BOOMER and SPHINX are called into Col. Patterson's
office and told that Achilles Kirkandopoulos (GEMINI) seems to be having problems.
Questions and mind-probing reveal that he is plagued by dreams of a man
claiming to be his son (he is unmarried and childless at the moment). Patterson
thinks he is cracking up, Boomer and Sphinx think he may be on to something.
Patterson is not impressed with their attitude and, instead of sending them
along with Gemini to a meeting in
However, on the DC-7 they are confronted by a ghost-like man who turns very substantial, and bleeding, before their eyes. The person looks amazingly like their friend Achilles, and introduces himself as MICHAEL Kirkandoupoulos, Achilles' son. Once his bleeding is halted, he displays a small device and askes for help from his "father's old comrades. The two Vanguardians get into the hold of the airplane, where Sphinx's armor is stored, and Michael pushes the right buttons.
All three depart, and find themselves in a Mexican building where a firefight seems to be going on between several federales and some super-powered, or otherwise strange, people. They are attacked with the others and end up having to drive off the Mexican policemen. They are then introduced to the strange assembly around them. Among them are a dwarfish person called RANGO dressed in plate armor, a chainmail-wearing female with greatsword and bow called ASWANSEA who claims to be an elf, a robotic person looking like a highly advanced form of Pollux calling himself WEAPONEER, a lurking assassin-type called NIGHTSTALKER, a knife user called BLADE MISTRESS and a woman who introduces herself as just SANDRA and has the look of a secret agent.
Michael explains that the year is 1978, which is something of a shock for Boomer and Sphinx, who at least had their suspicions, and really a shock for Nightstalker, Weaponeer, and Sandra, who are from 1988. The dwarf and elf seem to be from some other world entirely. Michael says that he was working for a man called Antonio Icarus and recently discovered that the seemingly aboveboard work he was doing had a sinister undercurrent. He had tried to protest and this resulted in his daughter being kidnapped and himself thrown into the Mexican jail the group had just trashed. Fortunately, Michael had access to a "Sonywalkman," whatever that is, and was able to cobble together the time and space travel device that brought the group together.
Blade Mistress and Nightstalker protest that they had other things to do and refuse to help any further. Boomer and Sphinx decide that one of them should return to Vanguard base and make a report (carefully not revealing the connection between Achilles and Michael), and Sphinx decides he should go. Michael attempts to send them back where they came from and succeeds, more or less, though three new people appear: another sneaky type called CAT, a plainly dressed gentleman called TAROT and a woman called HARRIER.
The new three
decide to stay and help and the group decides to raid the villa in the area
owned by Antonio Icarus. This reconnaisance results in a set of papers
indicating that something major is about to happen in
In the meantime, Sphinx found himself in the same cargo hold he departed from and contacts WHITE LOTUS mentally. Apprised of the situation, Lotus decides he should join Boomer to help out, but something goes wrong, and Sphinx is transported back to the group, while Lotus finds he cannot manipulate his powers as long as Sphinx and Boomer are in the future. He begins to meditate and hold himself ready as a conduit to the two teammates.
realizes that they must raid a building owned by Icarus Industries that is on
assault, the experiment goes through over the protests of the scientists;
Realizing that they have not done well, the team decides to use Michael's device once more to go back a week in time and investigate the castle residence of Antonio Icarus, who seems to be Doctor Destroyer (a name known by the 1988 heroes, but not local law-enforcement people). In the course of transporting the team, Harrier disappears.
Using a ruby
brought along by Rango, the team manages to acquire a small truck and races to
The other problem is the dragon pair, one of which almost kills Sandra. However, they manage to kill one dragon and wound the one Doctor Destroyer is riding on, driving him away and allowing them to ransack the place, free Michael's daughter (remember her?), and get evidence that Michael can use to stop the experiment that dried up Lake Geneva. This thwarts the first attempt by Doctor Destroyer to conquer the world.
The various team members say farewell and are transported back to their original places, leaving Freedom Force, Boomer, and Sphinx with the tricky question of what to tell Achilles.
BOOMER, FREEDOM FORCE, JOTUN, and EL JAGUAR, are called
together by Colonel Patterson to investigate the disappearance of DEVADASI. She
had apparently been dancing for a Hindu temple in
party arrives in
They find the temple and demand entry. They are met by priests who lead them to rooms which become cells. This doesn't stop our heroes long and they look through the corridors of the immense temple until they find a worship room where a gaggle of black-clad worshippers are worshipping Kali! This is supposed to be a temple to Vishnu. They see that Devadasi is on the dais next to an immense statue of Kali, and when she starts to dance, she gains six arms, each carrying a sword of mystic force!
The heroes attack and find the worshippers are basically thuggees. Someone observing the ceremony turns out to be sent by some other agency to break things up, and displays a sudden usage of force barriers and walls. The statue comes to life and has to be taken down by Freedom Force and Jotun. The other heroes manage to knock Devadasi out and neutralize the lead priest of Kali, which snaps the control they have on her. The evil thuggees are defeated in short order.
handy the other operative is, Boomer talks to him and finds he is from
Fox takes Devadasi back to headquarters before she is really aware of what is going on. Thus, she misses being in her home country and is very resentful. However, she and Fox are later seen to be conspiring, and Colonel Patterson is not happy about the thought of the group's world-class teleporter taking Devadasi where she wants to go.
