Red Square is the scene of battle. Ron, via Firestorm, seeks revenge against Stalnoivolk for the murder of his grandfather. The Zuggernaut attacks Special Prosecutor Soliony. The Soyuz team infiltrates the Kremlin to free the Arkadin family and encounters the Zuggernaut.
Moscow. The Zuggernaut has caused the explosion. His targets were Stalnoivolk and Firestorm, the Nuclear Man, who were battling each other in the center of Red Square. They are at the blast’s epicenter. If they live.
“Now! We must go kill Soliony!” cries Matvei Rodor, the conscious component of the Zuggernaut.
“No, brother,” answers the Zuggernaut in the creature’s subconscious. “Not until I see my foe dead. Such is my code - - the warrior way.”
The Zuggernaut stands on the edge of the Kremlin roof, looking down at the thick black smoke rising from Red Square below. “Yes! Now!” Rodor yells. “Soliony knows who I really am! If he tells others, we may be doomed!”
The Zuggernaut runs along the roof edge, heading for an entrance. “As you insist, brother,” the Zuggernaut replies. “But you have caused me to betray my code and that I do not forgive!”
Moments ago…a moment’s warning…a moment for a single instinctive act. WHOOOSH! The Zuggernaut’s fireball streaks towards Firestorm and Stalnoivolk. FZAAP! Firestorm seals himself and the Steelwolf inside a protective sphere of energy, and…FWA-DOOM! The Zuggernaut’s fireball explodes in a massive blast of flame! The concussion drives the sphere high into the air.
“Foolish,” Firestorm thinks. “I forgot the Zuggernaut.” Suddenly, he feels a tight grip around the back of his neck. “Ahk!” he groans. “More foolish…to forget…Stalnoivolk!”
“American. Thank you for saving my life,” Stalnoivolk says, furrowing his brow. “Now I must kill you. Long ago I learned…whatever is necessary for victory, you do!”
“You’ll fall..!” Firestorm warns him as they wrestle with each other.
“I’ve jumped without a parachute from airplanes that were up higher with no harm. Do not worry on my account,” Stalnoivolk answers.
“A point well taken,” Firestorm replies. Instantly, Firestorm becomes immaterial and Stalnoivolk’s hands sink right through him. In the next moment, Firestorm releases the sphere and hovers in the air. Stalnoivolk begins to plummet!
“YAAAH!” screams Stalnoivolk.
“No! He’s got to pay for what he’s done! Killing my grandfather!” Ronnie thinks as he watches Stalnoivolk fall away.
“Must control my descent…then leap back to my enemy!” Stalnoivolk thinks as he flails in the air.
WHAM! Firestorm suddenly lands on Stalnoivolk’s back. “You’ve jumped out of planes at this height…but how fast were you going when you hit the Earth, murderer?” Firestorm asks. WHOOOSH! He rapidly accelerates as he carries Stalnoivolk downwards. “Let’s try Mach one,” Firestorm tells him. SHA-BOOM! A sonic boom echoes over Moscow.
THA-DOOM! Stalnoivolk smashes into the roadway! Firestorm, still immaterial, passes harmlessly through the surface of the ground. “Back!” Firestorm thinks as he turns to resurface.
“Ooooh...,” groans Stalnoivolk. He lies face down in a large crater. He props himself up on his hands. “You…failed…American! I live!!” he gasps.
Firestorm appears from underground and grabs Stalnoivolk under both arms. “That was only the first round,” he explains.
“YAAAAHHH!” Stalnoivolk shrieks as he is pulled rapidly into the sky.
“Let’s try Mach two,” Firestorm tells him as he turns to descend again.
THA-DOOM! Firestorm smashes Stalnoivolk into the street again.
“Ahh..! A-American, what are you doing..?” Stalnoivolk groans as he is lifted skywards again.
“Doing?” Firestorm asks as he rises up quickly. “I’m killing you!” he answers as he speeds back to ground. THA-DOOM!
“Firestorm is going to kill Gort!” Major Zastrow thinks as he watches from an office window at the Kremlin. “Gort may need killing, but it is something we should do!” He starts to reach for a phone on a nearby desk when Soliony runs into the office.
“One side!” barks Soliony as he reaches for the phone.
