4 Sep, 1996
Our heroes arrive at the Academy one by one, escorted by parents or Federal Marshalls as appropriate, and get a few moments to size enough other up before being dragged out to the soccer field to be intimidated by Miss Lee and Mr Jones. Miss Lee informs them that as a teamwork building exercise they will now choose up teams and play a simple game: whichever team can move the soccer ball from the center of the field through the other team's goal first wins. The losing team will be the winners' personal servants for one week.
Deb and Vicki are appointed team leaders; Deb picks Peter and Maureen, Vicki picks Spike, Ick!, and Doug (she tried to pick Mr Jones, but he declined the honor). Violence breaks out the instant the whistle blows, as Vicki sticks Peter but good with a shadow dagger. Deb ends up with the ball and runs for the goal, with Doug in hot pursuit. Maureen stands around sucking people's movement, Spike stands around looking cool, and Ick! crawls about very slowly. Doug repeatedly tries to ram Deb, but not very effectively; even when he did hit, he knocked her twenty meters but didn't slow her down a bit (although her dress was pretty much a writeoff (or falloff) at that point). Vicki flicks from shadow to shadow annoying people, and Maureen tries to punch out Spike to no avail. As Deb nears the goal, Spike finally exerts herself, and plucks the goal out of the way with telekinesis. Ick! leaps on the ball, dissolving enough of it that Deb loses hold and Ick! can carry away the remnants. Spike drops the goal, scoops up Ick!, and conveys her via TK down the field much faster than anyone can pursue. While this is going on, Peter ties up Vicki with a coil of metal, and Doug, noticing the rather fragmentary condition of Deb's dress, trips over his own tongue and falls flat on the ground. Deb, believing that anyone who can ram her that hard and not be hurt must be way tough, slams Doug hard with the discarded goal.
While Doug is fretted over and carried away on a stretcher, Spike, who has been looking the other way and not paying attention to her teammate getting crushed like a bug, deposits Ick! neatly in front of the goal so she can crawl through, scoring the win.
Spike immediately calls dibs on the one male on the opposing team, Deb volunteers to take care of Doug, Ick! gets Maureen, and Vicki looks superior a lot. Everyone picks roommates and gets shooed off to get settled into their rooms or sickbeds as appropriate.
Run on 8 Dec 1996. 2 ep awarded. Everyone present.
6 Sep, 1996
Having not had any homework assignments or tests yet, everyone is still in good academic standing by default, and therefore free to go into town on Saturday. Ick!'s parents give everyone a lift, but are fortunately persuaded to go off and leave Ick! in the care of her new friends.
The first stop is the malt shop, which besides sugar, caffeine, and a cute teenaged waitress who makes eyes at Peter, contains a couple of local boys who take great exception to amorphous blobs drinking in their malt shop. A slight altercation then ensues, but the locals are soon routed despite their knowledge of the word 'bounder', and flee promising to return and rescue Kristy (the waitress) from the alien terrorists.
A few minutes later, a whole bunch more local toughs show up, one of them with his father's gun. After Peter induces the gun barrel to melt in a Freudianly disturbing fashion, the locals are once again put to flight, this time for good. Awed by Peter's martial prowess (or something like that) Kristy invites him to the sock hop being held at the high school that evening.
To kill time until the sock hop, our heroes go shopping. Deb and Maureen buy leather jackets (not nearly as cool as Spike's), Peter buys thirty kilos of nails which promptly dissolve into a blob and begin following him around, and Vicki shoplifts a pocket TV.
Finally the hour of the sock hop arrives. After sneaking past the chaperones set to keep out nonstudents, everyone sets about their characteristic activities: Vicki lurks in shadows at the back of the room, Peter dances with his date, Spike glares at Peter, Ick! lurks in her bucket, Deb mingles, Maureen drinks the spiked punch, and Doug gets picked on by the team.
While Doug is beating the crap out of several football players twice his size, a black female shape in red biking leathers asks Spike where the glowing girl is. Spike deflects the question sullenly, but just about then Maureen lights up, and the paranormal in red yells "Federal Marshal! Everyone down!" and takes off after her.
Spike asks to see some ID, and gets a faceful of tar. Vicki teleports out the back way with Maureen (who makes the mistake of illuminating the Shadow Dimension so she can see what lives there) as everyone piles on the villain (except Doug, who is still beating up the football team), but with little success. After much incidental mayhem and goop, and a surreal moment when the villain (who has announced herself as Tar Babe), turns to Ick! and says "Kid Tar!", Spike grabs a power cable with her TK and jams it into Tar Babe, and then Peter uses the metal from the bleachers to ground her out, causing a huge explosion of tar that ruins Deb's new leather jacket (and incidentally shocking himself senseless).
After a short recrimination phase, during which Deb gets the phone number of the DJ whose equipment table she borrowed, the tar fragments shlurp back together and Tar Babe bounces out through the skylight, followed by those of the team who can leap, fly, or teleport. Doug zooms out the front door and smashes Tar Babe's motorcycle but good, but she zooms off down the (asphalt) road at motorcycle speeds anyway, threatening to return with her mean friends.
The sock hop is pretty much a write-off after that, although the actual damage to property and bystanders is quite limited. Maureen gets poured into bed without anyone except Dr Alexander noticing, or at least none of the other staff mention it, even when Miss Lee and Mr Jones debrief the conscious returnees. Surprisingly, no one is grounded, given demerits, or set to building berms around the Natural Philosophy lab. Ick! utterly adores the TV Vicki gives her.
Run on 14 Dec 1996. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
11 Oct, 1996
Mouse and Miss Lane take the students (except Doug, who is in Poor Academic Standing) into Boston for a field trip to the Boston Museum of Natural History. As another teamwork exercise, they are divided into two teams (Spike chooses Foil and Vicki and Ick! chooses Star and Deb) and whichever team causes more trouble will be declared the losers and have to serve the winners in the usual fashion.
Despite Vicki baiting Spike mercilessly, an entertaining and moderately education time is had by all for a couple of hours. Then, in the room of sparking high-voltage electric widgetry, Mouse spots a young ragged-looking girl with white hair who she apparently knows, and calls "Snow!" Snow runs for it with our heros in lukewarm pursuit despite Mouse's warning that Snow is an 'attractor', and that if she uses her powers unspecified disaster will happen.
Snow dissolves into a blizzard and makes for the window, but before she's even halfway across the room, a lunatic in a rubber bodysuit bursts in, announces herself as Doc Eel, and tries to make off with the exhibit of Nikola Tesla's notebooks while her latex-clad thugs keep the students at bay.
Mere seconds later, as our heroes are just getting started cleaning up Doc Eel and her latex-boys, a heavily cyborged woman bursts in through the intact windows, announces herself (at 140 decibels) as Tin Angel, "Boston's new superhero", and opens up with flash-bang grenades and assorted high-tech weaponry on students and villains alike.
Peter pins down Doc Eel, Vicki takes out the latex boys, and everyone is about to turn on Tin Angel when Ick! persuades her that the students are good guys. Spike, still deaf from the grenade and unable to hear the peace negotiations, does jump Tin Angel and gets tossed across the room for her troubles, but she recovers her hearing and Ick! talks her down before that fight goes any further.
In the confusion, Snow has escaped, but Mouse still insists on leaving ASAP. Maureen gives Spike grief about continuing the fight, and glows at her, so Spike telekineses her over to the security guards who are just getting around to bursting in. Maureen's glow slows down the guards, but not enough to stop them from giving her a faceful of Mace. After recovering enough movement to run for it, Spike does, and drags Maureen along, catching up with everyone else outside the museum.
Recriminations fly: Maureen is infuriated at Spike for getting her Maced, Spike is infuriated at Maureen for glowing at her, Deb wants to talk to the authorities, Spike and Vicki want to take off and pretend they were never there. Mouse drags everyone back to the Academy before outright violence breaks out. Mr Jones Explains Things To The Authorities, but both teams are declared to have lost because they exhibited no teamwork whatsoever.
Our heros ask Mr Jones for a better teamwork exercise, so he shuffles teams (Vicki picks Star and Deb, Foil picks Spike and Ick) and sets them to the task of finding Mouse, who has run off, presumably to look for Snow.
Vicki's team tries to hotwire a car from the Academy garage, but are caught by Mr Roosevelt, who agrees to drive them into town as the lesser of two evils. They head straight for MIT, figuring Mouse will probably look up her old friends there if she's in trouble. Along the way they meet Tin Angel again, who asks if they're supervillains or superheros. Deb: "We haven't declared a major yet." Eventually, they track down Mouse to the Psych building where she's cooking up some bizarre neuroactive compound.
Foil's team, in the meantime, has devised a somewhat more convoluted plan: Snow is a paranormal and an attractor, therefore probably easier to find than Mouse, and Mouse is much smarter than any of the students, so all they need to do is look for Snow, and by the time they find her Mouse will already be there. They take a taxi into Franklin and the train into Boston, and, since Snow looked ragged and disheveled like a runway, start asking around the bus station. Pretty quickly they find out that a girl matching Snow's description was picked up by someone named Jerry, and get directions to Jerry's place.
After Peter melts the shotgun of the door goon, Spike and Peter attempt to intimidate Jerry (who is just the sort of person you would expect to find picking up twelve-year-old runaways in bus stations), who is looking for Snow to take revenge for some unspecified offense against his person or dignity. Not having any bargaining position besides vague threats and intimations of powerful backers, they fail to convince Jerry to turn Snow over to them if he finds her and leave (after adding Jerry to the little list that never would be missed).
Falling back to plan A, they continue asking street people about Snow, concentrating their search around the museum where they saw her originally. The trail leads them to the MIT Media Lab, where they have an interesting run-in with a bunch of crazed MIT students, to The Coffee Cave, a student hang-out.
Snow is there, and almost runs for it, but Ick! and Spike talk her down, explaining they're looking for Mouse, who they think is in trouble, and Spike proves they're not from the government by showing Snow her German passport (with her real name on it!).
It doesn't take them long to find Mouse: she's right outside, with the other students, coming to find them. Also coming to find Snow are half a dozen Men in Black with glowing blue eyes, who show up at approximately the same moment.
Vicki seizes command and assigns Spike, Ick!, and Peter to get Snow and Mouse to safety while her team holds off the NEST agents. The running team goes into the steam tunnels under the campus and makes a clean getaway without pursuit. The holding team doesn't do so well, and end up mostly incapacitated by various nonlethal weapons before Tin Angel shows up and puts the NEST agents to flight by blowing up one of their cars with a railgun. About this time, Spike and Peter come back to help the holding team, having sent the others on to the Academy on a stolen motorcycle.
Mr Roosevelt drives everyone back to the Academy, where they find that Mouse, Snow, and Ick! have arrived safely, although Spike and Peter still get chewed out for having left them without paranormal protection. More recriminations fly, especially when it's discovered that Maureen has brought home some of the NEST gear, which is all tagged with tracking devices. Nevertheless, no one is actually expelled, and Snow is persuaded to stay at the Academy, although she believes that she will bring trouble down on them even if Mouse gives her suppressor drugs to keep her powers (and thus her attractor nature) from activating.
Run on 21 Dec 1996. 4 ep awarded. Doug not present.
30 Oct - 5 Nov, 1996
The issue opens with another early-morning game, Vicki leading Spike, Snow and Doug against Maureen, Peter, Deb, and Ick!, with the object of pinning the leader of the other team. No one on Maureen's team can touch Vicki as she teleports invisibly from the shadow of one tree to the next, but Spike manages to pin down Maureen despite some rudimentary teamwork on the part of Peter and Deb.
The next night, it being Halloween, our heroes go trick-or-treating, pulling Ick! in a red wagon behind them. Everyone agrees that Ick! has the scariest costume, being dressed as a teflon ghost. Much fun and candy are had by all.
The next Friday night is the Franklin High School Halloween Dance. Christy invites Peter, along with the rest of the academy. Peter makes a valiant attempt to be too far behind in his homework to make it, but Spike, who's unaware that Christy has invited him, ahem - convinces Peter to join everyone else.
The dance starts out reasonably, with Peter disguised as a musketeer, Deb as Rockette, Ick! as a teflon ghost again, Maureen as an unseleigh pixie queen, Spike nowhere to be seen, Doug as Doug, and Vicki as Vicki. Peter is initially distracted by a gorgeous woman with a heavy Centauri accent and a skin-tight alien costume, but is soon claimed by Christy for the first dance. The alien woman keeps an eye on him.
When Christy and Peter sit down, Peter makes an attempt to tell Christy that he's already going out with Spike, but it hurts her feelings terribly, and she leaves. He chases after her, and finds himself kissing her, to his confusion. Suddenly, he is slammed against the wall and loudly berated by the alien woman in German. "Spike?" he says weakly. When she is finished haranguing him, he uncomfortably explains to Christy that this is his girlfriend. Angry and put out, Christy leaves. Frustrated and angry, Spike finds Deb, and they both leave.
In the meantime, Doug has seen a chance for revenge on the football team for the events in issue #3.
Finally, all is (mostly) forgiven, and Ick! pods into Mouse's class one day to find a "Happy Birthday Ick!" banner up, and all and sundry gathered to wish Ick! a happy birthday. Spike and Deb give Ick! the Ickmobile!, a go-cart with special modifications for Ick! to ride in. Along with that, Peter gives her a BattleBucket(tm) - a titanium sphere with a carry handle and lots of little sliding panels she can see out of. It fits handily in the seat of the go-cart. Mouse and Snow have also been working on presents, and give Ick! a 4.5 foot high tube with a steady base, that Ick! can squeeze herself into, and be able to talk to people at head height, instead of from her normal hight of 1.5 feet. They also introduce the Ick! Air Tubes, which they've fitted into the hallway. Ick! enters the tube, Mouse pulls a lever, and a burst of compressed air shoots Ick! to the other end of the hallway. Ick! is delighted ("WheeeeeeUMPH! Yahoo!") and Mouse promises to convert all the Academy Ick! tracks into Air Tubes, and goes to work to put together an ejection rocket for the Ickmobile!, which she later converts to a spring. Doug, winning the sweetness award for the party, gives Ick! a stuffed Cookie Monster toy, which, though not Ick!-proof, is much loved, and given a seat of honor in the Ickmobile!.
Run on 28 Dec 1996. 2 ep awarded. Everyone present.
7 Nov - 17 Nov, 1996
Awakened in the wee hours, Deb finds Snow heading out of their room for a walk in the snow. Concerned at this odd behavior, Deb watches from the triple's window as Snow walks perhaps fifty yards, pauses, and keels over into a drift.
Deb sounds the alarm and leaps from the window. In short order our heroes (in various states of dishabile) have alerted the staff, posted a guard on Snow's unmoving form, and gone haring off into the woods in search of attackers. Spike finds a night-vision scope, perhaps of NEST origin; Ick tracks its user to the road but then loses the trail.
