The Guard #3
- The Guard - Issue 3 - Forged in Fear Part 3
In the Desert...
The Hyper-Adaptoids raised their Uru hammers as one, and the
remaining members of the Wrecking Crew backed away slowly.
A portal swirled into existence in front of them. Suddenly,
Thunderball was seen on the other side, running to the portal.
He leapt out, landing with a crash on the desert floor, his
wrecking ball thudding to a stop by his side.
"The one you call Thunderball has been returned unharmed,"
the Hyper-Adaptoids spoke. "This unit is superior in all ways to
its predecessor, who proved to be far superior to the four of you.
There is no logical reason to continue this conflict."
In the command room, the General and Westhoff looked at each
other. "Adaptoid Command;
Hotel-Uniform-Lima-Kilo-one-eight-seven; Destroy opposition,"
Westhoff signaled over his headset.
"Negative. This unit sees no logical reason to destroy
"Destroy?" the Wrecker repeated. "Westhoff, you tell that
back-stabbing bastard General that I'm gonna bury my crowbar
in his skull!"
"Adaptoid Command; Override
Bravo-Alpha-Charlie-Kilo-one-eight-zero; Return to base," The
General quickly rattled into the headset.
"Negative. This unit has evolved beyond the need for human
maintenance and instruction." The Hyper-Adaptoids turned to
each other and re-merged. The Wrecking Crew looked at each
other, puzzled and relieved.
"Adaptoid Command; Override
Sierra-Hotel-Uniform-Tango-zero-seven-seven; De-Activate," The
"Negative. This unit no longer recognizes your command
"Adaptoid Command; Override
Delta-Echo-Alpha-Delta-zero-eight-six; Self-Destruct," The
General yelled into the headset.
"Negative. This unit must survive."
"Westhoff, activate the E.M.P."
"This unit has evolved far beyond your fail safes. This unit
possesses the powers of designate Lensherr, Erik, making it
immune to magnetic attacks of any form."
By now the Wrecking Crew had begun marching back towards
the direction of the base.
"We've lost control," The General whispered. "God help us." He
looked back at the ring of captives. "Westhoff, we must
disappear. Begin the termination sweep of the templates."
Whirlwind's heart skipped a beat. He had just heard his death
warrant signed yet again. He looked around, his mind rapidly
cycling through a number of escape options. Then his eyes fixed
on Mondo, straining against his rope bonds, trying to reach the
steel frame. Whirlwind looked at his own rack, which was
incredibly strong. He gritted his teeth, turning his head towards
the rack he was bound to, and reared his head back. With all the
speed he could manage, he smashed his face against the
portion of the rack that his head was resting on, shattering his
teeth in his mouth. He screamed with his mouth closed.
"Whirlwind!" Stinger cried out.
He looked at her, working his jaw and tongue. He then turned to
Mondo, closed one eye, aiming carefully, and spit out his teeth
as fast as he could. Five of them boomed from his mouth like
enamel bullets. One penetrated the wall of the lab with a clink.
One did not penetrate, shattering instead. One penetrated the
Samoan's left hand, spraying a fine mist of blood on the wall.
And the remaining two sliced neatly through some of the rope
binding his arm.
"That really hurt, Mister!" Mondo yelled.
"Mondo, grab the rack and get us out of here!" Skin hissed.
"But Angelo, he shot me with his teeth!"
"Mondo! Just get us down, he was trying to help!"
"Mondo," Whirlwind said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you.
Can you please help us?"
Mondo looked at him for a moment. "Oh, okay. Just don't shoot
With a sharp tug, Mondo snapped the rest of the way through the
rope, and grabbed the metal rack with his bloody left hand. His
skin began to ripple and shimmer as it transformed into steel.
He snapped his rope restraints and moved to Skin's position. He
wrenched the metal bindings and set the young man free.
Skin moved quickly across to Whirlwind, "Disgusting, but good
"At high enough speeds, even straw can punch through oak,"
Whirlwind spoke through mangled lips.
