I’m on a chopper flying out of Arlington. I’m on another run. One of
those runs thats just meant to put someone in their place. Let them
know Big Brother’s watching. I hate this kinda stuff.
working for the government for most of my life. Back in the Big Duece,
I was bashing Nazis with my buddies, Stonewall and Super Sabre. After
that we came home and did some hush-hush work for awhile, but that
The agency said “Thanks,” bought us a nice lodge in
upstate New York and forgot about us — until the mutant problem really
See they had put together this group of mutants — the Freedom Force — who were gonna work as their X-Men. We were out to stop the bad mutants — or at least whoever the agency decided was a bad one.
the Freedom Force wasn’t exactly comprised of the best-natured folks. I
think every one of them had a criminal record. Most of them were
terrorists — part of Magneto’s brotherhood.
The feds got their use
out of most of them, And then they sent us to Kuwait. Super Sabre was
killed. I got out with one less hand and a face that looked like melted
plastic. They left Pyro and Blob to rot.
But for some reason, they
fixed me. I don’t know what they wanted with an old coot like me, but
the work’s been steady. Maybe they just like having a lackey who hasn’t
aged more than a year in two decades. Saves ’em a lot of training time.
I smile. I’m gonna have one hell of a retirement package by the time I hang up my mask.
“We’re over Jersey now, C.C.” the pilot says to me through the intercom.
pop open my case and pull out “The Bulb.” Sorry for the dumbass
nickname, I don’t know what else to call it. It isn’t a hand after all.
It may be a weapon and supercomputer, but it isn’t no hand.
it by its metal base and screw it onto my prostetic attachment. On the
base sits a metal ball with a lens running along the circumfrence. Its
got all sorts of handy devices, mostly stuff swiped by SHIELD from Iron
Man. There’s a repulsor blaster. A stun cable. Signalling devices. Heat
and odor sensors.
Yeah, The Bulb’s pretty handy, if you’ll excuse
the pun. It’s even pretty good in a fight, just don’t ask me serve you
breakfast in bed with it.
After I run a system check on the bulb, I see the ready light go on.
The pilot comes up again. “Garden City on the sights. We’re moving in on the neighborhood now.”
It doesn’t take long for me now. I just close my eyes and see my focus point. A wall
blood circles my consciousness. The world around me goes crimson.
Everything is bathed in a red glow. The details, the ones I don’t need
to think about, fade into the glow.
I find my center. I find my zone.
The vibration of the chopper vanishes. Its sound is worthless to me, so it’s gone.
open my eyes. The ready area, once full of computer panels, empty seats
and safety signs, is all gone. It’s like its been covered in ice. The
details have been wiped out. My focus isn’t here. It’s on the hunt.
A sound breaks through the silence.
zero,” it says. There may have been more to it, but that’s all I needed
to hear. A door slides open, I snap my line onto the hook and I’m
Below me, the trees lining the streets are lumps of glossy clay.
My line unspools with a zipping sound at first and then mechanically slows down. I come to a stop a foot above the pavement.
I unhook and the line fires up to the chopper. The chopper floats away.
I’m in front of a bar. It’s called “The Points.”
It’s no ordinary saloon though.
It’s a regular old discount outlet supermarket for superpowers.
My job isn’t as easy as you’d think. I’m not here to shut’em down. That’s way too Captain America for the U.S. government.
see, the Agency wants em to keep pushing innovation. In America,
capturing supervillians is about the only way the U.S. government can
keep up with people like Reed Richards, Dr. Doom and Tony Stark.
guys are the ones that scare us. The Blizzard can rob as many banks as
he wants. We know he’ll eventually be stopped. But someone like Thor?
He’s already got the public on his side. Some people would rather
listen to him than Uncle Sam.
That’s why we need technology. Ideas,
formulas and gadgets. We let the “heroes’ bring the “villains” to us.
We say thank you and strip them of their gear.