Snow, Mouse and Dr. Alexander are quickly airlifted to a Boston Hospital. The next day, when the students are allowed to visit, they learn that Snow suffered an acute case of hypoclycemia in her first-ever display of diabetes. Whatever else is going on, Snow is genuinely ill, and will need several days to recover from this episode, as well as lessons in insulin application.
Thoroughly paranoid despite these reassurances (they had wanted to accompany Snow to the hospital the previous night, only to be refused by Mr. Jones), the students place Peter and Vicki in the hall as sentries. The two notice that another room, down the hall, is guarded by a bored policeman. He is shortly approached by to more cops, who talk to him briefly, then kill him. While Peter alerts the others, Vicki looks through shadow into the other room. She witnesses the death by lethal gas of another officer and the abduction of the room's inhabitant, whom she recognizes as the gravely wounded Doc Scud (see UNPEACE #1).
Stumbling into the fight in an attempt to save the cops and Dr. Scud, Vicki, Peter and Deb quickly find themselves outclassed by a woman with wind powers, a time-bending teleporter, and the woman who produced the aforementioned lethal gas. Ick, on the other hand, quickly neutralizes an Iraqi commando squad, finding that holography has yet to live up to its potential. Our heroes then proceed to bungle a retreat and evacuation of Snow's hospital room; fortunately Spike keeps her head well enough to lower Snow, Mouse and Dr. Alexander out the window.
Dr Alexander approaches a nearby ambulance, apparently with the intention of getting a ride away from the fight and perhaps some medical attention for Snow, but as she does so an Arabic man leans out of the ambulance and slices her from guggle to zatch with a scimitar. As Dr. Alexander collapses, the villain makes his escape in the ambulance, joined by his flying comrades.
Peter and Spike rush the seriously wounded Dr. Alexander to the emergency room. The others shortly assemble there, to be told that the doctor will probably survive. Our heroes spend the next days guarding Dr. Alexander and Snow (as well as hospital visiting hours permit), but no further violence erupts. Nonetheless, Spike privately vows, she and the swordsman will meet again - this time with different results.
Run on 4 Jan 1997. 3 ep awarded. Doug and Maureen not present.
18 Nov - 1 Dec, 1996
Our heroes scatter to the four winds for Thanksgiving break, Deb, Spike, Vicki and Ick travelling together to sunny SoCal. Despite early awkwardness when Deb's parents object to Ick, the four join up for shopping, discovering that Los Angeles has marvelous leather-attire shops and Deb has (had?) strange, mall-rat friends who also have no appreciation for the finer amoebas in life.
Adventures in shopping are followed by a flight to Chicago, where the girls are met by Peter and the worst blizzard in recent memory. The connecting flight to Boston being grounded, the students prepare to take up residence at O'Hare along with several thousand other stranded travelers. While snooping around, Vicki finds out that the notorious supervillainess, Great Chicago Fire, is using the storm's cover to perform nefarious deeds in one of the grounded planes.
Undaunted by GCF's reputation for flaming autograph-seekers, the students hasten to investigate. Vicki, having the easiest time exiting the terminal, discovers unconscious guards and groundcrew about the plane. Teleporting in, she strikes from the shadows.
Seconds later, the other four storm the cargo compartment to discover GCF standing over an unconscious and smoking Vicki. In the ensuing struggle, GCF offers them half of the $40 million in cash she had intended to steal from the plane. Vicki wants to talk, but Deb, never having known hunger, puts the squeeze on GCF. The explosion knocks everyone out. They wake to discover that GCF is apparently still unconscious, the money is ashes, and Spike's skin is revealed to be rather more fire-resistant than her (formerly) prized leather jacket or, in fact, any of her clothes whatsoever.
Rather than stay to answer questions from irate airport personnel, the poice, or a revived GCF, our heroes share around remaining clothing and dash through the snow to the terminal, with Vicki staying behind to guard the rear. The others slip into the terminal, somehow escaping the notice of most of the crowd gathered to watch the burning airplane, only to discover that Vicki has not followed....
Run on 11 Jan 1997. 3 ep awarded. Doug and Maureen not present.
1 Dec - 2 Dec, 1996
I turned away from the burning plane to find Doug and Maureen standing behind me. Doug I could accept; I hadn't realized he was flying back from Thanksgiving break via O'Hare, but it's not as if we talk much. Maureen, on the other hand, was supposed to be wrapped in a glowing cocoon in the Franklin Academy infirmary. A fact she hotly denied when I confronted her with it, but she couldn't fool me. It turned out later that her powers had changed, too.
By the time Spike and Deb got back from changing (some cute girls had cast lingering glances at my chest, but being too overwrought by events I put my shirt back on when Spike returned it to me), it was clear something had happened to Vicki. Spike said she must have taken up with that villainess, Great Chicago Fire, but Ick argued convincingly that Vicki needed our help and I, with naive faith in someone I thought I knew, agreed. After much discussion we all agreed that, willingly or not, Vicki would soon be aiding GCF in some dastardly crime. We decided it would be a robbery at the Chicago Museum of Natural History, on the rationale that there were too many banks and jewelry shops to cover, but only one exhibit of ancient Egyptian treasures in town, and they were artifacts from a temple of the Sun to boot. Well, it seemed reasonable at the time.
The blizzard was only getting worse, but somehow Spike convinced a cabby to drive us to the museum. As we stood outside, getting progressively colder and beginning to doubt the wisdom of our efforts, my cell phone rang. Great Chicago Fire curtly told me to meet her in the main hall of the museum. Fearing for Vicki's well being, Ick and I entered on the ground floor while the others surreptitiously crept down from the roof access. I successfully disabled the alarms on each door. In the gloom of the closed museum, Spike and Doug stumbled, resulting in a broken nose for Doug. GCF and Vicki then confronted Spike, who had become separated from the others. Vicki revealed that she had willingly elected to follow GCF into a life of evil, and the arch-villainess attempted to lure Spike into the same perfidy.
Spike, of course, had no choice but to strike GCF. Hearing a struggle, the rest of us hurried to the scene. Unfortunately, Doug, largely blinded by the injury to his nose, ran into Spike and me and hurled us into a dinosaur skeleton, providing ample distraction for Vicki and GCF to make their escape, along with another young girl GCF had recruited. Realizing that alarms had no doubt been tripped, we hurried to the roof and only barely escaped apprehension by the police.
This left us in downtown Chicago, at night, in a terrible blizzard. Stumbling to a nearby hotel, we were prepared to spend the night in the lobby when a distinguished-looking older gentleman offered us his room. Gratefully accepting, and fearing an attack by GCF and her minions, we established a watch schedule and fell into exhausted slumber.
Run on 26 Jan 1997. 2 ep awarded. Everyone present.
2 Dec - 3 Dec, 1996
The morning news has pictures of blurry figures captured by the museum security camera, fortunately too indistinct to identify our heroes from them. Upon returning from breakfast in the snowbound hotel, the students listen to a message on the phone. "Stormhawk!" the sepulchural voice grates. "My plans near completion. Meet me tonight at Robert Taylor!"
Realizing that their benefactor of the previous evening might be none other than the infamous World War II war criminal, the students leave a polite thank-you note, save the message, and hurriedly depart through the blizzard for another hotel. Spike has been able to get money wired from her father in Germany, so the financial situation is up to the challenge of snow-bound, tony hotel, Chicago prices. At the next hotel over, Peter calls the police to report Stormhawk's presence in the city, but comes away with the impression that the operator might not have believed him. He then receives a page giving the number of last night's room, so the group once more braves the cold, scurrying to a hotel farther down the block.
There in the lobby, the more observant of the students notice a woman apparantly threatening a Russian couple and their daughter. The father refuses an offer of aid, but the students nonetheless follow upstairs when the woman, rolled newspaper at the man's back, ushers the family to the second floor. Determining that she is holding an icepick to the man's spine, Peter melts the weapon and orders the woman to leave the family alone. The team's efforts to avert tragedy fail, though, as the woman breaks the mother's neck and drives her fingers into the father's frontal lobes. The daughter then strikes the assassin with a Cherenkov-blue blast of radiation, burning her badly. In the ensuing confusion, the team incapacitates the assassin, Peter immobilizes the mother's head in an attempt to save her life, and Deb convinces hotel security to summon the police and paramedics.
The police, used to dealing with hard cases, are surprised at how willing our heroes are to spill everything. Afterwards Larisa, the Russian girl, is left with the students in a hotel room while the police decide what to do with them. Introductions and acquaintances are made. Upon calling in to the academy and reporting, Peter is instructed to make Larisa welcome and invite her to the school.
Shortly thereafter, Officer Jones (probably no relation) comes to ask for some very unofficial help. The police department has determined that Fenris, the WWII villain / Norse demigod, is somehow causing the terrible blizzard that has immobilized the city. The Chicago SWAT units will shortly assault his base in the Robert Taylor housing projects. However, Laurentide is out of town and SWAT has no paranormal backup. Can the students help? Deciding that heroically saving Chicago might just convince Ms. Lee and Mr. Jones not to sink them in Boston Harbor and start over with new students after the debacles of the last few days, they agree.
The SWAT officer explains, on the way to the projects, that the kids will be held as a backup and sent in only if needed. Everyone is issued bulletproof vests, except Spike who is lent an armored leather jacket by a handsome SWAT officer. Peter simmers, but decides now is not the time for a duel.
After the SWAT assault runs into more resistance than they can handle, the Academy students burst in with a fine disregard for structural integrity. They find police and thugs, largely immobile, strewn about a room and covered by a man with a flamethrower. Fenris, an old man in a wheelchair, soon enters from an ajoining room, from which come the sounds of great machinery and the smell of ozone. Deb baits Fenris into making a villainous rant which explains that, Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok having failed to happen during WWII as expected, Fenris has decided to rebuild one of the great winter engines used during the war and begin the Fimbulwinter, thus bringing on Ragnarok. At this point Ick drops down from the ceiling onto the flamethrower man's hand, causing him to drop it, and the fight begins in earnest.
Fenris spends most of the fight slowly changing from old man into huge wolf. The great opponent is the machine itself, which occupies the space of ten or more apartments and several floors. Doug is trapped in its nefarious clutches after inflicting some damage; no one else but Deb seems able to harm it. Then, just as Peter frees Doug, Spike hurls the flamethrower tank into the crackling wound in the machine. The explosion rips through Fenris just as he is about to coalesce as a giant wolf, apparantly obliterating him and nearly oblitererating Doug. The machine begins to consume itself as our heroes hurriedly rescue the police and assist in evacuating the building.
The residents are quickly moved into the shelter of one of the other towers, but the weather has already begun to change for the better. The students soon depart Chicago with the police's thanks, a new student (Larisa), and a new leather jacket for Spike, compliments of Ben, the handsome SWAT officer she saved from certain doom.
Upon arriving back at the academy, the students report to Ms. Lee and Mr. Jones. Alarmingly, no punishment and few criticisms are handed out. Larisa is invited to stay and study as long as she wants. And Maureen is informed that she is, indeed, still in a cocoon in the infirmary, leading to requests that she decide just where she is as soon as possible.
Run on 22 Feb 1997. 4 ep awarded, +1 to Spike for good roleplaying. Everyone present.
4 Dec - 21 Dec, 1996
After reporting to Ms. Lee and Mr. Jones, Maureen nerves herself to go to the infirmary. There, as warned, she finds a Maureen-shaped cocoon, golden and glowing. After staring and poking at it for a bit, and feeling rather foolish, she lies down on the bed next to it. Closing her eyes, she imagines herself about a foot to her left - and opens her eyes to find herself alone on the bed, occupying the space the cocoon had taken. Her body and powers are the same as when she entered the infirmary twenty minutes before. Bewildered, she submits to extensive tests from Dr. Alexander before going to bed.
Several days pass. Then, one morning, Deb steps out of her third- storey window for her usual shortcut to PT - and finds herself flying. Awed and delighted, she soars upward.
Spike awakens to find Peter slipping into bed with her. Surprised at this un-Peter-like behavior, she sits up - and notices that his eyes are glowing blue. She leaps out of bed and pins him to the ground with crackling bonds of air.
Peter wakes to a weight on his chest. His armor, formed into a half- scale woman, regards him gravely. "We need to talk," she says.
Maureen wanders into the infirmary, and finds the cocoon there again. When she touches it, it turns into another Maureen who sits up and looks at her with blue-glowing eyes.
Ick types furiously as she carries on several conversations and data-searches, in the library so as not to disturb her roommates at two in the morning. On the anaerobic chat line, someone called "Network" starts asking her rather strange questions. Pinning the stranger down with unshakeable logic, Ick soon forces Network to introduce herself properly, which she does by appearing as Cookie Monster from behind Ick's laptop.
Network is Mouse's creation, still held and studied by NEST; she is a psychically linked group of six girls "ages 14 plus or minus two." Having seen our heroes through a NEST agent's eyes in issue 3, she wanted to meet them - especially Ick. She is speaking to the others in their dreams, but had to go to special effort to contact Ick, who never sleeps.
Ick and Network have a long conversation over many topics. Network thinks she would like to leave the NEST facility. With more certainty, she wants Ick to join her group, providing superhuman intellect. Ick, though partially cognizant of the havoc a superhumanly intelligent group mind could wreak on society, is intrigued by the thought of sharing the experiences of children with normal bodies and social interactions. They finally part, agreeing that they will talk further and that Ick will consider ways to break Network out of NEST - with special motivation, since they must meet physically for Ick to join the collective.
The other students are variously crushed, relieved and intrigued to find that their experiences are only dreams. All of the students are indignant that Network is essentially a prisoner under Cheyenne Mountain, studied by adults but not allowed to go outside or even socialize with the other NEST paranormals. Network refuses to divulge information about her teammates, but promises Peter that she will try to prevent anyone from getting hurt in what they both regard as the inevitable confrontation. Peter also promises to rescue her from NEST should she decide she needs rescuing, takes her up on an offer to enable him to remember all of his dreams perfectly, and is left with the disturbing impression that at least one member of Network considers him her boyfriend. Fortunately, Spike is unaware of this.
In the morning, most of the dreamers have forgotten their encounters. Peter, however, remembers his dream (and several more, later in the night) perfectly, and of course Ick remembers everything. They report to Mr. Jones at PT, causing the others to remember elements of their conversations with Network, too. Snow was not visited, but receives relayed greetings from Peter and Ick. Somewhat later, Mouse is very disturbed to hear that Network says "hi." She shortly retires into her laboratory, and little is seen of her outside of class for several weeks.
