The alien alliance attacks Australia, quickly overpowering the military and capturing the people. Mikhail resumes teaching physics in Moscow. Ron receives an anonymous phone call demanding that Firestorm and Firehawk head for Australia to confront the invaders. Karen Starr turns over control of Starrware to Felicity Smoak-Raymond. Firestorm and Firehawk fly towards the South Pacific and are joined by Power Girl. They encounter a sole alien spacecraft flying near the Grand Canyon. Forcing entry, they find Starman inside. Together, they fly the alien craft to the South Pacific.
*** Part of the Invasion storyline, crossover with Starman #5. ***
Soldiers push forward in frantic ground combat. ZZZZZIIIPPTTT! ZZZAAAZZZZZ! ZZZIZZLE! The battlefield is chaotic, filled with weapons fire, yelling, explosions, and smoke.
“We’re under-supplied, undermanned, and ill-prepared to fight humans, let alone aliens - - damn!” yells the Sergeant to his men. “We either get reinforcements soon or we better start praying we wake up! Grusin, Bacharach, Conti - - dig deeper - - and faster!”
The troops lie low to the ground, seeking cover from the withering incoming fire. Near the Sergeant, a radioman tries in vain to contact another squad. “Sir, we’ve lost contact with Charlie Company! I think we’re alone!” the radioman reports.
“They have weapons we don’t understand - - I haven’t even seen one of these suckers! Jenkins, get ready to move half the troops off to the right, we’ll move down the shoreline several hundred yards,” orders the Sergeant.
Jenkins peers over the sandbags to view the battlefield. “Sure, si-sir..,” he replies nervously. “They’ll find us…send us to hell!”
“Anything’s better than dying like this!” another soldier answers.
“Move! Move!” barks the Sergeant.
“Sarge, the General is on his way but don’t expect air support - - these Khindi have fighter craft up there!” Jenkins reports.
“I believe that’s Khunds, George. Okay, then we fight…and probably die,” the Sergeant replies.
The General’s jeep rumbles to a stop next to the Sergeant’s position. His driver lies dead in the passenger seat. “These boys certainly have good eyes! Lost my driver a few clicks back! How do we stand, Tall Tom?” the General asks.
“Sir, we’ve been fired on for eighteen straight hours,” Sergeant Tom reports. “We’ve lost touch with all our other units and it doesn’t look good. I’ve lost two dozen men, I think!”
“Aliens, huh?” the General replies. “They can be beat…We just have to hold on until help arrives…Super help. Right, Tall Tom?”
“If you say so, sir,” Tom answers.
Mikhail Arkadin walks along on the campus of a Moscow university. “Well, Tovarich, the time has come to get back to work,” he thinks. “You finally got to visit Africa, but it wasn’t the land of wonder you imagined as a child - - instead you saw despair and a thousand ruined dreams! I don’t understand how Jama fused with Ronald and myself to form Firestorm. I felt his death as though it were a part of my own! Enough! Alexander used considerable influence to get me back this job. I must concentrate on it.”
Mikhail walks into a large building and opens an interior door. Ahead of him, a lecture hall waits, packed with students. “Nuclear physics has changed since I have last taught,” Mikhail thinks as he walks to the podium at the center of the lecture hall. “I supported Sakharov and so lost my position. All I could think of while working at Chernobyl was of teaching again. Ah, Mikhail Denisovitch - - the good times are so short! Why cloud them with doubt? This begins my path to stabilizing my life. Firestorm’s life will begin soon enough - - Ron has good prospects - - all seems well.”
Mikhail takes his place behind the podium and opens his lecture file. “And now, to begin their lives…May we all prosper,” he thinks.
“Good morning! I am Professor Mikhail Arkadin and I welcome you to Introductory Nuclear Physics,” he begins. “I won’t promise you an easy semester, but it will be an interesting one. I will use my experience in the field - - Chernobyl - - to help show you the practical uses of physics…and their dangers! Hopefully the results will be less…volatile…” At that, the students break into smiles and laughter.
“I feel like an alien,” Ron thinks. He lies on the couch at his Dad’s apartment. “Going from where they have nothing to where they have twenty different brands of toilet tissue - - unreal! The people in Ogaden are literally starving and Flamehead, for all his power, really couldn’t do anything about it. Here, if I get the munchies, I can wander into the kitchen and get a snack with more calories than a kid in Ogaden sees in a week. And there’s the homeless here as well.”