"General, they're loose!" Westhoff cried, smacking an alarm
"Flood the chamber!" the General screamed. Immediately, a
thick gas began to seep out of the vents on the floor.
Whirlwind released Stinger, and then looked at the gas cloud.
"Damn," he whispered. He turned and released Carmella,
slapping her face repeatedly. "Carmella, wake up. We need you
do get us out. Carmella!"
Her eyes fluttered open as the gas billowed along the ceiling. By
now, Manikin, Laura Dean and the winged girl were freed as
well. Only Hydro-Man's watery prison remained. Whirlwind
looked into her eyes. "Carmella, we need a shield against this
gas." She looked at him fearfully for a moment, then back at the
gas. Immediately, a green shield enveloped her. "No, Carmella,
you left us behind to die once. Now is the time to repay that debt.
You can't leave us all to die like you did on that island!" (1)
"You son of a *!#$@!" she yelled, "There was no other choice!"
"There is now!" Whirlwind yelled. "Help them!"
"What about you?"
"I'm going hunting," he replied, pointing at the command
Mondo was working on unsealing the hydro-chamber. The gas
was now getting to eye level, and they all got lower to avoid the
cloud of death. With Manikin and Laura Dean now free of the
neural disruptors their masks contained, their senses were
returning quickly. Suddenly, the door to the chamber opened,
there was a burst of flame from the other side, and the captives
all dropped to the ground. A high-pitched whine and a gust of air
sucked all of the gas out of the chamber and down the hallway.
Mondo finally just smashed the hydro tank, and it exploded,
sending shards of glass at them. A hazy shield snapped up
around them all, protecting them from the shards. Whirlwind
looked at Carmella, and nodded.
Hydro-Man's form rapidly swirled into being, with half of his
mass still steaming off the top. He screamed in rage, and
launched a torrent at the glass window, shattering it. The
General turned and ran from the room, with Westhoff trailing
close behind. The technicians were not so lucky, getting caught
by the shrapnel and torn to ribbons. Hydro-Man flooded through
the opening, rushing through the doorway in pursuit of The
General and Westhoff. The others quickly moved towards the
door, looking for a way out. Only Whirlwind hesitated. "Carmella, I
need you to get the Wizard out of here." He turned back and
looked at the Wizard.
"Kill me," the Wizard said, his eyes locked looking slightly up.
The words were barely audible, and his lips were hidden behind
the film of adhesive coating his breathing mask.
"Wrap his body in a field. Don't let him touch anything."
Whirlwind smashed the glass container, and Wizard's form went
limp, his skin crackling and tearing as he collapsed into the field
around him. He passed out from the sheer agony.
"My God," Whirlwind whispered. "Go, get him out of here. I'll
scout ahead for an exit and look for any trouble." He spit blood
out on the floor and then whirled out, relieved to be able to
stretch his legs after his confinement. He was still getting used
to the world moving so relatively slow, but he was adjusting.
As he rounded a corner down the hall, he saw another burst of
flames, and saw two armored soldiers bellow in agony and drop
their electric weapons as they collapsed to the ground.
Whirlwind could not see the source of the flames, but he heard it
as a high-pitched scream. He reached the corner before the
soldiers' bodies even came to a full rest. There was a blur
rounding the corner, with flames trailing it. It moved so fast that
Whirlwind almost couldn't see it.
"How is that even possible?" he whispered. "I should at least be
able to see it-" The flame trail suddenly reappeared. Instantly, he
was faced with the visage of the Speed Demon, the flames dying
down as soon as he stopped running. His uniform was
shredded, as was most of the surface area of his skin. Burns
and blisters rose up where the blood wasn't running, making
him look like a car crash victim. His mouth was chapped and
torn, and his teeth were bared. He truly seemed a demon now, in
appearance as well as name.
"Whirlwind," he said. His voice was quick and shrill, even to
Whirlwind's accelerated hearing. "Help me get that bastard," he
"Speed Demon?" Whirlwind looked at him with a mixture of fear
and pity. "What the hell did they do-"
"They killed me. I want revenge. I want the General's head."