“Get away! I need to call help for Stalnoivolk!” snarls Zastrow.
“Pah! I have learned the secret of two enemies of the State! I must report this in!” answers Soliony.
“Are you mad? Or so obsessed with your own personal glory that you have lost sight of reason? There is a life at stake!” Zastrow replies angrily as they both wrestle with the phone.
“There are two lives at stake here, Comrades,” a voice surprises them. “Yours.” Soliony and Zastrow turn to see the Zuggernaut!
“What’s going on out there?” a Russian soldier asks. He and a fellow soldier stand guard outside a building’s entrance as fog quickly forms nearby.
“What’s going on inside, for that matter?” asks the second guard.
“And where did all this fog come from? Do you see something out there?” asks the first, peering through the thick wisps of fog.
“Where?!” asks the second.
Serafina emerges from the fog behind the soldiers. She reaches her hand to their foreheads. “Contact!” she thinks. The soldiers suddenly become stiffened at her touch. “There has been no fog,” she instructs them telepathically. “You will remember nothing of this. No one is entering the building. Your minds will remain open to me and further commands. Understood?”
“Da,” both soldiers answer.
“Soyuz! Come!” Firebird thinks. Her four teammates quickly materialize out of the fog. “No words, Soyuz!” she warns them. “You might wake them from their trance.” The guards stare off into the fog as Soyuz slips in the doorway behind them.
“I can’t believe we’re in!” Vikhor whispers as they move inside.
“Sera…Firebird! I’m scared to death! What way do we go now - - please?” asks Rusalka anxiously.
“I-I’m not certain..,” Firebird replies. “We must try to find the Special Prosecutor - - the one named Soliony!”
“What am I doing?! What have I done?!” Firestorm asks as he clutches the bruised and limp body of Stalnoivolk.
“ - - What he did to my Grandfather! He deserves to die!” Ronnie growls.
“Perhaps!” answers Mikhail. “But what right have we to murder him?”
“Uh-uh! What he did was murder!” Ronnie explains. “What I’m talking about is revenge!”
“That is a right of society - - not the individual!” Mikhail replies.
“Society let him walk away Scot-free!” Ronnie barks. “What about justice?!?”
Soyuz slips through the Kremlin hallways. “I can feel his thoughts in here…but I think he is not alone. Wait - - let me look first..!” Serafina cautions her team. They approach an open office door and can hear the sounds of struggle inside. “By the saints!” she gasps as they look inside to see the Zuggernaut thrashing Soliony and Zastrow.
“That - - That thing! It’s killing those two men!” Rusalka cries out.
“Then come on! Let’s stop him!” exclaims Vikhor as he rises up on a whirlwind.
“VIKHOR! WAIT!” shouts Firebird.
“Well?! Do we let Vikhor have all the fun?!” asks Perun. “All together, Soyuz!”
“Wait, Perun!” Firebird says as she grabs his shoulder.
“So we should just let them get killed?” Perun asks.
“But we don’t know what that creature is or what it can do or why it is trying to kill these men!” Firebird answers. “Maybe it has a good reason - - !”
“All I know is it’s big and inhuman and it wants to kill people and we’ve got to stop it,” Perun replies as he steps away from her grasp. “Just because it has a reason to kill doesn’t mean it has a right!”
“But - - !” Firebird says. She starts after him. “I hate being wrong!” she thinks.
“Ron - - brother - - we have great power together but we - - you - - have never before used that power to deliberately kill!” Mikhail cautions. “If we do kill now, how are we any different than Stalnoivolk! We become the very thing you hate!”
“So we let him live, right?” Ronnie asks angrily. “What happens when he comes after me again? Which member of my family does he kill next time? How many people has he killed to date? How many more will he kill - - if he’s allowed to live? And don’t we become accessories to those murders if we let him live?” He glares down at Stalnoivolk, holding him tightly with one hand while ready to strike with the other.
“We are each of us responsible for our own acts,” Mikhail explains. “The evil Stalnoivolk may do does not justify our doing evil as Firestorm. Right now this man cannot fight back. Our killing him would be murder. We are all capable of murder, given the right situation, the right motivation. That does not mean we have to become murderers.”
