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Before reading, please read Strangers #2.

Strangers: A New Twist #3
July, 1998

Jumpstart (Part 3) - Get Ready For TNTNT

Written by Lex, based on the plot
for Strangers #3 by Steve Englehart
Edited by Johnny Linger
Created by Steve Englehart
Property of Malibu Comics

Location: La Brava Fashion Warehouse
Time: Sunset

Bob, Hugh, Candy, Elena, Leon, Dave, and Yrial step out from a back room into the main warehouse area. They are all set to their debut as The Strangers. Elena has just finished their costumes. She is wearing a black costume with a hood and a long skirt. She also wears a couple elegant looking chains that hang from her belt.

Bob is wearing a classic super hero costume with a modern twist. It is both blue and red, split down the middle and in various patterns.  The costume also has a yellow star in the chest and golden gloves and boots.

Candy is wearing a one-piece, green body suit with yellow lightning bolts down the legs.

Hugh is wearing a green plated vest and black pants and a black mask.

Dave, even though you can't see his costume because he's burning his yellow flame, is wearing a plain skin-tight costume made of the different colors that he burns.

Leon and Yrial are still wearing the same things they were the day before. Leon in his backward hat, fashionable sunglasses, shorts, and long, gray trench coat. And Yrial in her purple two-piece and headdress.

As they enter the dark warehouse area the lights suddenly turn on.

Five costumed people jump out from behind various boxes around the room, surrounding the Strangers.

"Now you seven die at the hands of TNTNT!" yells a large, white haired man in a green, scaly costume. He runs up to Elena and knocks her down with a thud and yells, "I, TYRANNOSAUR!"

"My name is NAIAD," says a woman in a green costume who creates water from her cape and uses it to make a small tidal wave that knocks over Leon, "a water witch by trade."
"They call me TORSO," says a man who looks like a robot except for his arms and legs, which are made out of solid energy.

"Strangers! Stand up…WUNKHH!" says Bob as he's punched by Torso who has turned his arm into hard rock.

"They're taking us out like kidszzzAASKK!" says Dave as he is attacked by an African-American woman dressed a leather jacket and skirt. She grads his shoulders, uses her power to disrupt his nervous system, and sends him twitching to the ground.

"M'name's NEU-RONNIE! Ya startin' to see a patte'n heyah?"

"I am TUGUN!" says a man dressed in samurai armor. He creates an automatic weapon of purple energy and fires it at Candy.

Candy jumps out of the way of the energy bullets. "Tyrannoaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie, Tugun…TNTNT!"

"We want our victims to know us," says Tyrannosaur. "Our work precludes us from receiving the recognition elsewhere. WE ARE THE KINGS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION!" He punches Hugh, who falls back but is not stunned long.

"Am I supposed to take your word for it, friend?" asks Hugh.

"Ah! A tough one!"

"Tough? Nah! But insulted that you think your five can take our seven."

"You are seven urchins off the street. You have powers but no training."

"Training? TRAINING?!" yells Hugh as he jumps closer to Tyrannosaur.

"You may be TNTNT, Toots…" Hugh explodes shrapnel from his chest into Tyrannosaur's face, "…but I'm the only one here who explodes! My name's GRENADE, and puttin' my team's name together don't spell diddly. We like it that way. 'Cause we're the Strangers."

***

"Hey this isn't SFO! This is Oakland!"

"I decided it was too chancy to land where we're expected, Hugh.  We've attracted a lot of attention in a very short time. We need to work out where we go from here."

"You could've asked Elena."

"All I did was leave our options open. Stop worrying about who's in charge and think like a team member for a change."

"Lady, I've run teams in my time too."

"And my Chieftain sent me too learn from you," says Yrial sarcastically.

"It is to laugh."

"You're just mad 'cause you can't be with your team…your people," says Leon.

"I'll lead my people when I'm through with you, little boy." She looks at Hugh, "…unlike you."

"From what Candy tells us," says Dave, "her people will want her back in the worst way."

"Something about my android body is special."

'It sure is,' thinks Bob, Dave, and Hugh at the exact same time.

"Look, I live pretty near here," says Bob. "Come on over to my house. My parents won't mind."