In March, the United Nations announces their intention
to create a new, supplemental, base for Vanguard on the largely unused Ellis
Island, near the United Nations building now under constuction. A somewhat more
controversial announcement is the plan to turn
after the announcement of the partition, the bloodbath begins. The Arabs put
the Jewish quarter of
March 15, the United Nations Supervisory Team calls in Vanguard, and, after
almost two weeks of bureaucratic dithering, Colonel Patterson asks FREEDOM
FORCE, RED STAR, and SPHINX to form a team. Almost their first volunteer is
SALAH-ED-DIN, whom Red Star refuses as being too involved and tells him he is
forbidden to go to
team is established as the three leaders and BOOMER, PARTISAN, HUSSAR, PHOTOS,
STELLARI, MUJAHDEEN (the new recruit from
The team's first mission is to discover the fate of a food convoy meant for the Jewish quarter that had not reported in for hours. A flying squad findS the burnt-out trucks and several bodies. They trace the tracks of the survivors to a burnt-out village, in which the remainder seemed to have been killed. Some of the team members notice evidence that flame-projecting superpowered people seem to have been involved, as well as someone capable of virtually sandblasting a target.
Coming back to the UN Compound, the team discovers they are being spied on by a female who proves to have great strength (though not as great as Freedom Force's and Red Star's) and very hard skin. As they question her, they discover she is Jewish (using the name Star of David) and has the mental picture of an old rabbi in her mind as a leader to her. Then the entire team is momentarily felled by a mental attack and, when they wake up, the girl is gone.
find which rabbi was the psionic and leader the girl followed, and spend the
next few days patrolling the streets. Knowing that another convoy is due from
During their patrols, Red Star sees Salah-ed-din in the distance. Shortly thereafter, Salah-ed-din approaches Mujahdeen and berates him for not joining the Moslem cause. Mujahdeen stalls him and asks for time to think.
Stellari goes to explore the route the upcoming convoy is to take and flies over a town whose inhabitants shoot at him. He flies down to investigate and is confronted by EFREET, who tells him to leave or he will have to kill him. Stellari argues with him and is caught in a volcanic entangle. Breaking free, he continues to try to reason with the fire spirit until he is almost killed, at which time he finally runs.
At the same time, Sphinx and Photos are in the Jewish quarter near the border of the arab quarter when a riot starts over an arab water-peddler and his balky donkey. Photos tries to stop things and escalates the disturbance. Most of the other team members (except Mujahdeen, who is outside the town talking to Salah-ed-din) come in piecemeal to try to stop the riot and Red Star and Freedom Force team up to keep the British forces from shelling the entire riot. A combination of Sphinx's impressive presence, Conquistadore's shockwave (which does some damage to surrounding buildings), and the efforts of the other members send the rioters packing before there is too much devastation of people and property. Stellari then tells Red Star and Freedom Force about the encounter with Efreet and everyone realizes that Mujahdeen is missing.
After the water riot, the Isreali force sends PHOTOS home and looks for Mujahdeen. He turns up shortly, saying that he had been held briefly by SALAH-ED-DIN, who wanted to recruit him for the Moslem side. The Afghan then disappears again, infiltrating the Moslem group.
In the meantime, the team goes looking for the Jewish partisans. They have little luck until Freedom Force suddenly takes off. He is obviously mind controlled, but the other team members cannot catch him before he tunnels into the sand outside the city and disappears, leaving shreds of his costume behind.
The team renews its search and finds a suspicious dwelling with an overlarge door. Breaking in, Boomer discovers it is the home of a gigantic man who proves as gentle as his normal-sized wife is hostile. After some questioning, he reveals a passageway going into the earth. Following it, the team finds Freedom Force talking to an ancient rabbi. In the large cavern is also the young girl the team had caught some days before.
The rabbi explains that they are expecting the food caravan very soon, but the moslems have fortified the town Stellari found and were expected to try to block the convoy. The Jews are going to try to take the town away from the Arabs.
and Red Star assure the jewish leader that the United Nations had sent Vanguard
The next day is April 1st, and the team sets out to stop the arabs on the hillside town from stopping the caravan. Leaving most of the team outside in the air, FREEDOM FORCE and CONQUISTADORE go in to the walled town to negotiate.
In the meantime, Mujahdeen is in a tower of the town, being given a talking to by SALAH-ED-DIN. When he sees his former teammates arrive, Salah-Ed-Din swoops out of the tower window and confronts them.
By this time, Freedom Force and Conquistadore have met the ostensive leader of the group, SCIROCCO, a desert wind controller, who rejects all their pleas for peace. The two Vanguard members had been feeling a menace in the air, and suddenly this menace coalesces. They realize they are facing the ghost of DERVISH! (see mission eight).
The rest of the team, consisting of BOOMER, HUSSAR, PARTISAN, RED STAR, SPHINX, and STELLARI attack at Freedom Force's signal, and the Arabs reveal their other supers, a mentalist called MIND WARRIOR, EFREET, SHOCKTROOPER, and a terror called HAND OF ALLAH. Dervish is almost unstoppable until Stellari realizes that Salah-Ed-Din's sword is reinforcing Dervish; the Italian bravely wrests the sword away from Salah-Ed-Din. Stellari is paralysed, but Mujahdeen took the opportunity to wrest the sword away from Stellari, and he, as a true worshipper of Allah, can use it! Whirling, he cuts at Dervish and connects, and Dervish has no defense against the sword that is sustaining him. He screams and disssolves.
