Terri Gorvett, the Beefeater, relaxed with a cup of coffee as she poured over the Seven Soldiers' case files. Bowman had insisted; their repeated battles against villains such as the Scorpion and his progeny (the latter likely deceased) made it advisable that all members be at least acquainted with the modes of operation of their past opponents. As she came up to the months which passed between the departure of three of the team's founding members into the 41st century, and her joining the team, her eyes widened as she saw a familiar name: Lord Marmaduke Ffogg.
She remembered him well. He was the millionaire whose power fantasies led him to fund Elgin Whitestone's superhero team "London's Guardians," as well as constructing a second suit of Lionheart armour for former schoolteacher Lee Kelsey. Whitestone even donned a superhero identity of his own, sycophantically identified as Lord Fogg. She had some fond memories of her mate Lee, but her friendship with him was not enough to tolerate the immense egos of the others, and she quit soon after their first case against the Injustice League. It had taken Ffogg less than a week to replace her with Michael Bellamy, the Green Archer, which had not exactly done wonders for her ego.
She drew the pointer over and clicked on the case folder to open the file, and set to reading.
FDC presents "Everything is Impossible"
"I was rather expecting seven of you," Marmaduke Ffogg said sniffily.
"Would it help if we printed business cards with the name 'Law's Legionnaires' on them?" Bowman glanced at Frankenstein, Scarlet Hawk, and the Spider who had also assembled in the room. "I can assure you that the four of us are more than capable enough to assist you in any way you need. Although I was rather expecting you to look to London's Guardians if you needed assistance from the costumed set ... since you sign their paycheques and all."
"They are currently involved in an investigation of a certain Evan McCulloch, if you must know," he replied. "And at any rate, I have never used London's Guardians for my own personal security. It would be unseemly."
Bowman pondered, curious about the so-called Green Archer in their group. "Nevertheless, you do have your own security crew. What do you need us for?"
Ffogg raised an eyebrow. "Have you ever heard of the Avionon?"
"Go on," Bowman said.
"It is an aircraft designed by the Belgian aeronautical pioneer Herms Herve in 1924, significant for having no engines or motive power of any kind, following Herve's personal allegiance to the obscure philosophy of Closoirisme." He handed out a series of colour prints, showing different angles of the streamlined artifact. "Closoirisme roughly translates as - "
"Uselessness-ism," Frankenstein interjected. "The Closoiristes practiced the belief that everything is impossible. They succeeded the Dadaists, and saw themselves as taking their ideas to their next inevitable level of absurdity and anti-artistry. I was acquainted with a young woman who called herself the Creeper, and who saw herself as a Closoiriste."
"Yes ... quite," Ffogg said, bemused. "Herve believed powered flight to be so impossible that even trying would be profitless, yet his philosophic credo called for a maximum effort to ensure that the 'didactic dynamic,' so-called, was satisfied. Thus he constructed the Avionon, 435 feet in length, built of titanium and chromium and weighing twelve tons."
Scarlet Hawk winced. Although their era barely preceded his own, the worlds of art, particularly self-indulgent movements such as these, he had always remained ignorant of. A complex engineering problem was what would have excited his imagination. But the very idea of such a wasteful 'aircraft' such as this made his pilot's heart twinge.
"By 1941 both the Avionon and Closoirisme had disappeared into the turbulence of the times," Ffogg continued. "As a collector of the arts, I considered myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to acquire the artifact. I even installed a runway out by the cliffs on my estate, so as to do justice to Herve's dream. I was satisfied then ... until I received this."
He passed around another series of prints ... this time, colour photocopies of what appeared to be a ransom note, with letters cut out from a series of magazines and crudely pasted onto a sheet:
L'AVIONON SERA FAIT POUR VOLER LIBRE
LA SOCIÉTÉ DE SURRÉALISME
"'The Avionon will be made to fly free'?" the Spider enquired. "I have never heard of this ... Society of Surrealism."
"Neither has my chief of security," Ffogg said, "but every instinct I have tells me that this is neither a prank, nor any run of the mill gang of thieves."
Bowman sighed. Everything about Marmaduke Ffogg's mannerisms and attitude annoyed him, but his request was not unreasonable. "We can't very well devote the entirety of our attentions to your back yard, Lord Ffogg. Were you given any indication of when this purported theft is going to take place?"
"No," Ffogg admitted, "although ... Herms Herve passed away in 1927 ... and in a week from my receipt of the letter is the anniversary of his death ... "
"If they were real surrealists," the Spider mused, "wouldn't they have picked any date except for that one? or ... February 29th? or a nonsense date?"
Ffogg shrugged helplessly.
"Scarlet Hawk," Bowman said, "you man the Hoverer on patrol starting tonight ... on the anniversary date the rest of us will join you in the Aviosub ... this is the best we can do, Lord Ffogg." He contemplated whether they ought to contact the Hood to augment their forces, although was reluctant to give more credence to Ffogg's request than necessary; he suspected as well the Hood's political beliefs would hardly make him enthused about assisting someone like the spoiled Lord.
"It's far less than I had hoped for," Ffogg replied, "but I suppose one must accept these concessions in life."