Some days later, the students - but especially Deb - are invited to a Little Dead Girls concert by the drummer, Jeff. Accordingly, on Saturday the 21st they head for a juvie club in Boston, chaperoned by Ms. Fairchild and Dr. Solomon. Before leaving, the students find out about the newest teamwork-building exercise: they are split into teams of two, the elements of which may not be out of each other's presence except in the bathroom or shower on pain of grounding. The initial teams are Deb and Ick, Maureen and Larisa, Doug and Snow, and of course Spike and Peter. The exercise is scheduled to begin when the students return from the concert.
Everyone dresses up, notably Dr. Solomon in rumpled suit and studded collar, with attached leash held by Ms. Fairchild, dressed in black leather and riding crop. The music is bad, but at least the club is dark and stuffy - until a loud explosion rips a hole in the front wall. Rushing to the front, our heroes quickly ascertain that Tin Angel is under attack by Tar Babe and what must be two of her "mean friends." In the ensuing fracas, Peter is (temporarily) turned to stone by Basilisk; Deb crashes into a paint store, drags Basilisk in after her, and is the only one to emerge; Maureen slows the thoughts of all and sundry; and the very dangerous Photon is blown through several buildings when Tin Angel uses her electromagnetic disruptor on Photon's plasma field. In the end, Tin Angel is left standing over the very captured pair of Tar Babe and Basilisk; she is still sufficiently loopy from Maureen's new power to suggest forming a team as our heroes depart the scene.
Run on 15 Mar 1997. 3 ep awarded. Doug not present.
22 Dec - 28 Dec, 1996
Upon returning to the Academy Saturday night, after an evening of clubbing (and breaking heads), the students make new living arrangements. Peter is alarmed to discover that watching his partner's back at all times necessitates rooming with Spike. The other students are downright gleeful at this turn of events, especially Spike, who sets about tormenting Peter in her usual fashion. Doug and Snow now share Doug and Peter's old room. Deb wins by being teamed with Ick just before finals.
Sunday is spent shopping for last-minute Christmas presents, and studying for finals. The exams begin Monday morning. To their dismay, our heroes receive more or less the grades they deserve; Peter, who has not slept since moving in with Spike, is notably sleep-deprived during the tests, and even fails the PT final. Maureen leaves Tuesday, after the last final, to go home for the holidays.
Ick, although ill, wakes the others at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, Wednesday. Gifts are exchanged, most notably some very expensive presents from Snow who, at last check, had needed to borrow $20 from Spike on Sunday. Snow then announces that she is leaving the country; she believes her presence puts the others in danger from NEST, and hopes to evade the government by removing herself from its jurisdiction. Our heroes extract a promise to call them if she needs help, and make tearful farewells.
On Thursday, Ms. Lee introduces a new student. Michael is sixteen, tall, quiet, handsome, and possessed of a rather dangerous charm which immediately wins over Spike and Deb, confuses Larisa, and annoys Peter. He admits to no special abilities, and says little about his past, aside from a disquieting comment about not knowing whether he's ever killed anyone.
The next two days pass without incident. Michael, lacking a partner, is invited into a temporary arrangement with Deb and Larisa, Ick having taken up residence in the infirmary until her illness passes. Michael moves into Maureen's old room, in order to be as close as possible (next door) to the triple, currently occupied by Deb and Larisa.
Danger rears its tentacled head late Friday night when one of Maureen's nightmares lures Michael under the bed and attempts to ingest him. (This sort of thing happens to Michael.) The other students race to his aid, capturing the monster in a seriously flawed display of teamwork. In the course of the fight, Peter - mostly accidentally - injures Michael's shoulder. When the shouting is over and our heroes' eyes have recovered from Larisa's flash, Michael banishes the nightmare to the hell of "My Little Pony" dreams. The others are confused, but impressed, and Spike takes the opportunity to fawn over Michael.
Saturday is spent in Boston, mostly shopping for clothes for upcoming New Year's Eve Parties. The students have been invited, by Jeff via Deb, to the Franklin High School party tonight, and expect to go somewhere on New Year's Eve. Spike convinces Deb to buy some scandalous dress that Deb won't show to anyone, gets her hair redone in silver tipped with blood-red to match her new jacket, and then takes Peter to meet her father at an expensive Boston restaurant for lunch. Peter survives the experience, but won't talk about it.
That night our heroes have an odd experience: a party at Franklin High that actually goes well, with no attacks by supervillains, no explosions, and only minimal unfortunate displays of adolescence. Larisa does have to be rescued from Joey, who wants to "show her the town," but Michael handles the incident with aplomb. Spike attempts to get Joey to lure her off to see the town as well, but Peter puts a stop to that by disabling Joey's Thunderbird. Spike does not seem displeased.
In the wee hours of the morning, however, the inevitable fight breaks out. Deb wakes to find a strange woman (Ace) in the triple, apparantly looking for Ick. When the dust settles, the students have captured two paranormal mercenaries, Ace and Flip. The pair was apparantly sent to kidnap Ick (who was fortunately still in the infirmary), armed with fairly complete information on the students but expecting Vicki and Maureen instead of Michael and Larisa. Miraculously, the only damage done in the fight was an injury to Peter's eye and considerable damage to the residence hall roof. The mercenaries are handed over to Mr. Jones, who causes them to disappear and discourages student inquiries despite returning the manacles Peter made unopened but empty.
Run on 22 Mar 1997. 3 ep awarded. Doug and Ick! not present.
29 Dec, 1996 - 1 Jan, 1997
It's New Year's Eve, and time for a field trip! Bringing along their party clothes, our heroes go into Boston with Ms. Fairchild, Mouse, and Ms. Dumas as chaperones. The first stop is the Boston Museum of Natural History, since the previous expedition there was interrupted back in issue #3.
Naturally, this visit also ends before schedule, oddly enough again due to unusual occurrences under the Tyranosaurus skeleton. This time the skeleton comes to life, attempting to munch on Michael. Spike snatches him out of harm's way and into her arms, while Peter immobilizes the fossilized - but still hungry - carnivore. A couple of velociraptor models then attack, only to be destroyed by Deb and Larisa. At the same time, Cookie Monster hijacks the Ickmobile and tries to eat Ick, but is stopped (and melted) by the combined efforts of Spike, Peter and Ick herself. Michael apparently tries to use his powers to spot whoever's behind the attacks (clinging to Spike while he goes into a trance), but finds nothing. Several of the students recognize the work of the Toymaster, also known as Black Peter, but can't imagine why he would attack the team.
Michael and Spike let go of each other and the team and chaperones once again weasel out of the museum before the police arrive. Confused, but with a sense of mission, Peter and Deb get everyone to stop at a just-closing toy store and purchase a stuffed Big Bird for the despondent Ick, who quite literally burbles with happiness. Genevieve then treats everyone to dinner at a three-star French restaurant, where the odd events are forgotten when the girls change into the party attire they selected under Spike's influence. Larisa is shyly scandalous, Spike is scandalously scandalous, and Deb, in the long-awaited backless leather microdress, is excitedly scandalous.
After dinner, the team runs into Sam, Karen and Isis of Little Dead Girls, who direct them to a party where the younger members of the team can probably slip past the bouncers. Our heroes proceed to have a fine time; Deb attracts much attention, Larisa is embarrassed and shy, and Spike divides her time between Peter, Michael and the punch. Mouse and Ick find several MIT students to converse with in a corner somewhere; Ick recognizes them as friends of Tin Angel, but with amoebic glee keeps the knowledge to herself.
At the stroke of midnight, Peter hesitates about kissing Genevieve but gets soundly bussed anyway, some poor fool kisses Larisa with predictable results, and Michael teaches Spike what kissing is really about. Deb is about to kiss her current partner when an explosion silences the crowds cheers, and a voice (Tempest's) booms out, "Tin Angel! Show yourself, or we'll really crash this party!"
Ick is the only one to hear one of the MIT students mutter, "Damn. She's in New York."
Larisa, alarmed, manifests her uranium armor. At the sight of a metal form Zippp, a speedster, plows a path through the crowd and strikes her, embedding her in the wall. Mass violence ensues, during which Peter shrugs off a lightning bolt only to have the life-force sucked from his body, Michael is strangled nearly to death, and Deb's skirt rides way way up. When it ends, Tempest and Zippp have been captured, their shadowy companion Night/Wraith has escaped, shouting that Black Peter has set him up, Ick is certain she's seen the Toymaster behind a speaker tower, and Spike and Michael still haven't broken their midnight clinch. A kind MIT geek helps Deb with her skirt while her hands are full of supervillains, and gazes adoringly at her until she gives him her phone number.
The party being more or less over, our heroes wait only long enough for Ms. Fairchild to make discreet explanations to the police, and head home. Before bed Peter, seeing the way the wind blows, hands Michael a stack of Dumas' novels. it wouldn't be honorable to duel an unarmed man....
Run on 5 Apr 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
1 Jan - 4 Jan, 1997
Our heroes wake up late on New Year's Day (especially Spike and Peter, who stayed up until dawn having a Big Important Discusssion concerning, among other things, the possibility that Spike's superhuman metabolism might be causing her to age superhumanly fast), and lie about sluggishly all day, until about dinner time when a message arrives which they presume is for Deb ("short, bubbly, long braided hair..."). Deb returns the call, and ends up making a date with Jason, the MIT student she met at the end of the New Year's Eve fight, for that Friday night. Shortly after that, the students find out that they are leaving for Connecticut for a ski trip on Friday night, but arrangements are made for Deb to go up Saturday morning with Joe and Mike.
Friday evening, Jason meets Deb at the Boston train station. Despite his well-masked dismay at discovering that she looks much younger in a less-daring dress, he takes her to a very pleasant movie and dinner. Ick manages to stay concealed in Deb's backpack until after dinner, when the sound of furious typing gives her away. Having met Ick at the party, Jason merely invites her explicitly for the next time.
That night, Ick is visited by a teenage girl who calls herself Doc Blitz, whom Ick rapidly determines to be a NEST paranormal. While Deb politely pretends to be asleep, Doc Blitz enquires after Snow, and suggests that Ick come with her tonight to meet Network. Ick declines on the grounds that the other students have already left for a ski weekend, and she and Deb are expected to meet them the next day. Later, conversing with Network, Ick learns that an ominous presence has recently been lurking in the students' dreams, causing Network to send DB rather than communicate with Ick directly.
The other students, meanwhile, have settled into their cabin at a Connecticut resort, accompanied by Ms. Lane and Mr. Roosevelt. Saturday is spent skiing; Deb, Ick, Joe and Mike arrive in early afternoon. Other than chaperone-annoying adventures on the 18-and- older slopes by Spike and Peter, and a knee injury for Michael, the day goes well and ends with our heroes drowsing before the fire.
Professing sleepiness, Michael and Larisa retreat upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Michael quietly returns and tells Ick that Larisa wants to talk to her. Ick shuts down her laptop and pods upstairs. Michael then kisses Spike and asks her upstairs. They leave Deb and Peter asleep by the fire and retire to Spike's room.
Ick, looking into Larisa's room, at first sees no sign of her. Noticing a heat source under one bed, though, she discovers Larisa in a fetal position, her face in a rictus of fear. Ick's cry for help wakes the two downstairs as well as alerting Michael to the discovery of his dastardly plan. Freezing Spike with the knowledge that all of her friends secretly think she's a poser, and laugh at her for it, he emerges from her room to investigate the outcry.
Reaching Larisa's room, Peter makes eye contact with Michael and is immobilized by the abrupt, crushing understanding that he has failed Spike utterly, allowing Michael to kill her. Ick, realizing Michael's perfidy, shouts a warning to Deb, who seizes Michael only to be paralyzed by the realization that she cannot control her strength and will always destroy whatever she touches, beginning with Michael.
Summoning overwhelming rage at Spike's murder, Peter breaks free of the shackles on his will and wraps Michael in titanium, covering his beautiful but dangerous eyes. In the ensuing struggle a nightmarish creature like a wolf covered in metal spikes leaps in through the second storey window, chomping Deb; Ick grabs Michael and melts his face; and Peter first runs him through and then, believing his threat ended, catches him with a web of wires as he tries to escape through the window. Thinking he has dispatched the wolf and unaware of the extra hundred pounds of metal on his armor, Peter races downstairs to rescue the screaming Ms. Lane.
Spike, meanwhile, has broken free by convincing herself that if her friends are laughing at her, it's Michael's fault. Rushing into the other room, she slams Michael with a fury-hardened bolt of air, knocking him out the window, and leaps down after him to make sure he doesn't get up again. Michael, badly injured but still somewhat conscious, appears in the throes of a terrible internal conflict, yelling, "No! You don't own me!". He struggles to his feet and suddenly lunges at Spike, knocking her to the ground. She leaps back to her feet, ready to squash Michael like a bug, only to see that he had knocked her out of the way of the reconstituted wolf and taken the spines meant for her. Michael gasps out something that begins with "L" and collapses in Spike's arms as the wolf bursts into flames and consumes itself utterly.
Ms. Lane is unharmed - only a bad dream - but despite Mike and Joe's best efforts, and the quick arrival of an ambulance, Michael is declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Preliminary statements are made to the police, who allow the students to return to the Academy rather than bring down more paranormal terror on the ski resort. The trip home is made largely in silence; most of the students are overwrought and grieving in their various fashions, while Larisa remains catatonic.
Upon their return, the students report to Mr. Jones, at which time Ick mentions that Michael claimed to be a creation of the Blood Red Queen. Mr. Jones explains that the Queen is a shadowy villain with an extensive organization, but professes not to know why she would attack the students; Spookshow is her archenemy. Ick visits her mother to seek solace and guidance in understanding Michael's betrayal; her mother, alarmed, introduces her to a nice man from the government school for paranormals (which Ick realizes must be the one run by NEST), and suggests that it might be better and safer for Ick to go there than to the Academy. Ick says she'll think about it.
After a couple of days, Mouse brings Larisa out of her trauma loop, although it will be quite some time before Larisa is her old self, if ever.
Run on 19 Apr 1997. 3 ep awarded. Larisa not present.
2 Feb - 10 Feb, 1997
(After the events of the ski trip, our heros are grounded for the month of January, until things blow over. They spend the time productively, catching up on their studies, and unproductively, building a three-story-high snow slide, but by the end of the month they're thoroughly sick of campus, even Ick who gets special off-campus passes to go to Mass with her parents.)
It is a cold, early February Sunday in Franklin. Dianna, at 15 a member of the goth community at Franklin High, is drying her hair after a fresh application of black dye, her second this week. Abruptly her mother bursts in. There has been an accident involving her father, the senator. Her older brother, Joey, is out in his thunderbird, but she and her younger brother Danny must come immediately. The three of them pile into the family Ford minivan and head for the hospital.
