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.
   Everything had gone so well. The secret experiments of Dr. Derick Post had proven successful. Successful, far beyond both men's wildest dreams. Childhood friends, they'd both served their country well. Dr. Post's metallurgy formula, blended with mercury and oxygen had transformed him. His arms and hands, coated by the silvery metal, had been impervious to damage. His strength had been increased dramatically. And, to top off the list of miracles, he'd gained the ability to fly! The bullet-shaped helmet made of the same metallurgical compound. His striking red singlet and boots. Just as with Captain America, he was supposed to be the first of a line of flying soldiers. And sadly, just as with Cap, Nazi saboteurs had broken into Dr. Postís lab, killing him and torching the place. He'd been welcomed into America's armed forces, and fought the Nazi juggernaut.
   The last days of the European theater, had seen him join forces with the Invaders. He and Captain America had gotten along quite well initially. Bucky had shown him no animosity. The Human Torch and he had become good friends. They were quite a sight, flying into battle together. It was Namor, Prince of Atlantis, the Sub-Mariner who he never could quite get along with. Still, they had all fought as a team. Smashing tanks and fortified positions, he and Namor would blast forward, the Torch heating the rest up. Cap and Bucky would then tear into them. They were days of Glory.

   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.
   He'd made one two many flippant remarks to Namor, Prince of Atlantis. Jokingly, he'd suggested that perhaps he might be able to glean some useful ruling knowledge from the Soviets. Namor had flown into a righteous fury. The Torch had tried to calm him down, but to no avail. Namor slammed the Torch aside, and the battle was on. The first exchange of blows had carried Bulletman through the wall of the building. The battle-crazed Atlantean followed up with a fusillade of blows. Bulletman had plowed into tanks, but had never traded fists with the super-strong Namor. Namor hurled Bulletman into the ruins of a building. With the plaster dust swirling around him, Bulletman leapt into the attack, hitting Namor in the midsection with both fists.   The two fought for a half hour. The Human Torch tried to reason with Namor, but he would not listen. Bulletman began to tire. But Namor showed no signs of slowing down. He hurled a jeep at Bulletman, who swerved away. Chunks of buildings, pipes, and more vehicles were thrown at Bulletman. He avoided some, but not all of them. Then Captain America and Bucky showed up. Cap was furious. He finally got the Atlantean to stop fighting. The top military brass also showed up. Cap talked to Namor, to the Torch, to Bulletman. Then with the brass. Namor talked to the brass.The decision was made. Despite protest from the Torch, Namor was successful in branding Bulletman a communist. There would be no joining the Invaders. Moreover, he was decomissioned and sent home. He would not be going to the Pacific Theatre.

   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.
   As he idly tipped back the beer bottle, he smiled to himself. All during the Red Scare of the 1950ís no one had found him. He'd avoided the government hostilities. The "60's" had been uneventful for him. He'd ventured out a couple of times, to see what a hippie was, how the "free love" movement worked. He'd liked that. But, all too soon, it was over, and he went back to his mountain canyon aerie.
   And then the day the Commander had found him. The Commander gave him no reason to fight or flight, so he listened. He knew of the Adventure Team of course, he did have a radio. When the Commander offered him a chance to join the team, a chance at redemption, he had jumped at it. Literally, right through the roof. He'd kept his old uniform in a chest, and he quickly put it back on. The Commander wondered if the original formula that had turned him into Bulletman had slowed down his aging process, much as Captain America's Super-Soldier serum had. He assumed it had. Oh, how great it had been, fighting alongside teammates again. He'd gotten along pretty well with the guys, and had proved himself. The Alien menace, the Intruders had been tailor-made for him, it seemed! He relished the memory of plowing into the short stocky bastards. That had been some great times. The Adventure Team. He'd felt alive again.
   Then had come Las Vegas. On a weekend off, he and Mike Power had driven down to have some fun. And at first, they had. What a party they'd thrown for them! Two of the AT guys, partying with showgirls! Playing 21, baccarat, poker, you name it, theyíd played it. Must have been the free drinks. They never should have agreed to the line of credit either. And the pictures. They had their picture taken so many times, they just came to expect it. Then the bill at check out. Sure, they'd gotten a free suite, but they owed the casino $12,000! The Commander was not happy when he got the phone call.
    Mike was trying to placate the Commander on the phone, when the hotel security had tried to put him, Bulletman, in handcuffs. He responded by throwing the security guard some 30 feet into a roulette wheel. Then came more security, and the Las Vegas SWAT Team.

   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 was sitting in the courtyard, for his weekly twenty minutes of sunlight. In the bitter cold of winter. As always, six burly guards stood nearby. The two towers had .50 cal machine guns trained on him. He idly twisted his bare toes in the snow, wondering how much cold he could withstand, before frostbite worked it's way in. As he mused, he heard two of the guards behind him burp. And two guards in front of him fell down. Two more burps, two more guards fell. Then, the two guard towers exploded in a crescendo of flames. He watched stunned, as a figure shimmied down a rope from the burning towers. The two remaining guards came over to him. One pulled out a micro-torch and began burning the shackle locks off.

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."

"AT-TI? AT-Skean-Dhub?"

"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.
   Now, he thought about his future. His future waited for him out there, on the streets. In the jungles, forests of the world. The Adventure Teams waited for him to return. He stood up and looked around the room. Spat fully on the floor. Grabbing his long black raincoat, he shoved his gleaming arms into it. It was time. Opening the door, he left behind his shabby past, and strode into the future. It was time, time for the return of Bulletman.

D.O.B. is Copyright 2003 by the D.O.B. membership. Some rights reserved. All Hail D.O.B.!