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Issue #23




Issue #23

by David Marshall

Garth Ranzz opened his eyes and shielded them from the bright red light above his head. It hurt to move but he propped himself up on one elbow. He was in Blackhawk Two's infirmary. Several of his teammates were laid out on anti-grav gurneys. He wasn't sure of their conditions but Gim looked to be in the worst shape by far.

Fending off the gnawing pain in his head, Garth lifted himself off the bed and swung his feet to the floor. Fighting a wicked case of vertigo, he stumbled from the infirmary to the bridge and passed his flight ring over the identification panel. A beam of light scanned him from head to toe.

"Legionnaire Garth Ranzz, recognized," chirped the computer.

The doors whooshed open and Garth entered the bridge.

"It's good to see you stirring leader man," said Dirk. He was seated in the captain's chair. "Want your throne back?"

Garth shook his head and sat in the Science Officer's chair instead "I'm too groggy to pilot. The sight of a nebula would make me hurl so hard right now! What the sprock happened after I went down?"

"I wish to thank your Legion for ridding my world of those vile beings," said Tasmia Mallor.

Garth turned and was surprised to see the Talokian aboard their ship. In his condition he didn't notice her when he first came in. "Tasmia?"

The Talokian Shadow Champion nodded and approached him. "My people asked me to personally petition the United Planets to expedite our membership request. And I'm… curious about your Legion."

"You should have seen our girl here, Garth," said Jenni Ognats. She was seated at Communications. "None of us would have survived without her."

"Oh?" Garth asked.

"You sound surprised," said Tasmia. "You doubt my abilities?"

Garth shook his head and wished he hadn't. It hurt too much to have that conversation again. He had no idea what Tasmia did to save them but she was obviously far more formidable than he first believed. "Anyone who survives a battle with the Fatal Five has proven themselves many times over. What about Validus? The last I remember Imra…"

"It was Tasmia," Jenni replied. "The big ugly tried to finish Gim permanently but Tasmia erected a shield of darkness over us. It sounded like bombs going off above us when he struck the field but the monster couldn't punch through! Then she defeated him with a shadow dragon!"

Garth felt ashamed of the way he treated Tasmia. He wanted to say something but couldn't look her in the eye. "Well done." The humble pie tasted hollow on his tongue.

"So I have earned your respect now, have I?" Tasmia asked, now standing over Garth.

"You had it before," said Garth. "I…"

Tasmia held up her right hand and shook her head. "No, you thought me little more than a backwater savage but the shadows chose me and I wield the power with a warrior's heart."

"It's not like that," Garth argued. "I… okay, so I sold you short but you have to understand it wasn't so much doubting you as it was knowing how deadly the Five can be."

Tasmia poked Garth in the chest. "Don't you ever underestimate me again!"

Her finger felt like small blaster fire but Garth was impressed with the Talokian. Anyone who could defeat Validus was someone to be reckoned with. He certainly couldn't do it. "You have my word."

"What do you think leader man?" Dirk asked. "We have room for one more?"

Garth nodded and hoped the olive branch would make some amends between them. "Tasmia would you like to join the Legion?"

"Thank you for the honor but I am unsure," Tasmia answered. "My people need their champion. What if the Fatal Five return or another threat even worse?"

"Then you won't face it alone," Garth answered. "And your membership in the Legion could help facilitate your world's transition to the United Planets if your people see their traditions honored in such a way."

Tasmia's face wrinkled in deep thought. "There is much wisdom in your words. Allow me the time to search my feelings?"

Garth smiled. "Take all the time you need. In the meantime you are an honored guest of the Legion and we extend to you many of the rights and privileges of full membership."

Tasmia looked pleased. "Thank you. I will consider your offer carefully."

Jenni looked up from comms. She looked troubled.

"What are you not telling me?" Garth asked.

"We received a transmission from the Sol sector, audio only."

"Then I'm assuming it's bad news," Garth ordered. He sighed. "Let's hear it."