The arabs lose morale and flee. Stellari manages to capture Mind Warrior, but Scirocco, Hand of Allah, and Efreet all escape.
The convoy arrives safe and sound three days later.
CONQUISTADORE and STELLARI are rotated from the Israeli
team to join a team in
The problem is that a plague had struck
The team pile into the Flying Wing and head for the
The team then lands on the middle pyramid of the ancient city, which currently holds one of the leaders of the Cretacians, a representative of the Immortals, Shugenju, and an Aztec priest.
Even as they start to fight this group, a mixed force of Nazi stormtroopers, dinosaurs, and Aztec warriors boil out of cover and attempt to join the fight.
In a tremendous struggle all around the central pyramid, the team learns to fear long-range machinegun fire and the depredations of mutated dinosaurs. Desperate, Baron Samedi goes into astral form and tries to find help, calling a spirit force of enormous potential to assist the team.
With clever tactics and great courage, the team manages to teleport away intact, with Shugenju, the Immortal Leader, and the Aztec priest as prisoners. Shugenju, however, dies with a blue radiance, and is now probably inhabiting a clone somewhere. The Immortal proves to be a mentalist but seems to have been around since the Roman days and to answer best to the name Septimus. He always communicates with Eric mentally, and has no idea where the Immortal leader is.
The spirit force called by Baron Samedi is the new Pakistani member of Vanguard. He is code-named SPECTRE and has a great potential as he learns his assorted spirit powers.
A force sent to the ruined city the next day finds no one. The Cretacian tunnels are blocked.
PRINCESS PHOENIX is notified that she has a special visitor, an envoy from her brother, the Shah. The envoy, an old and trusted follower of her brother, informs her that a marriage has been arranged for her. The name of the bridegroom is not available at the moment, but she should come home soon.
The Princess says she will, thinking that she should at least find out who this suitor is before rejecting him out of hand. However, she is suddenly assailed by EFREET, who shrugs off her every fire blast and teleports away with her.
consisting of BOOMER (back from
The team is
at a loss, but decides to go to
their sneak, they are visited by FOX, who has been sent by FREEDOM FORCE to
find out what is happening. They send him back for assistance, continue their
stalk, and get into throwing range. They pull the pins of their grenades and
throw them. There is an immense explosion, a great wash of flame engulfs them,
including Fox, CONQUISTADORE and Freedom Force, who have just teleported in,
and they suddenly find themselves on a hilltop that has no sign that
BOOMER, CONQUISTADORE, EFREET, FOX, FREEDOM FORCE, MASAI, NIGHTINGALE, PRINCESS PHOENIX, SELKIE, and SPECTRE find themselves in another world. Their garb, with the exception of Conquistadore's, has all changed, and their remaining grenades are now round glass balls with something inside them, Boomer's throwing sticks are now a series of different objects, etc. Fox does a series of teleports all around the world and finds it very different. Among other things, Rome does not look like it was ever ravaged by Vandals and Visigoths. The Coliseum is still intact and in use.
place looks like where
A group of Lotuses (Red Lotus, aggressive magic; Green Lotus, defensive magic; Grey Lotus, transportation; and Blue Lotus) join the team and manage to pin down the location of the center of the menace. It's in Pompeii, near the center of the still-existing Roman Empire. The team heads for the area and Efreet disappears.
onward, they find a way into
They get back, and the lamp stays in the other world. But they arrive in Petra, and go to where the trucks are and find the drivers waiting for them, holding on to Efreet's lamp in this world, which the other world's team had left for them.
Efreet's lamp is given to Colonel Patterson for safekeeping, and Efreet is even more hostile than normal to Patterson from then on. It seems he has a problem with anyone using his lamp -- and the curse that ties him to the lamp does not allow him to affect it in any way.
DEVADASI wants to help PHOTOS get over her fear of
flying. The two of them and the new Mujahdeen (same codename, different person)
At the observatory, Photos gets flashbacks that seem to have nothing to do with her life. They give her a hostility toward Stellari that she does not understand. She leaves, followed by Devadasi, and they try to work out the problem. As far as Devadasi's mind probes can confirm, it seems to have something to do with Photos's father, whom she never knew.
evening, Stellari, Freedom Force, and Dr. Hyde go on the town in
The next day, the group gets into the Flying Wing to take it to Edwards Air Force Base for servicing. On the flight there, Photos's fear of flying overwhelms her and when Stellari tries to calm her with a light burst (thinking that a reinforcement of the basis of her powers would be helpful) she suddenly accuses him of trying to murder her and attacks him!
Hussar attacks Photos to stop her from killing Stellari and crashing the plane, and Dr. Hyde immediately attacks Hussar for assaulting a female team member. The fight gets general as various psychological problems leap to the fore and the result is that Photos says "You destroyed my craft; it is only right that I destroy yours," and blasts one of the plane's fuel tanks. In seconds the Flying Wing is a charred mass, falling from the heavens. Only Stellari and Hussar are caught inside, and they survive thanks to their excellent protection. However, Hussar has to replace his wings and weapons, which were destroyed in the fire.
Apparently, Photos was suffering racial memories of her father, who was an alien shot down over this planet by someone using star bands like Stellari's. Devadasi has sworn to get to the bottom of this. Patterson is not pleased.
