Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

Winds of Change

by Mark Anderson

Having just left Belle Reeve prior to the vial's deployment, the Red Tornado was miles away and headed toward the Young Justice headquarters. Word of the vial's effects didn't reach him until he was already home. Entering the headquarters, he uplinked with the computer and was greeted by the news of the tragedy. A message from Superman was flashed around the world.

The alien who symbolized the best about Earth stood before a view of the moon through one of the windows of the JLA Watchtower. "People of Earth, a few hours ago a villain struck at the heroes and people of the planet in a heinous way. A viral infection has been unleashed which appears to take good people and make them bad. Conversely the bad people are more likely to act good. Over the next few days, you may be saved from heroes by villains, realize that they are all under the influence of this virus. We don't know what effect if any it will have on normal men and women. The virus doesn't appear to key off of the metagene that some heroes possess. Non-powered or mechanically powered heroes have been affected as well. The only ones who have not shown definite symptoms are the totally mechanical heroes."

Superman turns toward a teleprompter. On the teleprompter screen, the scene at Belle Reeve is chaotic. Villains hold many heroes in restraint, but many more are missing from the scene. No members of the JLA are present. Standing before the camera is the Scarecrow. Superman begins again,

"The Scarecrow will be leading the attempt to confine and control the infected heroes. He will also be searching for a cure. All alien beings on the planet have been removed to the JLA Watchtower. This has been done due to the unknown danger of having them....us running loose on the planet should we begin to show symptoms. I will now turn this announcement over to the Scarecrow."

As the Scarecrow begins to talk, Red Tornado stops paying attention, he is still processing the datastream but he isn't actively looking at a screen. The Scarecrow is leading the effort. "Did they just forget about me?"

He begins shifting through the live news feeds from around the country. The Flashes in Central City/Keystone. Green Lantern making a move for world domination. The new Mr. Terrific in Happy Harbor causing destruction and mayhem.

Wait a minute, Mr. Terrific in Happy Harbor?

Moments later, the Red Tornado has launched himself from the Young Justice HQ into the sky above Happy Harbor. Whirling across the sky, he searches for Mr. Terrific.

One of the newest members of the JSA, Mr. Terrific is walking down Main Street. An advanced looking rifle in his arms, he sprays the buildings on both sides of the street, causing them to avalanche in on themselves. The Red Tornado sweeps in on him, creating a hurricane force wind. Spinning one of his arms into an independent cyclone, Tornado rips the gun from Terrific's hands. Adding his other arm into the cyclone, Reddy shreds the weapon, allowing the pieces to fall harmlessly away from any bystanders.

"I realize that you aren't well, my friend. But I cannot allow you to endanger the residents of this town."

"You don't have any choice in the matter...friend." Terrific raises his left hand, palm flat, pointed toward the Red Tornado. A coruscating blast of blue energy envelopes the fingers of his hand and leaps across the space between him and the android. Reddy convulses momentarily, then goes stiff as a board and falls flat. "Amazing what a little electromagnetic pulse can do to a robot, isn't it." Loosening his sleeve, Terrific unstraps a mechanized armband, "Shame these things burn themselves out so fast..I'll have to work on that."

Terrific turns from the Tornado and reaching into his inside jacket pocket bring forth a small item with two fingers. Then he enlarges the object using white dwarf star material similar to the modern Atom's power source.   A book-sized calculator with a radar dish grows in his hands. He slowly turns in a circle, as the radar dish spins and data inputs and processes. He comes to a stop looking back toward the Red Tornado. He walks to the Tornado and then walks around the Tornado, turning in 180 degrees again. Terrific leans over and grips the Tornado under the shoulders, lifting him up onto his shoulders. "It would have saved the people of this town a lot of trouble if you would have just told me you were the source."

An hour later, we find them in a laboratory. Tornado is strapped down to a table, inside a wind tunnel. Tornado has regained consciousness. All his subsystems have yet to reboot, and as a result he is still immobile. He watches Terrific putter about his lab. Terrific notices Reddy's attention. "So you've come back online. Excellent. Considering I'm about to destroy the eastern seaboard of the United States, I needed someone to share it with. And since it's all thanks to you, it's even more appropriate." Terrific smiles through the black T mask on his face. I needed a power source with which to power the biggest weather system ever seen. I knew one existed. I had scanned it on previous occasions, never realizing that it was you until I encountered you in Happy Harbor. You seem to have a power source beyond the power source which drives your systems. An electronic soul perhaps? No matter. If it has the power that I truly expect, then you are the perfect tool for my experiment."

"Why are you doing this?" Reddy says from the table, trying desperately to reboot his mobility systems.

"To prove that it can be done of course," Terrific turned to a keyboard and began inputting commands. Probes, electrodes and connectors came out from the sides of the wind tunnel and began connecting into the Red Tornado's body. The Tornado's consciousness began fighting a battle for control of his programs and body. Slowly the invasive programs and tools began to penetrate him.