"…. is Nura Nal. This message is for Legion Blackhawk cruiser, designation LSH202-A. Avoid Earth at all costs! President Trulo was assassinated on Weber's World and Earth seceded from the United Planets in response. The new President has revoked the Legion's charter and branded us outlaws. Avoid Earth at all costs! Repeat, do not return to Earth. Proceed to Weber's World and meet up with Brande, Jan, Brin, and Drura there. I'm not sure when this message will be updated. We will…. I have to go. Take care and long live the Legion!"

Garth signaled to cut the message when it began repeating the cycle.

A wide-eyed Jenni silenced the comm and turned Garth. "Well?"

The news was shocking. How did things devolve so far in such a short period of time? "Hail Legion Headquarters!"

Jenni shook her head. "I've tried. Someone's jamming the signal. My guess is that Earthgov is responsible since Nura used Dox's emergency beacons to get a message off-planet."

"Is your United Planets always so chaotic?" Tasmia asked.

Garth had forgotten about their Talokian friend. His offer to join the Legion couldn't seem very attractive to her at the moment to say nothing of her planet petition to join the United Planets. He managed an apologetic smile. "You don't know the half of it."

"Your call Garth," said Dirk. "Earth or Weber's World?"

Months before, Garth would have defied the order to steer clear of Earth but leadership denied him the luxury of defiance. His injured teammates needed immediate medical attention. He couldn't risk their health while the Legion's status was sorted out on Earth if they would even be allowed to land at all. "Take us to Weber's World but continue hailing headquarters!"

Earthgov Headquarters, The Old Holding Cells Three Stories Beneath the Complex

Luornu Durgo, Salu Digby, and Veilmist were locked in a holding cell. They were lucky. They would already be on a transport to Takron-Galtos if Earthgov hadn't surrendered control of the prison planetoid to the fledgling United Planets months before.

Lu paced the tiny cell. "I hope this plan works or who knows what they'll do with us?"

Salu Digby nodded. "Lyle's plan is an excellent one. It will work. It has to."

Lu took a seat in the corner and hugged her knees to her chest, pressing against the power dampeners that restrained her. "It's the waiting that drives me nuts."

"Do you think she's made it yet?" Veilmist asked.

Salu leaned against the containment field and stared out. "She's made it. She always does."

"I feel useless just sitting here," Lu added.

Salu nodded in reply "Me too, but sitting here doing nothing is an important part of the plan."

Elsewhere In Earthgov Headquarters, At The Same Moment

Salu Digby crouched behind a frayed thread on the sleeve of Jacques Foccart's dress uniform jacket. The overhead lights were exceptionally bright at such a small size so the shade from the tree-like thread was welcome and afforded her an opportunity to survey her environment.

It was difficult to comprehend the world around her at such a tiny size, a little larger than a common virus, but she had two advantages over the microscopic hell-spawn that slithered beneath her feet. She had a high-level brain and the good sense to use it wisely. She spent countless hours learning to orient in the larger world at such minute proportions. Sometimes the effort was hit-or-miss but most of the time she did well enough to accomplish whatever she wished to do.

She nearly lost her balance when Foccart returned the salute of three Academy graduates in the long hallway and conversed with them for a moment before excusing himself.

The waiting made Salu impatient. Her friends were trapped three stories below street level in holding cells thanks to Foccart's raid on Legion Headquarters. Every minute they spent locked up was one too many in her opinion. Foccart headed toward the elevators and pressed the button. It finally arrived and at last the doors slid open and Foccart stepped inside.

The elevator reached the top floor of the complex and Foccart stepped into another hallway. This one was lined with Earthgov Special Forces in heavy combat gear. They snapped to attention and saluted Foccart as he passed. He didn't return their salute but made a bee line to a set of double doors at the end of the long corridor. A guard stood at each side.

One of the guards stepped forward and blocked his progress. "Password?"

