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What is "Civil War"? (Originally written January 25th, 1996)

      You are holding in your hand Book One of the saga that is known as “Civil War”, although the war doesn’t actually start until Book Two...

Monday, 31 December 1990

Anglo-Force: The Formation & The Return Of Saruman Chapter 1

The year was 1999, the last year of the twentieth century. In the last decade, things had changed quite dramatically. Ever since the Eugenics War, seven years previously, relations between some countries had weakened, while some had strengthened.
    Another war of sorts was taking place in London, the capital city of Great Britain. This was not a war between two countries. This was a war between two bands of criminals, and the law enforcement authorities seemed powerless to stop it. It was not a war over drugs. The street value of drugs had slipped considerably over the past five years. This was a war over a mineral, mineral of great and unusual power, a mineral known as cavourite.

    The two sides in the war were the Mafia and a group of super-powered beings known as the Black Squadron.

    A small convoy of lorries was heading towards the recently opened Docklands Power Station in London. The station had only been open for a couple of years. It was not nuclear powered, it was powered by cavourite, which was much safer. The power station had been built after all business had moved away years ago.
    The lorries soon arrived at the power station. The station not only provided power for all of London, but nearly all of the south-east of England.
    They were let through the entrance gate after several security checks. Security was tight here after many incidents. Both the Mafia and the Black Squadron had tried to take over the power station. Cavourite could not only be used as a source of power, but as a mutagen, a mutating agent.