Desperation begins to creep into Reddy's consciousness. I can't let him do this. I must fight him off. Must <BZZZT> stop <BZZT> him. Must <BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ>.

Terrific glances around. "Ah the power source at la.." The rest of his words are washed away in a freight train roar. As the power source of the Red Tornado, takes its ultimate shape, the Tornado Tyrant. The wind tunnel imprisoning the two forms shatters outward as winds reach beyond the measure of the F scale.

The room erupts into motion. Anything not nailed to the floor is thrown up and around the room. Tables slam into walls. Computer terminals smash through windows. The inert form of the Red Tornado is thrown from the wind tunnel.

"So you wanted the power source. You wanted to unleashed a storm on the eastern seaboard as a test. Well little man, you are going to get your wish. But first." Roaring winds lash Mr. Terrific around, throwing him into a wall and rendering him unconscious.

"Now to give you your wish." Swirling through the hallways and out of the building, the Tornado Tyrant goes out into the world. The sudden shift in pressure caused by the Tyrant's passage causes the building to creak and moan. Cracks form from foundation to roof as the building begins to fall in on itself.

Suddenly a red-caped white figure bursts into the building grabbing Red Tornado's robot body by his cape and vanishing outside. Moments later the figure blasts back into the room, lifting Terrific by the nape of his jacket and carrying him outside.

"Good boy, Krypto." The Wizard helps Krypto lower Mr. Terrific to the ground. Krypto watches the Wizard intently knowing better than to trust this man, even when his master has told him to help these people.

Nearby Matter Master is checking out Reddy. "He appears to be completely shut down. No signs of life at all."

A military style helicopter stands nearby. "Come gentlemen. We need to get after that Tornado creature before it can do too much damage." An odd little man in a white lab coat, with a white mustache says while leaning out the door of the chopper.

"We're coming Sivana." The Wizard turns Mr. Terrific over to the police and STAR Labs for containment until a cure for the Vial Virus can be found. Matter Master starts to give Red Tornado to them as well.

"No lad. We will need him to recapture the Tyrant. Red Tornado is possibly the only prison which can hold the Tyrant. So please bring him along, and let's get a move on shall we?" Sivana ducks back inside the chopper and moments later the blades begin to spin up to speed. Matter Master, Wizard and Krypto all board the helicopter with Red Tornado in tow.

Rapidly the helicopter progresses over the landscape after the Tyrant. He is easily followed. As he has moved across the state he has left a trail of destruction a mile or more wide in places. Dark thunderclouds dot the horizon, and occasional lightning flashes blaze across the bleak and nightmarish landscape below. Houses, school, places of work and play lay in ruin, destroyed by this creature who imitates a force of nature.

"We're closing. Has the Tornado come around yet?" Sivana called from the pilot's chair.

"No change." The Wizard answers through clenched teeth as Sivana arcs the helicopter through a rapid course change to avoid a shower of sparks from an exploding electrical transformer below.

"We're catching up. I remember years ago when I shared a cell with T. O. Morrow, the man who claimed to have created the Red Tornado, that what he had actually done was rebuild a previous android Red Tornado who had once been a occasional member of the JSA. When the Tornado gained consciousness and power, there was an influx of extradimensional energy which caused the android to gain true sentience. This influx was made of equal parts good and evil. Their were actually two creatures, one the Tornado Champion and the other the Tornado Tyrant.

"From what we have seen, I would say that the Tyrant escaped just before we came looking for Terrific. The Champion must still be ensconced in the Red Tornado's robotic shell. The Red Tornado had to be the target for Terrific. Terrific seemed to be affected by the Vial Virus by having his inhibitions severely relaxed. His pure science interest grew to the fore, experimentation for experimentation's sake.Whoops hold on"

Sivana jerked the helicopter aside and dove the helicopter around and away from a spin-off tornado which was sweeping back along the path the Tyrant was taking. The small tornado broke up as the distance between it and the Tyrant grew.

Sivana swung the chopper around in an arc and resumed the original course. "Okay if Morrow was telling the truth then I have a plan."

A few miles ahead of the helicopter, the Tyrant is smashing through the center of downtown Happy Harbor. After facing Terrific's earlier rampage, the townspeople have again retreated to their storm shelters.

The Tyrant is shredding the city. A police car comes racing down the street toward the Tyrant, and just seconds before the car would impact the creature's leg, it is lifted by a wind, carried high into the air and dropped. The car cartwheels and falls toward the Earth, gaining speed. The helicopter carrying our erstwhile rescuers, pulls alongside the falling car.

The Wizard casts a spell on the car causing it to fall slower, while the Matter Master alters the composition of the ground where the car is going to crash. Dirt and rock become marshmallows, and the car settles onto the pillowy white surface easily, with two shaken but uninjured cops inside.

Sivana throws the chopper into a hard turn to continue after the Tyrant. The roaring sound of the chopper trying to claw its way back up to speed attracts the attention of the Tyrant.

