The Renamo guerillas seize control of Eden and force march Ed Raymond, Sister Agnes, and the refugees away. Ed tries to escape. Firestorm attacks the rebels. Ed and Ron return to New York City.
Eden has been despoiled. Firestorm had terraformed Eden from a section of drought and famine-plagued Ogaden in East Africa. But the country had seen over twenty years of civil war and that night, Eden was attacked by the Renamo guerillas. Attempting to help Jama, a native he had befriended, Ron had been wounded in the attack, and Jama’s child killed. The governmental forces of General Frelimo counter-attacked and set Eden aflame. Jama was shot down while trying to rescue the wounded Ron from a burning hut. Unexpectedly, Jama was drawn into the fusion of the Nuclear Man when he woke Ron. The transformed Firestorm, having driven off the governmental forces, now seeks to find Ron’s father Ed and the relief workers, headed by Sister Agnes Martinon, taken prisoner by the Renamos.
“Steady, Sister. A little further..,” Ed tells Sister Agnes. They trudge through the grassy plains in a group of refugees, each carrying a heavy one hundred pound bag of rice. Colonel Assagai of the Renamo guerillas leads the group. Several rebels eye the caravan of people with their weapons always at ready.
“Five minutes rest, then we push on at double speed,” Assagai directs. Ed and Sister Agnes sit in the grass and Assagai approaches them. “So, reporter…Are you getting the facts together for your story?” he asks.
“You’d better hope I never get a chance to tell what I’ve seen, Assagai!” Ed replies.
“I have no fears on that score,” Assagai answers. He lights a cigarette. “We know how to manage news and newsmen here, American.” He turns and walks off.
“Do not waste breath bandying words with him, M’sieu Raymond,” Sister Agnes tells him. “Better to gather your strength and escape. Now, I think, would be the best time.”
“I couldn’t do that, Sister!” Ed explains. “He’s likely to kill you all in retaliation!”
“Shall I tell you a secret, M’sieu? We are likely to die anyway - - in ways that I do not like to consider,” Sister Agnes replies. “Your government, pardon my saying so, has a history of rather unsophisticated foreign relations - - they tend to support whoever is anti-communist, no matter how despicable that government may be. To die at his hand is one thing. To die and no one ever know it is at his hands would be another. To die and have Assagai win because of your government would be unendurable. Go and tell someone, eh?”
A rebel walks near them. “On your feet!” he barks.
“Perhaps the time to go is now,” Sister Agnes suggests. Ed jumps to his feet and sprints away.
“Stop!!!” the rebel yells. He pulls a pistol and aims at Ed. Blam! Blam! Blam! He fires several shots at Ed. Colonel Assagai runs over to the rebel.
“What is it, you fool?” Assagai snarls, grabbing the man and readying a punch.
“The American, Colonel! He ran off!” the rebel explains.
“Did you kill him?” Assagai asks.
“N-No, sir,” the rebel replies.
Several armed rebels quickly gather around Assagai. “Find him and do so! Four go with him! The rest of you…watch the prisoners! Kill the first one who moves!” Assagai orders his men.
Sister Agnes lies on the ground, eyes closed, using the rice bag as a pillow. “Go with God, M’sieu Raymond. Run hard and fast,” she thinks. “And - - please God - - whatever happens, do not look back!”
Firestorm flies low over the plains, a spear of fire held in his hand. Fangs poke from behind his lips, a sign of the lion form that is now part of him. “There is no sign of the Renamos in this direction,” he says. “We must double back…YAHHHRR!”
“AAAH!” Jama cries out in Firestorm’s subconscious. He, Ron, and Mikhail stand in a circle, backs to each other with their hands joined together.
“Jama! What is it?” Ron asks.
“I was shot…before…I reached you, brother. My wound…takes…its toll!” Jama groans through his pain.
“We must get you to a hospital now!” Mikhail says.
“It’s no use. They have given me a death wound,” Jama explains. “Time passes. Our people are in danger. We must go on, brothers.”
Ed runs over a small ravine, finding a hiding place out of sight of the Renamos. “They lost me!” he thinks. “Thank God, they lost me! Can’t track me! But the others - - the nuns and the rescue workers - - the natives! What will Assagai do to them? I’ve got to go on like Sister Agnes said…but..!”
“America, listen to me!” Colonel Assagai yells into the darkness. He grabs Sister Agnes roughly and holds a pistol against her temple. “This is no good, you know, reporter!” he yells. “You may escape me but you will not escape the land! There is no food - - no water - - to be had! You don’t know where you are or where safety lies! You are dead anyway and you will be responsible for this woman’s death! I told you - - I do not play games! I make war! I have no time for this! Show yourself now or bury the bodies when we are gone! You will change nothing! You have only a choice of deaths!”
Ed stands up and faces Assagai. “All right!” he answers. “I’m coming back! Hold your fire!”
Sister Agnes sees him. A tear runs down her cheek. “Ahhh - - you are a good man, M’sieu Raymond,” she thinks. “And Assagai has made that your weakness!”
Ed walks towards the rebels with his hands up. Several point their rifles at him as he approaches. “Some of you get the prisoners to their feet,” Assagai orders. “The rest of you - - shoot the American when I give the word.”
Ed stands against a large rocky outcrop. Assagai glares at him as his men take aim. “Now,” Assagai says.
SHWOOOMM! A streak of fire races in! BOOM! It explodes among the rebels. “GAAAAAHH!” yells Assagai as he is blown into the air. Firestorm soars out of the sky towards them. “Shoot! Shoot!” Assagai yells. Blam! Blam! Blam! Pow! Kpow! A hail of bullets is shot at Firestorm.
“RAHHR!” Firestorm growls as his body becomes fully aflame. The bullets harmlessly streak through him. The flames subside and he lands on the ground to attack the Renamos.
