Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wonder Woman:Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder

(A Wonder Woman adventure in the IADC Days)

by Captain Zammo

Diana Prince stood with Steve Trevor in the small block house control tower at a private airfield in the Pacific Northwest. General Charles Hunter, USAF, retired, was standing with them, pointing out the new military jet. "The Skyhawk is going to be something spectacular, Steve," he said.

"She sure is a beautiful plane, general. Watching her fly almost makes me wish I'd followed in Dad's footsteps," said Steve.

"Well, your father was one hell of a Flyboy, Steve. He would have loved to fly the Skyhawk, I'm certain." The general shot a glance at Diana and turned red. "My apologies for my mouth, Ma'am. Sometimes I think I'm still leading men." He looked at her again, and frowned.

"General Hunter went to work with my dad right after the war, Diana. Dad taught him everything he knew. And to pay Dad back, General Hunter helped me get a job with the all new IADC."

"Well, I could see you were more like your dad when it came to the cloak and dagger stuff." The general grinned, then added, "And after seeing you total that Camaro at sixteen, I knew I didn't want you flying one of my jets!" General Hunter sat down in a large leather chair and sighed. "But after thirty years, it was time to get out. I'm glad I've gone civilian at Jettech."

Diana took Steve's hand and held it. "Steve's gotten much better with his driving, General. I think he's only had three crashes this year, and all of them were for minimal damage only. The stunning brunette's deep blue eyes twinkled.

Steve looked first at the General, then at Diana; his mouth agape in mock shock. "That's not fair Diana! The chase in Cartagena doesn't count; someone cut the brake cables, as you well know!"

The general laughed. "Don't worry son, we were only fooling." Then the general's face took on a somber expression.

"But there was another reason I wanted to get in touch with you, Steve. The Skyhawk project has been threatened by some nutcase. He calls himself Nuclear, if you can believe it."

Diana and Steve both sat forward, attentive and all business at that point. Steve motioned Hunter to continue.

"My contacts at military intelligence haven't been able to turn up much on him, Steve. His phone calls are routed through several satellite links, and too short to be accurately traced. All we know for sure is he's somewhere in this general region."

"What does this...this Nuclear want?" asked Diana. "An end to war, starting with the Skyhawk?"

"No, nothing that noble. This is extortion, plain and simple. Nuclear is demanding a payment of a quarter million dollars from Jettech. In exchange, he'll 'allow' us to make delivery to the Air Force."

"You've refused to pay, of course," said Steve.

"Damn straight we have!" shouted the General. "The military agreed with us and said they could protect us. But Nuclear called again this morning, and told me personally that this would be the last flight of the Skyhawk."

The trio wandered down the stairs and outside to watch the end of the trim jet's test flight. Performing without a flaw, the civilian pilot landed with ease, then rolled the jet to a perfect stop. On the tarmac, the two IADC agents and General Hunter crossed toward the hangar.

The young test pilot was babbling happily and excitedly. "She was just perfect, General, just like you said."

"No anomalies?" asked Steve. The pilot, a young Inuit named Thomas Kalamaku. turned to look at Steve, then at the general with questioning eyes.

"It's all right, son," said the General.

Kalamaku nodded agreement, then answered Steve, "No sir, none at all. The flight was as smooth as silk." The three of them turned back toward the plane, for the post flight inspections, and they saw a commotion among the ground crew. The wrenching sound of stressed metal was accented by the popping sound of rivets flying free from the sleek jet.

"Holy Christ!" shouted Steve, racing toward the jet; Hunter and Kalamaku on his heels. Before them, the Skyhawk continued twisting and buckling.

Diana glanced at the hills beyond the landing field, then ran into the hangar, now emptied as the workers were running to see the unfolding disaster. Diana found a dark corner, behind some oil drums, and begin turning in a circle, her arms outstretched.

With a bright flash of light, the comely IADC agent disappeared; only to be replaced by the familiar crimson and azure clad Wonder Woman. After a brief check to make certain her costume was in place, Wonder Woman raced out of the hangar. Sprinting across the runway, she leaped the cyclone fencing. Picking her way across the rocky hills, she spotted an oddly dressed man pointing his arms at the airfield.

The man was dressed in a dark green bodysuit, with a peculiar bronze armor covering his chest. An equally odd helmet covered his head, masking his features from the amazing Amazon.