    The lorries pulled into a large building. Four technicians walked over to the lead lorry. As one of them walked over to the door, it suddenly spring open, and hit the man, sending him flying. The others did not know what was going on. They soon found out though as two men brandishing rifles jumped out of the lorry's cab.
"Against the wall", they shouted. The men did what they were told.
    The door of the second lorry opened, and out stepped a rather fat man wearing a designer Italian suit. This man was the "Godfather" of the London Mafia, Giacomo Orsine. He took out his gun from his shoulder holster, and pointed it at the frightened man against the wall.
    "You will tell me the security code.", he said. "If you wish to continue to use your lungs."
    "Seven-alpha-serti-nine-three.", sputtered one of them.
    "Thank you.", said Orsine.
    He then pointed his gun at the man, and shot him in the forehead. One of his men then walked over to the security panel, and punched in the code. The massive door then swung open. As they did, about twenty men came out of the other two lorries, and followed Orsine into the main section of the power station.
    While all this was going on, they did not notice that they were being watched by two members of the Black Squadron, the master of fire and ice, Celsius, and the telepath and second in command, Doctor Armand Theophilus.
    "They never change.", said Theophilus. "They always use the same tactic to get into some heavily guarded building. This is almost too easy!"
    "The plan is as always?", queried Celsius. "We let them steal the cavourite, then take them out?"
    "Yes.", said Theophilus. But this time with a couple of variations. This time, we leave a message. Orsine's corpse, delivered on his doorstep!"
    As Theophilus and Celsius stood on top of one of the buildings, they heard a familiar noise in the distance, the noise of police sirens. A silent alarm had been tripped by Orsine and his men. Minutes later, five police cars entered the grounds of the power station. They stopped, and several officers got out of the cars. All were heavily armed. Such were the changes over the past few years, the thought of the British Bobby being armed was thought of as ridiculous ten years
    The policemen all took up positions outside the entrance, all save one. This one was not dressed in uniform, but dressed entirely in black. The one, the man in charge of the operation, grabbed a megaphone.
    "Orsine!", he boomed. "Get your bloody arse out here now, or you'll find yourself looking like a Swiss cheese!"
    Inside the plant, Orsine cursed.
    "It's that damn Inspector Solo!", he snorted. "How the hell did he find out?"
    "Do we carry on?", asked one of his henchmen.
    "Of course we do you pencil-necked geek!", Orsine snapped. "We've got a deadline to meet!"
    Solo signalled to his men to move in closer, and to try to get inside the power station. On the nearby roof, Celsius and Theophilus continued to watch with great interest.
    "We may be saved a job.", said Theophilus. "Solo may kill Orsine for us!"
    Solo and his men slowly moved closer to the entrance. Just as they did, some of Orsine's men opened fire.
    "Take cover!", Solo cried. "Return fire!"
    A gun battle ensued. Neither side gave any quarter. While half of Orsine's men engaged in the battle, the other half continued on their mission. On the roof, Theophilus and Celsius took great interest in the battle.
    "Curses!", snapped Theophilus. "No one is winning! We'll have to attack anyway!"
    The two of them skirted across the rooftops of the power station. They soon came to the roof of the main generator. Celsius pointed his hands to the roof, and blasted a hole in it using his heat powers. Theophilus, followed by Celsius, jumped through the hole, and landed not far from the cavourite store. Just as they landed on the ground, about half a dozen of Orsine's henchmen entered the store. Celsius quickly turned round, and blasted them all with a fire burst. Where
they stood, only ashes remained.
    News of the death of his henchmen soon reached Orsine.
    "We are fighting a losing battle!", he cried. "Move out!"
    What was left of Orsine's party boarded one of the lorries, and they quickly drove out of the power station. Two of the police cares were rammed by the lorry. Some of the officers narrowly missed injury.
    Into the station!", cried Solo. "That burning smell can only mean one thing. Celsius is here!"
    They soon found the main cavourite store. They quickly hid when they saw Theophilus and Celsius unloading some of the cavourite. Solo signalled to the others to enter the store. Just as they were about to enter, a huge gust of wind blew past them into the store. Celsius and Theophilus also felt this gust, but it suddenly stopped, and in front of the two criminals stood a man clad in red, wearing a mask that covered his entire face.
    The Jet!", cried Theophilus. "Kill him!"
    Celsius raised his hands in the direction of Jet, and fired another fire blast, but Jet was too quick for him. Celsius continued to do this. All he succeeded in doing was setting the storeroom on fire.
    “We've got to do something, Inspector!", cried one of the policemen.
    “We can't!", cried Solo.
    Celsius was having no luck against Jet. Jet suddenly stopped in front of him, and delivered a quick blow to his midsection. Another blow to his jaw, and Celsius was sprawled out on the floor. Theophilus turned his attention away from the cavourite. He placed his hands on his head and turned toward Jet. He was about to unleash a psychic blast when a bullet ripped through his shoulder. It came from Solo's pistol.
    Just as Jet was about to go after Theophilus, a strange, dark mist began to appear in the storeroom. A dark figure stepped out of the mist. He spoke.
    "You have been ordered to return."
    "Damn that woman!", cried Theophilus. "We almost succeeded!"
    But his protest fell on deaf ears. The mist covered the two villains, then, the mist, and the villains, were gone.
    Jet quickly put out the fire, and then he walked over to the cavourite store. Solo walked over as well.
    "Thanks.", he said.
    "You were stupid to get involved.", said Jet. "Theophilus is one of the most dangerous men in the world. He could have easily killed you if the Grim Reaper had not arrived!"
    And with that, Jet flew away at high speed. Outside, a large crowd had been gathering. Extra police had arrived, and they were just managing to contain them when Solo arrived.
    "Get this mob out of here!", he snapped. "When are these idiots going to learn?"
    A few minutes later, more police arrived. The crowd were soon moved away. A few reporters stayed, hoping to get a good cover story, but they were soon moved on. One man, however, stayed near the power station, gazing up at it while stroking his white moustache. Solo walked over to him.
    "You shouldn't be here, old man.", he snapped. "This is no place for an old man."
    The old man ignored him.
    "Are you deaf as well as old?", snapped Solo.
    "He did well.", mused the old man. "If only I had had more time to teach him. If only he wasn't hell bent on revenge."
    "What the hell are you mumbling about?", snapped Solo, grabbing the old man's arm. "Now come on, get out of here!"
    The old man shot him an icy stare.
    "Never do that again, young man!"
    The old man snatched his arm away, and began to walk on. As he did, he lighted his pipe. But Solo could not believe his eyes. It was as if the pipe had come out of nowhere. He put this down to the pressures of work. After all, it had been a long day.