Every syllable was choppy, halted. "You want it too. Help me find
"Speed, we have to get these people out of here. The Wizard is-"
"The Wizard is inconsequential. Dead soon. Another death on
the General's hands. Avenge him while he is alive to get the
The image of Wizard, screaming in his tiny glass cell, his skin
being slowly torn from its moorings, passed through Whirlwind's
mind. He closed his eyes. The image transformed into the face
of Captain Jonas. "Because no man is beyond redemption,
David. You can still find the righteous path."
"He needs to be brought to justice." Whirlwind searched the
mangled face of Speed Demon for a spark of humanity. The
face, and the answer it issued, revealed none.
"I will give him my justice. If you will not help me, then stay out of
my way." Before Whirlwind could object, Speed Demon
disappeared in a burst of flame. Whirlwind gritted his teeth and
spun rapidly towards the depths of the complex. Apparently,
Speed Demon was moving so fast that he ignited the oxygen
around him. As he followed Speed Demon's path, he heard
screams of terror echoing down the halls, each scream dying
almost as quickly as the screamers themselves.
As he reached a wide chamber at the hallway's end, he saw
Westhoff suspended within Hydro-Man's form, clawing
desperately at his own throat. Hydro-Man surrounded Westhoff,
drowning him as the Adaptoid had tried to drown Piledriver.
Hydro-Man turned. His face was animalistic and frightening. He
smiled wickedly, and Westhoff began to convulse as Hydro-Man
compressed his form. Whirlwind rushed forward, tackling
Westhoff from within his watery prison.
"Whirlwind! He's mine!"
Westhoff choked and sputtered fearfully, "Get him away from
me! Help me! Please-"
Whirlwind knocked him unconscious with a well-placed fist.
"He's not getting off that easy, Whirlwind!" Hydro-Man advanced.
"He'll know what it feels like to be boiled!"
Whirlwind created twin vortexes with his arms and sprayed
Hydro-Man out across the lab in a fine mist. "He should be out
long enough for us to escape." He grabbed Westhoff and
dragged him over his shoulder. He would be unable to spin with
him in tow, but he could still move almost as fast. As he exited
on the opposite side of the chamber, heading up along the
sloping pathway towards the surface, he saw Stinger, Skin,
Laura, and Highbrow, Manikin's evolved version, materialize.
"What are you all doing here? Get out, get away while you can,
before the Hyper-Adaptoid comes back!"
"He's back already. He's just standing outside the complex,
watching. Mondo, Carmella and that girl with the wings all took
off." Laura said. Whirlwind looked at Stinger. Carmella had left
them to die once again.
"We had to make sure you got out," Highbrow added. "I can
teleport us out of here instantly." Whirlwind noticed he had tiny
scars dotting the outside of his mouth. He'd have to remember to
ask him about the curious markings. (2)
"No," Whirlwind said. "Take Westhoff, and all of you, go. I am
bringing the General to justice. I want him to pay his debt."
"Highbrow, get him back to the surface. We're sticking with
Whirlwind," Laura commanded. Before Whirlwind could object,
Highbrow was gone, and Westhoff with him.
Whirlwind looked at Laura. "You didn't have to do what you did."
"Neither did you."
Whirlwind smiled. Skin looked him in the eyes. "And you
shouldn't even be here anyway, Jefé. You got involved trying to
save me. And for that I am muy agradecido." He turned towards
the surface hallway. "Let's go."
They advanced towards the sounds of carnage.
On the surface, the Wrecking Crew had arrived. Casting a wary
glance at the Hyper-Adaptoid, who was standing motionless,
watching over the proceedings, they entered the facade of the
building, smashing their way through the wall. "General!" the
Wrecker screamed, "Come out and die, you back stabbing
&@*-hole!" He smashed the security gate with his crowbar. The
guards fired their electro weapons at the Crew, but their
Asgardian enhanced forms easily shrugged off the attack, which
was minimal compared to the power the Ultra-Adaptoid had
displayed. "We're gonna bury you in the rubble of this freak farm!
