FEBRUARY, 1964 : Mission -- A Fiery Beginning

The members of the now disbanded UN team Vanguard are invited to a meeting in Djakarta (plane tickets supplied) along with some other heroes from other groups to discuss the formation of a new organization. Arriving in time for the initial meeting are:

Others, such as Barbarossa of Algeria, Earth Spirit of Japan, Zeebris of Holland, and others are invited and may yet make an appearance, but they do not arrive on the first day of the meeting.

At the meeting, the heroes meet the sponsors of the group, all of whom have a long history of international philanthropy and concern for the well-being of the world. They include:

The governing council describes the intended agenda for the new hero group to be similar to that of the old Vanguard. In short, while the USA has lots of heroes and hero groups like the Justice League and Avengers, the rest of the world needs protection, too. A permanent location has not yet been settled on for a headquarters, but Mr. Stark's transistor-powered communicators will keep everyone in contact. Mr. Jugallalah seemed a bit disgruntled by this announcement. He obviously hoped that Djakarta would be the team's HQ, but the current political unrest seems to make this unlikely in the near future.

The team's portfolio seems to be threats of international scope, rather than simple crime. Of course, major international criminals will fall under that scope.

After the introductory briefings, the team is invited to a reception in a governmental palace that evening and left to see the city or make whatever preparations they wish to make.

Selkie is invited out by Anthony Stark, but only after Stark makes arrangements to meet with the Blue Hornet later to talk gadgets and other shop talk.

Warren Worthington calls Azul aside and introduces him to his friend Professor Xavier and Worthington's son, Warren III. The professor says that Azul is perhaps a bit old to attend his school, but if he should need any help in dealing with his mutant powers, to please give him a call. At this point another man named Magnus interrupts the conversation and says that Azul should hear both sides of the story, saying that if Azul should want to reconsider his proper place in the world, Magnus will find him.

Magnus and Xavier spar like old friends and adversaries, to the discomfort of the Worthingtons and Azul.

The reception is interrupted by an Indonesian military man who takes Jugallalah aside for a whispered conversation. Jugallalah then invites the team to follow him to a nearby government military hospital.

In the morgue of the hospital, cordoned off by nervous Indonesian troops, they find the body of a Cretacian, badly burned and showing signs of immersion. It was found by fishermen off the coast of the volcanic Mt. Bollauban island. Mt. Bollauban is current erupting on a small scale, sending ash and lava spewing out the opposite side from where the body was found floating in the ocean. The team is asked to investigate. Fox asks that a room in the hospital be set aside for possible teleportational evacuation. He memorizes the location

After the newer members are brought up to speed on the Cretacians, the group climbs into an amphibian plane of Stark's design which he flies (with Mujahadeen flying co-pilot to learn how to use it) and are flown to Mt. Bollauban. They track the Cretacian's path to the fissure in the rock from which it came and enter. At first the rock is obviously a natural formation. Then they enter hallways of worked stone, though one section is split by a fissure with molten lava at its base, obviously not part of the original design.

Turning a corner, with Azul in the lead, they run into a larger chamber containing an ambush of two Cretacian soldiers and a Cretacian leader. Though outnumbered, the Cretacians put up a good fight until the whole team can feed into the room, one at a time, and overwhelm them. Fox promptly sends the unconscious dinosaur-men back to Djakarta.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team, lead by the impulsive Texas Star, move on to another chamber where they are on a ledge, looking down at a chamber that contains several more soldiers, a couple of leaders, and two bound Cretacians that look unlike anything anyone has seen before. The Cretacians are all facing a door in the opposite wall from the ledge, a door that is getting hotter and hotter.

Suddenly the door breaks and standing in it is an eight-foot tall man apparently made of lava. The Cretacians attack with their heat beam weapons, which do little good, and their mind powers, which are a bit more effective. But as the wall caves in, and a half-dozen more of the lava creatures (none as tall as the first one), break through from a larger chamber beyond, it becomes clear that the Cretacians are over-matched. The bound Cretacians break free and attack the lava men, but though they are strong and vicious, they have little more effect than the others.

The lava creatures also attack the Vanguard members, with no interest in negotiation. A three-way struggle breaks out. Fox, with a healthy fear of fire, spends his time on the outskirts, teleporting fallen Cretacians back to Djakarta. Oolung uses his command of illusions to confuse the twenty or so lava men in the larger chamber. Selkie stands up to several foes and fights valiantly, Texas Star almost gets dropped in a hole (saved by Nanduti's power of contagion) and Knight St. John proves the worth of his armor and weapons, as does, as usual, Mujahadeen. Azul finds the right spots to put his less powerful bolts and the Blue Hornet's various gas attacks have a significant effect.

The Lava men withdraw deeper into what is obviously one of the Cretacians' refuges and the heroes let them go. A couple of the fallen lava men are teleported back to Djakarta, where the Indonesian soldiers are getting more and more panicked by the increasing stack of alien creatures appearing in the room.

Fox brings Oolung, Nanduti, and Mujahadeen back with him to Djakarta to start the interrogations, and the others follow in Anthony Stark's amphibian. As they come out of the volcano they are met by Stark's bodyguard, Iron Man, who ascertains that all is well, then takes off. Mr. Stark welcomes them back to the plane.

Questioning of the prisoners yields little information until one of the Cretacian leaders decides to cooperate with Oolung. He, the leader, has been awoken from his millennium-long sleep by alarms that went off when the geo thermal engines went off line due to the lava men attack. His people had no idea why they were being attacked. Indeed, he wonders at the fact that he has probably been asleep for 60,000,000 years. He had been told that their sleep would be no more than a century, until the effects of the meteoric impact had dissipated. Perhaps the effects of the impact were greater than expected and all the surface sensors were destroyed?

In any case, their city of sleepers didn't stand a chance against the onslaught of the lava men. The group found by the team was the last of them, as far as he knows. Only a few could be brought out of their sleep before the lava men destroyed the sleeping vaults.

The few lava men captured state in broken English that their nation is moving because they were, in turn, attacked by a great army of men, paler and less hairy than those questioning them now, with great weapons that appear to be tanks and artillery, who drove them out of their homes and forced them to find other places to live. After a long wandering, they found the Cretacian city and attacked it, intending to make it, with its proximity to the volcano, their new home.

The Cretacians are imprisoned by the Indonesians "for their own safety." The Lava Men sicken and die away from the heat of their natural home. When they die, their bodies crumble to ash.

For the moment, news of this event is kept from the media. The main questions are not only "who are the lava men?" but also "Who are these pasty white hairless humans who are attacking the lava men?"

March, 1964

The world learns of the presence of the Lava Men as they attack the United States in the American Southwest. They are met and defeated by the Avengers, who negotiate a withdrawal of the Lava Men back to the depths.