It was days later that the pilot and passengers of the Aviosub received, en route, the notification of the gaily painted schoolbus which had arrived at Ffogg's estate, despite his security protocols. "Right on time," the Spider noted.
"Whomever comprises this Society, they appear to be more traditionalists at heart than true Surrealists ... or Closoiristes," Frankenstein sneered.
On their arrival they were yet aghast to see the Hoverer grounded, a slim man in black tights bent over it, apparently disassembling the atom powered aircraft. Standing by him was a tall woman clad in green with a regal bearing; a young woman clad in black leather and a set of headphones appeared to be slumbering at their feet. Scarlet Hawk himself was bound, hanging upside-down from a rope, what appeared to be a raw trout stuck inside his mouth to silence him.
Bowman disembarked, and sighed. He wondered what capabilities the trio, or duo, had that allowed them to down his teammate so easily. He knocked an arrow. "Release our teammate and surrender to the ... Law's Legionnaires," he said.
The tall woman raised an eyebrow, and Bowman saw the windows of the schoolbus open and from them a hail of arrows pierce through his colleagues. He saw a glint of metal from the top of the vehicle, and looked up to see the armoured form of Cyril Sheldrake, brandishing what appeared to be a broadsheet newspaper in his hands. 'BOWMAN OUTED,' the headline read, and the Knight shook his head in disgust. "I shuddered every time you touched me, you stupid faggot," Sheldrake said, "I should have known you weren't enough of a man to lead the Soldiers in my absence, and now you've gotten our friends killed." He felt a sharp pain in his chest, he thought it was grief until he felt a wetness on his tunic, and looked down to see an arrow protruding into his chest, blood staining his uniform. He found himself in a tunnel of light, at the end of which he saw a man shining bright as the sun. The man extended a hand to him, and he realised that the blood on his tunic had actually come from a piercing in the palm of the man's hand. "You stupid faggot," the man said, and the ground opened up beneath him and he was thrust into the fires of hell.
Frankenstein looked down as his teammate collapsed to the ground. He glared at the tall woman. "What did you do to him, witch?"
"Please, refer to me by nom du crime, Phobia," she replied. "I have plans for the Avionon. Now be a good little monster and run along, will you?"
He roared, trundling towards Phobia. She bent over and pulled the sleeping woman to her feet. The woman stumbled forward, her head tilted to the side and her eyes closed. When Frankenstein came close, she swung one small, compact fist in his direction, with enough strength to stop him in his tracks and send him flying.
The other man turned to direct his attention away from the Hoverer. The Spider was surprised to see the youth was an amputee, his arms bisected at his shoulders. Hovering in front of the boy was a red glove. "I guess the Techno Glove is done with the Hoverer for now," he said, and the gauntlet soared through the air towards the Spider, clenching a screwdriver. The Spider fired his web gun but the glove ducked beneath it, and began to dismantle the mechanisms controlling his exo-skeleton and jetpack; he attempted to tumble backwards out of its way, but was too late, and discovered that the sensors which monitored his position and balance, automatically stabilising him should he stumble or fall, had been disconnected, and he crashed to the ground.
Scarlet Hawk finally managed to gnaw through the trout, spitting the pieces out in disgust. "Spider, you have to stop them! Don't let them ... "
"Hush now," Phobia interrupted, replacing the un-eaten section of the fish back into his mouth. She turned to her companions. "Sleepwalk! Love Glove! L'Avionon sera fait pour voler libre!" The three of them broke off their attacks and ran towards the artifact, setting their bodies against it and using Sleepwalk's physical strength to push it down the tracks. As it began to pick up speed, the three of them clambered aboard into the sculpted cockpit, and the vehicle swept forward into the air.
"Inconceivable," the Spider muttered, "have they actually managed to make it fly?"
Bowman's life-like illusions passed, and he looked up to see the Avionon airborne. Scarlet Hawk's scream was muffled by the trout.
Phobia removed Sleepwalk's headphones. "Holly McKenzie, wake up!"
The young woman blinked, and yawned. "What did I miss this time?"
Phobia rose to her feet and shouted at the fallen Soldiers, "Everything is impossible!" With those words, gravity overtook the artifact's momentum as it reached the peak of its arc, and the Avionon plummeted to the ground.
Frankenstein, bruised and battered, walked over to release Scarlet Hawk, and then slowly the quartet assembled to peer over the edge of the cliff. The Society of Surrealism lay scattered on the ground around the Avionon, clearly knocked unconscious by the impact of the fall. "Herms Herve would have been proud, I am sure," he said.
"Does this ... have something to do with modern art?" Scarlet Hawk enquired, his voice showing his perplexity.
"Perhaps they were only interested in the challenge ... whether it be in defeating us, or some other more abstractly intellectual pursuit." The Spider thought back to his own career as a master criminal, and how it was simple intellectual boredom which led him to seek out and defeat other criminals instead, although that resulted in occasional and temporary alliances with more altruistic crimefighters.
"Let's take the Aviosub down there," Bowman said, once he'd found his voice. "We'll ... try to find some way to secure the three of them and take them in. Let's just enter this case in the log books as a qualified success."