After the previous mission, DEVADASI disappears with PHOTOS for a couple of weeks and they return the evening before new Venezualan member HURACON arrives in his family yacht. Devadasi has several things she wants to discuss without Patterson horning in, so she calls a meeting in the yacht under the cover of an informal cocktail party. People at the party also include RED STAR, WEREWOLF, ZEEBREIS, MUJAHEDEEN, EFREET, FREEDOM FORCE, SPHINX (who first checks out Huracon and finds him OK) and BOOMER.
has discovered that Photos has racial memories of her father's spacecraft going
recruits FOX and sets out for
The group divides into three teams. Jagriz (whose Sphinx armor is undergoing an overhaul), Professor Kroeninberg, and Devadasi are to stay at the base camp, Boomer, Fox, Mujahedeen, Werewolf, and Conquistadore are to scout the terrain and find the spot, and the rest of the group waits for Fox to come and get them.
Fox discovers that as they near the site, he has more and more trouble teleporting. Boomer sends him to get the backup force and, after the backup is in their new position about 3 miles from the site.
progress to the site, discovering that it has just been disturbed, and the
truck tracks lead directly to the nearby town of
Werewolf goes down in human form to find out if the ship and its occupant are still there. She is co-opted into doing the cooking for the men, whom she can soon tell are actually KGB agents in training. When she does not return, Boomer decides to move the crew closer to the town, and Mujahedeen teleports to a good advantage site. "I didn't know he could do that," says Boomer. The three remaining scouts move forward, but Conquistadore trips and falls, alerting a guard who cannot see them in the growing dusk, but decides to go investigate. Boomer puts him out of action, but realizes that they have to move now before the guard is missed. He sends Fox, who is very nervous about the situation, to get the backup team.
On the return trip, Fox cannot find his target and deposits the group a mile outside the town, and collapses from the damage he took in the missed teleport. Bravely, he manages to concentrate again and move the team to the required spot, where Boomer fills them in and they decide to attack.
base, the unarmored KGB agents are too slow and unprotected to stand against
the Vanguard supers. However, they find that the blockhouse in the center of
the town contains the spaceship, the partner, and DR. QUAL, who is supposed to
be in a cell in
Things might have gone badly for the team but Dr. Qual's psionic amplifier burns out after he mind blasts Huracon. The doktor's attempt to escape is stopped when Efreet picks exactly the right insult to make him want to fight back, and Red Star finishes the job.
badly wounded in the fight, but manages to teleport most of the group back to
the base camp in
The team then gets back to Vanguard base and establishes the still-comatose alien partner in the Vanguard hospital, not saying where they found it. Not trusting the discretion of Colonel Patterson, they imprison Qual in HURACON's yacht for the moment, and Freedom Force digs out a cave on Yerba Buena to put the saucer in.
The team was not obvious about who they were, and the KGB survivors may suspect who attacked them, but have no proof. Most of the ones who had direct contact with the heroes died. Red Star, who as a GRU agent is not a great friend of KGB, still feels some remorse, and wonders if she is doing the right thing.
It's a quiet day at Vanguard base --
checks in with White Lotus as she returns from playing in the ocean as Earth
Spirit and Wong Lee leave for
However, White Lotus reasons that Earth Spirit might be helping the Shugenju, and this is his chance to nail her once and for all. White Lotus contacts the aforementioned Vanguard members, and as a sleepy Devadasi arrives at the gate house in a dressing gown, White Lotus informs her that it is time to go. She swipes a uniform from a guard and they fly off to Japantown.
In Japantown, the fog is very thick and the heroes approach cautiously. They find Shugenju waiting for them in the middle of a foggy street, with a steel globe hanging from a lamppost. The heroes also find SHINYU, MINDTIGER, and TENRYUKAZE (see Mission One) waiting with Shugenju. Shugenju laughs at White Lotus, telling WL that he figures White Lotus would bring the other heroes with him, so he took the precaution of putting Earth Spirit in the steel globe with Wong Lee, and that the globe would explode if anyone attacked. However, before anyone can act rationally and ask Shugenju what he wants, White Lotus attacks, leaving the rest of Vangaurd with no option but to follow up.
into her dragon form and proceeds to almost kill Zeebreis. A STEEL TIGER leaps
out of the fog and does much body and stun to Freedom Force. Fox is mind
controlled by Mind Tiger, while Tenryukaze knocks out El Jaguar. Wong Hsing
opens up with his AK-47, but is more of hindrance than a help. Shugenju grabs
White Lotus after Shinyu tries to bite WL, yelling at Shinyu for almost huring
White Lotus! At this point, Vanguard realizes that Shugenju seems very old,
possibly an effect of all the mind exchanges and clonings. Shugenju teleports
away from the battle with White Lotus, with
Back at the fight, the tide begins turning. El Jaguar wakes up, takes the AK-47 from Wong Hsing, and empties it into Shinyu's eye. Fox manages to trick Mind Tiger and knocks her out. Freedom Force wakes up and uses Shinyu on Steel Tiger, knocking them both out until next Tuesday. Davadasi KO's Tenryukaze with Ego Attacks, which he seems especially vulnerable to. Shugenju sneaks back invisibly and teleports Shinyu away, but Vanguard gets to keep the other three.
Oh yes, Earth Spirit and Wong Lee survived the destruction of the globe because of a lucky break (Earth Spirit's luck kicked in). Vanguard is left with the knowledge that Shugenju will probably be back, soon.