Soyuz springs into the office and engages the Zuggernaut. Morozko seals the Zuggernaut’s legs in ice as Vikhor hovers over its head. Perun fires an electric burst…SHRAAAKKK! “Brother, what are these cubs? Do they attack us?” asks the Zuggernaut, startled by the intruding Soyuz.
“Away, brats!” yells Rodor.
“Rusalka! Watch the water! Don’t short me out!” Perun warns.
“Don’t worry!” Rusalka replies. “I’m withdrawing the creature’s water vapor! I may be able to crumble his shell! Aim for that!”
“Amazing!” Firebird cries out as she concentrates on the Zuggernaut. “I sense two minds…one is alien…and the other is Russian!”
“Vikhor! Back off, little one!” shouts Morozko. “I’ve absorbed all the heat I may and now I must release it again!” He aims a hand at the Zuggernaut. “NOW!!!” he yells as flaming energy shoots out from him to envelop the Zuggernaut.
Stunned, the creature drops Soliony and Zastrow to the floor. Black smoke fills the room as Soliony and Zastrow sprint for the door. “Soliony!” yells Rodor as the Zuggernaut is covered in flames.
“No! The code must be answered! Offered battle! I must give it!” the Zuggernaut thinks. It senses Firebird’s telepathy. “Dangerous children,” it thinks. “Even now, this one enters our mind, discovers our secrets!” The gem on the Zuggernaut’s forehead glows with bright green energy. Its eyes gleam with a building bright pink aura.
SSSSSSSSSS! BOOM! An energy beam shoots from the Zuggernaut’s eyes! “SERAFINA!” yells Vikhor as the wall explodes next to Firebird.
“Who are these children?” Zastrow asks, watching through the smoke.
“The flying one called the girl Serafina..!” Soliony answers. “Arkadin has a niece by that name! I wonder..!”
Firebird lifts herself out of the collapsed wall debris. “Soyuz…I am…all right!” she calls out. “Morozko, you and Vikhor…and Rusalka…give us an ice storm! Remember code names!”
“If you were fine, Serafina, you would have used mind speech! Heavenly Father, what are we doing?!” Rusalka says telepathically. She kneels into the debris. “Here, I found a water pipe!” she calls out. “Vikhor, bring the wind…now!” Vikhor floats over and whips up a whirlwind. The water pipe bends, aiming at the Zuggernaut. Vikhor bends it further until it ruptures!
SPLOOOSH! Imagine an ice storm with winds whipping it at near tornadic velocity. Now picture that storm inside a room. And used as a weapon. WEEOOOOO! The winds swirl violently, enveloping the Zuggernaut in an icy blast!
Outside, another storm is reaching its climax… “Why this murderous rage in the first place?” Mikhail asks. “For your Grandfather - - a man you barely knew and for whom you had no great liking while he lived? Or does this rage come from a deeper place? It’s the rage you have felt ever since Nevada, isn’t it? The rage that your friend Martin Stein died and you could do nothing! That is the injustice you want to strike out against! It is not Stalnoivolk you want to kill! It is your own pain! Isn’t it?!?”
Ronnie closes his eyes and grits his teeth in fury. A tear streams down his face. “…Yes…” he answers softly.
Firestorm stares down at the defenseless Stalnoivolk still held in his grasp. Shlump! He drops Stalnoivolk to the shattered ground. “I understand. I have felt what you felt. I sympathize,” Firestorm says. “But I am more than a mere combination of your souls. And I will not be used as a weapon by you or anyone else!”
FOOM! Firestorm looks up to see a wall exploding out of the Kremlin, followed by a spray of ice and water. Inside Soliony’s office, the Zuggernaut stands covered in ice but still moving aggressively. “It didn’t even faze him!” Perun observes in disbelief.
“Firebird, that was our best attempt!” Rusalka cries out. “What do we do now?”
The Zuggernaut glares down at the Soyuz team at its feet. “Now you die, children!” Rodor snarls.
WHAM! Suddenly, Stalnoivolk is thrown into the room and smashes into the back of the Zuggernaut! Firestorm flies into the room through the massive hole in the wall. “I have priority, I believe,” he announces as the Zuggernaut gets back to its feet.
“I can kill you all at the same time,” Rodor says. Errnk! He opens his fang-lined jaws widely.
