Heroes for Hire #6
Iron Fist - martial arts master raised in the mystic city of K'un Lun! Luke Cage - street-tough private eye with super-strength and steel-hard skin! Black Knight - man of science armed with weapons of sorcery! White Tiger - acrobatic feline fighter created by the High Evolutionary! Ant-Man - scientific genius with the ability to shrink to miniscule sizes! Together, they make the Heroes for Hire - an organization devoted to righting wrongs for a price!
"Guess who's coming to dinner...."
Written by: Wes A.
Jim Hammond stood impatiently in the hangar bay at Oracle. He just got word that the Heroes for Hire were about to land, and he wanted to be there personally when they arrived. As the large Atlantean craft*(*Hey, when the Sub-Mariner is President of the company, expect some perks-Wes) landed, Jim noticed the large cargo door on the side had opened up. He had a puzzled look on his face as the Heroes came trotting down the ramp. He also noticed each of them had odd looks of their faces. Jim knew that something wasn't right.
"So, what happened? Did you guys nail Basset and his cronies?"
They explained what happened on their mission. They told Jim about the Onex Guard, how Dr. Nordstrom was tricked, and the death of Basset. Jim couldn't believe what he heard.
"He killed himself? Why? What was he afraid of?" asked Jim aloud.
"It sounded more like who he was afraid of." replied Scott.
"Ok, granted." said Jim as his brow furrowed, "There must be some connection between whoever Basset was working for and this Morden. I assume you told Bridge all this?"
"We sent in Bridge and his men after we found Basset." Danny looked at the others, looking for a sort of confirmation, "We also found someone else at Bransteg, Jim. Or to be more precise, they found us."
Jim raised his eyebrow at Danny.
Danny turned to the craft, whose cargo door was still open.
"You can come out now!" yelled Danny.
Out of the cargo door rolled out a blue and white Formula racecar. The other Heroes made room as the car parked several feet away from Jim and Danny. Jim's mouth dropped open when he saw that nobody was in the car's driver's seat.
"Danny, is this some kind of joke?" asked Jim.
Danny just stood there with an amused look on his face.
"I assure you Mr. Hammond, this is no joke."
Jim jumped when he realized that it was the car that just talked. He stared at the car for a minute, looking it over.
"You're not hallucinating Mr. Hammond, I'm quite real." said the car again.
"Who......what are you?" asked Jim.
Then before Jim's eyes, the car transformed into a large blue and white robot. The robot was about 25 feet tall, with some sort of cannon on his right shoulder. What was the front hood of the car was now the front torso of the robot and it was adorned with a red symbol of some kind on it. The symbol looked almost like a face.
"My name is Mirage. It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Hammond."
At first, Jim could do little more than just stand there. He saw some impressive things in his time, but this was something a little new for him. Finally Luke came over, a smile on his face, and gave Jim a friendly slap on the back.
"Yeah, that was our first reaction too."
They all decided to stay in the hangar bay, being as all the other areas in the building had too low of ceilings for Mirage. They had started to throw out questions for the large robot.
"So you have been following our steps for several days?" asked White Tiger.
"That's correct. I wanted to make contact with you, but I was not sure of how to go about it. So I decided to, how do you humans put? Ah yes, lay low for a while*(*see issue #4, for those of you that missed it-Wes)."
"Maybe you should answer one question first before any others," said Jim, "What exactly are you?"
The Heroes were all ears for the answer as Mirage began to explain.
"I come from a planet called Cybertron. My people are a race of robotic beings called Transformers. Although there was a time of peace between all Transformers, it did not seem destined to last. I belong to the group known as the Autobots. We Autobots are peaceful and are not violent by nature. Our 'brothers' are the Decepticons, Transformers who live to wage war and conquer others. Autobots and Decepticons have fought on Cybertron for millions of years. Although we Autobots have tried our best in battle, we always seem to fall short of victory. At one point, we Autobots only had one city left to defend against the Decepticons. In a desperate gamble, our leader Optimus Prime assembled a crew to journey to this planet you call Earth to obtain Energon, a crystal that all Transformers need to function. On our way to your planet though, the Decepticon leader Megatron and his elite forces ambushed us. The Decepticons invaded our ship and we all crashed on this world.
"We don't know how long it was before we awoke. All we know is, the Decepticons were the first to arise and fled our ship before we could stop them. We took the forms of your vehicles, in an attempt to disguise our presence to the population of your world and avoid panic and hysteria. Our second in command, Prowl, split some of us up to find some trace of the Decepticons. As I made my way about and studied your culture, I found the existence of superbeings like yourselves. Although it wasn't in my orders, I knew that we would need to warn protectors such as you about the Decepticons. I would also like to forge an alliance between our two groups."