FREEDOM FORCE is on duty when he receives a call from EL JAGUAR. The Honduran hero has found something in the Tong tunnels and needs backup. Looking around, FREEDOM FORCE finds PRINCESS PHOENIX, BOOMER, MUJAHEDEEN, SELKIE, and SALAH-ED-DIN, who has come back and is on probation until he proves his repentance.
The team is unable to find El Jaguar, so they have an idea of where he went into the tunnels, and split up into three teams to infiltrate into the three entrances. Freedom Force and Princess Phoenix are to act as beaters to flush (you should pardon the expression) the potential quarry (whatever it is) into the arms of the others. Mujahedeen registers strong reservations, and is even less thrilled when he finds that his teammate, Selkie, suffers from extreme claustrophobia.
Mujahedeen and Selkie are met by a being Selkie recognizes as a LEPRACHAN! As they attempt to deal with what seems to be the clumsiest sprite in history, Boomer and Salah-ed-din come upon them and move on, since they cannot see the Leprachan. Salah-ed-din rushes on ahead and meets El Jaguar. At the same time, Princess Phoenix and Freedom Force are meeting El Jaguar! Then El Jaguar appears to Boomer, who is well behind Salah-ed-din.
As the teams start yelling that they have found Jaguar, the various Jaguars attack! The one fighting Boomer, and then Selkie and Mujahedeen, proves to be the real thing, but with vampire fangs and other abilities! Then the real VAMPIRE attacks Mujahedeen and Selkie, and SHINYU attempts to help one of the false Jaguars kill Salah-ed-din. Boomer manages to blind Salah-ed-din, but no enemies, with a flash attack (enrolling him in the Oops Club alongside his drinking buddy, Stellari), and then must fend off the vampire-jaguar on his own.
Freedom Force and Princess Phoenix drive their assailant away and find their way to the rest of the fight. Freedom Force arrives just in time to keep Boomer from bleeding to death from a jaguar-claw wound that avoided his armor. Shinyu, the vampire, the Leprechan, and the two false Jaguars flee, but Jaguar is caught and Mujahedeen blows his heart out of his body with an anti-tank round. Then Boomer cuts off his head with a razorrang.
With only a
dead teammate to show for their troubles, a very chastened group of Vanguard
members take the body of their comrade home, where it is cremated and the ashes
sent back to
As a bit of local interest, STELLARI announces that he has become fascinated with biplanes and has formed a troupe of aerobats to perform at local air shows. He proudly shows off his plane and offers to take various female members of the team up for rides. It's a single seater, so they have to sit on his lap.
SWIFTSURE, RED STAR, DEVADASI, PRINCESS PHOENIX, SELKIE, MASAI, and FREEDOM FORCE, with new Burmese member TIGER, are asked to accompany a group of scientists, which include Vanguard's own DR. KROENENBERG (inventor of the Sphinx robot), ACHILLES KIRKANDOUPOLOUS (Castor of the GEMINI), Herman Stettner (inventor of the K-Bomb), and other such luminaries as ALBERT EINSTEIN, who are having a conference on Science for Peace in the Louvre in France.
During the open-air invocation, the gathering is attacked by a horde of robotic foes and a couple of humanoid (but not human) characters called SCARAB and BLACK BODY. One of the robot attackers looked exactly like POLLUX, who was at the conference. As the team attempted to fight the invasion, Kroenenberg, Achilles and Pollux, and Einstein were all abducted, along with an under secretary of the United States State Department. Those assailants which had been knocked out of the fight were teleported away.
At the same time, a jewelry exhibit in the Louvre was raided by a dragon-like alien who wore bands like Stellari's.
An attempt to lure the aliens down to the New York Vanguard base was unsuccessful. The aliens teleported the under-secretary down, with his mind totally scragged by some sort of psionic search.
Tiger find that the jewelry stolen ties in with several other jewelry thefts by
strange people throughout the world. Most of the jewelry seems to tie in with a
set of Egyptian artifacts found ten years before in
tries to correlate its findings and remember that, sometime back, when Photos
was having her problems with Stellari, she saw something at
A team consisting of
At about the same time, at the base, the aliens who attacked the scientists attack, going for Photos's father's partner in the hospital, medical records for Photos and Stellari in the base and the saucer found in Czechoslovakia, which is in a cave dug into Treasure Island (where Colonel Patterson cannot find it). BOOMER, EARTH SPIRIT, EFREET, JOTUN, MASAI, PRINCESS PHOENIX, RED STAR, and WONG HSING, find themselves in a battle in various portions of the base and the cave. The aliens eventually retreat, with some of the material they wanted. They do not get the saucer or the partner.
At Palomar, the beam of light apparently signals a spacecraft, which lands and debarks a group of beings who are very similar to Photos in their powers. After an initial battle, Devadasi and White Lotus make them listen, and they realize that the assembled heroes are not their foes. They explain that they are interstellar patrolmen. They are looking for what happened to Photos's father and his partner, and they also explain that Star Bands are made by reducing the Life Essence of a member of the Photos Race!
About this time, the Vanguard members are informed that the base has been attacked and the attackers beaten off.
Then one of the aliens reports that they have spotted the emanations of a set of star bands. They ask Vanguard to come along. They do so.