"Krypto, perhaps you could slow the Tyrant down for us!" said Sivana while wrestling with the controls.

Krypto leaps from the open door of the helicopter, accelerating toward the Tyrant. Hearing the whistling sound of Krypto streaking towards him at superspeed, the Tyrant looks over his shoulder at the approach dog. The Tornado Tyrant's arm swirls into a growing funnel which engulfs Krypto, spinning him viciously then throwing him across the landscape to crash into a water tower standing a little over a mile away. His impact punches him through the tower and out the other side.

Arcing over, Krypto speeds back into the Tyrant's path. He lands in front of the Tyrant and begins to swirl his tail at superspeed, faster and faster in the opposite way that the Tyrant is spinning. Krypto's tail induced funnel smashes into the Tyrant causing him to stagger. The clashing high speed winds rip at each other. The Tyrant falters, seeming to shrink for a moment, and then there is a burst of lightning and the Tyrant is gone.

Krypto stops twirling his tail and slowly rises into the air, searching. Suddenly five small Tyrants form all around Krypto and crash into him growing right on top of him into one Tyrant, standing around three stories tall. The Tyrant spits the Kryptonian super dog out at the helicopter carrying the erstwhile villains turned heroes. Sivana swerves the chopper..but not fast enough. Krypto slams through the fuselage, tearing the tail rotor off and then slamming into a nearby hillside, digging a trench over a half mile long. Sivana fights the controls of the faltering and falling helicopter. The ground rushes up and then he over-rotates the controls and the helicopter slams into the ground, hard. But no one inside is hurt.

Sivana yells, "Out! Get out of the helicopter. The Tyrant will attack it next. Hurry, hurry!" The villains pile out of the chopper with the Red Tornado in tow. As predicted, a millisecond after they clear the helicopter, it is destroyed by a swirling blast of wind, which shredds the helicopter into parts and broken glass and shrapnel.

The Tornado Tyrant stands before them, five stories tall. Growing as he moves about and the storm around him increases in size, his power is increasing exponentially.

Dr. Sivana stands before the Tyrant, his team spread out behind him. "Now is the time." He raises a whistle to his lips and blows. A red-caped white blur roars past them, smashing into the Tyrant. "Get him boy!" Turning to the others, he says, "Okay gentlemen, just like we discussed!"

Matter Master moves off to the left of their position, increasing the size of them as a target. The Wizard goes the other direction. Sivana pops open a panel in Red Tornado's back and begins crossing wires.

The Tyrant notices that something is happening with his primary annoyances. "So little men, you trying to stop me! I.."

Krypto emerges from the swirling wind body of the Tyrant and smashes into his chin. The Tyrant staggers back a step. Then Krypto hits the Tyrant with a sonic bark. The Tyrant roars as the disorienting effects of the sonic vibrations set up by the bark penetrate his windy form. The Tyrant grabs at Krypto, who loops and comes in and lands beside Sivana.

"Almost got it boy."

The Tyrant begins to surge forward, and a second before he readies to crush Sivana and Krypto under his foot, Sivana closes the panel in Tornado's back and taps him on the shoulder.

"It's show time, my friend." Sivana steps back as Reddy's legs begin to spin up to speed, lifting him off the ground and accelerating him toward the Tyrant.

The Tyrant, seeing his prison coming for him, screams and launches an attack using his vortex arms. Reddy, functioning on the remote control that Sivana just set up in his systems, counters the Tyrant's attack and plunges head long into the Tornado Tyrant's towering form.

"NOW!" yells Sivana.

Krypto launches himself into the air. Locating the Red Tornado within the swirling mass of the Tornado Tyrant, he flashes his heat vision at full intensity causing the Red Tornado to explode within the Tyrant's form. The parts of the Red Tornado then spin out throughout the structure of the Tyrant. Krypto barks, and then the Wizard hits the Tyrant with a spell of coalescence, aimed at bringing the form of the Red Tornado back together. The Matter Master at the same time zaps the Tyrant with his wand, in an effort to mix the elements existent within the vortex into a cohesive single structure. In congress the two villains focus their energies to their utmost.

The Tyrant begins to shrink from his six story full height, to five, to four, to three, to two, to one, then to the size of a man. As the energies of alchemy and magic disperse, the Tornado Tyrant is gone, and only the Red Tornado stands in his place.

The Wizard, Krypto and Matter Master go forward to greet the Red Tornado. They explain what has been happening for the last few hours since his last conscious memory on the table at Terrific's lab in Happy Harbor.

Dr. Sivana walks up to the assembled group. "I've just communicated with Scarecrow and Superman. They want us to help the local authorities clean up the mess here, before they re-assign us..Tornado would you join us until this crisis is over?"

Looking at Krypto and the assembled villains turned good, a smile steals across the android's face, "Yes I would be proud to join your assemblage."

fini

 
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This piece is © 2001 by Mark Anderson
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