"Doom," Foccart replied ominously.

The guard stepped aside and slid a badge into a key slot to the right of the door. It whooshed open and Foccart stepped inside. The door whisked back into place. Two more guards stood watch at yet another door.

"Jacques Foccart to see President Savig," said Foccart.

One of the guards retrieved a device from his belt and scanned Foccart's right eyeball then nodded to his companion. The other guard tapped a button on the side of his combat helmet. "Foccart's here Mr. President."

"Excellent," the President's voice replied over the com. "Send him in right away."

The second guard fingered a sequence into a console by the door. It whisked open and Foccart stepped inside. The President's office was as beautiful as it was ornate. While most architects opted for a sleek, modern design for their buildings, the Earthgov Presidential chamber was a throwback to a much simpler time with a dark, hardwood floor and matching wood furniture covered in real leather. The Earthgov seal - a relief of the planet Earth and its moon at the center of the universe, much like in navigation maps from the planet's ancient Renaissance past - adorned the front of the desk. Books - real paper books - lined a shelf behind the desk. They were well-preserved and in better shape than any Salu had seen before. In an era of Omnicoms, paper works were a rarity indeed.

President Savig shook Foccart's hand. It was the moment Salu waited so patiently for. She grew slightly and stepped from Foccart's sleeve and onto the President's coat. It was a long coat, made of wool, another rare old-Earth anachronism. The long, gray garment flowed to the floor. Salu climbed into the hem of the sleeve and began the long climb toward more stable ground on the President's right shoulder.

"I trust our Legion problem has been rectified?" the President asked.

Foccart nodded. "All are in custody but the Durlan who escaped during the raid and Dox and his crew. They're protected by the Coluan's impenetrable force field."

The President nodded. "That damned Coluan is more trouble than he's worth."

Foccart chuckled. "He is indeed but his intellect is a valuable commodity if we can harvest it."

The President dismissed Foccart's words with a wave of his hand. "Balderdash! The Coluan intellect is no match for human reasoning! Keep trying, Foccart! If nothing else we'll starve them out!

Salu hoped the President was merely a misguided man over-reacting to the assassination of his predecessor. She was sad to hear he was so callous and calculating.

"Forget the Coluan! The Legion's real firepower is en route from Talok or on Weber's World," said Foccart.

"And the planetary defense shield is in place?" the President asked.

Foccart nodded. "Not even a grain of space dust could penetrate it."

"Excellent work, Foccart!" said the President. "Continue the search for the Durlan. There is definitely a place in my administration for a man of your loyalty and talents."

Foccart nodded. "Merci, monsieur."

The President stood and stepped from behind his desk. "Walk with me, Foccart."

Foccart nodded and followed the President down the long hallway to a series of rooms before the world leader stopped before one of the many doors.

"I must take leave of you for now," said President Savig.

Foccart saluted the President and left. Salu was alone with the most powerful man on the planet. But she was along for the ride and that was the plan.

A door slid into the wall and Savig entered the meeting room. It was dimly lit. Eight figures were seated around a round table with a ninth chair vacant at the head. Savig removed his vest and took the empty seat.

"It is done my friends," said Savig. "We have finally won! Earth is ours at last!"

A figure with an elaborate hood rubbed his hands together in glee. "Victory tastes sweet even if centuries in the making!"

"Perhaps it is those centuries that sweeten the palate, Faust?" questioned a red-haired woman to Savig's right.

Savig nodded. "How right you are my dear Strega. But what are mere centuries to those like us?"

Was Salu hearing things correctly? Were the President and his cabinet members speaking of living for centuries? She didn't like the comment about Earth belonging to them either. She shrunk just a little more in recognition of the dangerous characters assembled around Savig than any practical or strategic advantage.

The one whose nameplate read Felix Faust pushed back his hood. "The taste is excellent whatever the sweetener."

