearing and now wraps Baron Mind in swirling winds, rendering him unable to move. She then streaks into the clouds. Kid Green makes a tremendous leap towards her, just missing.
The team makes short work of the remaining villains. LB realizes they can track Baron via his Guaridans signal device. The team mobilizes and sets off through the jungle in the pouring rain to rescue their teammate.