However, the aliens have spotted Stellari! After a misunderstanding that results in the destruction of one of the biplanes (the pilot is unhurt), they straighten this out. They also learn that the Photos-race essence in Stellari's bands is Photos's father! Furthermore, a psychic linkup with that essence reveals that the essence prefers to be where he is. This leaves Stellari and Photos's relationship even more strained than it was, but with hope for some reconciliation.
After a bit
more work, the aliens are traced to an area in
After a major battle, both ship and aliens are taken. The aliens take Photos's father's partner, the alien raiders, and their saucer with them and leave. Vanguard is left to wonder at the vastness of the universe. Photos is offered the chance to go with her father's people, but can tell that they consider her to be at best a half-breed and a weakling compared to them, she would have to fight for her place in their society. She decides to remain on Earth, where she has respect and friends.
September first is a time of great solemnity, yet rejoicing, for Vanguard. After a controversial 18 months as Vanguard's leader, in which he did not endear himself for his vacillation in the face of his superiors and refusal to give the heroes any credit for brains or initiative, Colonel Patterson is leaving the United Nations. His replacement is Henri Gerard, a hero of the French Resistance, whose far more informal ways and "get to the heart of the problem" attitude bid fair to finally let Vanguard bloom as a hero group. For more than two weeks after his induction, things are quiet. Then
Nighttime at Vanguard base, and two members are having significant dreams. RED STAR is dreaming of an Olympian vista, and a visit in her dreams by ARES, who reiterates his affection and makes offers and suggestions that are very friendly indeed. She smiles in her dreams and snuggles into the covers.
BOOMER, on the other hand, is dreaming of his great-grandfather, the abo shaman who taught him how to use his boomerangs. His dream is of terrible devastation to come to himself and his people. He needs help.
quickly, Boomer secures Gerard's permission and collects a team of HURACON,
HUSSAR, MUJAHEDEEN, ZEEBREIS, VALKYRIE (just back from
at the traditional grounds of his grandfather's tribe outside of
The team goes there, meeting another shaman who directs them to a pool at the top of the rock which could lead to the Dreamtime. Zeebreis goes in, and finds herself confronted with a gigantic Dreamsnake. The rest of the team, many of whom do not work well in water, follow, and after a small struggle which does no one any real harm, the Dreamsnake allows Boomer and Wyerpui onward to find his Grandfather.
Finding the Grandfather, Boomer is told that he must move certain rocks and trees around the ancestral area to another spot. In that way, the soul of the tribe will survive and the tribe will survive. Boomer agrees, and the team leaves the Dreamtime.
They leave Boomer and Wyerpui to use some of the funds in the special Swiss account to arrange for the movement of the tribe. Boomer takes an indefinite leave of Vanguard until this is accomplished.
WORLD EVENTS: President Truman speaks in
Bernadette, the official UN negotiator in
The Berlin Airlift is still going on.
During the day, FREEDOM FORCE is asked to meet with Harry Truman. The President asks Freedom Force to join the CIA. Freedom Force accepts. When he asks where he will be stationed, Truman asks him to just stay with Vanguard, and someone will contact him later with particulars of his assignment.
That evening, DEVADASI puts together a party consisting of herself, PHOTOS (Princess Phoenix's maidservants are put to work making her a formal dress), VALKYRIE, HURACON, and HUSSAR to go see the opera. Independently, SALAH-ED-DIN made a date with a chubby but friendly local debutante and hired a box. His servant Muhammed accompanied him. Also, SWIFTSURE decided to take his longtime sweetheart JOAN FITZHUGH and Freedom Force took his starlet girlfriend, SUSAN WILLIAMS. During the first intermission, there is much comparing of notes among the teammembers who find each other there. Swiftsure being in secret ID, he keeps somewhat to himself; though most of the heroes know his real identity, his girlfriend doesn't. Also during that intermission, Huracon is approached by a young woman who asked to meet with him. He assents to meet her after the performance.
But, during the second act, Salah-ed-din notices that his date is missing. Before he can act on this information, he is attacked by his manservant, who suddenly springs claws and gouges him badly. He has neither sword nor armor, and cannot stop the attack. As he lies bleeding in his box, someone wearing his face goes to Freedom Force in the audience and asks him to follow him. Swiftsure, seeing this and thinking that they are not aware that he is there, follows.
Freedom Force is ambushed and clawed before he can change. He falls, dripping blood. The pseudo-Salah-ed-din hauls him into a small office to one side of the lobby. Swiftsure arrives in time to see a Chinese gentleman leave the room. He meditates for the moment it takes and acquires his powers. Realizing that he, without his armor, is still very vulnerable, he nevertheless goes to the door and opens it. There he sees Freedom Force on the floor, and his attacker moves to slay him, as well. Desperately, he dodges, but it is not enough. The claws tear into him and he blacks out and falls.
In the meantime, Huracon has noticed that the young woman who spoke to him is in the box opposite him. Suddenly, she is taken out of the box. Fearing foul play, the Venezualan Avenger hurriedly makes his excuses to his friends and leaves the box, just in time to see Salah-ed-din stagger down the box passageway toward him, bleeding copiously.
Leaving the Syrian in the hands of Devadasi, Huracon hurries on, wishing he had his cloak with him so he could have flown over the audience. He arrives in the opposite side passageway in time to see a Chinese gentleman manhandling the girl, attempting to drag her away. He springs to her defense, bowling the Oriental away from his victim.
He then finds himself in a fight with the oriental magician and a vampire, probably the same one who had converted Jaguar in July! He barely holds his own.