An ashen-skinned hulking brute crossed his arms. He was the only one not seated. "Solomon Grundy cares not about ruling world! Gone is Slaughter Swamp!"

"Like Grundy, ruling this world means little to me," said a beautiful red-haired woman whose nameplate read Pamela Isley. "As long as I can nurture the rain forests and the African continent back to health, I will be content. It is the sole reason I agreed to this fool's venture!"

"Back out now, my dear Poison Ivy and I will see every square mile of untouched land on both continents terraformed into commercial property," Savig warned.

"You wouldn't dare," Poison Ivy shot back. "You would face my wrath, Savage!"

The President laughed. "And why should Vandal Savage even take note of your threat?"

"Try me and see," Poison Ivy replied.

Once more Vandal Savage laughed. "I toy with you my dear! Of course the rainforests and the old African jungles are yours to do with as you see fit."

"And the deserts of the Middle East are mine," said an olive-skinned man who wore a black suit with a lightning bolt emblazed upon his chest. His nameplate read Black Adam. "Kahndaq will rise again and woe unto any who threaten her borders, including those at this table!"

Vandal Savage brushed aside Black Adam's posturing. "And yet our shared interests require we rule this planet with iron fists if need be my friends!"

"And what of the Legionnaires?" asked the one called General Immortus. "They are but children but have proven themselves as capable as our old foes a millennium removed. All they lack is the experience."

"Our deal with the Fatal Five has taken the most powerful of their membership off-world," Strega replied. "Those who remain are beneath our notice, little more than an old-fashioned carnival sideshow."

Immortus rustled at the mention of the Fatal Five. "I dislike working with such wildcards."

"We do what is necessary," the one called Hector Hammond answered. "As long as they leave Earth alone they can have the rest of the galaxy!"

"Word from Talok says the Legion defeated the Fatal Five," warned Savage. "That is most unfortunate."

Salu's heart leaped for joy at the news. It was about time the good guys received a reason to hope.

"But with the planetary defense shields up, they can't land on Earth," Savage continued.

Blackbriar Thorn nodded. "But some of their number remains behind."

"And are locked up as we speak," Savage reminded him.

The woman called Strega spoke up. "They pose a problem as long as they remain alive."

"Agreed," Faust seconded. "We've been burned too many times in centuries past by these so-called "super-heroes"! I'd feel better with them out of the picture sooner rather than later.

"And so they shall be removed," Savage replied gleefully. "And the Legion of Doom shall emerge victorious after all these centuries with the world at our feet! So swears Vandal Savage!"

"So swears the Legion of Doom," the others echoed in unison.

Their cryptic oath chilled Salu to the core of her being.

Moments After President Savig and Foccart Left His Office

Lyle Norg finally materialized. "It's safe. They're gone."

"Are you sure we can trust Foccart?" Tinya Wazzo asked as she stepped out of the wall.

Lyle nodded. "Jacques is like a brother to me. He gave us time to set up our ruse after I contacted him didn't he?"

Tinya searched Savig's bookcase. She fingered the binders of the volumes that lined the shelves. "I suppose but it's hard to trust Earthgov right now. This is unreal! I've never seen so many paper volumes in one place before!"

Lyle appreciated the impressive library himself. "I have but not often. Don't you find his persona a bit… anachronistic?"

"He was a professor of ancient Earth history before going into politics," Tinya answered. "I suppose it's natural he surround himself with such relics."

Lyle retrieved a data sponge from his utility belt and powered it on. "I sure hope Dox was right when he said this sponge was undetectable."

"If not we'll be joined by a lot of Earthgov in the next five seconds," said Tinya. "But it's Dox. Of course it will do exactly what he says it will do."

Lyle nodded and powered on the sponge but there was one problem. Lyle searched the desk and it didn't seem the had Omni. "This isn't good."

"Problem?" Tinya asked.

Lyle nodded as he raffled through the desk drawers. "There's no trace of electronics in this office! Don't you find that… odd?" In one of the desk drawers he found a notepad scribbled with notes. "This gets weirder all the time."