With a casual approach, Wonder Woman said, "I thought I saw something up here. Nuclear, I presume?"

"Fear me, woman! For mine is the power to destroy!" he said, his voice mechanically altered.

Wonder Woman crossed her arms and slowly shook her head at Nuclear. "Oh I deal with master destroyers like you on a daily basis," she said. "She took another step closer, and moved to unhook her lasso.

Nuclear turned and out of the corner of her eye, Wonder Woman saw several sheets of corrugated steel arrowing at her. Before Wonder Woman could prepare, she was peppered with a sheet of corrugated steel. She turned to brace herself, raising her bracelets to fend off the sheets. She was successful in flinging them away from her, but the sheets fell into the ground, forming a barricade between Wonder Woman and Nuclear.

The feisty heroine leaped high over the barricade, but in mid-leap she was hit in the small of her back by another sheet of steel. Stunned Wonder Woman dropped to the ground. Nuclear motioned again and the sheet of metal danced as if it were alive. The steel bent, and Wonder Woman heard the same wrenching sound she'd heard before at the hangar. But this time, the steel wrapped tightly around the heroine, replicating a trick Wonder Woman had performed on countless criminals.

"That should hold you for a bit," sneered Nuclear. And if not, then this should keep you occupied." He gestured at a line of fuel trucks, filled with Jet A. The bottoms of the trucks ripped open, and gallons of fuel splashed onto the field. Nuclear laughed and as the fuel burst into flames, he disappeared into the woods.

Wonder Woman struggled briefly in her corrugated cocoon; amazed at how quickly and thoroughly Nuclear had subdued her. She flexed her shoulders, and gained a bit of freedom for her wrists and hands. Pressing against the sides of the steel envelope, Wonder Woman strained her muscles and was rewarded by the sound of the corrugated sheets buckling. "Hola!" shouted Wonder Woman as she spun from its steely embrace. Wonder Woman spared a glance at the rapidly departing Nuclear, but the villain had already disappeared from sight.

Glancing back at the airfield, she saw the flames were swelling higher. Wonder Woman raced back to the airstrip, and began racing around the flames, containing and snuffing them with her feet. She kept the flames at bay until the crash trucks arrived to quell the blaze.

From the corner of her eye, Wonder Woman spotted Steve and General Hunter running toward her. Steve took her in his hands. "Wonder Woman!" he shouted excitedly. "Thank goodness you were here! Did you see what happened?"

Wonder Woman nodded grimly, "I did. I'm sorry I wasn't fast enough to prevent it from happening though. There was a man on the hillside, he called himself Nuclear and..."

"Nuclear!" exploded General Hunter. "He's been threatening the Skyhawk project all along." As the general blustered, a timid aide stepped up and handed the general a note. The general scanned it briefly, then turned to Steve. "Another threat! But I won't pay it! He's demanding more, Steve. But I also can't afford to have any more destroyed. Jettech is too new for us to have deep pockets. If I lose any more, we'll be ruined financially."

"I'll have the IADC put up a secure perimeter, Steve said.

"And I have some investigating of my own to do," said Wonder Woman. "If you'll excuse me?" She disappeared into the woods and a moment later, Diana Prince appeared from the hangars.

"Diana? Where have you been?" asked Steve.

"When the Skyhawk was being torn apart, I thought I saw someone running into the hangar. I didn't find anyone but I did find this on a workbench." Diana proffered a sheaf of documents. Steve and General Hunter studied them with a grim look.

Back at IADC headquarters the next day Joe Atkinson led Steve and Diana into the video conference room. The chamber sealed behind them and the trio seated themselves into comfortable chairs for the briefing.

"I don't have to tell you the Skyhawk Project is a high priority Steve," began the president. "It's not only the best replacement for the F14, but the fuel efficiency and the speed make it an economical choice as well. If someone is trying to sabotage it, then we need to stop them."

"I've added a detachment of soldiers to surround Jettech's test field. They're surrounding the base and keeping strict quarantine there. Additionally, I've arranged for flight escorts from Dunn AFB for the remaining test flights," Steve confirmed.

"That sounds good on defense. What are we doing on offense?"

Joe replied, "We're following up several leads from the other manufacturers, dismissed employees and a few peace activist movements in the area."

Diana added, "I'm also going to do a canvass of the neighborhood. It's fairly isolated, but I'm certain that someone in the area has seen something."