Meanwhile, our heroes are visiting Mrs. Petersen, down the street. Representatives of the Vatican have come to talk to Ick. The monsignor, accompanied by two of his students, suggests to Ick that should she feel a calling, her abilities could be brought to the service of God and the church. When he leaves, Ick finds that she is the only one who noticed that the two teenage girls with him were exceedingly competent bodyguards.
After the meeting, our heroes pile into Mrs. Petersen's Suburban for a trip to the icecream parlor. En route, the minivan in front of them suddenly swerves and pulls over, evidently with a blown-out front tire. Mrs. Petersen pulls over to offer help. Abruptly, a black, late model sedan squeals to a stop alongside the minivan, and two men dressed in black spring out and attempt to wrest open the driver's door.
The students leap into action, and four men, dressed all in black and carrying no ID, are soon trussed and ready for the police. With them is a collection of weapons including a mini-Uzi which produced several small holes in Mrs. Petersen's Suburban but not, thanks to Ick's quick thinking, Mrs. Petersen. Most notable about the encounter is the young girl, black hair rapidly turning bright blue, who flowed out of the minivan and blasted one of the assailants with a high-pressure stream of water.
The police bring everyone to the station for questioning. It is rapidly ascertained that Senator Brethos is in Washington, and was never in danger; the reported accident must have been a ruse to draw his family out into an ambush.
Dianna and the students recognize one another from dances and Little Dead Girls concerts. Almost before Academy personnel obtain a rental car for Mrs. Petersen, Mrs. Brethos receives an offer to send Dianna to the Academy. Dianna accompanies the students back to school, where she meets Ms. Lee and Mr. Jones. Returning home, she breaks the news to her mother that she has developed paranormal powers over water; they agree that perhaps she should start at the Academy immediately. Senator Brethos is the ranking Democrat on the Senate subcommittee concerned with paranormal affairs; given his stated positions, neither looks forward to explaining things to him.
Later that day, a demonstration of Dianna's new powers results in a broken arm for Danny. Knowing Joey's opinion of paranormals, Dianna is uneasy but calls on him to drive them to the hospital. Knowing his hold over her, Danny claims to have slipped in the shower. Luckily, Peter has already let slip what happened to the Senator's gun when Joey brought it to their confrontation back in issue 2. Armed with this information, she feels confident in her ability to blackmail Joey at need. Danny's arm is splinted, and Dianna starts at the Academy the next day.
Over the following week, Dianna works hard to catch up in the Academy's classes, which are rather more challenging than those at Franklin High. She finds the other students odd but friendly, moves into the triple with Deb, Larisa and Ick, and is assigned the codename Tsunami by Deb.
Returning home for a family dinner on Saturday, Dianna finds that her father is home for the weekend. Dinner is a harrowing affair, but the Senator emerges unaware that his daughter is one of the paranormals he wants registered and, when necessary, controlled. Dianna learns that her father thinks highly of Team One, is dubious of UN PEACE, and has oversight over a secret government training facility for young paranormals. This team will eventually take the place of Team One as a more controllable, known quantity dedicated to the defense and service of the U.S.A.
Dianna returns to the Academy on Sunday. Monday morning, the inevitable fight breaks out when Spike and Peter burst into the dining room during breakfast, hosing down the other students with Nerf guns. Ick, the quisling, begs a gun from Spike and begins shooting her classmates indiscriminately. Deb and Dianna soon have Peter and Spike, respectively, under control - "Help, Teutonic Lass! The American superhero has me!" - and giggling uncontrollably. Abruptly, however, Larisa blows down a brick wall with a burst of hard radiation. In the midst of a flashback to her parents' death, she holds Spike and Peter at smoking-hand point until Dr. Alexander arrives to talk her down. Chastened, the students prepare for masonry lessons - and for a comics convention in a nearby town, to which Jason has invited them all the next weekend.
Run on 17 May 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
14 - 15 Feb, 1997
As Valentine's Day approaches, Deb receives numerous phone calls - some from boys she's not even certain she's met. Ultimately, she opts to epend the day helping DJ put some equipment together. Peter and Spike spend a romantic day together in Boston, where Spike teaches Peter about mosh pits. Dianna takes Larisa to a goth-ska concert and introduces her to her friends from Franklin High, and Mouse takes Ick to see 101 Dalmations.
The next day, our heroes leave early to go to Arisia. It is noted and remarked upon that Spike is especially gloomy and sarcastic, but she won't admit that anything is wrong. Asked about the previous evening, she only replies, "Nothing happened. I'm fine."
Arriving at the convention hotel, the students explore the exhibition room and check out the panel discussion schedule. At noon, they are able to check into their room with Jason, at which point Spike, Dianna and Deb change into their costumes. Spike dresses as a cyborg in a black body stocking, Deb as bubbly champagne in a golden body stocking, and Dianna as a fairy in a shimmery body stocking. Larisa and Peter try not to look startled.
At the con, the students discover several career possibilities. Peter can make as much as $20 for a small sculpture, selling them through a dealer. Alternately, the entire team can embrace their rumored roles as Tin Angel's mysterious team/friends/puppet masters. This option becomes apparant at a panel discussion on "Everyday Angels," the mysterious paranormals seen in Tin Angel's company. Fortunately, no two reports have the same description of the students' appearance and powers. Finally, they can all earn $100,000 each month carrying out unspecified duties for unspecified businesspeople represented by one Nicholas Trebechevsky. This offer includes training, education, "nothing illegal or unethical," and relocation out of the country. Deciding that they are ready neither for public life as superheroes nor shadowy lives as some species of mafia enforcer, our heroes settle for Peter selling several titanium brooches on consignment. The other options are duly reported to Mr. Jones.
Without telling the others, Larisa shadows Trebechevsky out of the restaurant where he approached them. Returning shortly thereafter, she will only say that she recognizes him as a former business associate/competitor of her father's. He is very dangerous, she says, and not to be trusted. No one is surprised.
Worries are quickly put aside, however, since it's time to dress up for the masquerade/costume contest. All of the students except Ick are going as Moon Blossom Zeta Force, the missing Japanese super team with a huge American fan following. Deb is Moon Blossom Rose (earth); Larisa, Moon Blossom Cherry (fire); Spike, Moon Blossom Chrysanthemum (air), Dianna, Moon Blossom Lily (water); and Peter is the mysterious Tuxedo Man (in a rented tux). Peter changes in the bathroom while the girls watch the introduction to the anime show - the first introduction to their intended routine for all but Dianna, a closet fan.
Conventioneers pack the main hall for the Masquerade. Jason and Ick bring the crowd roaring and stamping to its feet with their mad-scientist-and-baby-shoggoth act, dismaying many of the other competitors. Finally it's the other students' turn. As the Zeta Force theme music plays, the girls leap down from the catwalks above the stage. Their acrobatic routine (ultimately revealing the rose-throwing Tuxedo Man) proves immensely popular, rivalling Jason and Ick's, especially when Dianna and Spike "fake" water and air powers.
As the group take their bows, a voice booms from the back of the room - in Japanese. To her confusion, Dianna realizes that she understands the small man leaping toward the stage: "At last I've found you, Moon Blossom Zeta Force! Now you finally die!" Several of the students recognize the man as Black August, the insane Japanese supervillain with all the strength, skills, and shadows of the 60,000 killed at Hiroshima. Recognize him with dismay, since Black August proved a serious challenge to Team One when they fought.
Attempting to protect the crowd, our heroes allow Black August to reach the stage before taking action. Larisa microwaves him, which seems to drive him berserk; Deb delivers a crushing kick, only to find herself grabbed by the ankles. At this point the students discover that a 100 pound, unbreakable teammate can be a two-edged sword, as Deb is swung into Larisa. Larisa crashes into Peter and drops unconscious. Spike sweeps Larisa and Peter, who is concentrating on a remote choke hold, to safety. Unfortunately, this leaves Dianna vulnerable as she holds a wall of water between the fight and the otherwise defenseless crowd. In an act of surprisingly well-trained heroism, Jason leaps from the wings to knock Dianna away from a hurtling Deb.
Soon, though, Deb has recovered sufficiently to give Black August a fight, while Larisa groggily comes to her senses. Jason's friends, working lighting and the sound system chip, in with a simulated nuclear explosion and intense spotlights, blinding and disorienting the villain, while Ick tangles his feet. Shouting to warn the others, Larisa blasts Black August with an actinic beam of radiation. Shadows are etched into the wall as if by an atomic blast, and the villain falls with a smoking hole in his chest.
Spike checks from a safe distance and finds that Black August is not breathing. Peter releases his choke hold and the students consider first aid, again from a safe distance. Abruptly, Black August leaps to his feet and out of the building, straight through a wall. As he passes Dianna he says, still not breathing, "Your powers are not what they were. I will return for you - my vengeance is meaningless until you are stronger."
The students chase Black August out of the hotel and, after a brief argument, into the Boston sewers. They are able to catch up to him, but cannot take advantage of his greatest weakness because Larisa's powers prove difficult for her to control. Things look grim, not aided by Peter breaking many pipes and causing a small natural gas explosion. For a while, the students barely hold their own. Then, sickly realizing that most of the victims of Hiroshima were killed by the firestorm rather than radiation, Peter thrusts a flaming gas main at Black August, leaving a carbonized corpse and a single shadow etched into the sewer wall. Spike shatters the wall the shadow is on; the corpse falls to dust when Deb touches it. It is generally felt that Black August can't be killed so easily, though, having already died at least sixty thousand times, so the students leave before he rises again.
Meanwhile, back in the hotel, Ick has called in to the Academy. On their return, the other students are met by Mike and several security personnel. Mike is unhappy with the decision to follow Black August into the sewers, but suggests that the students remain at the convention and enjoy themselves as much as possible, given the news. Our heroes discover what he means when they turn on the news as they change into other costumes, hoping not to be recognized as the ill-starred Masquerade competitors. On Friday, Moon Blossom Zeta Force, Thunderbolt of the New York Rangers, and every remaining member of Team One except Hurricane, were killed while averting an unspecified threat to the world's safety (see UNPEACE #10 ). "My God," says Peter to Dianna. "You really are turning into Lily."
Run on 7 Jun 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
4 - 30 Mar, 1997
March 4 is Deb's birthday, complete with a surprise party. The surprise is only slightly ruined by Ick's earlier questions about Deb's preference in presents. After dinner, over cake and ice cream, Deb receives: from Ick and Dianna, a stylish, semi-formal "Champagne" costume; from Larisa, original copies of the Monolith miniseries; from Peter, a necklace and bracelets to match her champagne-flute earings, and a foot-pedaled prop for her ultralight; from Jason (not present), the issue of Rockette's comic with the first-ever Action Girl backup feature, autographed by both heroes (Jason has connections!); and from Spike, a leather aviator's helmet and goggles and a key to one of the unnocupied dorm rooms.
Finishing her ice cream, Deb ventures upstairs, followed at an indiscrete distance by the other students. She locates the room and unlocks the door, to find a large, gift-wrapped box inside. She opens it to discover Jason, dressed in the "Caviar" costume he wore to match Deb at Arisia. Much to her surprise, he offers to be her sidekick. Before she can make a final decision, he vanishes out the 2nd storey window when she turns to exclaim at Spike.
Later in the week, Champagne and Caviar (in civvies) troll Boston for muggers. After leaving a would-be assailant tied up for the police (with very competent help from Jason), Deb returns to the Academy for a long talk with Ms. Lee.
Spring break is rapidly approaching. All of the students have been invited to Spike's mother's new beach house on the French Riviera; Mdme Thiveau even pays for everyone's passage except Spike and Peter, who will use the Concorde tickets Snow gave them for Christmas. The night Deb returns from her hunting expedition, however, shouting erupts from Spike and Peter's room. The other students rush to the scene, to find Peter defenestrated, lying in the snow. He manages to shout something in German at Spike (Larisa refuses to translate) before she finishes knocking him out by dumping all of his possesions on him. Peter spends the night in the infirmary and the next several days favoring his ileum, while Spike learns how to replace a window. Both move out of their room.
The flight to Paris on the Concorde passes in strained silence, both students trying hard to ignore each other. Upon arrival, Spike waits for the other students' flight to arrive, and travels with them by train to the Riviera. Peter takes a few days to see Paris, and finds himself teaming up with the French supervillainess Le Chat in an escapade which is both vital to French national security and highly educational, with whirlwind tours of the Louvre and other historic must-sees (see Great Untold Stories #27). Afterwards, dizzy but with the happiness of a man who has lived his dream, Peter joins the others on the Mediterranean.
On the Riviera, the girls and their progressively more daring swimsuits (including Spike's monokini) have no trouble attracting as many boys as they could possibly want. Deb and Dianna attract cometary halos of followers, Spike picks up a Harley fan but quickly dumps him and takes up with a young German actor by the name of Joachim who had a whole line in one of her favorite movies, and Larisa ends up with a remarkably self-assured and pain-resistant young man by the name of Phillipe. Upon his arrival, Peter quickly retaliates against Spike's philandering ways by picking up a French girl almost as beautiful as Le Chat. Unfortunately, everyone's new friends are scared off when Ick returns to the house, wearing a large shell she found at seven fathoms. Only Philippe is collected enough to greet Ick with equanimity. The others having departed hurriedly, Philippe invites the students to a club he knows in town for the evening.
The club is noisy but tres cool (our heroes wouldn't know chic), full mostly of people slightly older than the students. Many speak to Philippe as though they know him, while the others find an abundance of beautiful people to dance with. After several hours, the students, Philippe, and several new acquaintances leave for a breath of fresh air. Heading for a new venue, they walk into the alley next to the club.
Suddenly, a chilling snarl shatters the night behind them. Before them, two black panthers flank a woman whose voice holds an echo of the panther's scream. "Come with me, your Highness," she says, "and none of your friends will get hurt."
Philippe turns to Larisa, gallantly introduces himself as the prince of Montenegro, and suggests that she lead the others out of the alley. Unwilling to surrender her date so easily, Larisa warns the other students and creates a blinding flash of light in front of the would- be kidnapper. Unfortunately, neither the panthers nor La Panthere the notorious French villainess, are much hindered, and they spring at the prince and our heroes. Spike manages to sweep the terrified normals to safety, but not before Philippe is badly mauled when he throws himself between a panther and the two French girls clinging to Peter. Tsunami, Ick, Foil and Champagne manage to capture La Panthere and two of her panthers, at the inevitable cost of most of Deb's attire. Before they can take her out, though, La Panthere manages to slash Larisa several times, with the alarming effect of mostly transforming her into a panther.
Our heroes summon an ambulance for Philippe, turn La Panthere over to the police, and assist in tracking down the remaining two panthers. Larisa remains about 90% panther, and no cure is known. However, the French experts say that her partially-transformed state may prove the key to reversing the transformations of La Panthere's other victims. She will stay in France until a cure can be found.