Tinya checked out the paper notes. "They aren't even in Interlac."

Lyle shook his head. "I believe it's English, an old Earth language that fell out of use during the Second Great Renaissance in the twenty-fifth century."

"Looks like gibberish to me," Tinya replied. "What does it say?"

Lyle shrugged. "No idea but I can scan it for interpretation." He scanned the first sentence with his flight ring.

"We look forward to working with you, Mr. President," the ring chirped in translation.

Lyle passed his ring over another part of the message and it announced the date. It was dated two days before President Trulo's assassination.

Tinya looked up at him. "Does that mean what I think it does?"

"Only if you're wondering how someone can address the Vice-President as "Mr. President" two days before the President's assassination."

"Oh my gods!" Tinya gasped. "This is big!"

Lyle nodded and put the notes back where he found them. He surveyed the room and spied an oil portrait of Earthgov's fourteenth president, Euron Tarvix. "I've read some period pieces where important documents were stored in wall safes behind paintings. Check that one out while I put the desk back in order."

Tinya nodded and moved to the painting. She pulled it aside to reveal a hidden safe.

"But how do we get in?" Lyle asked, eyeing the door over his shoulder. "We're running out of time."

Tinya smiled. "Leave that to me." She phased her hand through the safe door. A moment later the tumblers clicked and the door opened. Several documents fell out.

Lyle gathered up the documents and scanned the one on top. It was a receipt for millions of credits in weapons dated two weeks prior to the assassination. They were destined for the Old City in Metropolis and bore a Dark Circle seal. The next was from a genetics lab in Metropolis called the Cadmus Legacy Project. It was earmarked for cloning technology. The bottom of the document was also marked with a Dark Circle seal.

"Savig is Dark Circle too?" asked a wide-eyed Tinya.

Lyle nodded. "We have to get word off-planet somehow and warn the U.P!"

The doors to the President's office flew open. Savig was back and he didn't look happy to find intruders in his office! "Guards to my side at once! Two of the Legionnaires have escaped"

Armed guards rushed to the President's defense and opened fire. The Legionnaires overturned the President's table and took cover behind it. The volley of fire finally subsided for a moment.

"What do we do now?" Tinya panted.

"It would seem surrender is in order, young lady" replied a smug President Savig. "There's no way you leave this room alive!"

"I wouldn't say that," said a tiny voice that grew louder as it spoke. A moment later, Salu Digby shot up from her hiding place on the President's shoulder and slugged the lead Earthgov Special Forces Officer to the ground. "Not while there are Legionnaires left to fight!"

A guard turned her blaster toward Salu but she was too close to the President to fire. Salu took advantage of the woman's indecision and slugged her to the ground. The distraction allowed Lyle and Tinya to leave their cover and join the fray. Within moments the room erupted in heated battle between Legionnaires and Earthgov Special Forces.

They weren't the most powerful Legionnaires but they held their own very well. Salu shifted her size as necessary and wreaked havoc as guards couldn't hit her without shooting one another. Tinya's intangibility proved equally formidable in the tight quarters, allowing her to strike and dodge at will. One thing that was on their side was the size of the door frame. Being an older room it was quite small and though it seemed Earthgov threw an unlimited number of combatants at the Legionnaires, no more than one or two could enter the room at a time. The unlimited numbers weren't in the Legion's favor though.

"We can't keep this up forever," Lyle yelled over the fray. "Veilmist! Get us out of here now!"

An acrid cloud of magenta smoke filled the room and the Legionnaire known as Veilmist stood in their midst. "Your call was not a moment too soon, Master Lyle!"

"Did you find the place Nura told us about?" Tinya asked.

Veilmist nodded. "I did."

"Take us there," Lyle ordered.