The president's voice seemed to smile. "As I recall that area, it is isolated, and there are a lot of high priced mansions. You should be the one doing the canvass Diana; I can't think of anyone saying no to you." Diana's eyes twinkled.

Joe stood up. "Well then, its all set. What are you still doing here? Shoo shoo!" Steve and Diana stood and smiled. As they entered the hallway, Rover beep-beeped at Diana. A small envelope was in the robot's tray.

Diana picked it up. "What is it?" asked Steve.

"IRAC has some additional information for me. I'll catch up with you tonight, all right?" Steve humphed, but nodded. Diana followed Rover to the computer section, and logged herself into IRAC.

"Good Morning, IRA," she announced into the air.

"Good Morning Diana Prince," came the mechanized response.

"What do you have for me?" she asked.

"Nuclear...a name known only recently by any intelligence branch. First reported by Jettech within the last six months. No known affiliation with any paramilitary or terror organization."

"What about Wonder Woman's description?"

"Wonder Woman reported a man, in an armored suit with magnetic ability. She was able to postulate size as approximately 6 feet tall, slender, yet powerful. She was unable to see a face or skin tone, yet owing to the area' s resident population speculated that he was likely adult and Caucasian."

Diana sighed. She already knew that Intel; she'd provided it. "Any speculation as to who might fit that profile IRA?"

The computer hummed and clacked. "There is an eighty two percent likelihood of Nuclear being a resident of Lancer Pointe, the home of Plazcyk, Karl and Plazcyk, Joye."

"A husband and wife?" asked Diana.

"Siblings,"replied IRAC. "Family fortune was raised on shipping and aircraft manufacture. The sister is the head of all the corporate entities, while the brother is seen as a playboy, with little industry."

"IRA, I think I may just have to pay a visit to these Plazcyks," said Diana smugly.

"I concur that it might be a good spot to start, Diana Prince," said IRAC. "But be careful, since Nuclear was able to surprise Wonder Woman."

The following morning, back at Jettech's test field, Thomas Kalamaku warmed up the Skyhawk for another flight. "She checks out OK General," he reported.

"What do you think, Steve?" asked General Hunter.

Steve studied the skies, until he picked out the F 14s coming in from the south. "Well, the troops reported nothing moving all night long, and here's the escort. Let's take her up."

Hunter motioned the go ahead and Kalamaku revved the jet, then launched into the clear sky. The flight continued well until the very end. From the control tower the frightened cries of Thomas Kalamaku came across the radio. "She's not responding. I'm heading for the ocean. Looks like a crackup."

"Pull out Thomas!" called Hunter. "Eject, eject!" Mortified the two men followed the blip until it disappeared into the ocean.

"Parachute sighted, Eagle Six," came a call from the F 14.

"Copy parachute, Eagle Three," the other plane responded.

"Thank God," said Hunter. Steve nodded in agreement, though his face remained grim.

Diana stepped out of her Cougar and took in the surrounding vista of the Plazcyk estate. The home stood on a bluff, overlooking the Pacific ocean almost two hundred feet below. Pine trees softened the ledge, and an elegant fountain and a tennis court stood in front of the house. With some trepidation, she stepped onto the large verandah and rang the doorbell.

The door swung open and Diana caught sight of a slight woman, with dark hair and an elegant Slavic look. "May I help you?" she asked.

Smiling, Diana said, "Hello, my name is Diana Prince with the IADC." She showed her badge to the woman at the door. "I'm looking for Joye or Percy Plazcyk."

"Oh well, Percy's not well. I'm almost certain he's sleeping in fact. But I'm Joye Plazcyk, Ms Prince. Won't you come in?" The door opened wider and Diana found herself ushered into a tasteful sitting room.

"Now, how can I help you?" asked Joye. She was dressed in a modest green dress, with a lace collar. Her dark hair was permed, and hung about shoulder length. She looked at Diana with innocent, eager eyes.

"Well, I've come to ask about some strange doings at Jettech," Diana began. "They've been receiving threatening correspondence from someone named Nuclear, and I was hoping..."

"Nuclear!" shouted Joye. "I should say so. Poor Percival's nerves have been shattered by that menace."

"You have knowledge of Nuclear? What has he done to your brother?"

"Oh I'm not quite sure. But poor Percival used to be quite cunning until Nuclear began threatening him. But I haven't heard from him in months, ever since the company began losing money."