Run on 28 Jun 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
1 Apr, 1997
In the wee hours of the morning of April first, Ick gets distracted from her project of rigging April Fool's boobytraps in the library by the clatter of a trap being triggered downstairs. She flows eagerly down to the first floor to see who set off the trap, but when she gets there the hallway is empty. Since no one is supposed to be awake at that hour, and any student who was would have stuck around to complain, she immediately suspects intruders and wakes Mouse. Mouse and Ick poke around for a bit but find no one, and are just about to give up the search when Ick notices a warm blotch on the ceiling. After being persuaded that there really is something there, Mouse pokes the ceiling with a stick she fetches from her room. When that reveals nothing, she switches on the electroprod and pokes again, at which point the shapeless horror unmelds from the ceiling, drops on Mouse, and crushes her like a bug while simultaneously splatting Ick in an annoying but not harmful way.
Ick instantly sounds the alert, waking the other students up. Another intruder, in full ninja gear with a jetpack, swoops in, looks at the unconscious Mouse, encases Ick in ice, and then zooms out again, followed by the shapeless horror which sprouts wings and flaps off into the blizzard.
After a few moments the other students wake up, grab their tac headsets, receive the sitrep from Ick ("It's UNPEACE!" 'Augh! They've come to kill us!'), and make for the library at their various top speeds. Spike, flying ahead of the rest, grabs Peter and tosses him into the middle of the three strangers lurking outside the library. At about the same time, Dianna, only a short ways behind, suddenly develops a deathly fear of the intruders and stops, paralyzed with fear. Deb, using the sum total of the Academy team's tactical sense, heads for the other side of the library and lurks there, hidden by the heavy snow.
Peter makes the jetpack of the flying intruder come to life and crush him: after the squeeze, the fireball resulting from the jetpack's sudden lack of structural integrity, and the fall resulting from the jetpack's sudden lack of functionality, the intruder is quite unconscious. Then one of the others kicks Peter through a brick wall and well into next week. Spike tries to blast who she presumes is Pax, but only grazes him. The two remaining intruders fire up their jetpacks and zoom around the other side of the library, out of Spike's line of sight.
By this time, Dianna has recovered her courage, but the top half of her body appears to have become as clear as air, rendering her quite blind. Nevertheless, she opens up on the area where the person who struck her with the fear was, not knowing that all the conscious villains had left. Spike directs her stream onto the unconscious villain, but tells her to shut it off a little after she hoses down the unconscious Peter.
Spike moves to the roof of the library and, the instant one of the intruders comes around the corner, she grabs him and delivers him to Deb's waiting arms. Unfortunately, using her powers makes her a target for the other intruder, who creeps up behind her and unleashes the same devastating blind-side attack he used on Peter. Stunned but not out, Spike prepares to counterattack but is forestalled by the intruder yelling, "We have a warrant!". Mr Jones tells her that this is just a delaying tactic, so she attacks again, missing completely.
In the meantime, Deb's chosen target has failed to escape her crushing grasp, and is starting to look a bit desparate. Dianna, after being reassured by Mr Roosevelt (who is helping the fallen) goes over to help, only to find herself grabbed by the water-controlling powers of Deb's target and used as a weapon against Deb! Alas, Deb is tougher than a little water and, unhurt, continues to squeeze the intruder, tightening her grasp every time he inhales.
In the distance, there is an explosion.
Spike's opponent offers to surrender himself and his team if Spike promises to get medical help for the injured. Spike orders Mr Jones to get medical assistance, and the intruder orders his team to surrender, gathering on the soccer field. Most of them do, although some need to be carried, but one who is carrying off a human-sized bundle failes to abide by the surrender and is shot down by the school security staff.
The captured members of UNPEACE (Blindspot, Rime, Emoticon, and Navy) are dragged off, given appropriate medical treatment (Emoticon is deeply unconscious and badly battered; Rime has a nasty bullet wound), and kept under armed guard. Accusations of terrorism and mass murder are exchanged liberally on both sides. The warrant is a no-knock FBI warrant for someone named Helix, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the theft of genetic material from Key's body and alleged genetic manipulation of children, and who UNPEACE believe is Dr Alexander. More insults are exchanged, especially regarding the necessity of announcing oneself when serving a no-knock warrant, but since both Chimera and Dr Alexander are missing, it appears to be a bit of a moot point.
Mouse is determined to be in extremely bad condition, so Spike volunteers to take her to the hospital in Franklin, and report this incident to the police. When she arrives at the police station, she finds Chimera loitering around the lobby and Dr Alexander locked in the holding cell. The cop on duty explains that Chimera claims to have legitamately arrested Dr Alexender. Spike swears out a complain against Chimera and UNPEACE, alleging kidnapping, assault and battery, trespass, attempted murder, and various other felonies. Chimera, in unshakeable self-righteousness, swears out a countercomplaint alleging assault and battery and tries for obstruction of justice, which the cops disallow. Spike then tries to go to Boston to find an FBI agent to ask about this warrant, but is told she can't leave while there's a complain against her. She and Chimera agree to retract the complaints while they both go talk to the FBI, leaving Dr Alexander in the holding cell which is at least warm and somewhat safe, whether she belongs there or not.
Back at the Academy, the accusations of crimes against humanity, superhumanity, and good taste continue to fly in both directions.
Spike and Chimera make it to Boston without a fight breaking out, and in fact without a word being said. The one FBI agent on duty at 5am in the middle of the worst blizzard in decades confirms that the number on Chimera's photocopy of the warrant does correspond to a real warrant, and also that anyone serving a no-knock warrant must announce themselves immediately after bursting in. The two paranormals, both feeling vindicated, accompany the agent back to the Academy in her off-road vehicle.
On their arrival, Mr Jones spirits the FBI agent off to explain things to her, leaving the students to deal with UNPEACE. UNPEACE's generally apologetic attitude once they find out they're really in the wrong, plus the relative sex ratios of the two teams, serves to mend most of the conflict. The exception is Chimera, who is adamantly unapologetic about having squished Mouse and therefore gets abuse from both teams. After a bit, Mr Jones returns without the FBI agent and takes the students out to hear their full report. He then asks Spike to decide what to do with UNPEACE. She recommends setting them free, since she isn't going to kill them and keeping them locked up forever is impractical and dangerous. Mr Jones duly orders UNPEACE released, and then informs the students that despite their lack of teamwork they have done quite well in standing up to an experienced international superteam.
After exchanging information, UNPEACE decides that they no longer believe that Dr Alexander is the notorious genetic criminal Helix, despite the slight similarity of names and strong similarity of appearance, since Dr Alexander was seen on campus while Helix was desecrating Key's body. Dr Alexander, who is stuck in the hospital patching Mouse and being treated for frostbite and hypothermia, is unavailable for comment for the rest of the issue.
UNPEACE is invited to stay until the blizard ends and the roads clear. The Academy students are reluctant to offer any hospitality to the person who broke Mouse, but Mr Jones talks them out of throwing her out into the snow like a pariah. Instead, Spike goes and talks to UNPEACE's leader, Aleks (Blindspot), and explains that the students aren't very happy with Chimera, so it would improve relations considerably if he could get her to go someplace else. Aleks agrees that Chimera was out of line and promises to do what he can, but by the time they're done talking, Chimera has gone off in a huff of her own.
The rest of UNPEACE's stay goes well, with flying lessons for Deb and Dianna (and jetpack rides for Ick). The only unfortunate incident is Dianna's father driving past the Academy while she's out flying, but she quickly loses herself in cloud cover and gets rescued by Aleks, so things turn out well.
A few days later the storm blows over and UNPEACE returns to their base in New York, but not before swearing a treaty of eternal friendship and mutual party invitations.
Run on 4 Jul 1997. 4 ep awarded. Everyone present except Larisa.
4 - ?? Apr, 1997
Tsunami, riding the powerful thrust of a a borrowed UN PEACE jetpack, roars across the Franklin Academy grounds. Laughing, she buzzes low over the wall, crossing the highway at an altitude of 15 feet.
Directly in front of her father's limo.
Dismayed, she heads for the low clouds. Blindspot, following her up, is able to talk her down in only a few, agitated minutes.
The present, several days later.
Dianna sits at her family dinner table, dubiously regarding one Cody Thomas - or is it Thomas Cody? - a handsome, soft-spoken, dark-skinned boy of about her own age. Her father has informed her that Cody will be her bodyguard. Her protests are met with the statement that the Senator observed with his own eyes a supervillain overflying the Franklin Academy only a few days before, and he will not allow his family to be threatened in that manner. The issue is closed.
Returning to the Academy that evening, Dianna figures her life is over. Cody can't help but realize that the Academy is a school for paranormals, and that she's one of them. Her father will find out, and send her to the government program he mentioned in #13.
But before the evening is out, matters look mouch different. A combination of brilliant deduction and teenage social fumbling on the part of Force 10 make evident:
Cody is accepted on a provisional basis by the students and Ms. Lee, who assigns him quarters near Dianna in the dormitory. He stays near her at all times, but also gets acquainted with the other students, works hard to keep up with the schoolwork, and cheerfully fences and practices jiu jitsu along with the others. He is notably hopeless on defense, but unconcerned thereby.
The next few days are full of arrivals and departures. Ms. Fairchilde, the language teacher, is offered a position at UC Berkeley and departs abruptly, with no time for goodbyes. Charlotte, a new security guard, is introduced by Mike. Finally RacerX, Ick's net.friend at the MIT media lab, consults with Ick and Ms. Lee and then sends his younger sister, Allegra, to attend the Academy.
Allegra is an energetic, friendly girl who moves faster than the human eye can track. She rapidly befriends the other students, and impresses them by finishing second (after Ick) on one of Dr. Solomon's math tests. She has, however, great trouble sitting still through class.
After a week, Dianna and Cody return to the Brethos home for a family dinner. There the Senator receives a phone call; he returns, white faced, to call Cody into the other room. When Dianna at last gets the story, she learns that the A10 which strayed from its course some days ago did not, as reported, bomb and strafe a Transportation Department warehouse. Rather it attacked the NEST training facilities. No bodies of the trainees have yet been recovered, but searchers are not hopeful.
Dianna and, later, the other students offer sympathy, but Kid Thunder is despondent. Ick also is greatly distressed; she has not been able to contact Network for some time, and now concludes that her friends are dead.
The next day, Cody remains in his room. The other students are gathered after breakfast by Ms. Lee. She makes the revealing statement that she and Mr. Jones are not ready to explain their actual purpose to the students. However, in the interest of letting the students make their own choices, she has given one Alan Simmons permission to speak to them.
Simmons, a man with pronounced military bearing, explains that he represents NEST, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. In addition to dealing with nuclear and transportation disasters and threats, NEST has been tasked with responding to paranormal threats to the U.S. Accordingly, a group of paranormals was recruited for training as a response team, but the program has encountered recent setbacks. NEST would like to invite the students to sign up. They would receive a year of intensive training and a college education, in exchange for three years service as a rapid reaction force for paranormal incidents. Security requirements would be strict, but the students are invited to discuss the matter with their parents.
Having already turned down much more lucrative offers, the students send Simmons away disappointed.
Run on 20 Jul 1997. 2 ep awarded. Everyone present.
12 - 24 May, 1997
A few weeks before Memorial Day, Deb receives an invitation to the Franklin High junior-senior prom from Jeff (the drummer for the now-defunct Little Dead Girls). Surprised but pleased, she accepts, only to have DJ call and invite her minutes later. Thinking quickly, she deflects him toward Spike, and somehow persuades Spike to go to a normal party with one of Deb's rejects. Within the next few hours Dianna receives an invitation from Kevin (aka Vocabulary Lad from Academy #2), which she accepts despite his friendship with her older brother Joey, and even Peter, who has been moping around since he dropped out of fencing class a few weeks ago, is drafted by Karen, the former lead singer for LDG, which is somewhat surprising since she's not noted for going out with boys.
The prom, and festivities planned for a couple of weeks later for Spike and Dianna's birthdays, occasions an expedition to the Franklin mall where prom dresses with various amounts of cloth are purchased and tuxedos of various colors are rented. Rather than have Cody go stag to the prom and stand around looking like a bodyguard, Dianna suggests that he ask her goth friend Ria (short for Alexandria). After a brief consultation with Peter, Cody makes a dramatic entrance to the arranged meeting and stuns the entire food court by offering Ria a white lily and his heart on a platter (figuratively speaking). She can do nothing but accept. Peter, despite having advised Cody on the lily, decides that perhaps the teacher should become the pupil.
On Prom Night, Jeff and DJ fetch Deb & Spike in a limo, Kevin picks up Dianna in a Porsche 911, and Cody produces an MG, much to everyone's surprise. Peter, still depressed and broke and therefore not at his most dashing, walks into town and meets Karen at the prom. Everyone looks smashing, especially Karen in her tuxedo jacket and black stockings. Knowing her preferences, Peter is dismayed but unsurprised to learn (from Dianna) that Karen invited him because he was "safe," and would placate her parents without going too far. Ick hides under the punch table, gleefully tying shoelaces together and getting more bouncy the more spiked punch she sneaks; the others dance and socialize and wonder when the supervillains will leap out from behind the speakers. Things go smoothly, however, except when Karen fails the Ick Test and has to go home after a stop in the ladies' room.
Later that evening, disaster strikes for real as Kevin and Dianna take a detour between the prom and the post-prom coffee to see how fast the Porsche will go and are inevitably (given that Dianna is in the car) pulled over for speeding. Fortunately Cody, who was as usual following Dianna, persuades the cop that he really doesn't want to give Senator Brethos' daughter's date a ticket. The rest of the evening passes without more excitement other than what happens in the back seat of Jeff and DJ's limo on the way back to the Academy.
Finals begin on May 19, leaving everyone but Ick wishing more time had been devoted to study and less to giving supervillains their just desserts. That Wednesday, May 21st, is Dianna's 16th birthday. She goes home for dinner with her family to find a surprise party with all of her old friends from Franklin. Cody, accompanying her, decides that he just doesn't understand goths, and Dianna admits that she is beginning to feel the same way.
Spike's birthday is the next day. Shortly after the students sit down for breakfast, delivery men appear and fill Spike's side of the room with huge piles of flowers. Accompanied by a vague apology and a protestation of everlasting love, this is sufficient to cause a rapproachment between her and Peter. She is giddy the rest of the day; fortunately, Dr. Solomon's birthday present is an A based on her performance during the term. Everyone else has to take the math final.
Now sixteen, Spike takes Peter into town that afternoon for her driving test. Successful, she returns to campus on her Harley, with Peter's arms around her waist. A mile from the campus, though, they notice Vicki leaning against a tree, smirking at them - just before a nearly invisible wire stretched across the road sweeps Spike from her motorcycle and knocks her unconscious with a serious gash across her chest.