We take their stuff,
reverse engineer it and give it to our spooks. It’s a big help — you
wouldn’t believe what they did with the stuff Stilt-Man built.
But we need more. Iron Man keeps updating his armor. We need to keep up with the arms race — just in case.
So we go after the criminal element. Give them a little motivation.
just need to scare’em. Rattle their cages. Send ’em scurrying to their
next hideout. Keep ’em on their toes. Push their desperation. Make them
build something new. Inspire them to try one more experiment that might
give them the edge.
It’s 4 a.m., so I go straight in the front door.
There’s a bartender sweeping up some broken glass. Something’s on the jukebox, but I don’t hear it. It’s not important.
geezer. The costume contest is down at Hannigan’s. And it’s next week,”
the bartender says. He moves toward the bar. He wants to activate an
I tackle him and have a zip cord around his wrists before he has a chance to breath.
“You’re under arrest by authority of the United States government,” I say.
“Yeah, and who are you? The Geritol Kid.”
I’m done with him now. His features fade into the world of red around him, but not before I say “I’m the Crimson Commando.”
It’s always important that they remember you. It makes them paranoid.
I slide up to the hidden door at the back of the room.
While the rest of the room was like a sheet of glass, that section of paneling stood out.
Perfume, just a little bit though.
The creak of a chair. She’s so heavy its straining under her weight.
Yep, its her all right — Poundcakes.
isn’t running the operation, she’s just the body guard. Keeps the
buyers in line. Mans the door to the supervillain smorgasboard in the
The great thing about working for the government is you can find out anything.
You wanna know the Thing’s shoesize? 20 extra, extra wide.
Interested in the formula for Adamantium. It’s there.
about something on Poundcakes? She can lift about 25 tons. You can fire
a stinger missile at her and she’ll think you turned on the shower
And most important of all — she’ll be unconscious in 30 seconds.
I send a mental signal to The Bulb. Its gears whir into motion.
I kick in the door and roll into the room.
A cabinet the size of coffin launches across the room and explodes against the wall.
don’t know who you are, Red, but that’s the wrong kind of way to make
an entrance when I’m around,” she says. Her voice is mannish.
My focus is on her now. The room is an empty box. It’s her and I. No distractions. All focus.
My knife is in my left hand. I dive at her. I make her react to the blade.
reacts just like all the other wrestlers. Her arms spread out for the
big show. She’s posing for the crowd. Old habits die hard, I guess.
She crouches a bit and gets ready for the charge.
She grabs my hand and squeezes. For her, its like squishing a marshmellow with a toothpick inside.
“That ain’t gonna hurt me,” she says.
Her focus is in the wrong place. She didn’t even notice The Bulb.
I swing it into her face and fire. An aerosol spray blasts out.
She can’t help it. She sucks the gas right up. It paralyzes her lungs and she starts to gag.
She’s angry and throws me.
My focus turns. The wall becomes clear. I tuck into a roll and smash against it.
It kills my back, but I’m OK.
Poundcakes grabs her throat. Her eyes roll and she passes out.
I take a few breaths. That was about 30 seconds.
I reach into a belt pouch. I get two foam bombs and set them off underneath her.
blows with a “whump” and begins expanding into a gooey mess of sticky
high-strength foam. She’ll be trapped for days when she wakes up.
I pull the trapdoor in the floor. Someone running. The sound of a car starting. Good. They’re already evacuated.
Poundcakes did her job. She slowed me down long enough.
I did my job. Scared ’em off.
I drop down into the basement. Empty shelves. A picture of Spider-man riddled with darts. An open door.
Whoever it was, he’s still running. I can hear it. He’s got my focus.
Good. Keep running. Stay afraid. Keep thinking about how to make your stuff a little better.
That’s just what the agency needs.
The Crimson Commando first appeared in Uncanny X-Men No. 215. Poundcakes first appeared in Marvel Two-in-One No. 54.
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