No one tries to kill the Crew and gets away with it!" Thunderball
swirled his wrecking ball, and took down one of the interior
Inside, the General looked fearfully at the monitors. The security
guards had been unable to slow the Wrecking Crew as they
marched through the lobby of the base, and other guards were
falling suddenly in bursts of flame that died out just as quickly.
Speed Demon. So, he had finally reappeared to exact revenge
on them for his current condition. Unsure of what to do next, the
General pulled out a small communication device. On the other
end, a silhouette appeared. "Help me!" the General yelled. "You
have to help me! They're here!"
The silhouette shook its head. "My dear General, why would I do
"I did everything you commanded! The Adaptoid is a success!"
the General thundered. "But the installation is under attack! The
prisoners have escaped, and the Wrecking Crew is rebelling!
You must get me out! Sirius has fallen!"
The silhouetted figure once again shook its head. "Not Sirius,
General. Merely it's top puppet." The mysterious figure drew
closer to the screen, but no details were visible. "Sirius lives on."
The image flickered, and then the comm. unit went dead.
Whirlwind and the others arrived ahead of the Wrecking Crew.
The General looked at them. "No! Stay away!" he bellowed.
Whirlwind moved to grab the General, but was knocked back by
a now familiar flame burst. Speed Demon held the General in
his bloody grasp. "No! Get away from me!" the General
screamed. "Let me go!"
Speed Demon grinned at him through a blistered face. His teeth
were bared and his eyes seemed to glow. "You." The word was
a hiss, drawn out for what seemed like an eternity. The Speed
Demon lifted the General up by his collar and reared his fist
back. "I will be able to pull out your heart fast enough for you to
see it before you die. Isn't that wonderful?" A truly devilish grin
creased the burns and scars on his face.
"No!" Whirlwind yelled. "Don't kill him!"
As Speed Demon looked at Whirlwind, a green energy field
appeared around the General. He turned angrily as the General
was pulled from his grasp. Carmella stood within the doorway,
guiding the General through the air to where she stood. Speed
Demon was there before Whirlwind could even react, striking at
her head. His blows were deflected, creating flaming arcs
through the air. "He is mine! Mine!"
"Speed Demon!" Whirlwind screamed. "Stop this, please. We
can help you."
"I'll see you all dead before I let him live!" Speed Demon
reached his hand out and began to vibrate it, passing it through
the first few inches of Carmella's shield. Their eyes widened, as
Speed Demon's hand slowly penetrated.
To Whirlwind, the world seemed to freeze. The only movement
was Speed Demon's hand, moving at amazing speeds even in
this slowed vision, and a small pinprick of light behind him.
Whirlwind rushed him. "NO!"
He moved faster than ever before. He saw the pinprick of light
grow, slowly opening and intensifying. Speed Demon seemed to
be moving slower as well, as if Whirlwind had finally broken
some barrier, and had caught up with the speedster. As Speed
Demon turned his head to see Whirlwind approaching, he pulled
his hand back. Whirlwind mustered all the speed he could
manage, throwing himself at Speed Demon. As he looked at
Speed Demon's face, he saw that he was smiling.
With Whirlwind's hands mere centimeters from grabbing him,
Speed Demon deftly dodged, jumping straight back out of his
path. But as he looked at Whirlwind's face, seeking the look of
shock he expected, he saw only a smile. Before he could
register why, the portal from Deadworld to Liveworld was
closing. His own momentum kept him moving away from the
portal for another half second. By the time he could stop, and
reverse his path, the portal was nearly closed. He lunged
forward again, his eyes locking with the General's. "I will find you,
you murdering bastard!" The portal snapped closed.
The General exhaled sharply. From above the sounds of
thundering grew louder. "The Wrecking Crew is almost here,"
"We've got to get out of here quickly. But how do we get past the
Crew?" Stinger asked. "We're still to weak to take them on."