“EEEEYAAAAAAGH!” yells a rebel as Firestorm grabs him by the neck.
WHUMP! Firestorm punches another. “HAWROOOOO!” the rebel yells as he falls.
Firestorm waves his arms and…FWOOOSH! A wall of flame erupts up from the ground. The rebels turn to run. THWUK! Firestorm thrusts his right hand into the earth. FWOOSH! RRUMMMBLE! Instantly, the earth splits apart and forms a long trench. Lava geysers erupt in a line behind Firestorm. Several rebels fall into the trench.
Assagai grabs Sister Agnes. “Stop, damn you! Or the woman is finished!” he yells at Firestorm.
Firestorm focuses on Assagai’s pistol. FZAAP! Twin beams of energy shoot from his eyes. The beams strike the pistol and it melts out of Assagai’s hand. Firestorm leaps up and lunges towards Assagai, grabbing him tightly by the throat. “You are the one who makes war on children and innocents,” he tells the rebel leader. “Shall I show you how I make war?”
“STOP!” yells Sister Agnes. “There has been enough violence! No more!”
“Violence is all I am good for,” Firestorm tells her. “There is nothing that I can create - - no Edens - - that snakes such as this cannot destroy. Unless they themselves are destroyed first.”
“And you are then destroyed in turn by other still more powerful,” Sister Agnes counters. “Eh, it is such an easy thing to do, no? To destroy. Neither of you have changed anything but externals. You change the land but you do not also change the human heart! And so you are doomed to fail! Kill the land and it may yet live again. You yourself have shown this. Kill a man and all change is done with, unless your power can also give him life again.”
Firestorm holds Assagai tightly by the neck. The rebel’s feet dangle in the air. “No. It cannot,” Firestorm answers softly.
“It is the long road, the hard path to change someone’s heart!” Sister Agnes explains. “But this power you also have! Others will look to you because of your powers! And they must see greatness and goodness of heart as well! And thus you may transmute their hearts as well as the land and truly recreate Eden! Will you do this?”
“I will…try the hard path,” Firestorm replies. He looks around at the armed rebels approaching. “But first, let’s have an end to guns,” he continues.
FZAAM! ZAMM! ZAAM! The rebels’ weapons burst into flames. “Aaaaah!” several yell as they drop the guns. They turn to run away.
Firestorm flings Assagai after them. “Take your leader with you,” he calls out. Firestorm stands upright with arms outstretched. Fire swirls around his body. “My time here is ended. I shall not walk this land in this form again. Farewell,” he announces. FZAAP! Firestorm disappears and three fireballs streak up into the sky!
“I worry for him,” Sister Agnes says. Ed stands next to her and they watch the fireballs rise above. “I think perhaps, Lucifer shone as brightly - - before his pride brought him low,” she continues. “Come. We will gather our people and return to what remains of his Eden!”
FZAAM! Two fireballs speed down to the surface of the plains. An instant later, two men appear in a flash of light. “Jama!” Ron cries out. Jama lies face down on the ground. Ron rushes over to him. He kneels and holds Jama in his arms. “Jama…! You’ve got to…ah, man!” Ron says. Tears run down Ron’s face. Jama reaches up and touches a tear. He rubs Ron’s tear down his own cheek…and then, Jama dies in Ron’s arms. “JAMA!” Ron yells in anguish.
FZAAM! Mikhail appears in his apartment. “Nooooo!” he yells as he appears next to Nina.
“Mikhail! What is it?” she asks in shock.
“Oh, Nina! Part of me has been slain!” Mikhail tells her as he collapses into her arms. Tears stream down his face. “A part of Firestorm has just died!”
The sun breaks over the horizon. In the barren ground that used to be Eden, Ron holds the body of his friend, Jama.
Kennedy Airport. A few days later. A transcontinental Boeing 707 lands and makes its way to the terminal. It parks at its gate and the passengers deplane. “Ed?” asks Felicity Raymond as she sees her husband and Ron emerge from the jetway. She rushes to him and they hug tightly. “Ed! Thank God! I was so scared when they said..!”
“Shhh. It’s okay. We’re home,” Ed tells her.
Felicity turns to Ron, noting the bandage on his forehead. “They said you’d been shot..!” she says.
“It’s okay, Mom,” Ron answers. “They didn’t hit anything important. Just my head.”
“You can tell me about it on the way home. Let’s get a cab,” Felicity says.
Shortly after, the three ride along in a taxi on the way to their apartment. Ed and Ron explain the events that happened in Africa. “And this Jama became a part of Firestorm? Has that ever happened before?” Felicity asks.
“Mikhail’s the only other one. I can’t explain it,” Ron answers.
“Something else is eating you, Ron. What is it?” Felicity asks.
“I’ve been thinking a lot since Jama died,” Ron explains. “I think I’ve kinda been shirking things. Up until now, I’ve let Firestorm be the hero for me. Told myself I was doing my share that way. It’s not enough. There’s some things he just can’t do. I can. Me. Ron Raymond. I gotta stop pretending not to see or waiting for Flamehead to make the move. This is my world, too. My city. My responsibility. And nothing - - not even being part of Firestorm - - takes the place of what I can do and should do. The world’s only as good as I make it.”
The cab pulls to a stop and Ron gets out. “I gotta walk for awhile, okay?” he tells Ed and Felicity.
“Just watch yourself,” Ed answers.
“Oh yeah. See you at home,” Ron replies. He walks along the dark streets. He sees children playing and thinks of Jama’s lost little daughter. He sees a man sitting by himself near some trash can and thinks of hungry refugees. He sits by the man. Ron takes his coat off and covers the man’s chest and arms. Without a word, he stands and continues on his way.
Make the change.