"Parents?" asks Elena.

"His parents are cool," says Hugh. "I'll vouch for that. Maybe you didn't know that Bob and I are the only ones here who aren't strangers to each other."

***

"You're mind wanders, Grenade," says Tyrannosaur as he smacks Grenade, giving him a bloody nose.

"We expected someone to come for Candy," says Bob stepping up to help Grenade as he recovers. "We've had time to prepare."

"Prepare?" asks Tyrannosaur. "You might as well prepare for the San Andreas Fault."

"TNTNT has prepared for three years, Lanky," says Torso sneaking up behind Bob. "Everyday for three years. We've mastered our enhancements as we've mastered our limitations. WE CANNOT FAIL!"

"Yeah, but I'm ATOM BOB…a simple name with just a simple power. A power that can transform your arm." Bob gets ready to use his transformation power but Torso transforms his arm back to energy and Atom Bob's hand passes right through.

"What arm?" says Torso. He transforms his other arm into rock and punches Atom Bob. "This arm?"

***

"Bob! Are you all right, son?" asks Bob's mom as she gives him a big hug.

"Sure, Mom. But how…"

"We saw you on the 11 o'clock news…you and your friends," says Bob's dad. "We've been so worried."

"We were alright." Bob turns to his new friends. "Mom, Dad, this is Candy-Dave-Elena-Leon…and uh Yrial. Guys, this is my mom and dad, Mr. And Mrs. Harden."

"She's the one you were fighting on the TV," says Mrs. Harden.

"I can explain everything, Mom. At least, some of it. At least, a little… Come on inside, everyone!"

After a while of retelling the whole story…

"And we've decided to call ourselves The Strangers, and find out what happened to us," concludes Bob.

"Incredible!" says Mr. Harden. "But it could be dangerous."

"Dad, it's not that dangerous."

"Well I'm sure you're all starving. I'll have dinner ready in fifteen minutes. You all have a seat at the dining table."

As everyone seats themselves at the table, Bob pulls out a chair for Candy to sit in. "Oh what a gentleman," she says. Bob blushes. 'No one has ever done anything like that for me,' thinks Candy.

***

"I can transform my arm with no help from you," says Torso who transforms him arm from rock into steel and punches Atom Bob again.

"Yrial! Still groggy!" says Atom Bob to Yrial hovering above him.

"Yes, it should prove interesting…but don't look to me for aid. I interpret my duty as observation, pure and simple."

"You…" starts Atom Bob until Torso turns one of his legs to rock and knees Bob in the chest.

"My arms and legs, they comfort me," says Torso.

"Dunno what the scoop is on your arms and legs y'loser," says Leon running past Torso, "but your body's way too ugly to be bogus."

"Naiad, this one is best suited to you."

"No problem, Torso," says Naiad. "He can run, but he has to slide." She sends a small tidal wave at Leon. "I've trained as hard as you have for these missions…"

"Dang!" shouts Leon as he's swept out a window.

"…And I had no limitations to start with."

'She got me good with that one,' thinks Leon as he spins at super speed, softening his water landing. 'What good's speed if ya can't even stan' up?' Leon climbs back up on the pier and starts running to get back into the warehouse. 'But they ain't right! We ain't goin'
down! I just gotta improve my moves. Show 'em why I took the name ZIP-ZAP…huh?' He notices a dark figure watching him from an alleyway. "Come on out and join the party. Here I'll help."

The figure raises a gun and shoots Leon.

"You shot me! Man that's cold! I'm only fourteen years old, man!  Why'd you wanna…Hey, I ain't bleedin'! It's some damn…needle…" Leon falls to the ground. The mysterious figure grins.

Back in the warehouse…

"If you've hurt Zip-Zap, Naiad, you need to be taken out!" shouts Dave hovering down to fight the water witch.

"Come on ahaed, Flame Man, and I'll put you out."

"Yeah?"

***

"It seems to me that the first thing we've got to do, before we make any plans, is be sure what all our powers are," announces Dave, standing up from the dinning table.

"I'll buy that," says Leon. "If Bob hadn't found out he could translate sound waves, we wouldn't be stuck hearin' Yrial complain."