"How did Nuclear threaten him?" asked Diana.

"It's a long story," began Joye. "But when we were younger, Percival only was interested in science; chemistry and physics mainly. But he also would play hard, and was frequently gambling in gentlemen's clubs until his debts overwhelmed him.

"Our father was the president of Plazcyk industries. He was furious at what he perceived as Percy's laziness. Finally, he cut Percy off, no more money; and made me the president of the business. Percy was heartbroken, but vowed to make a name for himself in science. I funded him secretly until father died, then openly afterward. But even I find it hard to support his gambling habits."

Joye sighed, and Diana sat quietly for a moment. Her sharp Amazon hearing had detected the soft creak of a footstep on a wooden floor, and she suspected Percy was about.

"Do you think I might have a word with your brother?" asked Diana patiently.

Joye looked up. "I suppose so, but you need to be gentle."

"As a lamb," promised Diana.

Joye knocked on the bedroom door seconds after Percy closed the secret closet. He darted into the bed and pulled the covers over. "Who is it?" he asked timidly.

"Percy darling, it's Joye. I have a woman from the IADC asking about Nuclear." Joye swung the door open and Percy buried himself in the blankets, quaking in terror.

"I...I can't talk about Nuclear! He'll kill me!" Percy trembled in fear.

Diana pressed her glasses up on her nose and frowned. "I'm here to see that he doesn't get anyone Mr. Plazcyk. He's been making threats and trying to extort money from Jettech. And Joye said he's been trying to do the same to you?"

Plazcyk burrowed lower. "That was a long time ago. He made me use my lab to build his armor in payment for gambling debts. Joye will tell you he's left us alone since then, won't you Joye?"

Joye tugged on Diana's arm. "He's always like this when someone asks about Nuclear. But Percy is right. It's been a few months since Nuclear has bothered us."

"I'm sorry I bothered you Ms. Plazcyk. Can I ask one last question though?"

"Certainly!" said Joye, determined to be helpful.

"Where did Percy have his lab? If he's not been there for a while, Nuclear may be using it as a base."

Joye laughed. "Did you see the bluff behind the house?" Diana nodded.

"Percy's lab was on, or more precisely under the bluff. But it blew up about the time Nuclear left Percy alone. I always suspected that Nuclear blew it up in an effort to kill Percy."

Diana nodded, then clutched her purse and hat. "Well I should be checking in with a few more of your neighbors," she said. She pointed toward the door, and Joye escorted her to the verandah once more. Diana waved a cheerful goodbye and climbed into the rental Cougar.

Driving carefully down the former lumber trail that served as the roadway to the Plazcyks, Diana caught the reflection of the sunshine on bright brass. Suddenly, her car began shaking, then lifted from the roadway. Diana sat back in her seat, hands off the wheel as she felt the car rising into the air. She sensed the sideways motion, then felt the car drop over the ridge. The car tumbled into the trees, and rolled into a deep valley. Diana managed to climb out of the car, shaken. Looking up, she spotted the strange green armor of Nuclear as he laughed, then turned back toward the ocean.

Diana got to her feet then saw Nuclear had gone. She spread her arms and began the mystic spinning that would transform her from IADC agent to Amazon princess. With a flash of light, Diana Prince disappeared and Wonder Woman emerged. Wonder Woman leapt into the air and landed back on the roadway. She ran toward the ocean but saw no sign of Nuclear.

Wonder Woman scoured the bluff and made her way to a wide ledge. As she crawled along the ledge, she could see several small pockets and caves. She began looking into the caves, and could see that most were too small to hide much. But as she neared a crease in the cliffside, she noticed the scars and soot of an explosion. Wonder Woman drew near, and heard a harsh mocking laughter.

"Wasn't the lesson at the airfield enough for you woman?"

Nuclear pointed both both hands at Wonder Woman, and she threw both arms up to deflect whatever Nuclear would toss at her. "I'm ready for whatever you throw my way," she said.

Instead Wonder Woman felt her bracelets drawing together, and her own strength unable to break the attraction. As she struggled to pull the wristlets apart, Wonder Woman felt herself being drawn into the air, closer and closer to Nuclear.

"I see you have some attraction to me, Wonder Woman," laughed the metal clad menace. "I hope it's not fatal."

Wonder Woman soared upward, helpless against the magnetic onslaught of Nuclear's power. She was dashed without pity against the outcrops of granite that lined the cliff face, and the merciless rocks tore at her skin, her hair her costume.