By the time Peter recovers from the spill, Vicki has a det-cord noose around Spike's neck. She is going to take Spike away with her for some nefarious purpose, but her plan is set back when her ally Tengu, the Japanese supervillain supposedly executed some time ago after being captured by UNPEACE, decides to let Peter duel him for his beloved's life. The world's greates swordsman has Peter hopelessly outclassed, but Peter manages to hold out long enough for the others, drawn by his surreptitious panic signal, to draw near. Combined with Spike's revival, this causes Vicki, Tengu, and their unseen companion to withdraw. Spike is somewhat wounded and her bike needs repairs, but the primary damage done is to Peter's determination never to fence again.
The next day, Friday, is the last day of finals. The evening therefore sees a birthday party for Dianna and Spike, with Paul (Emoticon, from UN PEACE) as a surprise guest. After the usual cake and ice cream, gifts are distributed. Ick presents both girls with a rainbow of hair dyes. Peter has a switchblade for Spike, decorated to match her jacket, and titanium bracelets for Dianna, blue to match her hair. His other gifts to her cause waterfights to break out for some time after the box of squirtguns is opened. Deb and Dianna present Spike with a complete set of riding leathers, while Spike gives Dianna a blue leather jacket. Deb has designed a costume for Dianna, for occasions when she adventures as Tsunami rather than part of Force 10; it is blue and white, with a wave motif. Paul has brought from Europe a set of German industrial CDs for Spike, and a bottle of red wine and effusive praise for Dianna. Finally, Cody gives Dianna a sketch of her in her prom dress, and a promise of support in dealing with her father when the time comes.
After the party, it's off to the Boston club scene. Charlotte (the only female security guard) is the chaperone for the evening, and impresses the students from the first with her pro-fun attitude. They swing through Franklin to pick up Kevin and DJ (invited before Spike knew Peter would come to his senses), and meet Jason, his roommate Felix, and Felix's girlfriend Amy at the juvie goth club Dianna has selected.
Before long our heroes decide to go club hopping, eventually losing Felix and Amy at a particularly loud industrial dance club. At the fifth or sixth venue, Paul is drawn outside by a beautiful woman who turns out to be Titaness, an old, not-particularly-friendly acquaintance from the Russian superteam. She steals his borrowed Force 10 cell phone, monsters out into a 15-foot tall giantess and threatens his life, and then offers him a job with her new outfit, Steel Wind. Paul is fairly certain he has the situation under control, but is nonetheless relieved when Cody appears and the woman departs.
At the same club, Champagne is recognized by someone who introduces herself as Lux. They have a very civil conversation over drinks (Coke for Deb, but it's clearly too late), during which Champagne is startled to realize that she is giving a supervillain advice, albeit vague and general, on how to remove Tin Angel as a threat. She is evasive about the putative "Everyday Angels" (see Academy #14), and declines a politely-worded job offer despite the several million dollars on Tin Angel's head. No fight breaks out. A warning does eventually filter back to Tin Angel, going from Deb to Ick to Jason.
Our heroes end up partying until dawn at a post-finals college celebration, at someone's house in a tony part of Boston. No really dangerous situations develop - much to everyone's surprise and relief - although Ick does badly startle some partiers. Dianna and Paul, who have discovered an attraction to each other, spend considerable time talking; Kevin, feeling neglected, takes up chasing Deb but only gets her to fall asleep on his shoulder. As the sun rises, Charlotte hauls everyone back to the Academy where they stumble off to bed, the door closing just as Spike tackles Peter.
Run on 9 Aug 1997. 2 ep awarded. Allegra not present.
?? - ?? Jun, 1997
School's out! Our heroes are heading to Peter's family's farm for a week, and then to Europe for the rest of summer. Peter has even scraped up enough money from selling his jewelry and sculptures to pay for his best friend Kathleen's airfare. Ick manages to get her parents' permission to travel when Charlotte (see #17) reassures them that she will be a good chaperone, and will be sure to take Ick to see the Vatican. Allegra, unfortunately, has to go home for June, but hopes to catch up with her new friends in Europe.
Dianna especially is glad to get away from home for the summer. The press, in the person of one Elly Lane of the Washington Times, is sniffing around Senator Brethos. There are rumors that he's involved in some secret project involving paranormals. And speaking of paranormals, the Senator informs Cody that he is to report for duty on a new team on July 1st. "Just hit what they tell you to hit."
Dianna, Cody and Deb drive out to the Akron, Ohio farm in the Brethos family minivan, with a short detour to drop Danny off at summer camp and make a $250 profit on a minor fender bender with another camper's father. Spike, Peter, and Ick make better time on Spike's Harley, arriving at the farm early in the evening. The Debuses will not be in for an hour or so, but Kathleen is waiting on the doorstep.
Kathleen fits into Akron high school society almost as badly as Peter did, given her high intelligence and nonstandard proclivities. She turns out to fit in quite well with Ick and Spike, however. During a ride behind Spike on her Harley, she decides to take Peter up on his offer of airfare to Europe, even though Spike is a commited heterosexual. Both girls have entirely too much fun talking about Peter's checkered past.
The Debuses and the rest of the students arrive at about the same time. In order of meeting Ick, Katie, Peter's younger sister, is excited and happy to meet the formless horror she's heard so much about; Mrs. Debus pales but valiantly provides ice cream; and Mr. Debus very nearly succeeds in ordering that thing out of his house before Mrs. Debus intervenes. Peter's older sister Jody sneaks in and disappears upstairs without meeting anyone.
Everyone pitches in for chores and farm work over the next few days. Peter is especially busy, trying to do enough work in a week to keep his father happy all summer. Ick discovers that farm animals are very interesting, but passes on becoming a vegetarian when she discovers that most animals have an unreasonable prejudice against giant amoebas. Even the goat avoids her. Combined with a complete lack of net access, this produces enough boredom for the anaerobic genius to cause her to wander out at night and scare the chickens. The result is a more intimate acquaintance with birdshot than she really wanted, and hard words between Peter and his father. Fortunately, Peter intervenes between Spike breaking Mr. Debus's shotgun and Spike breaking Mr. Debus.
The next day, Jody surprises Peter by suggesting that he and his friends come to the dance at the local high school that night. The dance goes relatively well, despite what seems to be a fire in the nearby Goodyear tire dump, repository of half the dead tires in America. Kathleen provides the girls with attire suitable to a dance in Akron, and is even convinced to go with them by the prospect of dancing with Deb. Egged on by Spike, she finally works up the nerve to ask Deb out onto the floor late in the evening.
Upon leaving the dance, the students realize that the fire has gotten substantially worse. They drive as far as the police lines will let them, get out to join the milling crowd, and discover an urgent need to dodge flaming tires falling from the sky. Spike moves her bike behind a building while Deb warns the police and firemen about downward- directed rubber bombs. Ick, meanwhile, is sniffing hydrocarbon-laden air. Suddenly she blinks all seven eyes. "Tar Babe?"
Spike grabs Foil and Ick and flies toward the fire to scout. The others proceed on foot toward into the smoke, asking for updates over their tac sets. The advance team confirms that Tar Babe is at the center of the burning tire dump, laughing, kicking tires into the air, and absorbing molten rubber. She is already twenty feet tall, and growing fast.
On their way toward the burning part of the dump, Kid Thunder, Champagne and Tsunami are nearly run over by retreating fire trucks. A police officer yells at them to run - a napalm airstrike is on its way from the nearest base, and should arrive in under a minute.
Plans are hurriedly made. Tar Babe is aware of our heroes; after a desultory effort to knock them out of the sky with burning tires, she explains her villainous plan. Tired of being a two-bit, minor league villain, she will absorb the entire Goodyear tire dump once the napalm strike sets it all ablaze. Then, a mile-tall juggernaut of flaming destruction, she will spread terror across the Midwest until all bow before her rubbery might.
Our heroes rapidly determine that there isn't much they can do to stop her. Ick almost manages to talk her down by promising to be her friend ("We can be Tar Babe and Kid Tar! The way it should be!"), but can't quite reach the core of goodness buried under tons of villainous all- season radials. By the time Champagne and Kid Thunder get to her, the villain is too large for them to drag out of the dump. The strongest blows barely phase her, even when Tsunami quenches and cools her viscous substance, though filling her throat with water does slightly discomfit her. The students learn just why Cody is called Kid Thunder when he tears into Tar Babe like a bolt of black lightning, but even he can't keep her down.
Reevaluating a previously discarded option, Foil tells Kathleen (left behind with a tac set) to get a fire engine and meet him down the road. With Kathleen at the wheel, the two of them race across a large field toward a high tension power line, while the others attempt to keep Tar Babe busy and themselves alive. Fortunately, Champagne is significantly tougher than the fire engine Tar Babe kicks her through, and Kid Thunder can hold his breath for a long time while embedded in ruber. Working together, Spike and Tsunami manage to knock off several of Tar Babe's limbs, and even knock her briefly unconscious, but this only slows her down for a few seconds.
Ick, despite being louder than the jets of the approaching fighter plane, can't convince anyone in authority to call off the strike. Accordingly, while Peter appropriates a power line, Spike attempts to intercept and divert the napalm cannisters. Unfortunately, she can't quite catch the hurtling bombs; our heroes flee the dump just ahead of a wave of flame.
Foil and Kathleen find themselves racing back across the field in a highly charged fire truck, directly toward a 100 foot tall molten woman. Tar Babe booms out bone-shaking laughter as she begins to absorb the entire tire dump, now largely engulfed in flames. Promising Kathleen honorary membership if Force 10 if any of them survive, Foil tells her to aim the engine directly at Tar Babe. Then he bails out with her, arranging conductive paths so that he takes the brunt of the shock upon leaving the truck-body's faraday cage. Kathleen nonetheless takes a nasty jolt, and both of them are briefly knocked out.
The engine stops against mounds of tires. Standing on rubber and handling the cable only with treads on her hands, Champagne unties it from the bumber and heads for Tar Babe's foot. Tsunami, carried aloft by Spike, makes a pool of water around the other gargantuan foot. Foil revives just in time to send a cable forged of steel belts snaking up Tar Babe to the steel nose ring Kid Thunder conveniently left there earlier, and Deb plunges the cable into a huge ankle with the cry, "Resist this!" Tar Babe explodes into a million pieces.
Deciding that protecting Tsunami's secret ID is the better part of valor, Dianna, Cody, Ick and Kathleen steal away before the National Guard arrives. Foil, Champagne and Spike stick around, faces concealed, to render assistance in case Tar Babe rises again from the finely divided molten rubber. They introduce themselves as Force 10, avoid the press, and seriously annoy the two nice men from NEST who want to know who they really are. Finally concluding that Tar Babe, reduced to normal size, has slipped away under cover of the still-burning tire dump, our heroes make their goodbyes.
Back at the farm, Kathleen is presented with a Force 10 badge and honorary membership. It is discovered that the Brethos' minivan was badly damaged by a tire bomb, but the cloud has a silver lining - the $250 Dianna got from her earlier accident is now pure profit. Our heroes lie low on the farm for a few more days, ready to respond to a call for help from the National Guard but looking forward to their departure for Europe.
Run on 16 Aug 1997. 3 ep awarded. Allegra not present.
?? Jun - 5 Jul, 1997
Our heroes wait at a Lufthansa boarding gate in Boston, wondering whether Dianna will make it in time for the flight to Geneva. She finally arrives, breathless and in the nick of time, after a date with Paul from UN PEACE (see the Emotional Storms miniseries, on sale now!). The other students mercilessly tease her all the way to Switzerland, the first stop on their tour of Europe, where they will visit Larissa at her special alpine clinic.
Arriving in Geneva, our heroes check into a youth hostel and set out to find Larissa. The clinic is high on a snowy peak, accessible only by funicular. They find the hospital very pleasant, however, and are allowed in to vist their friend.
Larissa looks like a normal 14 year-old girl, with no signs of fangs, claws, or black fur. The students are startled to find her friendly and enthusiastically outgoing as she is introduced to Charlotte and Kathleen. Bubbling with happiness, she informs her former teammates that she has been entirely cured - both of her partial transformation and of her dangerously radioactive powers - with the help of Dr. Alexander, who had spent much of the last month at the clinic. Looking forward to a normal life, she is anxious for her impending release from the clinic so she can visit Prince Philip in France, where he is recovering from his wounds (see #15).
The students make their farewells considerably later in the day, and take the funicular down the mountain. As it pulls away from the clinic, Ick notices movement on the hospital's roof, against the rapidly dimming sky. A shadowy form slips over the cornice and into a third-story window. Worried about Larissa, Force 10 springs into action - literally, in Foil's case, as he grabs Champagne and leaps out of the funicular over a 500 meter drop. After a quick explanation that Foil has been experimenting with wings and is confident he can fly them back to the clinic, Champagne shrugs and lets go of the door frame, figuring that she won't have any problem with the fall.
While the others - Spike carrying Superfluid (Ick), and Kid Thunder carrying Tsunami - fly to the main entrance and explain that they Forgot one thing and can they see Larissa again, please, Foil and Champagne soar to the roof over the suspect window. Soon Champagne snags a very surprised Whirlwind (see #7) coming back out. The young girl is cheerfully resistant to interrogation, but lets slip that she has stolen something from the clinic.
The others soon arrive with Larissa, but no one is willing to shake down a 12 year old, supervillain or not. Ultimately Larissa goes back to bed while our heroes follow Whirlwind down the funicular cable, past the returning car, which Charlotte and Kathleen have gotten turned around. There follows a Whirlwind evening of ice cream and toy stores all over downtown Geneva. Finally Whirlwind gives up on slipping away from the students, and takes Ick back to her room at the Four Seasons Hotel, while Peter keeps a remote eye on them. In a hotel lobby across the street, Peter keeps the others informed as Whirlwind hands a vial to Tengu, who passes it to Twilight (Vicki), who disappears.
Tengu, unable to either recruit or sucessfully pump Ick, settles for ordering an immense dessert cart for the two young girls. Peter's descriptions of the sugary creations being devoured at superhuman speed soon induce the other students to agree to meet Tengu in the Four Seasons' restaurant. There they discuss Swiss chocolate and the potential power-negating qualities of a vial of Larissa's blood, drawn from her at a critical stage in her treatment. Tengu hopes to locate Black August and finally end his suffering with the blood, but leaves open the possibility of stripping away the powers of anyone so unwise as to interfere in his and Twilight's plans. Tsunami quickly mentions that our heroes last saw Black August in Boston, last February (see #14).