In the meantime, Photos and the now-cured Salah-ed-din have found the bodies of his manservant and date. Hussar and Valkyrie are approaching the door where Freedom Force and Swiftsure disappeared behind when they are approached by someone wearing Swiftsure's face, who says he has looked for Freedom Force there, and they should check the other side. They do so, running into Salah-ed-din and Photos.
The Swiftsure look-alike, meanwhile, teleports upstairs and finds the vampire retreating from the formidible Huracon (whose winds are beginning to sing throughout the hall, to the discomfort of the audience and opera singers) and Devadasi, who has fallen. The Swiftsure fake pretends to attack the Chinese magician, then takes Devadasi to "safety," and then disappears with her, teleporting to where Freedom Force and Swiftsure are only barely beginning to wake up. Their wounds had been partially healed to keep them from dying. Apparently they were wanted for something else!
Photos joins the fight upstairs just in time to be charmed by the vampire and to attack Huracon, blinding him just as he puts the Chinese out of the fight for a long time. Operating with his sonar-like wind sense, Huracon still fights back, fading from the vampire's arms. Giving up, the vampire turns to gas and leaves.
The shapechanger, still looking like Swiftsure, takes large chunks out of Devadasi in the seclusion of his office, but Freedom Force wakes up and drives him away. Hussar attack with his dress sword, but the creature seems to have special immunity to enchanted weapons.
In the meantime, Valkyrie had called FOX at Vanguard base and told him to bring their weapons. About this time, Fox shows up with Valkyries' boots, cape, scabbard, and sword, Salah-Ed-Din's sword, and Hussar's armor, wings, and lance.
Finally, the attacks of all the heroes, including the now-awakened Swiftsure (who knocks him away from Devadasi) wear the creature down to where it turns invisible; when he realizes that Photos can still see him, he teleports to the lobby, then away before Photos can track him down.
Fox teleports the girl and Devadasi to base, where she tells Vanguard that the vampire is Zyzygny Svladislav, her guardian. He lives in a townhouse and is often visited by the Chinese, who is put into jail with some WHITE LOTUS-enchanted bonds. She identifies the Chinese as Leed Su, a Chinese Immortal. White Lotus is impressed. Svladislav's other constant visitor is an Indian gentleman known as Ras Ram, the shapechanger. Devadasi realizes that Ras Ram is a Rakshasha.
Going to the townhouse, Vanguard finds it hurriedly deserted. Among some discarded envelopes, they find a couple with Bart Williams' return address. Apparently, Svladislav and his demonic friend have decided to join Hellspawn.
The next day, Henri Gerard issues new security regulations. Every member of Vanguard going anywhere without his normal equipment MUST wear at least the basic body armor (3/3, act on 11-) from the Vanguard shelves. Members should preferably go fully equipped whenever possible, even on social occasions. Self-powered heroes may ignore this regulation, though it is suggested that those, like Swiftsure and Freedom Force, who could be caught unaware, should think about wearing the body armor anyway.
Vanguard brings in MANHUNTER to try to track down the
vampire Svladislav. An examination of his townhouse in
In the meantime, someone has broken into the holding facilities at the Vanguard base and taken Tenryukaze and Mind Tiger away. Steel Tiger has apparently been reduced to his component iron particles, and the Chines Immortal transformed into a small bronze statuette. Since the Shugenju's body was found in the bay by Zeebreis, one assumes that he has a new body, and is starting to show his power by rescuing his minions.
They take a
A stealth team of Partisan and Manhunter attempt to approach the house at dawn, and Manhunter is surprised by BLACK QUEEN. He shoots her, but suddenly disappears (probably the action of DR. KRONOS). This gunshot starts a general assault on the house, which brings out REAPER, SVLADISLAV, and RISING SUN.
The Vanguard team finds they are totally outclassed by these villains, despite their superior numbers. Zeebreis sees the fire/heat powers of Rising Sun and panicks, leaving the scene immediately. Bearzark charges into the house, missing Rising Sun by scant inches, and disappears, following Manhunter. After Hussar, Huracon, and Jotun are knocked out of the fight (mostly by Reaper), Mujahedeen realizes that the situation has pickled too far and slopes away. Hummingbird, so far unnoticed, tries to rescue Huracon but is stopped by Reaper. She dodges away and manages to pick up Mujahedeen and get away with him. Partisan finds that only his explosive charges can touch the elusive Reaper, and he is totally outnumbered, so once he wakes up from being knocked away by Reaper, he manages to sneak away.
The truck is crisped by a patrolling Rising Sun before it can be driven away, so the four survivors must walk to town before they can report their failure to Gerard. Vanguard must somehow see if their comrades have been fed to the vampire Svladislav, or in some way sent away from this world, as happened to a group earlier. Unfortunately, none of those captured had any real contact with White Lotus. Retreiving them will be difficult.
When FREEDOM FORCE and SWIFTSURE find out who has gone
off to find the vampire, and who they might run into, they mobilize a backup
force consisting of themselves, SWIFTY, WHITE LOTUS, RED STAR, and new Israeli
member TESSERACT. Using FOX to get them to
the house, the team find the villains gone. White Lotus can not track them, but
he finds a trace of where the missing heroes may have been sent. Leaving Swifty
to report back to General Gerard, the team transfers to the location the
missing heroes have been sent, and find themselves in the middle of an Ancient
Greece-style city, surrounded by massive villas that looked as much like
temples as residences. Red Star recognizes the place immediately from the
graphic set of dreams she has been having recently --
Swiftsure heads out for a "reccie" and runs into (almost literally) a figure in winged hat and sandals who is as quick as he is. It is HERMES and the two speedsters strike up an immediate friendship. Hermes invites the British speedster home for a feast, during which Swiftsure guzzles down some ambrosia, and finds himself 10 years younger, a youthful 19.