Nuclear brought the hapless amazon parallel to himself. "Seeing you now," he chortled, "I'm repelled." With a wave of his arms, Wonder Woman shot skyward, her bracelets still locked together. At the apex of her trajectory, she felt the magnetic tension on her bracelets relaxing.

"Thank Hera," she began, but her praises turned to gasps of terror as she felt her golden belt twitching against her waist. The golden clasps pulled free and Wonder Woman's belt and lasso spiraled away from the falling heroine, landing in Nuclear's metal grasp.

Wonder Woman tried in vain to control her fall but, but crashed to the rocky abutment at Nuclear's feet. She struggled to regain her own balance, but without her belt, was no more powerful than a regular woman. Wonder Woman sprawled akimbo at Nuclear's feat, her costume tattered and her body bruised.

Steve Trevor hated making reports to Joe Atkinson, especially ones like these. "The test was sabotaged somehow, Joe. The plane was pulled apart, almost rivet by rivet. The dive and recovery teams are still pulling pieces from the water. Kalamaku is fine, though he's a little spooked. And General Hunter only has one prototype left. If that gets destroyed." Steve let the unfinished sentence hang in the air.

"What about Diana's mission, Steve. Has she turned anything up?"

Steve's stomach rumbled in anxiety, as he answered, "We're not sure, Joe. We found her car miles from her last reported position. It had been wrecked, almost like it had rolled down a cliffside. According to Joye Plascyk, Diana visited with her for a while, then left, shortly after noon. No one's seen her since."

Joe folded his hands on the desk, though Steve couldn't see him. Concern furrowed his brow. "I don't like it Steve. Diana wouldn't disappear without some word; not if she was doing deep reconnaissance. I'm afraid we may have to consider her MIA."

"I don't think that's the case Joe," Steve replied. "She's very resourceful; and Diana has a knack for turning up where we least expect her."

Begrudgingly, Joe agreed. "We'll give her another forty eight hours. That's standard procedure for an agent in the field. Either she'll make contact or we'll assume the worst. I don't like it any more than you do Steve, but that's why the agency has the procedures in place."

Steve nodded. "I'm going to insure the perimeter is safe from the seaside, Joe. "That's one area we almost overlooked. I'm going out in the morning to reconnoiter from the bay. Maybe I'll turn something up."

"Good luck Steve," Joe hung up the phone.

Steve stared grimly out the window of the hotel as he returned his own handset to the cradle.

Deep in the crevasse she'd spotted from the bluffs outside, Wonder Woman moaned softly. Cautiously, she eased her eyes open and blinked back tears from the bright light shining in her face. She was standing upright, or so she thought, with her hands outstretched and above her head. She tugged her hand forward and found it wouldn't move.

But her feet dangled loose below her. As Wonder Woman turned her head, she could see she was dangling from a thigh gauge fence, which surrounded a large electric generator. Her bracelets were still magnetized, and they seemed to be all that was keeping her suspended.

Beneath her, Wonder Woman could see Nuclear working on some device. His surprisingly small hands moved with a surgeon's precision as he carefully laid wire and welded it into place. His attention was entirely focused on his work. Nearby, on his workbench, Wonder Woman saw the gleaming gold of her amazonium belt and lasso, and realized once again that she had been made powerless by a man.

A soft bell chimed and behind her, Wonder Woman heard the sound of an elevator opening. Unseen feet clattered along the heavy metal gridded floor. Nuclear turned and snarled at the unseen intruder.

"I thought I told you I was not to be disturbed," he growled. His voice sounded distorted and almost mechanical.

"This is MY laboratory," said the voice, indignant. "And I wanted to see Wonder Woman!"

"Your laboratory, HAH! You have nothing of your own, it all came from your father, your sister. You're nothing but a scavenging parasite, and you'll do exactly what I tell you!" Nuclear stopped his tirade long enough to gesture to the hostage. "There's your precious Wonder Woman, pinned to the wall like a butterfly."

Percy Plazcyk came round to look at Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman squirmed uncomfortably; still unable to free herself.

"Nuclear is quite mad, you know," muttered Percy. "And he's out to destroy Jettech, using my scientific breakthroughs."

