TEAM Chicago Comics, Issue 4:
Invasion of the Lava Men!
100 feet below street level
The tunnel stank. Rot and mildew and seepage from sewers trickled through cracks in the walls. Even the heady scent of ozone couldn’t mask it entirely, not to COBRA’s enhanced senses. He landed, straightening from his acrobatic twist in midair as Proteus prepared his next attack. Past the mad Paraelemental Man, banks of electronics hummed, all feeding power stolen from the Cook County grid into…something. COBRA’s eyes best decribed it as a ring, crackling with static discharges, but his electronic senses told a different tale – there was something past the ring, more to it.
“DIE COBRA! DIE DIE DIE!” The ParaElemental Man’s dialogue left something to be desired. Being insane and comprised of the four alchemical elements for fifty years had its downside.
Boiling steam and mud crashed into the floor where COBRA stood but moments before. Servo-enhanced nerve and muscle strained, torquing the operative midair, coherent light flashing from one leg, barely deflected by a maelstrom of air cooled to absolute zero. The deflected beam crashed into a bank of machinery, some sort of jackleg supercomputer. Proteus’ ‘Para-Dimensional Quantum Ring’, whatever that meant, whined in protest as other systems shouldered the load.
The ParaElemental Man drifted closer, gliding on thermals generated by his fluctuating form. Infrared sensors indicated that he was preparing to launch another blast of elemental fire. Only moments to work a evasive solution…
“This will be our final battle, old foe,” snarled the madman. “In moments, the Quantum Ring will open portals to the Elemental Planes, the fountain of all that is…and this world will cease to be! A new world will rise, one that Doctor Proteus shall mold in his image!”
A spike in the IR was the signal: COBRA leapt, anti-armor laser flashing, deflecting the vastly more powerful blast from Proteus into a vital-looking databank…fire solidified to lava, and the Quantum Ring pulsed, filling the tunnel with blue-white light. The last sound either man heard before the light washed over them was a klaxon…
1000 feet below sea level
Darktown and Commerce
“ALERT ALERT ALERT! TAC unit, please respond. 3822 in progress, Talent crime in progress, all TAC units and TEAM agents, please respond.”
Agent Kirby’s voice crackled through the intercom from his office:
“That’s your cue, heroes, get to work. Situation hasn’t gone south yet, but reports are coming in of a massive fish kill in the Bay.”
Judas sneered, tugging on his trademark mask. “So what, we set up a barbecue?”
Kirby’s rolling eyes cold almost be heard. “Ask the guys who made the volcano that caused it. Kirby out.”
Prince Titan and Doktor Tesla exchanged looks. “That’s…unusual,” rumbled the Prince of Inner Earth.
“Indeed…such tectonic activity cannot be natural, and given the recent altercation at the Lighthouse…I’ll check it out, with my new Thermo-Kinetic Lift Pack!” As the rest of TEAM ascended the stairs, the good Doktor and Titan rocketed into the steel-gray skies of New Chicago, headed for Michigan Bay. Below them, Judas chuckled as he spun the lift fans of his autogyro into motion, speeding shakily towards the Lakeside District, home to the wealthy and powerful…
Michigan Bay, Lakeside District
“Alright people, get back, get back behind the barricades, please! TAC has this situation under control, there’s no danger to your homes!” Ramirez was having a legendarily crappy day. Not enough that a fish kill seemed likely to provoke a food riot in some of the Districts, not enough that he had to chew his men out for not finding the sniper that had provoked a riot at the Lighthouse…but to have to call in the G-Men, TEAM…he slugged back another cup of stout black coffee, and grimaced.
Out in the Bay, the tiny volcano steamed and hissed, a dragon from beneath the earth, wrought of cooling molten stone.
“Far cooler than it should be,” mused Tesla over the psi-band link. “According to my instruments, there’s also a marked lack of toxic out gassing typical to this sort of phenomenon…”
ShadowBlade did not look at Judas, but nodded. “Understood, Tesla-san. Unnatural. Take the vehicle down, Judas.”
Judas brought the autogyro in for a landing…TAC had even been helpful enough to cordon off an area…well, three-quarters of one. Would have been a full area, if Judas ever got his license. Then again, which name would he put on it?
Below the autogyro, shouting, strobing lights, the telltale signs of…
Police activity. GPS was offline, half of the nanocomputer enhancements were offline, only basic enhancements and IR. Arcthrower, pulse lasers, anti-armor, all nominal. The HUD crawled its message across COBRA’s field of vision, speaking its tale of woe. The two guys in the air looked like Metaoperatives, but no ID on the database. Fence thrity feet away, an easy run, simple leap over. Maybe the authorities could give him an idea where he was…
“It started about three hours ago,” commented Ramierez, as TAC began deploying some sort of gear from their assault van. “Fish dying off, then that thing popped up. Sure looks like a volcano, don’t it?”
“I would not know,” quipped ShadowBlade. “Does it, Judas?”
“I’m a detective, not a geologist. Prince, Doc, gimme a status report.”
“It is not very large,” rumbled Titan. “I am standing on it, and” The mighty Prince of the Inner Earth stopped. There was something familiar about it, the structure. Dim memories stirred within him…but only for a moment.
“INCOMING!” shouted the good Doktor over the link. From the newly-formed island, a projectile began streaking in…a curiously humanoid projectile. TAC took positions, and something within their assault van whirred to life.
An easy jump for an enhanced man. COBRA vaulted the wrought iron fence with practiced ease. He might not recognize where he was, but trouble’s got a look all it’s own. He sprinted to the nearest cop, dressed in some kind of weird-looking body armor.
“What’s the situation? How can I help?” The TAC officer’s reaction was drowned in a cascade of sound as Titan crashed through the wall of a Lakeside home, smashing it to flinders, setting it ablaze before digging a furrow in the carefully manicured lawn.
“Get this civilian back behind the line!” howled Ramirez. COBRA’s response was nonplussed – he flashed his ID.
“TRIGGER! Get over here!” Ramirez pointed at the camouflaged COBRA. “You people deal with this, I’m gonna get my men in there and put your boy out before he burns the neighborhood down.”
“Burns t’be takin’ orders from th’ cops, don’t it, Judas?” growled Agent Kirby, beside he and Kokuei suddenly.
“How…? Nevermind, boss. I’m on it.” Judas slid away, approaching COBRA, leaving Kirby smirking, and Kokuei…puzzled. How did the elderly G-Man sneak up on her, of all people?
The greatness of Evil lies in its awful accuracy, for without that deadly talent for being in the right place at the right time, Evil must suffer defeat.