Ron grabs a cookie off a plate on the coffee table next to him. “I’ve been working with a homeless shelter since I got back…but, until I know if I’m going to Vandermeer again, I really can’t make any plans!” he thinks.
He picks up the newspaper and stares at the headline that reads ‘Alien Invasion Pounding Aussies.’ “And now there’s this invasion thing as well!” he thinks. “Alien races uniting to trash humanity. Mikhail and I haven’t even tried forming Firestorm since Jama died. I’m not sure what’s going to happen when…if…we do!”
He gets up from the couch and walks towards the desk. “Better check my message machine. Dad, if it’s you and you say you’re going off to play Ernie Pyle..!”
Ron pushes the answering machine button and the message begins to play. “Hi, it’s Dad. I’m on the streets gauging public reaction for the Daily Planet…National Edition…Don’t hold dinner…’Bye!” says the voice of his Dad.
Ron picks up the TV remote and clicks on the set. “…and Earth’s superheroes have been asked to mobilize, awaiting direction from Justice League International,” reports the newscaster. “We repeat today’s top headline: Australia has been totally overrun by at least six unidentified alien races…”
R-Ring! “Now who?” Ron says, reaching for the telephone.
“Listen Raymond, form Firestorm and report to the South Pacific at the following coordinates..,” an unfamiliar voice says when Ron answers.
“What are you talking about…Who is this?” Ron asks.
“Don’t get cute. Call on the Russkie and get going,” the voice explains. “You know what’s at stake. Don’t make us come for you. Bring Firehawk. We need all the help we can get.”
“WHO IS THIS!?” Ron asks loudly.
“You don’t need to know and you are wasting my time,” the voice answers.
Ron slams the phone down angrily. “Who was that?!” he thinks. “It didn’t sound like Stalnoivolk…and anyway, I thought Mikhail’s niece took care of his memory! I don’t even know where to begin looking for this guy - - but then, that might be moot if the aliens win. I guess it’s off to the South Pacific!”
Elsewhere, Lorraine Reilly lounges on her bed reading. “I haven’t felt this sick this long since I had that Asian flu in high school! Gotta shake it…soon!” she thinks. “At least Dad is around for the week - - Congress in chaos over this alien business…”
Lorraine’s phone rings. “Hello?” she answers.
“Lorraine, it’s Ron,” Ron tells her.
“Hi, Ron! Your timing is great! Dad just flew in from D.C. and he says that the Institute has approved the grant money for Martin!” Lorraine explains.
“Great! Guess we’re both off to Vandermeer - - assuming it’s still there when the smoke clears,” Ron answers.
“What do you mean?” asks Lorraine.
“The aliens, Lorraine!” Ron answers. “Someone knows about me and ordered us to the South Pacific. You feel up to it?”
“No, but I don’t want you to know,” Lorraine thinks. “On my way,” she replies.
She hangs up the phone and gets up. “Now’s the time to see if I have what it takes to get into battle,” she thinks. “Maybe I need to smash some atoms to feel better.”
FASHH! Instantly, Lorraine transforms into Firehawk. She leaps through her window and flies up into the sky. “If Firestorm tries to kiss me again, I’ll fuse him to a skyscraper!” she thinks as she soars.
Felicity Smoak sits in a conference room at a meeting at Starrware. Her boss, Karen Starr, and several co-workers sit around the table. “If we just rewrite ‘I for Invaders’ using these Khinds..,” Micki suggests.
“That’s Khunds, Micki!” Karen interjects.
“Whatever,” Micki continues. “We can use new cover art and get it out in a month!”
“What makes you think we’re going to be alive in a month?” Andrew asks. “These are alien invaders - - for real!”
“Aliens have lived peacefully on Earth for years, Andrew!” Karen says. “Invasions have been repulsed before - - we’ll do it again.”
“They’ve never taken over a continent, Karen,” Andrew replies.
“Fine, so we can create new software based on the winning scenario! I can have something into beta testing before Christmas..,” suggests Mike.
“Slow down, Mike. I don’t know if I want to do cheap knock-offs!” Karen explains. “Our business nearly doubled when the spreadsheet program was introduced. We have a rep at last and I don’t want it spoiled so early. However, if you want to whip something up - - in your spare time - - then try it!”