"That's quite enough, you sniveling coward," said Nuclear. "You've ogled your would be savior, now go back to simpering in the corners." Nuclear took a menacing step toward Plazcyk. He gasped and scurried back to the elevator. Wonder Woman heard the doors rumble open, then closed.

"I gather that the explosion didn't quite finish you off." said the captive Amazon.

"That fool tried to kill me," said Nuclear. "He thought he was protecting his sister and his scientific legacy. But all he did was succeed in angering me. Now he'll pay the rest of his miserable life for crossing me."

"Isn't that a little harsh? Most villains would be satisfied with just killing him." said Wonder Woman, trying to understand.

"I...I can't kill him. I need him as well."

"So there's a symbiosis in your relationship."

Nuclear remained quiet, then changed the subject. "You're being held in place by the magnogenerators. My research, and that of that insipid fool have discovered that all metals have an electromagnetic affinity; its merely a matter of discovering the precise calibration. For instance, your magnificent bracelets, made of...?"

"Feminum," Wonder Woman provided.

"Thank you. Made of Feminum are magnetic at a very high frequency, almost off the charts. Your belt and lasso are similarly, but not quite as high frequency."

"What are you going to do with me?" asked Wonder Woman.

"Well right now, you're merely a nuisance to me. If you were to break free before I complete my revenge on Jettech, then I suppose you could cause large problems to my schemes. I had contemplated keeping you as a hostage; to keep the IADC away; but I think I wish to experiment."

Nuclear picked up the device he'd been working on and set it on a pivot mount in front of the captive Amazon. "This device is another magnetic probe. But where most magnets have a very short range, this one is powerful over yards. It's calibrated to iron by the very simplest of lodestones."

Nuclear sighted the weapon on Wonder Woman's ample breasts. "What I am going to do is draw every molecule of iron in your body to one spot and extract it to the rod. I don't think the results will be pretty, especially for you, but I rather find the prospect fascinating."

"Your brother was correct, you are insane....Joye," said Wonder Woman.

"NEVER use that name. Joye Plazcyk is DEAD! She died the night her brother declared himself to be Nuclear; the night her father died a suspicious death."

She whirled toward Wonder Woman, her cape fluttering behind her. "The explosion in the lab was my doing. I wanted to keep Percy at bay. But I found Nuclear such a useful tool. Oh we both took turns at it, Wonder Woman. Percy was the mindless, destructive version of Nuclear, and I was in the suit when it required finesse, or an alibi for my brother. The explosion in the lab left Percy a babbling fool at best. But I'm able to provide for both of us, on the remains of Father's shipping and transportation business. It was losing the Skyhawk project to Jettech that pushed us to the brink of bankruptcy though. And so Hunter and his company shall pay, or they shall die."

Nuclear hooked the power cord into the diabolical device, then slipped it into a power source. A telephone buzzed. Nuclear looked at it quizzically, then removed the helmet and the voice distortion devices. Joye Plazcyk picked up the phone and purred sympathetically into it.

"Yes Percy dear?" Wonder Woman strained, but couldn't hear the other end of the conversation.

"Yes Percy, keep him occupied. I'll be up in a moment. All right." Joye set the telephone down and scowled at Wonder Woman.

"It appears the IADC doesn't know when to stop," she said as she slid the helmet back over her head. "With any luck, they've sent the Prince woman back. If not...well it's a big cave, and at least you won't have to die alone."

Nuclear then tripped the switch on the death device. A soft hum filled the cave and Wonder Woman thought she could feel the magnetic pulses touch her, caressing her like spiders inside her blood vessels. She shuddered as the device continued, drawing iron from all the outer edges of her body first.

Her body pulsed and rippled as the iron in her body began to magnetize and reverse its direction. Wonder Woman's fingers were beginning to tingle; her toes and feet were growing cold and numb.

Steve Trevor had always been a man of action, like his father. After deciding that sitting tight was for people like Joe, he'd gone out to retrace Diana's steps. Starting at the Plazcyk manor, he'd been met by a simpering man with mad, rounded eyes. "I'm Steve Trevor, with the IADC. I understand my associate Miss Prince was here today. Did you see her?"

The man looked blankly at the image on the photo. "I did see someone today. But I must say, my nerves aren't quite what they once were, and I'm afraid my memory isn't so good either. Perhaps my sister Joye would remember better."

"Is she here?"

"I believe she's in the cellar," said the man. "Allow me to call down and find out."