Mirage looked at Jim.
"Does that answer you question, Mr. Hammond?" he asked politely.
Jim gave Mirage a funny look.
"Ah....yes...that will do. Thank you."
"Why did you choose to make contact with us, why not groups like the Avengers or the Fantastic Four?" asked Dane.
"From what I have gathered, those groups are more busy dealing with the evil forces native to your world. And any act taken by those groups is watched carefully by your people. You however, tend to keep a lower profile and that would be more beneficial to the Autobots."
"In other words you want the 'second stringers.'" said Scott under his breath.
White Tiger furrowed her brow in confusion at the comment. There were still some aspects of humans that she didn't completely understand yet. The others continued to throw questions at Mirage. Luke took the next turn.
"Exactly how many of the Decepti-goons are there kickin' it here on Earth?"
Mirage looked a bit uncomfortable when he heard the question. Or as uncomfortable as a robot could look anyway.
"We are not sure exactly how many were in Megatron's original garrison. We counted at least a dozen, not including Megatron."
Jim didn't like that answer. He held up his hands to stop Mirage right there.
"Ok, wait a second. Back up to that 'not exactly sure how many' part. Are you saying that you aren't even sure how many of them there are on Earth?"
Danny could tell that Jim wasn't taking this very good. This was a very serious matter. Granted, Earth has been no stranger to extraterrestrial life. But then again none of them were giant robots.
"Mr. Hammond, you must realize that when the Decepticons boarded our ship, some did stay behind to guard their ship. There was no way of knowing how many were on their vessel."
"Did their ship crash as well?" continued Jim.
"We believe so. Before we crashed, we managed to inflict damage to their engines. The odds of them escaping planetfall are slim."
Jim was about to argue his point further, but Danny stepped in. He firmly placed his hand on Jim's shoulder, a sign to let someone else step in. Jim gave a sigh and nodded for Danny to proceed. Danny set his gaze on Mirage, who appeared almost curious about the recent exchange between the two humans.
"Mirage, exactly how can we help you in your fight?"
"If the Decepticons begin to attack, you will need only summon us and we will rush to engage them. Although protectors such as yourselves are powerful, you haven't encountered any foes like the Decepticons. And we shall also aid you in fighting your enemies as well. It will be a strategic alliance that we can both gain from."
"Do you know of any place the Decepticons may attack first?" asked Scott.
"The Decepticons will need energy to manufacture Energon, and lots of it. They will most likely target your greatest power sources."
"Ok, we'll keep an eye out," said Danny "And tell your leader that we will are more than ready to aid the Autobots in their fight."
"Thank you, very much. I'm sure the others will be happy to hear that. And here, I have this for you."
On Mirage's right hand, his index finger opened and a small device extended out. He took the small device in his left hand and gave it to Danny. The object was disc shaped and about half the size of a football.
"What is it?" asked Scott curiously.
"It's a communications device. Whenever you need to contact me or the Autobots, this will connect you with our ship's communication array."
Danny handed the object Scott, who looked over it like a kid would with a toy on Christmas.
"Thank you." said Danny.
After a few more questions, Mirage had to report back to his base. He said that he saw overdue on his report and didn't want Prowl to worry about him. After Mirage had left, the Heroes discussed the events of the past few hours.
"Man, this job just gets harder by the day," said Luke "If it ain't companies with hidden agendas, it's giant robots invading the planet."
"I believe Mirage, I think he doesn't want to hurt us." said Danny.
"Yeah, but these Decepticons sound like they would." argued Dane.
Scott turned away from examining the device Mirage gave them.
"Do you think there's any connection between these Transformers and the Battloids that Bransteg made?"
Everybody turned to Scott.
"What do you mean Scott?" asked Jim carefully.
"Well, think about it. The transformation the Battloids went through was similar to the one Mirage did. Maybe there's some sort of connection."
"But why would Mirage's people share their technology if they wanted to keep out of sight?" asked White Tiger.
"Maybe they didn't share that technology, maybe the Decepticons did." offered Dane.
Jim gave out a frustrated sigh.
"I think that if we want answers, we're going to have to find Morden and Basset's keepers. Whoever they are." he grimly said.
"You failed." she said.
Mr. Morden bowed his head.
"Yes. I deserve punishment for my failure."
She merely stared at him from the darkness. Morden tried to appear calm, despite a few beads of sweat forming on his brow.
"You have proven to be useful to me in the past, Mr. Morden. To eliminate you would be to destroy a useful resource. You shall not be punished for your.....miscalculation."
"Thank you." Morden said.
She slid out of the shadows, into the light of the room.
"The Bransteg project is a failure, it will be discontinued immediately. You will await your next assignment." she stated.
Morden turned and left the room, a feeling of gratitude washing over him.