“Perhaps the most effective weapon to use against you is your own,” Firestorm tells him. A bright beam of energy shoots out of Firestorm’s eyes and surrounds the Zuggernaut.
“No! The explosive process has begun, brother!” the Zuggernaut says as its body flinches from the beam. “We must release it or die!”
Shwomp! FA-BOOM! “AAAAAAAAA!” Rodor screams as the Zuggernaut flails back in agony.
“Ser…Firebird! Who is the one with the flaming head!?” asks a wide-eyed Perun.
“I think he’s an American hero - - the newest Flash or something!” Firebird replies. “I’m getting the sensation of several different minds within him! And one of them is my uncles!”
“YAAAAAH! YOU HAVE KILLED ME!” shrieks the Zuggernaut.
“Here…Let me see…Maybe I can help..!” Firestorm answers. He walks near the Zuggernaut and raises a backhand strike.
“No!! Must…get…away!” thinks the Zuggernaut. It turns to flee, vomiting a strange purplish substance from its mouth. It flies out of the hole into the air. “YAAAAH!” it yells in panic.
“Uncle?” asks Firebird as she watches Firestorm. “Uncle, it’s Serafina. You are my uncle, aren’t you? In part?”
SMASH! The Zuggernaut crashes through power lines and telephone poles outside the Kremlin. It lands on its back on the ground. “Ahhh! Ah! Ah! The pain!” cries Rodor. “Brother, what is happening?!”
“You are dying,” the Zuggernaut answers. The creature’s torso lifts up and a tentacle begins to come out of its mouth.
“AGHHH!” Rodor groans in pain. “What are you doing?!”
“Departing. I must survive and you are finished,” the Zuggernaut answers. Like a headless octopus, the heart of the Zuggernaut leaves the body and slithers away.
“No! If you leave, I have no chance!” Rodor thinks as his body begins to transform back into a human figure.
“Had you not made me break the warrior’s code, our enemy would not have survived. Your doom is your own doing,” the Zuggernaut answers telepathically as it slides away. It finds its way into a nearby pond. It quickly disappears under the water, leaving only a plume of steamy purple vapor bubbling up to mark its path.
“Brother!” Rodor gasps, his mouth stained with purple residue. “…Bro…therrrr…”
Firestorm and Soyuz stand together in Soliony’s office. “You are both Russian and American?! Détente lives!” Morozko says as he looks Firestorm over.
“Ilya, I love the sleeves!” Rusalka says, gazing at Firestorm’s uniform.
“It’s all so…gaudy, though,” Perun replies.
“But…Serafina…Firebird! What were you planning to do once you got in here?” asks Firestorm.
“Ohhhhhh..!” groans Soliony.
“He’s waking up! Forgive me, Uncle Firestorm, but I must act swiftly, or this will have all been for nothing!” Firebird replies. Soliony lies in the rubble, the aftermath of the ice storm attack on the Zuggernaut. Firebird kneels next to him and closes her eyes in concentration. “While…he is unconscious…his mind is very…open to me..,” she says. “If I can just make…contact!”
Firebird probes into Soliony’s mind. “Now…I can reorder his memories! When he awakes, he will believe Stalnoivolk defeated the Zuggernaut!” she explains as she plants psychic suggestions. “But…most important…I will plant in his mind the conviction…that Mikhail Arkadin has nothing to do with Firestorm! That the best thing he can do…is free the Arkadin family!” She concentrates deeply for a few moments. “There. He will sleep now,” she says as she gets to her feet. “And when he wakes…all will be well.”
“Snorrrrk!” Soliony snores.
“Can you do this also with Stalnoivolk and the other KGB man - - to make them forget what they know of my American side?” Firestorm asks.
“Of course,” nods Firebird.
“And then, within me, if you can - - make a link between my two selves, so that when they feel the call of my forming, one or the other can deny it if it’s not convenient,” Firestorm asks.
“And what if they never choose to become you again?” Firebird asks.
“Then I won’t exist,” Firestorm replies. “But this right they must have, if either of them are to gain any measure of control over their own lives. I think they will call on me. They - - and the world - - has a need for me. God help us all, but there may even be a need for Soyuz!”