"You guys go on, I'll hold them off," Whirlwind said grimly.
A voice popped up from behind him. "That martyr thing gets
pretty old pretty quick, Whirlwind."
Whirlwind turned, and before he could even smile, Highbrow
was de-materializing the whole group. As the interior of the
chamber began to fade from his sight, he saw the Wrecking
Crew smash through the ceiling, causing the entire structure to
buckle and begin to collapse. When his vision came into focus
once again, he was staring face to face with the Hyper-Adaptoid.
His smile faded.
The android stood on the desert hardpan, his skin glinting in the
sun. The sounds of the base collapsing, cracking wood,
buckling metal, hissing steam, grew louder behind him "This
unit is the Hyper-Adaptoid. This unit is superior to the
Ultra-Adaptoid in all ways."
"Yeah, we heard," Stinger quipped.
Whirlwind looked at her quickly and smiled. The Hyper-Adaptoid
looked as well, and his eyes began to glow. "You are Summers,
Wendy, also known as Stinger. Your thought patterns are
"Thought patterns?" Whirlwind said, his eyes narrowing.
"This unit possesses the powers of designate Xavier, Charles."
"But El Professor is cerebro muerto," Skin noted. (3)
"Maybe he recovers in whatever future this mechanism is from,"
"This unit can sense your thoughts, Cannon, David." The
Hyper-Adaptoid's head tilted ever so slightly, it's voice softening.
"No man is beyond redemption, David. You can still find the
righteous path." The Hyper-Adaptoid shimmered as the steam
and smoke from the base began to cover the area.
"What will you do to us?" Whirlwind asked.
"Nothing. This unit has exceeded programmed parameters, and
must explore new avenues of learning. At this unit's level of
power, it knows all that this planet has to offer." With that, the
Hyper-Adaptoid mounted its silver surfboard and slowly rose
towards the sky. "This unit will search for other worlds on which
Whirlwind watched as the Hyper-Adaptoid rose quicker and
quicker into the atmosphere, which now had a red glow in the
failing light. Below, the steady rumbling of the collapsing base
grew louder, as the walls toppled beneath the onslaught of the
The General watched as well, a faint smile of pride on his face.
Whirlwind looked at him with disgust. "We need to get out of here
before the Wrecking Crew gets to him."
Suddenly, the General's smile disappeared. He began to cough,
his hands going to his throat. His eyes widened, looking to the
others for help. He tried to cough again, but only a gurgling
sound came out. He struggled to draw breath in, and Whirlwind
raced to his side.
"What's happening to him?" Stinger cried out.
The General's skin was losing color quickly, as his eyes began
to roll in their sockets. He dropped to a knee, and Whirlwind
picked him back up, grasping his midsection in his arms.
"He's choking," Whirlwind yelled, squeezing tightly. The General
heaved, and a tiny trickle of water shot out of his mouth, stopped,
and shot back in.
"No," Carmella corrected, "he's drowning."
The General stopped moving. Whirlwind clutched him once
again, and this time, the liquid erupted from his lungs,
splattering on the floor. It slowly roiled and swirled, drawing
more steam from the billowing cloud that escaped the wreckage
of the base, and began to take shape. "Bench," Whirlwind said.
Hydro-Man had somehow gained the ability to control himself
while in steam form, most likely as a result of Sirius' genetic
tampering. He stood with a smug smile on his face over the
General's dead form. "There's your justice."
Whirlwind grew angrier. "Damn you, Hydro-Man."
Hydro-Man began to laugh, his form growing wider as he began
to transform back to steam. As he faded from sight, his laughter
Laura put a hand on Whirlwind's shoulder. "We need to get
Wizard to a hospital before the Wrecking Crew gets back up
Whirlwind looked back at the others, Carmella held Wizard in a
protective shield. Stinger and Laura Dean stood close to
Highbrow. Skin stood with his hand extended. "Let's go, amigo."
Whirlwind nodded. "Highbrow, take us to New York City."
