BULLETMAN: The Lost Years
By Rex Adams
The harsh glare of neon light filtered through the dusty curtains into the shabby room. A small table, two chairs and what passed for a bed were the only furniture in the room. The large, heavily muscled man didn't seem to mind. He'd spent more time in far worse rooms. He sighed softly, as he eased his large frame onto one of the chairs. Idly spinning an empty beer bottle, his thoughts drifted back, and to what might have been.
It was 1944. Europe was won back from the Nazi clutches. He
had been part of a vast pantheon of super heroes that had helped turn back
the Nazi hordes. He'd stood shoulder to shoulder with Captain America. Fought
side by side with Superman, as they tore apart the vaunted 10th Panzer Division.
Joined up with the Invaders, as they fought into Berlin, just ahead of the
Soviet Red Army.
After the fall of Nazi Germany, they had all settled down to
a fabulous dinner. Hosted by the now free people, they were treated like
the conquering heroes that they indeed were. During dinner, they had discussed
making the team permanent. Even Namor had grudgingly gone along with the
idea. After dinner, Cap and Bucky went off to catch some shut-eye, as they
were to pitch the idea to the top Army brass the next morning. The Torch,
Namor and he decided to stay and have a few drinks. Alcohol didn't effect
the Torch, and he wasn't sure about Namor, but he sure was feeling good.
A bit reckless in fact. Namor had just finished a long speech about the wonders
of Atlantis, and how he, as royalty, would restore them to their rightful
place amongst humanity. Perhaps it was the alcohol; perhaps he was just tired
of listening to Namor drone on and on.
Outside, blaring horns jolted him back to present day. He looked outside, saw the petty people involved in their petty lives, and felt nothing in common with them. Reaching for a beer from the bag on the table, he sat back and remembered.
There would be no hero's parade for him. An outcast. A pariah.
Even Superman couldn't help him out. So, he had moved on. Out west to New
Mexico. A land of unparalleled beauty. Desert valleys filled with wild rock
formations. Valleys were he could soar with condors. Soaring, he could lose
the memories. Until that is, he returned to earth. He lived like this; in
the small cabin he built until 1974. He still remembered the date. March
5th. The day the Commander was waiting in his cabin for him.
He sighed as he downed the rest of the beer. Probably hadn't been a good idea to challenge the SWAT team. The fact that he beat them by throwing parts of the casino at them didn't go over well at all. Not with the Commander, not with the public. The rest of the team thought it pretty funny. At first. The National Enquirer had been the first to print pictures. Front page of him in a hot tub with three showgirls, with the caption: "Our Heroes?" A picture of him battling the SWAT team, had pretty much spelled the end. The Commander fired him from the team. Soon, the entire Adventure Team came under intense government scrutiny. The public was crying out to disband the Adventure Team. And one day it was. And Bulletman was the reason. Maybe not the whole reason, there were other financing problems, and more competition, but he was blamed for the disbanding of the team, the best team he'd ever been a part of. On what had been a party weekend, had turned out to be craps.
He was packing his stuff when the arrest warrant came to AT-HQ. Man Of Action stalled them at the door. A heavily armored SWAT team was outside, looking for him. The Land Adventurer distracted them outside with some timely explosive effects. The Air Adventurer took off in his yellow copter, wearing one of his extra suits, foil paper over his arms. The Police helicopter gave chase. Meanwhile the Sea Adventurer loaded him up in his Sea Wolf sub. They shook hands. He'd apologized again, but the Sea Adventurer had just shaken his head. He would never forget what he'd said,
"Don't worry. If it hadn't have been you, they'd of come up with something else. You were just convenient."
Mike Power had been there at the end too. They shook hands. He said,
"Well buddy, it sure was a hell of a party!"
They laughed together, and he left. He'd docked off the coast of Mexico, and sent the sub back on auto-pilot. Keeping below radar, he'd easily made it to Venezuela. No problem hiding out, heck the Nazi's had done it for years. No problem hiding, just a problem not wanting to hide. Missing the team, the camaraderie, the easy bantering back and forth, the excitement of the missions.
Peering into the empty bottle, he thought of the wasted years in South America. Sure, living in Machu Pichu had been an incredible experience, and flying the length of the Amazon River was cool, but it wasn't the Adventure Team. Eventually, he'd made his way over to Eastern Europe, looking for mercenary work. And found plenty of it. Dressed all in black, he'd wreak havoc for money. But, by the mid-90's, he'd had his fill of it. He was done. Ready to go back to the States, face the music. He had enough money in a Swiss Bank to pay any fine he'd doubtless incur. And maybe, just maybe he see if his old cabin in New Mexico was still there. But, his employers had wanted one last job. An easy one they said. He shook his head as he remembered. Take out a opposition headquarters in the Balkans. No problem. No problem, right. Just betrayal. A trap. He'd flown into a building, triggering gas jets. Then a massive electrical charge had dropped him to the ground. The electrically charged metal nets had stopped him cold.
His face hardened, and he hurled the bottle through the window,
eliciting shouts from the streets below. What followed his capture, was five
years in a Siberian gulag prison. Kept semi-drugged, in titanium shackles.
Fed dog quality food, if he was lucky. The sadistic guards. The beatings.
Oh, the regular beatings. But he didn't break. He grew stronger. Then came
the day that he'd never forget. He came to call it Freedom Day.
He looked up at him.
"Jack McAllister. AT-Skean-Dhub. Pleased ta meetcha."
The other bent over to him, after he cut down two more guards.
"Carson Ridge of AT-TI."
"And, don"t forget AT-Damage, at your service," said the white and green camo'd figure. The one who had blown the two towers.
"You can call me Jean-Luc", he said with a bow.
"Yer kin call us all dead, if'n that chopper don't show," growled Jack McAllister.
"He'll be here, don't worry." Replied Carson Ridge, as he pegged a luckless guard from the wall.
Indeed, within two minutes a snow white AH-6 Little Bird dropped down beside them.
"Sorry we're late," said the pilot.
"Had a bit of evasive action to do, before we could come. Welcome back. Nameís Hawk, of AT-Green."
He pointed at his co-pilot, who waved,
"Ilsa of AT Skean-Dhub."
They strapped themselves into the specially prepared Little Bird and took off, but not before Hawk let fly with a few well-placed missiles. As they flew off, he looked down and saw AT-4 missiles fly into the gulag prison from three arctic camo'd individuals outside the prison walls. They waved at the passing chopper, then climbed onto waiting snowmobiles and silently disappeared into the snowy landscape.
"AT-Arctic," Muttered McAllister.
"Damn tricky, those silent motors of their snowmobiles."
Still stunned at the turn of events, he could only listen as
the man called Carson Ridge filled in all the details. Turned out the AT
was reforming, reforming into AT branches. AT teams all over the world. Brazil,
Austria, Australia, Scotland, and of course there were dozens in the US.
The Commander had spent years trying to find his whereabouts. Finally he'd
been located. An all-star AT team had formed to rescue him. And they had.
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