Karen gets up and starts to put her papers back into her briefcase. The others get up and start to file out of the conference room. “Nicely handled, Karen. You have a good way with Micki and Mike,” Felicity says.
“Thanks,” Karen replies. “I like to think that I can handle everything so well…Which brings me to this - - Something’s come up and I have to leave town now. The company is in your hands. Remember, don’t accept any calls from Harlan Brooks and you’ll be fine.”
“I have a step-son, about your age, who leaves on impulses, too. You’d probably like him..,” Felicity says.
The lecture hall empties and Mikhail puts his notes back into his briefcase. “A good day. Good students,” he thinks. “I shall enjoy this once more. Eh?”
“Mikhail - - it’s Ron. We’re needed! Aliens have invaded the Earth, and..,” says Ron’s voice.
“What!? We have not been told - - are you certain?” Mikhail replies.
“You bet. Also someone knows our secret and has demanded Firestorm go to the Pacific,” Ron explains.
“If this is as you say, then of course, we must protect humanity,” Mikhail answers.
Seconds later, two fireballs streak towards each other in the sky over New York City. In an instant, they collide and Firestorm is formed! “I cannot believe what your mind tells me. It’s true,” Mikhail says in disbelief.
“I guess Glasnost doesn’t extend to alien invasions,” Ron says. “Flamehead? You okay?”
“I’m prepared to do what I’m good for - - fighting,” Firestorm replies, turning in the sky and leaving a trail of fire behind him.
“Oh yeah - - you’re great,” Ron says. “Cheeee…”
Karen Starr quickly makes her way from the conference room. Out of sight of her colleagues, she sprints into a secluded area behind Starrware’s building. “Just when I think my life is in order…this!” she worries. “Aliens don’t work for chaos so this is something new - - and something that needs…Power Girl!”
In a flash of light, Karen Starr and her prim business suit disappear! Power Girl stands in her white, red, and blue uniform and leaps into the air. “Now, if the morning news reports were right, I might best render some help in Cuba…It’s closest and…”
As she gains altitude, Power Girl sees a trail of fire leading away in the sky. “…I know that trail!” she says, turning to follow it. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen him but that’s Firestorm! Better catch up…”
Just ahead, Firestorm and Firehawk speed together through the sky. “Look, just because I’m not interested in you romantically doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, okay?” Firehawk explains.
“I do not need friends,” Firestorm replies.
“Hi guys! Mind if I join you?” Power Girl calls out as she catches them.
“You…are Power Girl..,” Firestorm says, glancing over his shoulder.
“I know it’s been a while since we last saw each other, but come on!” Power Girl replies, surprised by Firestorm’s reaction.
“He’s not quite himself these days..,” Firehawk explains. “But hi, I’m Firehawk. I’ve seen you on the news. Great meeting you!”
“Thanks. Guess you’re like Flame-Top here,” Power Girl says as she flies next to Firehawk. “Nice to have more powerful heroines around, especially with the Titans so often out of town.”
“Well, Ron, should I try to kiss this Power Girl?” Firestorm asks.
“No! Not without asking first! You do that to either one of these and they’ll deck you!” Ron says quickly.
“I was making a joke, Ron,” Firestorm replies. “Firehawk, do you feel well?”
“What? Yes! Why do you ask?” Firehawk answers.
“Your energy pattern has deteriorated since our battle with Brimstone,” Firestorm explains.
“When I want a physical from you, Firegeek, I’ll call, okay?” Firehawk tells him. “This promises to be a nice, long, fun adventure,” she thinks with a sigh.
On the beachhead, the General organizes his men. “Let’s move it! Gibson, Welles, LaForge - - prepare medical supplies - - you’re now our medical corps!” the General directs.
“Long round! Short round! The fire has been steady from the southeast, aim that way, about 45 degrees..,” Sergeant Tom tells his mortar man.
“Sirs, we’ve definitely lost Able and Baker Companies. I think we may be the only ones left..,” reports Jenkins.
“Hmmph!” grunts the General. “As it should be - - do you know anything about Easy Company’s history, Sergeant?”
“No, sir,” Tom replies.