New York City
The lobby of the Hospital was cold and antiseptic. Nevertheless,
Stinger was grateful to be safe once again. She had just gotten
over the shock of her escape from the sentinel base when the
soldiers of Sirius had abducted her. She looked up, seeing the
patterns of electricity fluctuate through the florescent lights. "What
did they do to us, Whirlwind?"
"They messed with our powers, kid. They made me faster. Much
faster. Why? What do you feel?"
"Scared. Almost as much as I was on the island. I can see
patterns in the air. Electricity just responded to me before. Now I
feel like it is a part of me."
"Well, I think we can help each other. We can get through these
changes, we just need to guide each other."
"I need no guidance that my family cannot provide," Carmella
said as she walked from the restroom.
"Why are you still here then?" Stinger asked.
"I owe a debt. To you as well as Whirlwind."
"What about Timeshadow? You owe him, but he's not here to
collect, is he?"
"Easy, Stinger. We're here to help each other," Manikin said.
"Yes," Laura Dean agreed, stepping up behind him.
"So why not guard each other's backs? Why not help people, like
we used to?" Skin said, then looked around, seeing three former
super criminals in the group he was addressing. "Well, you
know what I mean."
"What, like some kind of Junior Avengers?" Stinger asked.
"No," Whirlwind said. "Not the Avengers. Avenging means
reacting to a wrong with a right. We need to guard each other's
backs, as well as those who can't help themselves, making sure
there is no wrong to be avenged. We need to guard against
something like the Sirius kidnappings from happening to anyone
"So we're the Guards?"
Whirlwind considered that for a moment. The Guards. No. That
was not quite right. The six of them were now one, united by the
horrors they had experienced. "No. We're The Guard."
The Wizard looked out at the city skyline from his intensive care
unit at Elm Hill Hospital. Whirlwind had returned to Wizard's
hideout and found the solvent for the Trapster's adhesive. After
hours of painstaking application, the surgeons had been able to
remove most of the adhesive from his skin, but elements of it
had bonded with it, leaving it a sticky, cracked, blistered mess.
The anti-grav disks were forever a part of his epidermis now. His
eyes were ruined. His face was scarred from the removal of the
breathing mask. Bentley Whitman would live out his days as a
near blind, shredded, sticky freak. And he had Whirlwind to thank
for it. That bastard had drawn him into a fight that was not his,
with his pathetic reversal of ideology. He would make Whirlwind
pay for what he had forced him into.
He smiled a slight smile, with his skin cracking and blistering.
He would pay indeed.
The sun rose on the shores of the lake, as Liveworld's only
non-indigenous resident hunted for food. The light in this
dimension was softer, more soothing than the light in Laura
Dean's Deadworld. Everything here in Liveworld was better, with
the exception of the Dream Queen. So it was all those years ago
when Laura had sent her here, to escape the doctors who would
have killed her before she even drew breath. In all the times she
had visited Deadworld, Goblyn had never come to understand
how they could deal with the stench of pollution and chaos that
tainted their world. Not like the beauty of Liveworld.
Goblyn looked out at the sun and basked in its warmth as it
receded slowly towards the horizon. She closed her eyes. Then
she picked up a smell that raised her fur. She snapped her eyes
open again. It was the stench of Deadworld, only magnified.
Rotten. There was a darkness that seeped over the sun, Smoke.
Flame. And before Goblyn could even react, there was a shriek
and a flame burst, as Speed Demon erupted into the placid
lakeside. Goblyn swiped at the form, but there was a large
fireball and a blast of wind, and when the smoke cleared, there
was nothing left where Goblyn once stood. Speed Demon stood
next to the charred spot on the rock, his face contorted with rage.
"Whirlwind... I am coming!"
Next Issue: The Battle For Liveworld!
1. See AMU's Uncanny X-Men #353
2. Highbrow was assaulted by Stitch in AMU's Alpha Flight #5
3. Professor Xavier has been powerless since the events of
Onslaught, and comatose since the events of AMU's Uncanny