Veilmist teleported Salu first and her absence was felt immediately. The blaster fire was harder to dodge and the Earthgov troops were overwhelming their diminishing defense. One of them was bound to get lucky soon. It seemed to take forever but the Khundian Legionnaire finally reappeared.

"Sorry, I teleported Tenzil, Reep, and Lu to safety first," Veilmist explained. "They were detained and couldn't fend for themselves."

"Good thinking!" said Lyle. "Get Tinya out of here next!"

Tinya looked worried as she wrapped her arm around Veilmist's waist and they disappeared.

"How in the hell is this happening?" Savig yelled over the fray. "The power dampeners were supposed to block their powers!"

"They must have an ally inside Earthgov aiding them!" an aid yelled.

Savig gritted his teeth and shook his fists in the air. "Bring Foccart to me!"

Veilmist returned but Lyle couldn't allow his friend to suffer for aiding the Legion. "Veilmist! Find Foccart and get him to safety now!"

"But what about you?" Veilmist asked.

Lyle shook his head. "Don't worry about me! Rescue Jacques!"

Veilmist looked torn as Earthgov militia flooded the room and quickly seized control.

"Go now before it's too late!" Lyle yelled as the militia seized him. "The fate of the United Planets depends on it!"

Veilmist didn't look happy about leaving but faced with the futility of Lyle in the hands of Earthgov troops, she disappeared with a signature cloud of acrid magenta smoke.

An imposing Savig strode slowly toward Lyle and stopped in front of him. He backhanded the bound Legionnaire with more strength than Lyle thought possible from the hand of a politician.

"I have waited eons for this planet to bow before its rightful master and I'll be damned if a litter of newborn pups will prevent my destiny!"

Lyle looked up from the vicious slap and smiled. "You'd be surprised what we newborn pups can prevent, fella! Whoever you really are!"

The last words Lyle heard before Savig's formidable fist belted him unconscious were, "Mortal men call me Vandal Savage!"

A Cave Near the Coast, Outside Metropolis, The Rhode Island District

The evening sun looked massive dipping below the distant horizon. The growing group of Legionnaires gathered on a rocky outcropping near a small, secluded section of pristinely-preserved beach weren't there to enjoy the view. Reep Daggle afforded himself a sigh of relief with each new face that returned.

The Legionnaires were gathered by an outpost of the old subway system in the hills of Metropolis. Nura saw the safe-house in a vision and begged the Legionnaires to regroup there moments before Earthgov troops besieged their headquarters and captured them, which was part of Lyle's plan to infiltrate Earthgov headquarters.

Reep's teammates discussed their roles in the grand espionage. With the help of the holographic projector in her transuit, Lu impersonated Veilmist and Salu while the former located the safe house and the latter spied on the President himself. Even Nura was in the dark when she burst into the Common Area with her dire warning. Tinya shared the information she and Lyle discovered about the President - he was Dark Circle and responsible for Trulo's assassination. Reep's own part was to mimic Lyle so the Earthgov troops thought they had Norg in custody so he could roam freely. Nervous energy flowed as freely between the Legionnaires as the stories they told.

Everyone had returned but Lyle and Reep couldn't help but wonder what was taking so long.

"I'm worried about him," said Tinya. "What if he doesn't make it back?"

"He will," Reep replied. "He has to."

The Legionnaires were relieved to see the smoke of Veilmist's final teleportation. However they were stunned when she returned with Jacques Foccart rather than Lyle.

"…. can't just take me against my…. Mon dieu! Ou sommes-nous?"

Reep rushed to Veilmist's side. "Where's Lyle? What the sprock is going on? This wasn't the plan!"

Veilmist averted her gaze to the ground. "Master Lyle instructed me to rescue Foccart instead! President Savig learned that Agent Foccart betrayed him."

Foccart looked surprised. "Sacre bleu! That nass! Always the bloody hero!"

"You have to go back for him," said Lu. She had become a sort of mother-hen to her teammates. "We can't leave him behind. Who knows what they'll do to him?"