Zeebreis finds a fountain that attracts her, the others start exploring the city. After a few small encounters with bemused residents, Red Star finds that Ares is not where he should be and where she should look for him -- the home of Hercules.
She goes there, with Tesseract following at Freedom Force's orders; Red Star finds Ares chained to the throne of Hercules. He was "given" to Hercules because he allowed himself to be abducted and enslaved to Hellspawn through drugs, and also got involved with a mortal woman.
Hercules and Red Star do not get along. They end up charging each other and knocking each other out. At the advice of Hercules' wife, Tesseract gets Red Star out of there and to the home of Hippocrates the Healer, who administers to the thoroughly unconscious heroine. When asked how this happened, Tesseract says, "After Red Star knocked out Hercules, his wife suggested we should leave before he woke up,
meantime, the rest of the team finds that Bearzark is in the stables of
Artemis, and Manhunter is being held by Aphrodite. The other three are
wandering about the slopes of
Entering Aphrodite's residence, the heroes find Manhunter and find that Aphrodite has been trying to seduce him without using her natural powers. Manhunter has been having none of it, and puzzling over the reason she doesn't use her obvious powers. When they try to get Manhunter out, they are stopped by Aphrodite who finally lets them go after extracting a promise from Mujahedeen that at least one of them will do her a favor later.
In the meantime, Hermes and Swiftsure rejoin the team and offer to fetch back the three wanderers on the slopes. Then the team goes to Artemis. With Hermes vouching for them, the team is invited along on a hunt, and Mujahedeen impresses the Huntress mightily with his anti-tank rifle, which he presents to the goddess when she admires it. She gives the team back Bearzark.
All this time, White Lotus has been in the home of Athena. He has found a book on Japanese sorcery, and is studying it closely.
Finally, the team gathers again, sans Red Star. They decide to leave some of their number in Olympus to help Red Star, or get her out if necessary, while others, prompted by Athena's Oracle, head back for Earth. Freedom Force, Swiftsure, Jotun, Hussar, Bearzark, and Tesseract leave. White Lotus, Red Star, Hummingbird, Mujahedeen, Manhunter, Huricon, and Zeebries stay.
The group coming back from
Of the returnees, Swiftsure and Freedom Force find the most disruption in their lives. Swiftsure has the problem of now being effectively 19. People have a hard time believing he is the same person. Moreover, his girlfriend has left on an extended leave. However, Freedom Force discovers that his girlfriend, starlet Susan Williams, has (1) starred in a box-office smash and (2) just gotten married -- the day before Freedom Force returned!
shows that the new groom is wealthy William deRais, and the couple are honeymooning
at deRais' ancestral family mansion in the bayous of
DEVADASI makes it her business to keep track of Freedom Force, and investigate the circumstances of Susan's wedding. She brings Tessetact and VALKYRIE into her web. In the meantime, Swiftsure makes it his business to harrass Freedom Force in the guise of "helping his mate over a hard spot," at last finding an outlet for his long-standing hostility.
After a couple of long drunks, Freedom Force decides to confront the newlyweds. Devadasi preceeds him with her co-conspirators and finds a seemingly very contented Susan Williams. Swiftsure, acting on GERARD's orders, follows Freedom Force and adds himself to the American's party.
William deRais proves to be an affable man who welcomes his guests warmly and assures Freedom Force that Susan will never want for anything nor get any ill-use at his hands. However, his tour of the house specifically excludes one portion, raising everyone's suspicions.
That night, Freedom Force and Swiftsure set out to investigate the sealed areas, followed by the women. Working their way through some rooms holding antiques that seem no more remarkable than those the house is already decorated with, they finally come upon deRais in armor, in a small room decorated with the blood of innocent children and with a portrait of Joan of Arc (looking amazingly like Susan Williams) in a place of honor.
DeRais reveals that he is the original Gilles deRais, Bluebeard. He has managed to stay alive through his satanic rituals, waiting for the time he knew would come, when another Joan of Arc would appear to be his bride. When asked about the blood, he said that it came from the sacrifice of the neighboring children, but Susan would never have anything to fear from him.
Finding true love a poor excuse for general pedicide, the team attack him, finding that his armor and sword are powerful artifacts, and the struggle intense. Seeing that his friends have the upper hand, Freedom Force flies through the ceiling of the room to get Susan and bring her down to the fight. She gets there as deRais falls, unconscious and bleeding. Looking at the room in horror, she goes to her husband's body and sets her hand on him. There is a flash and deRais is gone.
Is he finally dead? Is Susan really the reincarnated Joan of Arc and her touch banished the demonic creature to Hell? Or has deRais simply escaped, and may appear again.
No one knows,
now. Susan has jumped back into her film career, her romance with Freedom
Force on hold until she can straighten out her own mind about the events in
Swiftsure's girlfriend has left Vanguard, telling Swiftsure that she cannot deal with his change in age. Devadasi has a self-satisfied smirk on her face when she discusses the situation.