    Two days later, a special meeting was called. Present were the Prime Minister, Simon Harkes, the Home Secretary, Sir Angus Campbell-Bannerman, the leader of the special task force that had been set up, Chief Inspector Charles Jeavons, and his second, Inspector Solo.
    "I'm very disturbed by these recent events, gentlemen.", said Harkes. "The Docklands Power Station has been hit three times in the past four months. That, coupled with the other skirmishes in this so-called war. Something has to be gentlemen, I'm willing to listen to your ideas."
    "I'm at a complete loss.", said Jeavons. "Both the Mob and the Black Squadron both want the same thing, cavourite. The Mafia to sell to the highest bidder, and the Squadron for I don't know what! Nothing we can do can stop them!"
    "Are you saying there is nothing we can do?", said Campbell-Bannerman.
    "There is something we may be able to do, sir.", said Solo.
    "Go ahead.", said Harkes.
    "We are losing men because they can't cope with both the Mob and the Squadron.", said Solo. "Our men just don't have the skills to cope. But there are some men who do have the skills. At the moment they are scattered all over the place, but if we were to bring them together, get them to join forces, we may be able to stop this thing."
    "I hope you're not suggesting what I think you are.", said Jeavons. "Are you saying that we hand everything over to these blasted super-heroes?"
    "Yes.", said Solo. "Over the past month or so, six super-powered men have stopped blood baths in London and the home counties. I've prepared files on these six men, and when they were last seen."
    Solo handed copies of his files to the other three.
    "Such a project has never only ever been undertaken in this country once before.", said Solo. "It has worked in other countries before. The last instance it was tried over here was in the 1950's, with a group known as Anglo-Force."
    "Are you saying we should re-form this group?", said Harked. "Surely they would all be in their sixties now, and if I remember correctly, their leader vanished over forty years ago!"
    "I'm saying we should re-form Anglo-Force, but with all new members.", said Solo. I've been making contacts for a few days now. I think I can make contact with all of those men."
    Harkes sat in thought for a few moments.
    "You'll need headquarters, of course.", he said.
    "We can't operate out of a phone box.", said Solo.
    "You have my full backing.", said Harkes. "But I suggest we keep this a secret for a while. This conversation, and all it's details, must go no further than this room. Meeting adjourned."
    The four men left their seats. Jeavons pulled Solo up outside.
    "Don't you ever go over my head like that again, Solo.", he snapped. "We don't need any help from these nuts!"
    "With all due respect, sir.", said Solo. "We are losing this thing. We need help, and I can get us this help!"

    Two nights later, in London's exclusive Mayfair district, a burglar ran across the rooftops, until he came to the flat he was looking for. Slowly, he lowered a rope down the side of the building. He secured the rope to his belt, and started to abseil down the side of the building. He came to a
window, and stopped. He peered in, and then took a small glass-cutter from his pocket. But before he could start cutting the glass, a shadow appeared behind him.
    "Isn't it a bit late to be doing a bit of window shopping?"
    The startled burglar turned around to see a figure clad in white hanging behind him on a rope. The burglar could tell who it was by the large letter on his chest.
    "Mr. X!", he cried.
The burglar was scared out of his skin. He abseiled down the build as fast as he could. He knew that if Mr. X was around, Axe Kid wouldn't be far behind.
    He ran down the street as fast as he could. Then he ducked into an alley. He continued to run, but he came to a dead end. He knew that there were no other means of escape. He was trapped. He could hear Mr. X's footsteps. The sound was getting louder and louder. They, they stopped. He breathed a sigh of relief because he thought he was safe. He was wrong. Before he knew it, he was floating in mid-air, halfway up the wall. Then, a strange figure flew down from above, and hovered in front of him. The face was that of an old man.
    "I know Mr. X would not need any help in apprehending you.", said the old man. "But this is the only way I could think of making contact with him."
    The old man placed his hand over the burglar's eyes, and a second later, he was asleep. They hovered back to the ground, and the man placed his hand on the burglar's chest for a split second. When he removed it, there was a small piece of paper there, with some writing on it. The man looked around, and when he saw there was no one approaching, he flew back up into the sky.
     A minute later, Mr. X and Axe Kid came charging into the alley. They were surprised to see the burglar laying against the wall. They walked over to him.
    Is he dead?", asked Axe Kid.
    Mr. X checked his pulse.
    "He's alive."
    He then noticed the piece of paper on the burglar's chest. He picked it up, and read it aloud.
    "Meet me at the old nuclear bunker in west London, tomorrow night. P.M."
    "P.M.?", said Axe Kid. "Prime Minister, perhaps?"
    "It's possible.", said Mr. X. "But it could also be a trap by either the Mob or the Black Squadron. We'll go, but we'll have to be on our toes."