Steve studied the art on the walls as the man called down stairs. He was studying an exquisite Matisse when he felt a tap on the shoulder. Steve turned. "Hello Miss Plazcyk....UNNNNGGGGHH!!!" Steve suddenly felt himself hurled across the room, led by the zipper on his jacket. His IADC issued .45 flew out of the jacket's pocket as Steve slammed into the thick stone of the fireplace. The gun slammed him in the side of the head and Steve dropped to the floor, unconscious.

Percival studied the unconscious form of Trevor, then looked up at his sister. He shuddered, covering his eyes as he saw her standing in the Nuclear armor.

"Did you have to hit him so hard?" asked Percy, without a hint of fear in his voice.

"Of course I did, you fool," spat Joye. Do you honestly think either of us would have been a match for him without the element of surprise?" Joye knelt over the prone form of Trevor as he sprawled on the floor of the manor.

"Bring me something to restrain him," she snarled at Percy. A moment later, Percy returned with a short extension cord. Nuclear examined it and nodded. "It will have to do," she said.

Wonder Woman was writhing in pain. She could feel her heartbeat increasing as the iron broke its bonds in her hemoglobin. Her shoulders and thighs ached, and she was losing feeling in her extremities. She heard the elevator door ring again and with an effort, she lifted her head, shaking it slightly to drive the dark hair from her eyes.

Nuclear entered the room backwards, carrying something; Diana saw through misty eyes. As Nuclear's burden became more obvious, Wonder Woman felt her spirits drop. "Steve!" she thought.

The Plazcyks carried the unconscious IADC agent to a clear workbench and left him there. Percy spared a glance at Wonder Woman and shuddered.

"Go warm up the van, we have to spoil one last test," said Nuclear. Nuclear shoved Percy, and he scampered back to the elevator. Smirking, Nuclear returned to Wonder Woman.

"I'm afraid the Skyhawk project is doomed Wonder Woman. You won't be able to stop Nuclear this time, and the IADC is quickly running out of agents." Nuclear glanced at Trevor. "He's harmless for now, and may even be awake to see you die. A pity I won't be here, but even Nuclear can't be two places at once. Oh that's right, He CAN!" Joye stepped up to the captive Amazon, and ran a gloved hand over Wonder Woman's smooth thigh.

"Oh, you're cold. The iron must be breaking down as we speak. And I see that healthy Caribbean tan has faded as the oxygen is draining from your body. Soon, the iron will cluster here," she said, tapping Wonder Woman on her breasts. "And shoot through your skin, leaving you quite dead. But don't worry Wonder Woman, I'll have Percy clean you up when I get back. He'll like that."

She picked up the helmet she wore as Nuclear, and waved a cheerful goodbye. Wonder Woman pulled harder at the grid, but the magnetic field holding her bracelets was too powerful in her weakened state.

The elevator doors closed and the room grew silent with the Amazon's battle against death. Diana's eyes closed as she continued to battle, knowing all the while she was losing. But her ears heard the sound of motion, and she cracked her lids to see Steve sitting up on the workbench.

"I thought they'd never leave," said Trevor. Reaching into his jacket with his bound hands, Steve pulled out a Swiss army knife and began working on the extension cord. The flimsy appliance snapped easily under his sharp blade, and he smiled as he rubbed his wrists.

"Thank goodness I inherited Dad's hard head," he quipped as he raced toward the apparatus.

"Be...be careful...S. S..Steve," croaked Wonder Woman, her voice parched.

Steve studied it for a moment, and realized he was unable to find the off switch. So with his trusty knife, he cut through the cables of the beam first, then found the main for the magnetic grid.

Wonder Woman dropped from the magnetic grid with a lifeless thud. Steve raced to her, cupping her head in his arms. He could feel the cold of her body, and saw her lips were blue. Touching the sides of her throat, Steve felt for a pulse, and found none.

He gently lay Wonder Woman on the cave floor and tilted her neck back. Trevor then kissed those lips he'd always wanted and blew air into Wonder Woman's mouth. He saw her breast rise as he inflated her lungs. The air expelled as he removed his lips, then he repeated the rescue breathing.

Steve felt for a pulse again and still got none. He moved to Wonder Woman's chest, and felt along her breastbone to find the right spot. He clenched his hands together and pressed down on Wonder Woman's chest. "One...two...three...four" he counted. Then he leaned back over to breathe into Wonder Woman's mouth.