"Be that as it may," continues Dave, igniting his green flame, "I've already found that I can burn green…but I don't know what that does.  I burn orange and I get real fire powers…I burn Yellow and fly…And I burn red and gain strength, but I go berserk. Wait! Look at the plants."

The room full of plants has come alive as everyone of them starts to grow. "Green must give me some sort of growth powers."

"Try purple then," shouts Candy. "A nice pretty purple."

"Okay," Dave switches to purple. "Whoah! I can feel what this does.   Elena, hit me with your best shot."

"Really?" asks Elena as she stands up and takes off her scarf.

"You bet." Elena whacks Dave in his face with her whip-like scarf.   "Didn't feel a thing. Purple's protective."

"Purple…violet!" says Bob. "Hugh, remember Roy G. Biv, from the at institute?"

"Yeah," says Hugh. "Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet…the colors of the spectrum."

"Indigo," says Dave. "That's a cool color…let's see…" But after a long moment… "I don't feel a thing this time."

"Nothing seems to have changed," says Elena.

"I'll get back to you on Indigo. That leaves only one color. Let's see what blue can do."

***

"There goes your flame," says Naiad as she sends a wave of water crashing over Dave.

"You think so?" says Dave as he changes to his blue flame. Dave sends the wave back at Naiad, stronger then before. "Not when I can burn with power over water!" Dave jumps at Naiad and they both topple out of the window that Zip-Zap crashed though. "Naiad, meet the multi-powered man…SPECTRAL!"

They both crash into the water of the bay with a huge splash.  "You…you were orange!" says a confused Naiad "I saw you burn things!"

Spectral shoots a blast of blue flame at Naiad who dodges it. "I'm a lot of things! Hey! I can talk underwater too."

"You can talk," says Naiad swimming off, "but you can't catch me."

"Lady, I'm every bit as fishy as you." Spectral grabs a hold of her ankle. "The big dinosaur was right about our learning our powers…but that just makes us tougher all the time." Dave punches her lights out.

Suddenly a couple of Tugun's energy bullets fly past Spectral. 'Shots from the warehouse!'

"Enough of that, Tugun!" says Elena, back in the rehouse, as she uses the chain on her belt to wrap around Tugun's arm which makes him drop his energy gun. Out of his hand the gun disappears. With the chain still wrapped around Tugun's arm Elena turns him so he's facing her.  Tugun creates a larger gun in his other hand.

"You are a fool to turn me towards you, woman! I've watched you. You have no defense against me."

"All you people are too overconfident. I like some overconfidence…takes you places you wouldn't go if you were sensible.  But you have to respect your opposition." Elena takes another chain from her belt and whacks Tugun with it. She then gives him a good swift kick in his side. "And don't call me 'woman' in that tone of voice!" Elena gives Tugun a flying leap kick, which finally knocks him out. "I'm LADY KILLER!"

***

"Okay," says Elena, "so Dave has six powers we know of…"

"An' one ta grow on," interrupts Leon.

"Thank you, Leon. But now it's time to decide where we go next with all our powers."

"I vote for bed," says Hugh. "We've been on the go nearly 24-hours, and I mean on the go!"

But when we wake up, we're still facing the people who want Candy back," responds Bob.

"We're The Strangers now," says Dave. "Corny as it sounds, I want that to mean something."

"Me too," agrees Bob. "My Grandfather taught me that with great power comes great responsibility. Protecting ourselves is all well and good, but can't we protect other people…ones without powers?"

"Let's do that," agrees Elena. "I've had experience building a public identity…corporate identity for want of a better word. It seems to me that could help us a lot. The better known we are, the stronger image we project, and the more respect we'll gain from friend and foe alike."

"When you say 'corporate'…"wonders Candy.

"I mean," explains Elena, "let's not wait for some half-cocked reporter to define our image. Let's work up some professional names and costumes that highlight and augment our new powers that say 'this is the Strangers! World take notice!' Heck I've got contacts from my business. I can get us on magazine covers."

"We'll get that anyway, after tearing up San Francisco," says Hugh sarcastically.

"Sure as bizarre brawlers," continues Elena. "But I'm talking about wider exposure. This is the 90's. Michael Jordan isn't just a basket ball star."

"Who?" asks Candy.