Failing in desultory efforts to turn anyone to the dark side, Tengu and Whirlwind part peaceably from our heroes, who return to their youth hostel - not without longing glances back at the five-star hotel. After a couple more days in Switzerland, the students proceed to Rome. Much ancient stonework is seen, and Spike ventures the Rome traffic on a rental bike, with exciting but nonfatal results. Keeping her promise to Mrs. Petersen, Charlotte takes the students to the Vatican, where they are met by Father Hellyer and his proteges, Faith and Hope. He takes everyone on a tour of the Vatican, showing them artworks and libraries not usually seen by tourists. Then, speaking mostly to Ick but not ignoring Spike, he explains again that the Church could put her powers to God's work, should she feel a calling. This time, a wide-eyed Ick believes that she will feel that calling, eventually. Spike is more dubious, although Faith's knowledgable discussion of German industrial music helps quite a bit.
The day is capped with a special audience with the Pope. The holy man tells Ick that he is honored to meet her, shocking her into seventy-eyed silence. He conducts a special mass for Spike and Ick, giving Ick her first communion. Ick leaves the Vatican floating on air, while Spike quietly reconsiders her relationship with Peter.
Later, at their youth hostel, Faith visits the students. Over Ick's protests, she apologizes for her reaction upon first meeting the amoebic avenger, even though no one else noticed anything. Then she presents her with a large, golden crucifix; it belongs to the Pope, who wants Ick to have it. For Spike she has her own first crucifix, and a new CD from Nintendo Teenage Riot that hasn't been released in the States. Spike's opinion of the coolness of the Vatican Secret Police rises even further.
All too soon, it is the end of June and Cody has to depart. No one is happy to see him leave, but not even a smooch from Spike can persuade him to abandon his duty.
The next day, the students find themselves aboard a tramp steamer bound for Greece. Dianna discovers, to no one's surprise, that she feels no seasickness. Peter, on the other hand, finds out that "waves of grain" really aren't much like the watery sort, and spends several hours hanging over the rail. Then he is abruptly no longer dizzy and sick, but decides not to tell Spike that he thinks his inner ears have just been rebuilt out of tungsten and quicksilver.
The students make their way to Athens on the third of July, and find another youth hostel. They are about to venture out into the ancient city's insane traffic when Ick summons them to the hostel's TV. CNN is frantically reporting a paranormal assasination attempt on the President of the United States. Titaness (see #18), Blur, Barracuda, Red Flash, and two paranormals the students can't identify (a man-shaped piece of obsidian, and a woman made of steam) attacked a pre-July Fourth barbeque on the presidential yacht. Several Secret Service agents were killed, and a helicopter destroyed, but UN PEACE, Ravensfire and Blue Boy, her friend from the Navajo Nation, and - surprisingly - Whirlwind fought off the Russian paranormals and saved the President, capturing Titaness. Footage of Senator Brethos holding an uzi on Barracuda is prominently featured.
A quick call to UN PEACE determines that everyone is okay. Emoticon suggests that Force 10 stay in Europe; no one knows what might happen next, and there aren't any other heroes UN PEACE can trust in Europe at the moment.
Run on 6 Sep 1997. 3 ep awarded. Allegra not present.
6 - 11 Jul, 1997
Force 10 waits tensely in Athens for the President's announced rematch on July 6. On that day, true to his word, he holds a public ceremony on the Mall in Washington, D.C., surrounded by most of the administration and congressional leadership. Whether due to the moral authority of an indignant American people, or the presence of UN PEACE, Team 1, and other paranormals including the unexpectedly patriotic Great Chicago Fire and Black Ice, there are no incidents. The world (and our heroes) watch a peaceful event on CNN.
The students are not sanguine, however. Emoticon has confided to Dianna that he and UN PEACE have reason to suspect Senator Brethos and NEST were behind the attack on the Presidential yacht. The actual motives remain unknown, but analysis of the event convinces the students that a successful assassination was never in the cards.
Confused and disturbed, but determined to enjoy their vacation, the students continue exploring Greece. Force 10 sees the Parthenon, most of the museums in Athens, lots of traffic, and the insides of several Athenian night clubs. On the morning of July N, while nursing cups of strong, bitter coffee (extra-sweet cocoa for Ick) in an Athenian cafe, they spot an interesting ad in the International Herald Tribune: "Millionaire seeks heroes for mission of mercy." The ad gives the number of an American Express box in Athens.
Intrigued, our heroes obtain an appropriate box and respond: "We are an experienced team of heroes interested in your proposal. Please give details and contact info. Box 10, American Express." Gleeful despite Ick's admonitions about fibbing, the students eagerly wait for a reply. It arrives in their box that afternoon, in the form of an Athens address and $10,000 in cash.
It is quickly decided that Deb, Spike and Kathleen will be the negotiating team, while the others lurk nearby to provide backup or a rescue, as needed. Considerably more time is spent deciding on the most effective entrance. Greek laws against renting motorcycles to minors finally tip the balance toward Spike flying in, carrying the other two, all in Force 10 uniforms. The three proceed on wings of lightning to the Athens mansion of one Mr. Lyssarides, where they greatly disconcerting the man's bodyguards by touching down and standing on the surface of his swimming pool. The effect is very nearly spoiled by the abrupt appearance of Allegra, who has finally caught up with her friends and followed the familiar electrical effect of Spike's powers, but Lyssarides has the grace not to show it.
It is soon revealed that Lyssarides' estranged daughter, Nikki, has fallen in with the Cypriot Liberation Patriot's Front, a Marxist resistance movement. Members of the CLPF have recently been arrested in the Turkish portion of the island, and Lyssarides is concerned for his daughter's safety. He offers twice her weight of 50 Kg in gold for her safe return. Upon consultation with the other members of the team, Deb accepts Lyssarides' offer, with the caveats that they will neither kidnap Nikki nor promise to break any laws to return her.
Our heroes, accompanied by Charlotte (for a 1/8 share of any reward money), proceed to Cypress the next day. The $10,000 advance money comes in handy for airline tickets. Airport security is tight at both ends, but no one insists on cutting open Peter's neo-classical, metal sculpture to find the military tac-sets inside, and Ick has no difficulty slipping past security checkpoints by way of ducts and vents. Local papers for the last week reveal that several members of the CLPF, whose faces appear in Lyssarides' briefing papers, are being held in the Risocarpaso prison on the Turkish end of the island, apparently for attempted sabotage of a large shipment of fresh water bound for Cypress.
The papers make no mention of Nikki. Having no further leads and no way to contact the CLPF, however, our heroes decide to attempt to contact the prisoners. Crossing into the Turkish portion of the island at a UN checkpoint, they proceed as dumb American teenage sightseers to the small seaside town, on a peninsula near the north end of the island, where the prison is located. They check in to a small inn in the town, while Allegra scouts the fortress-like prison in the mountains above.
The fortress is at least as much an army base as it is a prison, with a small airfield nearby. As night falls, Peter and Deb surreptitiously climb to a vantage point Allegra has chosen. While Deb keeps watch, Peter extends his senses through the wires, pipes and bars of the prison, looking for any faces familiar from the briefing papers. After some time, he opens an eye in a small room occupied by several soldiers, a man in an officer's uniform, a woman in jeans and bare feet, a man with a familiar face undergoing interrogation aided by electric shock - and Nikki, suspended from her wrists, chained to the wall.
No sooner does Peter take this in than the barefoot woman looks directly at his eye, frowning, and Peter feels an odd influence questing back along the connection to him. Hurriedly disengaging, he warns Deb just before alarms start to sound, and searchlights come on all around the prison. As the two heroes make their way down the mountain, they see trucks full of soldiers heading for the town. The two reach the inn only moments ahead of the soldiers, and Force 10 makes a rapid escape over rooftops into the hills outside of town.
Knowing that the damsel they've come to rescue is actually nearby and actually in distress, our heroes make a snap decision to go for broke and spring into action.
Superfluid and Tsunami, navigating by Peter's hasty description of the prison layout, infiltrate through the sewers. Allegra races across the valley, to draw the soldiers' attention to the road out of town and (with luck) away from the prison itself. Champagne escorts Charlotte and Kathleen to the relatively safe vantage point she and Peter occupied earlier, to keep an eye on the military evolutions. Meanwhile, Tesla (Spike) and Foil race as covertly as possible for the airfield, to disable the helicopter gunship currently spinning up before it can become airborne.
Unfortunately, Foil discovers that his armor makes him a bright target to anti-aircraft radar, and the pair is soon pinned down by machine gun fire from several emplacements. By the time Foil can shred the guns, the gunship is in the air. Unwilling to knock it out of the sky and risk killing everyone on board, he and Tesla return to Champagne's redoubt. They are soon joined by Allegra; she has been shot several times in the course of attracting attention, but heals in a matter of minutes.
Meanwhile, Tsunami and Superfluid have reached the interrogation chamber. The barefoot woman is alone with the two prisoners, holding a small device connected to Nikki by a wire. Both prisoners appear unconscious. During a lengthy, villainous rant centering on the likely deficiencies of Tsunami's father's parenting skills, and their likely similarities to Nikki's father's faults, the heroes determine that the woman considers herself the muse of interrogation. They also determine that she is holding a deadman switch controlling electric current to Nikki, which induces Superfluid to stop eating the muse's feet and let her rant.
Outside, the others realize that the concrete and steel prison has cut off radio contact to the two inside. After some (very) hasty planning, Tesla hurls a grenade (obtained by Allegra) over the wall into the courtyard. While Foil silences the machine guns that respond, Tesla, Champagne and Allegra fly over the wall and storm the front gates. Unbeknownst to the three of them, at the same time Champagne is ripping the great metal doors off their hinges, the gunship pops over the ridge behind them. Foil, busy disarming soldiers on the wall trying to shoot at his friends, is exposed to the helicopter and ends up with a tungsten penetrator through his right lung. Fortunately, the helicopter's rocket pods jam, sparing Foil additional pain. Still unwilling to down the helicopter with people inside, he rolls deeper into cover and hopes it doesn't come back.
Inside, the muse seems to know the cavalry is coming. Graciously giving Tsunami permission to rescue Nikki and her comrade, she gives the hero the deadgirl switch and steps out of the room. Shortly thereafter Allegra zips in, followed by Champagne and Tesla, who were held up by some pesky guards. Soon the prisoners are on their way out of the prison with Champagne, Tesla, Superfluid and Allegra, while the poorly-armored Tsunami departs the way she entered.
Getting to the front gate is not a problem for the four heroes, since most of the guards are still recovering or fleeing from their entrance. The squad in the courtyard is more of a problem, but Superfluid's "Mr. Jones" voice gives them pause for the moment the heroes need to make good their escape. Once out of the prison, they join up with Charlotte and Kathleen, who have somehow obtained an army truck. Foil manages to drag himself down to the road, and Force 10 beats a hasty retreat to the harbor. Before the security forces realize what has happened, our heroes and the former prisoners are on a borrowed motor boat, heading for the southern part of the island.
There, discreet medical care is obtained for Nikki, her comrade, and Peter. Nikki reluctantly agrees that going home to her father, distasteful though it is, might be the wisest course for now. The next day the students return to Athens, using more of the advance money to install Peter in a four-star hotel and call another doctor for him. Lyssarides, once he sees Nikki, is as good as his word, handing over a very heavy suitcase. On Herr Grusser's hastily-acquired advice, the students leave the gold with one of his business associates in a holding account, except for Charlotte's share, which she makes disappear. Our heroes make plans to hasten to Berlin for more extensive consultations with Herr Grusser, hoping they haven't triggered a major international incident.
Run on 21 Sep 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.
12 - 18 Jul, 1997
The students sit in Herr Grusser's Berlin office as he beams at Spike, pointedly ignores Peter, and considers their new-found wealth. Though he considers it a misuse of money, he explains how to set up a non- profit foundation. The Force 10 Foundation will pay small salaries to the team, cover legal and educational expenses, and donate funds to charities and organizations approved by the team. Herr Grusser agrees to find trustworthy business associates to sit on the board; the students resolve to donate 90% of their reward (minus Charlotte's share) to the foundation, keeping 10% to divide amongst themselves.
After a final appointment, Herr Grusser collects the students for dinner at the Rathskeller. The elevator they take down from his office stops on the fourth floor, opening to reveal two men some distance down the hall. One is a huge, glisteningly oiled Turk, the other a smaller man wearing a shoulder-mounted catapult. He smiles and triggers his mechanism, sending a small object flying toward the students, and suddenly a five-ton boulder smashes into the elevator.
Before Force 10 can do more than step between Herr Grusser and Kathleen and the two villains, their adversaries are joined by two women (Cataphractal and Swap) who teleport into the doorway of the elevator in an unfolding of fractal patterns. Defended by the fractal barriers generated by her friend in cataphract armor, Swap reaches into the elevator.
As quickly as you can say "metapsychic mind transference," Spike is learning what it's like to wear armor, Peter makes amazing discoveries about being female, Deb finds out just how dull her normal senses are, and Ick finally understands what having legs is all about. Despite having their minds swapped about, our heroes put up the best fight they can. No one manages to discomfit Cataphractal, but Tsunami puts a serious hydraulic hurting on Swap, causing the two women to make a quick tactical withdrawal. Allegra and Tsunami, in their own bodies, keep the two men occupied until Catapult is forced to duck through a hole in the floor made by one of his boulders. Champagne follows him, but gets tangled up in her own pseudopods; fortunately, he doesn't notice her. Unfortunately, he does notice Tsunami, and soon loads her unconscious form into his catapult. The little-girl bomb briefly knocks out Tesla (in Foil's body), and further damages the elevator.
At this juncture, Superfluid realizes that it's time to stop experimenting with endoskeletal motion and pitch into the fight. A slight miscalculation in jumping sends her through the ceiling, but her arc is right and she crashes back almost directly onto the large Turk, who has treated Allegra quite roughly in the meantime. Superfluid keeps him occupied while Tesla and Foil gang up on Catapult, leaving him unconscious and suspended from the ceiling. Unfortunately, they are soon leveled by a hundred pound, indestructible teammate as Superfluid (in Champagne's body) is flung down the corridor.
Things are looking grim for our heroes when Cataphractal returns, but she only teleports away with her oiled teammate, telling him the students look sufficiently roughed up to have learned their lesson. Thinking to avoid an immediate rematch, Peter (still in Spike's body) tucks a note ("Okay, we get the message") into Catapult's weapon before Cataphractal returns for him. She seems disappointed to find him alive, but takes him back anyway.