"They won't kill him," replied an unfamiliar voice from within the opening to the mountain cave leading to the old subway tunnels. A form stepped into the dimming sunlight. Reep expected a person but instead it was a talking chimpanzee wearing a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat and inverness cape. A white German Shepherd dog was at his side.

"As long as he still has information they want," the dog added.

"Who the sprock are you?" Tinya asked.

"Or more precisely… what the hell are you?" Foccart asked.

A smug smile broke across the chimp's face. "Where are our manners? My name is Bobo. In my glory days I was sometimes referred to by the colorful sobriquet, Detective Chimp."

"You had glory days?" the dog asked.

Detective Chimp pointed to the dog at his side. "And this pain in my ass is my oldest and dearest friend, Rex the Wonder Dog. He sometimes likes to imagine he's funny."

Rex sniffed the evening air. "We must get you inside!"

"But what about Lyle?" Veilmist asked. "Our teammate!"

Reep shook his head. "You expect us to follow a talking dog and monkey into a cave?"

Rex walked toward the dark opening. "You can do as you please, Durlan. However the drones Earthgov just released should be here in less than two minutes. If you wish to remain free to rescue your captured teammate, I would suggest you accept the happy offer of safe harbor."

"Was that an intentional funny?" Bobo asked.

Rex looked confused.

"Harbor… Happy Harbor… get it?" Bobo waived off his canine friend. "Ah nuts! Real humor is wasted on the likes of you."

The Legionnaires looked to Reep.

"Well Reep?"Tinya asked.

Reep sighed and filed in behind the two talking animals. "Lead the way."

Rex and Bobo led the Legionnaires and Foccart into the cave's entrance. They pressed a control panel by the entrance and a distorter filled the space with a plush green hillside.

"Now let's get some answers," said Reep. "Who are you?"

The Legion's peculiar rescuers led them through a massive cavern adorned with enough equipment to rival Legion Headquarters itself.

"We are called Stormwatch, an ancient team of immortals dedicated to protecting the Earth from the direst of threats," Rex replied. "We've sworn to intervene only in times of the planet's gravest emergency. You have information from inside Earthgov?"

"We do," Reep replied. "But how do we know we can trust you?"

"You don't but we share a mutual enemy," Detective Chimp replied. "We've kept Earth out of Vandal Savage's hands for centuries and we'll do it again, with or without your help."

"Savage is working with the Dark Circle," Tinya blurted.

Reep shot her a dirty look. He hoped to barter information until he felt comfortable with their rescuers.

Rex nodded. "That much we suspected. We saw this type of coup before, about four hundred years ago."

The cavern opened into an impossibly large chamber filled with equipment so elaborate it would do Dox proud.

"Welcome to Mount Justice," said a booming voice. A large green man stepped from behind a console and extended his hand. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am J'onn J'onnzz, also known as the Martian Manhunter. You may call me J'onn."

"C'est impossible!" Jacques shouted. "You are Justice League!"

J'onn nodded. "That we are my friend, at least some of us were."

A team assembled behind J'onn.

"Allow me to introduce the rest of my teammates," said J'onn. "Legionnaires this is Madame Xanadu, Frankenstein, Jeannette, Ystina, and our leader, Scandal Savage, daughter of President Savig himself."

Scandal Savage forced a tight smile and stepped toward the Legionnaires with her hand extended toward Reep. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Legion. You're doing the old guard proud."

"Have you learned anything else that may facilitate Vandal Savage's defeat?" Frankenstein asked.

Reep shook his head. "Nothing but his identity and that he's with the Dark Circle."

"Leading the Circle actually," Jeannette added.

"I know something," said Salu. All eyes turned to her. "I attended one of his cabinet meetings. He bragged the world would once more tremble at the mention of their names."

"What names?" Scandal asked. "Do you recall?"

Salu shook her head. "Not all of them individually but they referred to themselves as a single body, the Legion of Doom!"

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