Suddenly…ZZZZIIIZZZZLE! ZZZZIIZZT! Alien weapons rays explode into the ground near the men and they are duck close to the ground. “General, how do I ask men to fight this? We don’t have the power..,” Tom asks.
“No, but you’re Easy’s topkick, Tall-Tom, and you’re tough as a rock. Hold on, command well…”
“Sir, if we survive this, will you tell me why you use nicknames?” Tom asks.
“Doesn’t everyone in the Army?” the General replies.
“Don’t suppose we can take five..,” Tom wonders.
“I don’t think the aliens will take five,” the General answers.
Firestorm, Firehawk, and Power Girl speed over the Grand Canyon. Power Girl sees something ahead. “Hang on, Firehawk. The battle may not wait until the Pacific!” she warns. “That’s an alien spacecraft of some kind - - heading for orbit. Let’s get it!”
Out of the sky ahead, a silver craft resembling a fighter jet comes into view. Power Girl maneuvers herself and lands on the fuselage as Firestorm and Firehawk fly close. Power Girl walks towards the back of the craft as it races through the air. She finds an entry hatch and reaches for the handle.
“Don’t know what to expect in here, guys - - but the war begins…NOW!” Power Girl yells. WRATCH-EK! She rips the hatch off and tosses it into the air. She, Firestorm, and Firehawk quickly fly into the craft. They are shocked to see an alien lying on the floor and Starman, his uniform tattered, standing over the alien looking exhausted.
“Uh…Hi there!” Starman greets them. “Can anybody tell me where I am and what’s going on?”
“Who - - ?” gasps Power Girl.
“I saw your picture in USA Today. You’re…Starman?” Firehawk asks.
“Right. I recognize Firestorm and Power Girl, from seeing them on the news, but I’m afraid I don’t know you,” Starman answers.
“I’m Firehawk, and as for what’s going on…Well, it’s quite a story!” Firehawk replies.
Shortly after, the craft continues on with Power Girl at the controls. “Aliens in Australia? Can you run that by me again?” Starman asks.
“It may sound crazy to you, Starman, but it’s very serious. We could use your help,” Power Girl answers.
“Thanks for getting me that phone connection, Power Girl,” Starman says. “After all that’s happened, I really needed to let my family know I was okay. You know how it is.”
“No, actually, I don’t…I’m an orphan,” Power Girl explains.
“Oh…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean..,” Starman apologizes.
“Don’t worry about it, Starman, I’ve found plenty of friends to make up for the absence of family. You’ll be one of them, won’t you?” Power Girl asks.
“Sure I will,” Starman answers.
“You are new to all this, aren’t you, handsome?” asks Firehawk.
“I’m afraid so. This is all happening a little fast for me,” Starman replies. “How do you cope?”
“By only doing this on odd Thursdays,” Firehawk says with a smile.
“He makes it look so easy. Why can’t I talk to them like that?” Firestorm wonders.
“It is easy. Just follow the conversation, and then find something to add to it,” Ron suggests.
“But whatever you do, Comrade, do not try to be funny,” Mikhail cautions.
Behind Power Girl, Starman works the controls of a monitor screen system. “Hey, I think I can use the satellite Power Girl tapped to get us the news. Anyone have a favorite TV anchor?” he asks.
The group watches a news feed of the ongoing battle against the invasion. “Looks like Earth is holding its own!” Starman observes.
“Yes…but for how long?” Firestorm asks.”This is not an easy enemy.”
“Boy, Firestorm, you’re such a pessimist!” Starman replies.
“Ron! There’s trouble in my homeland! See, Soyuz is doing our job! We must go to Russia!” Mikhail says as he watches the monitor.
“Calm down, bro. We have a job to do first,” Ron answers. “Russia has Red Star, the People’s Heroes, the Rocket Reds, even Stalnoivolk - - plus Soyuz. That’s more than enough to hold off a few aliens. We have a job to do here first.”
“Agreed,” Firestorm adds.
“But once the Pacific island is secure, we shall all go to Russia,” Mikhail tells them.
“Does he always talk to himself like that?” Starman asks, leaning close to Firehawk.
“Yeah, but these days he has someone new to chat with,” Firehawk says with a smile.
“Are all super-heroes this weird?” Starman thinks.