The students are taken in for questioning by GSG-9, the German anti- terrorist force questioning. Charlotte quickly arrives; to the mutual amazement of the students and the German soldiers, the chaperone turns out to be a former agent and well-liked friend of many in GSG-9. With her to vouch for them, the students are treated quite well, and even invited to watch a very impressive training excercise. The soldiers confirm the students suspicion that their assailants were supposed to be in Turkish prisons. Without pressing the issue, they also indicate that they suspect the students were involved in the recent disturbance in northern Cypress. Then, never for a moment suggesting that the matter has anything to do with our heroes, they tell the students about a particularly objectionable racist, supremacist group in Munich, Iron Cross, led by a paranormal of the same name. GSG-9 would dearly love to see the quasi-Nazi organization get what's coming to it, but has neither jurisdiction nor legal proof of wrongdoing. Admonishing the students to be careful, they wish them a pleasant stay in Germany, and bid them farewell.
The students spend the next several days lying low, seeing Berlin, and researching Iron Cross. The paranormal head of the organization is evidently extremely strong and tough, with great powers of charisma; not much is known about him. The organization professes to believe that paranormals are the natural leaders of humanity, and that Germany should take its rightful place as a world leader; it is accused by its detractors of being responsible for a series of racist hate crimes. Allegra runs to Munich to check out an Iron Cross rally, and finds herself speaking one on one with Iron Cross himself. Much to the other students' dismay, she returns pronouncing him a very charming and reasonable man, misunderstood by prejudiced detractors. Force 10 puts off dealing with him and his organization until someone comes up with a good idea.
At the end of the week, Spike convinces Faith to come up from Rome for a Nintendo Teenage Riot show at a Berlin dance club. Spike runs into several of her old friends when one of them drags Peter (fully recovered, though thumping his chest produces an oddly metallic sound) onto the dance floor. They are delighted to see her, but unfortunately soon fail the Ick test. The other students enjoy themselves also, although Allegra finds the 140-beat/minute tempo a bit slow to dance to. Afterwards, backstage, the students meet the band. Kathleen ends up stomping off after erupting at the band's disgustingly male attitude; outside, she confides to Peter that she thinks Spike is awfully cute. Inside, Spike is getting on entirely to well with the band leader, and has to be retrieved by Peter; after that it seems like a good time to go home and sleep it off. The evening ends well for at least one hero, though; Ick comes away with a new friend, a pair of drumsticks, and a new interest in percussion.
The next day the students say farewell to Faith. They are left debating a trip to Munich, wondering what if anything to do to or about Iron Cross.
Run on 4 Oct 1997. 2 ep awarded, +1 to Allegra for good roleplaying. Everyone present.
23 - 26 Jul, 1997
On a Chicago stage, four head-banging hopefuls open for a better-established band. The crowd, uncertain at first, soon goes wild.
In Center City, Ohio, rubber shifts ominously in the tire dump....
The statuesque blonde closes her eyes, putting her entire heart into her voice for the final number. When she opens her eyes again, Champagne notices the secret Force 10 signal blinking on her amplifier. As they leave the stage, she quickly alerts her teammates: Tesla Girl, the keyboard player, a mousy teen with weird electromagnetic powers; and Metalhead, lead guitar and metal manipulator. Soon they are wisked to Center City in Tesla Girl's magnetic flux tube, where they join the national guard in fighting Tar Babe.
In the course of the battle the three heroes are joined by Toast, a handsome black teen with powers over flame. The secret government team, a new generation of heroes, soon ends Tar Babe's menace to Center City. Triumphant, they once more pledge themselves to stand up for the American people against all threats to liberty. Inspired, Toast vows to join them in their struggle.
Back in reality, our heroes resolve to write strong letters to the new Force 10 comic's editor. Meanwhile, they have arrived in Munich. They seek an audience with Iron Cross, only to learn that he is out of town. Simultaneously relieved and disappointed, they set out to explore the city's high- and low-cultural scenes.
On the 23rd, Kathleen spots an ad in the International Herald Tribune seeking heroes for a rescue mission, price no object. After dismayingly little debate, the students discreetly respond. Four days later, they receive a pre-arranged 2 a.m. phone call. Their caller is 12-year old Athena Rousseau, heiress and granddaughter of a well-known socialite and a Greek shipping magnate. She is being imprisoned by her father, she says, who is maneuvering to gain control of her trust fund from her deceased mother. She is kept in a Chateau outside Geneva, surrounded by armed guards and paranormals. The students recognize Tempest, Zippp and Night/wraith (see issue #11) from her descriptions, but she is unable to describe the fourth villain beyond the fact that the other three seem scared of him. Force 10 jointly concludes that the mysterious fourth must be Toymaster, whom Ick spotted during their previous encounter with the other three.
Soon our heroes are on their way to Geneva. Spike's father's secretary puts them in touch with one Martin Dechastaine, acknowledgedly the best family and trust lawyer in all of Europe. Dechastaine meets them over dinner. He apparantly knows something of the legal maneuverings involving Athena, and is interested in taking her case. However, he will need to rearrange his schedule if the case comes to a head quickly, so his retainer fees will be high - $80,000 dollars for a forty-hour retainer, in order to consider the case and advise the students on their legal position. Our heroes blanch, but with a $10,000 dollar loan from Charlotte are able to make up the amount from their remaining reward money (see issue #21). Now guaranteed legal confidentiality, Dechastaine provides advice on the legality of helping Athena escape from her father.
At four the next morning, Force 10 is perched across a narrow mountain pass from the Rousseau chateau. Extending his awareness through the old building's new electrical system, Peter finds Athena at the top of a tower. He also finds a highly competent, 24-man security force with military gear, and three men who might be paranormals.
As two cars pull up in the predawn light, Tesla attempts to pass a tac set through the bars on Athena's window, so she can formally ask for help. Unfortunately, Foil's efforts alert Night/wraith, lurking under Athena's bed. General chaos ensues. Night/wraith and Zippp act to seal off Athena's bedroom, while Tempest and a horde of guards try to deal with Tesla. A gargoyle on the other tower, previously overlooked, turns out to be Basilisk (see issue #9), with petrifying results for Champagne. In a rash attempt to deal with Basilisk, Peter swoops across the pass carrying Superfluid, Tsunami and Allegra; a single bullet knocks them all out of the sky, and all but Tsunami out of consciousness.
Things look bad for a while, as Zippp gets Athena to one of the cars, and Spike - easily surviving Tempest's onslaught - is stoned by Basilisk, while Night/wraith's sneak attack puts Allegra down for the count. But Tsunami's wall of water diverts the car off the road, and evil turns on itself in classic fashion as Zippp attempts to run off with Athena, betraying his employer. Tempest attempts to stop him, succeeding only in destroying to car and setting it aflame with a bolt of lightening. Champagne, no longer a statue, manages to trip Zippp and extract Athena from his clutches; she runs down the mountain with the young girl to Charlotte's waiting car. Meanwhile a woozy Foil has snatched Tempest out of the air and smashed him into the burning car, and Tsunami has KO'd Zippp by materializing a wall of water in his super- sonic path. Our heroes are able to slink away before the guards can fill them full of lead, Basilisk having exhausted his powers and Night/wraith apparantly unwilling to pursue them into the waxing dawn.
In Geneva, Athena formally asks Dechastaine to represent her. He is made a very happy man when she unzips the teddybear she has clung to throughout the rescue, producing legal and financial documents signed by her late mother. He quickly brings her before a judge, who listens to her story, and statements from the students, and immediately makes her a ward of the court.
Force 10 has long since decided that they will not accept any reward from Athena. However, it is still before banking hours, so no money has yet been payed to Dechastaine. The lawyer indicates that none need be; Athena is now his client, and no retainer from the students is necessary. Poorer by only the $2000 interest Charlotte demanded for a one year loan, our heroes take pride in a job well done.
Run on 18 Oct 1997. 4 ep awarded. Everyone present.
XX - XX Aug, 1997
Run on 8 Nov 1997. 2 ep awarded. Foil, Tesla, Choir, and Emoticon present.
23 - 25 Aug, 1997
Lazing away the last days of summer on the French Riviera, our heroes luxuriate in sun, sand, and vague feelings of guilt. The weather is perfect and the young men (and women, and sealife) are attentive, but the students can't help feeling that they are shirking their duty, for the city of New York has appealed for Force 10's help via a full page ad in the New York Times.
The Legion of Doom, four bricks with immense power and a bad attitude, have proclaimed ownership of New York City. For the past few weeks they have taken whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it - usually lots of money and valuables, right now. They have shrugged off all efforts by the authorities to end their crime spree, and handily defeated various superheroes who attempted to bring them to justice. Lightwave has not been seen since a building got dropped on her, and Spookshow likewise disappeared shortly after the Legion arrived in town. Just three days ago, on the 20th of August, the Legion travelled to Washington, D.C. to devastate Team One (currently Hurricane and Ravensfire) and Snap, incidentally destroying the Washington monument.
The students are well aware that they are unlikely to succeed where North America's mightiest remaining heroes have failed. They bandy about potential plans and possible allies - Allegra even finds Iron Cross again, winning a promise to help, should he find himself in New York, as long as the students do not interfere with his current activities in Europe - but nothing seems likely to produce a happy ending. The only active superheros they can find who haven't already been hospitalized are UNPEACE, who are refusing to operate in the US after being used as pawns in a certain matter regarding a private high school in Massachussetts.
Then, on the 23rd of August, Dianna almost walks into her father in the students' hotel outside of Cannes. Ducking into a stairwell, she sneaks back to her room and summons the others. A news report on CNN suggests to our heroes that the Senator is most likely in France for a NATO security conference, dealing in part with the possible creation of a NATO superteam. Nervous about being in the same country as Senator Brethos and unknown paranormals, much less the same hotel, Force 10 decides to execute a strategic withdrawal to Paris. A retreat all the way to the U.S. strikes the team as wise, if tickets can be gotten.
Allegra anounces that she will go the airport to see about exchanging tickets, and is out the door before anyone can react. At the airport, minutes later, she determines that tickets for any flight before the students' scheduled return on the 27th will cost thousands of dollars. Abandoning that plan, she abruptly decides to call the New York Mayor's office and offer Force 10's services against the Legion of Doom. After proving her identity by running across the Atlantic, arriving in New York before lunchtime, she wins an immediate meeting with a very hopeful mayor.
Meanwhile, the other students have replicated Allegra's discovery about the price of last-minute intercontinental air travel. They have escaped the hotel and are on a train for Paris when Peter's cell phone rings. The students are perturbed to discover that Allegra has promised their help against the Legion, and that tickets for a flight the next morning are waiting for them at the airport. Still adrenalized, and moved by Dianna's state of near panic, they decide that compared to facing Senator Brethos the most powerful supervillains on the world scene don't sound so bad after all.
That night, Allegra attends the grand opening of a supposedly-secure Wall Street vault by the Legion of Doom. She sees three of them in action: Starlight, a flying, energy-projecting brick; Chain Lightning, a cat-quick, martial-artist brick; and Hammer, a... brick brick. She looks for but does not see the fourth villain, Express, a brick who apparantly runs almost as fast as she does. Feeling eyes on her, she spins around almost slowly enough to look like a normal human, but sees no one. Later that night, on CNN, both she and her teammates in France see Express run up behind her, circle in front of her when she turns around, and leave when she gives up looking for him.
As the plane makes its final approach the next day, the members of Force 10 are dismayed to see Starlight fly up next to the plane, wave at them, and fly away. They very nearly decide to disavow all knowledge of any young superhero named Allegra and just go back to the Academy. Despite Spike's urgings, though, they decide that having accepted the city's tickets, they are obligated to at least try to face down the Legion.
Meeting Allegra at the gate, they inform her that their cover is blown, and decide that no one should talk to the Mayor's office until the source of the leak is known. Allegra takes them to a meeting with Tin Angel, whom she has recruited to help out by promising her the team's aid in her fight against drug dealers in Columbia.
Force 10 proceeds to the scene of the previous day's robbery on Wall Street for some surreptitious investigation. Ick tracks the Legion into the storm sewers, and eventually to an outlet into the bay where they apparantly got into a boat. Unfortunately, Ick can't track them over water.
The next day, our heroes are on the observation deck of the World Trade Center, wondering where to find the Legion, when a bright light is seen in the Statue of Liberty's torch. Closer observation reveals that the Legion is wreaking havoc on the Statue. The team quickly pulls fire alarms in both towers and spends a few minutes preparing for a fight on top of the soon-to-be-evacuated buildings. Allegra races off to lure the villains in, while Tin Angel takes aim on Starlight with her railgun.
Unfortunately, Tin Angel's laser scope isn't functioning perfectly, and she succeeds only in partially severing the Statue's upraised arm. Seconds later, Force 10 watches with dismay as Allegra runs right up to the villains, gets bounced around like a pinball, and ends up chained, unconscious, to the damaged arm. She has only minutes before the groaning arm completes its fall, crushing her under tons of steel and bronze.
Force 10 quickly descends the opposite side of the Trade Center and heads for the water. Tsunami, sweeping Choir (Ick) along with her, races underwater toward Staten Island to rescue Allegra. Foil, carrying Champagne, and Tesla with Tin Angel make a more obvious airborne approach, hoping to distract the Legion while Tsunami and Choir do the real work.
Foil, experimenting with fixed wings, soon outdistances Tesla. Tesla and Tin Angel accordingly stop almost a kilometer from the island, so Tin Angel can snipe at the bad guys. Unfortunately, her targeting system is still on the blink, and Spike's clever plan to drop the Statue's head and the villains gloating there a hundred meters onto concrete results only in more damage to New York's most famous landmark. Foil's approach attracts plenty of notice, however, and Starlight soon forces him to take evasive action. Champagne is useful as a heat shield and in dealing with Chain Lightning, who swings far out from the Statue on the end of a long chain. While Hammer and Express ineffectually throw pieces of statue at them, Foil and Champagne fight a losing battle against Chain Lightning and Starlight. Ultimately, Champagne pilots an unconscous Foil like a hang glider to a watery landing.
Ick and Tsunami, meanwhile, have carried out their daring rescue by reaching Allegra, dissolving her chains, and spiriting her away from the island. Joining Champagne and Foil in the water, Tsunami conveys Allegra, Ick, and Foil to a pre-arranged rendezvous on Manhattan, while Champagne swims across the harbor and Tesla flies to meet them. Unable to pursue across water, the Legion disappears around the other side of Staten Island.
Regrouping, our heroes revive Peter and vanish into the Manhattan crowds before the press finds them.
The news coverage of the incident is almost hysterically favorable to Force 10, and Spike throws up her hands in despair when all of the others appear to be itching for a rematch. First, though, there is work to be done. Deb, Dianna and Allegra escort Ick on the begining of what could be a very lengthy tour of Manhattan's marinas, looking and sniffing for signs of the Legion. Spike and Peter, meanwhile, locate one of the engineer/sculptors who worked on the recent restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and the three spend the night hours restoring Lady Liberty to her original condition.
Run on 13 Dec 1997. 3 ep awarded. Everyone present.