    At the same time, Inspector Solo stood on the banks of the river Thames. He stood near Tower Bridge, as if he was waiting for someone or something. While he waited, he started to smoke a cigarette. He gazed into the night sky. He noticed two flashes of light dart across the sky. When he saw this, he threw his cigarette to the ground, trod on it, and walked further on up the river. The two flashes began to get nearer and nearer to the ground. Then, as Solo stopped in his tracks, the two flashes turned into the shape of two men. The two men landed in front of Solo. The Inspector smiled.
    "You got my message then.", he said.
    "I sure did. Star Man and Lightning Kid reporting for duty."
    Star Man began to remove his mask.
    "It's good to see you again, little brother!", said Solo.
    "It's been a while.", Star Man replied, his mask now completely removed. "But with this Black Squadron thing going on, Jimbo and I have been rushed off our feet. We are getting nowhere!"
    "I know the feeling.", said Solo. "That's why I called you here tonight."
    "This Anglo-Force thing?", queried Lightning Kid.
    "Yeah.", said Solo. "So far, you two have been the only one's I've been able to contact."
    "There's a rumour going around that some old man is getting in touch with some of the others.", said Star Man. "I haven't seen anything myself, but they say that one minute he is there, and the next, he's gone."
    "I've seen something like that, too.", said Solo. "At the last few incidents, some old coot has been hanging around after everyone else has left. When I see him, it just gives me the creeps. It could be he's involved in this thing somehow. But he can't worry us at the moment. Are you...?"
    "In?", asked Star Man, extending his hand. "You're damn right I am. Both of us are."

    The next night, Harkes and Campbell-Bannerman sat in the old government nuclear bunker in west London. Soon after, Solo arrived.
    "How many are coming tonight?", asked Harkes.
    "Only two tonight, I'm afraid.", Solo replied.
    Star Man and Lightning Kid arrived a couple of minutes later.
    "This is all of it?", asked Harkes.
    "I've been unable to contact the others.", said Solo. "They just seem to have vanished!"
    Then the meeting will have to begin without them.", said Harkes.
    The five of them sat down at the table. Just as Harkes began to speak, they heard a knocking sound. A minute later, Mr. X and Axe Kid arrived in the bunker.
    "How did you find out about this meeting?", asked Harkes.
    "You invited us, sir!", said Mr. X.
    Just as Harkes was going to deny this, there was a gust of wind in the chamber as Jet arrived. A few seconds later, another super-powered being, the Chameleon, arrived.
    "We have a security breach here.", said Campbell-Bannerman.
    "How did you two know of this meeting?", shouted Harkes. "This is supposed to be top secret. Inspector Solo said he couldn't find you!"
    "All I know is that some old git stopped me and said be here tonight at midnight.", said Jet.
    "Same story here.", said Chameleon. "An old man stopped me after I stopped a bank raid in Piccadilly, and told me of this meeting."
    "What did he look like?", asked Solo.
    "Short, with a white moustache, wearing an old looking suit and a homburg hat."
    "Sounds like the one I've seen a few times.", said Solo.
    "That's not the point of this meeting.", said Harkes. "You are all here now, so we'll begin. You all know about this situation, in and around London. We need a team of super-powered beings to try and stop this thing!"
    Jet got to his feet, and walked towards the exit.
    "Where are you going?", asked Solo.
    "I'm not a team player.", said Jet. "I haven't been for over a year. If you want them, do it yourself. I'm only after the Black Squadron."
    Star Man grabbed Jet's arm.
    "We all want to put a stop to this thing.", he said. "It's been going on too long. The only way we can stop it is if we all work together. We need all the help we can get to stop the Mob and the Black Squadron."
    "Why are you so bent on getting the Black Squadron anyway?", asked Mr. X. "We all dislike them, but you seem to hate them with a passion."
    Jet removed his mask, revealing his horribly disfigured face. "I was involved in an air crash, about eighteen months ago. I was bringing a load of cavourite
over from Voltania. The Black Squadron attacked us. My head was nearly blown clean off. The rest of my crew were killed. I don't know how, but somebody saved me. Since then I've had these powers, and since then, I've been doing anything to get my hands on them."
    "We can help you.", said Solo. "If this thing is going to work, we need all the help we can get. All we need is your help to stop this war. After that, you can do whatever you want."
    "He knows what he's talking about.", said Star Man.
    "Okay.", snorted Jet. "I'm in, but only for this. After that, I'm off."
    "Then we are all agreed.", said Harkes. "From tomorrow, we make our plans. Gentleman, Anglo-Force lives again!"

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