In an alien ship, a commander scans his battle display. “Just one small pack of Earthers left, eh?” he asks.
“Yes, Exalted One,” answers a subordinate. “Since we don’t have a lot of personnel on the island at present, the plasma mortars have done a wonderful job.”
“Our men have done well - - they deserve a chance for glory,” the commander explains. “Dispatch four or five, have them hunt and destroy these humans with their own hands.”
“Yes, Exalted One. With your leave, I will lead them myself!” the subordinate replies.
“Why not? Have fun and bring me a souvenir - - a head will do,” the commander concurs. He walks to the back of the room. Restrained tightly against a wall, a human hangs limp by his arms and legs. “Has he told you anything?” the commander asks.
“No, Exalted One. He mutters in a language I do not know - - not Earth’s..,” explains the subordinate.
“How can you tell? This backwater world has more languages than we have conquered worlds! Wake him!” orders the commander.
The subordinate reaches out and snatches the hair of the man. “Grrrr! Up with you, toy!” the subordinate barks. “Time for a talk!”
On the battlefield, Sergeant Tom comforts an injured soldier. “Hold on, son, it won’t hurt soon. Medics are nearby..,” he says.
“Sure, Sarge, but it’s really only my arm…I can help..,” the soldier replies.
“We’re in big trouble! Five walking tanks are on their way!” a soldier yells nearby.
“Jacobs, O’Quinn, Berganza! Get in position with the grenade launcher! We’re not going down today!” yells the Sergeant.
KRUNCH! RUSTLE! The aliens steadily approach the squad’s position. The Sergeant and his men take aim. THWAK-KOOOM! A volley of grenades explodes into the aliens!
“All right! Got the suckers! They can be hurt! Ya-hoo!” yells a soldier as he watches the grenades hit.
Power Girl guides the alien craft out over the Pacific Ocean. “…so, Firestorm flew inside Brimstone and took him apart! It was really something,” Firehawk explains.
“Some odd Thursday,” replies Starman.
“From the looks of your clothing, you have been through a battle. Allow me,” Firestorm tells Starman. With a wave, he transforms and repairs Starman’s uniform.
“Uh…Th-Thanks, Firestorm,” Starman says. “Yeah, I was ambushed by people with powers as wild as my own. I’m not sure how I got here! If you can tell me anything…I’m all ears.”
“We are close. Are you ready for a confrontation, Power Girl?” Firestorm asks. He reaches a hand out to Power Girl’s shoulder.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, sure. What about you?” Power Girl answers.
“Why shouldn’t I be? My power can help save countless lives,” Firestorm says. He leans close behind Power Girl and runs his hand in her long hair. “I must be ready to do so at any time,” he continues. “Isn’t that my responsibility?”
“Uh, I guess so...,” Power Girl thinks. “But look, I have to concentrate on flying this alien rig. You’re too damn close!”
“Excuse me…I shall return to the rear..,” Firestorm says a bit sheepishly.
“Firestorm…Don’t go all the way back. Just not so close…Please?” Power Girl asks.
On the alien command craft, the commander and several crewmen study their tactical display. “Exalted One! One of our craft approaches at high speed! None are expected and its beacon is off,” the subordinate reports.
“Interesting. Open a link without visual,” orders the commander. A crewman sets the transmitter and nods to his commander.
“This is Commander Leron, 16th Khund Divisional Command! Report your presence in this area or be destroyed!” Leron calls over the link.
“I don’t know what he’s saying, but the tone is downright unfriendly!” Power Girl tells the others. “I can’t find a translator.”
“Couldn’t we try something before the Khands open fire?” Starman asks.
“That’s Khunds, Starman,” Power Girl sighs. “I’m trying to come in low, avoid radar…if that’s what they use!”
“I suggest we prepare ourselves for a fight!” Firestorm tells Power Girl, touching her shoulder again.
Commander Leron smacks his hand down on the tactical display. “No reply - - fine! Open full fire!” he barks.
On the battlefield, a soldier sees the craft bearing the superheroes flying low with other alien ships in pursuit. “Hey Sarge, look up in the sky!” he yells, pointing at the craft.
“It looks like one of theirs,” Sergeant Tom observes curiously. “Now why would they fire on their own…”
An alien plasma blast speeds towards the craft and…KRAK-KA-THOOM! It explodes!