This time, Steve felt lips greedily accepting his. An arm wrapped around Steve's head, pulling him close. Flustered and not a little embarrassed, Steve sat back as Wonder Woman moved herself to a seated position.

"My hero," she murmurred. She stood, a bit shakily and made her way to the table where her belt and lasso lay. Jittery, Wonder Woman placed the belt around her trim waist and turned to face Steve with a hint of a smile.

"Hey you should take it easy," said Steve. "After all, you were just dead."

"Thank Hera I'm not." She paused a moment and thought again, "And thank you too, Steve."

"Well, I just..."

"But there's no time for this. Nuclear is going to destroy the Skyhawk. We have to stop them Steve."

"But how?" asked Trevor.

"Do you know the fire rangers in this area?" asked Wonder Woman.

"Well yes, but why?" Wonder Woman put a finger against his lips and explained her plan.

"The fools are actually planning on launching it," laughed Joye, still clad in the Nuclear armor. She set the binoculars down and opened the door of the van. In the driver's seat, Percy whimpered.

"You promised it would be MY turn," he said.

"It's my money, Percy, so I'm going to do them in," glowered Nuclear. Percy nodded, bowing his head in shame. With both sets of eyes focused on the airfield below, neither sibling saw or heard the silent approach of Wonder Woman's invisible jet.

Below, on Jettech's airstrip, the Skyhawk taxied, then leapt upward, climbing with remarkable ease. Joye growled as the plane shot overhead then banked north from her perspective. "It's out of range," she said. "But we'll get it when it returns."

"I don't think so Nuclear," said Wonder Woman. She stepped from the brush and stood with her legs apart and her hands on her hips. "Now would you two like to surrender?"

"YOU!" hissed Joye. "You're supposed to be DEAD!"

"Sorry, I wasn't dressed for a funeral," quipped Wonder Woman. The amazing Amazon unclipped her lasso, swung it and dropped it over Percy in one fluid movement. "Don't move," she said.

Percy stopped all movement and stood completely still. But Joye whirled and raised both hands at Wonder Woman. "You may have stopped my worthless brother," she said. "But I still can control your bracelets." She gestured at Wonder Woman's wrists and Diana felt her hands leap in reply.

The bracelets clanged together, setting off sparks in the dimming twilight sky. Behind Wonder Woman, the woods erupted in flames. Her plane dipped low, allowing Wonder Woman to jump onto the wing, dragging Percy with her.

On the floor below, the quick Napalm fire burned brightly around Nuclear. Joye screamed for mercy as the fire disrupted her magnetic abilities. Wonder Woman got Percy settled, then returned for Nuclear. She hovered the jet above Nuclear and dropped the lasso.

Joye grabbed at the lasso, and began to climb, when a tongue of flame licked at her cape. Joye panicked and dropped the lasso, falling to the ground once more. A flaming tree fell next to her and Wonder Woman lost sight. The Amazon could see the Rangers water bomber coming though and moved her jet out of the way.

"So the Skyhawk was a success?" asked Joe Atkinson as his formerly AWOL agents gave their reports.

"Yes Joe, the plane outperformed the required stats in every test and Jettech got a large order for them. It ought to keep the General and his business going for years," said Steve.

"What about the Plazcyks?" Joe asked, turning to Diana.

"Well, Percival suffered a complete breakdown, and was remanded to the Shady Rest Asylum. Joye's body wasn't recovered, though the Nuclear armor was badly burned and destroyed. I wouldn't believe anything or anyone could have survived the fall and the fire." Diana seemed very disturbed by this.

"Well I don't like having an open door like that," said Steve. "After all, Miss Plazcyk nearly killed you, me and Wonder Woman. The thought that she could return to work revenge isn't going to let me sleep easier at night."

"Speaking of missing, Diana," Joe interrupted. "Where were you? We had IADC scouring the whole of the forest."

"Believe it or not Joe, I was hiding in the woods, trying to figure out how to get back to the road and how to explain I'd lost another car. I was just glad Wonder Woman found me and brought me back to Jettech." Diana adjusted her glasses and looked at Steve.

"Wonder Woman told me one more thing, Steve."

"What's that?" he asked.

"Wonder Woman told me to tell you...now how did she say it? Oh yes, Wonder Woman said to tell you that you're every bit as good at kissing as your father was." Steve's face turned beet red as Joe and Diana laughed.

The End

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