"He gets product endorsements," says Leon, glad that they are finally talking about something he knows about. "That's where the money is."

"We can get that," says Elena. "We'll work it through my company…and I'll put every penny toward your incomes. I don't need the extra.  Let's go for the gold, people! "Let's be the best!"

***

"AAAAAGH!" screams Lady Killer as Neu-Ronnie uses her powers to disrupt her nervous system.

"While y're teachin' samurais yer code'a conduct," says Neu-Ronnie. "Just rememba yer butt's gotta back it up. Ya fergit me? I'm Neu-Ronnie, like th' neurons I scramble in yer brain!"

"I don't know what neurons are," says Candy running up to fight as Yrial hovers above watching, "but you can't do that to Elen-I mean Lady Killer!"

Neu-Ronnie charges up her power, ready to use it again. "Don't worry your liddle head about it, cutie."

"That's ELECTROCUTE to you, Miss Snotty!" Candy fries Neu-Ronnie with a jolt of electricity and then picks her up by her hair as Elena gets back up. "I've spent my whole live…all two years…being used like a toy.  And I didn't know any better. That was J. D. Hunt's doing. I know he sent you. But you tell him I'm never going back to him! Never,
never, NEVER!"

Candy turns to where Yrial was watching. "And you can just get out here and help me, Yrial…Yrial?"

***

In the design room of the La Brava Fashion Warehouse… Everyone except Yrial and Leon have their costumes ready.

"I'm s'pozed ta be a Mercedes, Elena," says Leon looking at the costume Elena made for him with disgust. "This looks like a Hyundai."

"That's the third one, Leon," says Elena. "I'm trying.

"I know you are. That's cool…but ya just aren't catchin' the real me."

"I'll keep working…but we may not have all might, y'know."

"I know. We had to get some sleep at Bob's today, so Hunt's hunters are gonna be twitchin' bad by now. But look, legs is what I'm all about, so why don't I just stick with the shorts that brought me…so folks can see how fine my legs are?"

"Shorts?" asks Elena, thinking of the fashion side of it.

"Michael Jordan wears 'em."

***

"It's too bad he saw me," says the mysterious man standing over Zip-Zap. "I was only supposed to observe these Strangers. Almost like what the purple one with the headdress is doing."

"Exactly like the purple one with the headdress is doing," says Yrial stepping out of the shadows. "Except that she's sensitive to signs of stealth. What kind of observer are you anyway?"

Suddenly Zip-Zap wakes and stumbles at super fast speeds, then crawling on the ground he says, "Rrruhh…rreal ff-ffaass…gotta go real fassssss…" Leon, still going at super speed, gets himself upright.  "Brain's…clearin' up…Drug's wearin' off. Oh, Mama, look at what that they've done to your son…"

"I believe you misunderstood me in the warehouse," says Yrial. "I have little interest in the blatant brutality of that battle…but stealth intrigues me."

"I guess I should've realized that earlier then, lady."

"Call me YRIAL!" She throws some magick at the man, knocking him down.

"I've already learned your name, Yrial, so I'll just be leaving now," says the man as he gets up. "I'll remember your magick, but you'll remember mine as well." He blasts Yrial with an even more powerful magick blast. Then, smiling at his work, he vanishes in a puff of smoke.

"Hey!" yells Zip-Zap. "If it wasn't for this stupid drug I could'a stopped him. He falls to his knees again. "Still too weak."

When Yrial recovers she goes over to examine the place the man last stood. Zip-Zap gets up and runs over to her. "Who was that guy?" he asks.

"He didn't enlighten me. What did they do to you?"

"They zapped me…me, Zip-Zap…with some damn tranquilizer. I think I was s'posed ta be out a lot longer but my metabolism's too revved up. I burned right through it. But...what's with you Yrial? You been blowin' up off 'til now."

"Didn't you hear me tell them? I've spent my life in a cloud, hiding from the Earth, while the Earth lies exposed to the sky. Humans who avoid exposure intrigue me."

"Yeah, but…you could've let that guy kill me. You could'a just 'observed.'"

"Well…unlike the other Strangers, you had no chance to defend yourself."

"So ya do care what happens to us. You're not the geek you pretend to be."

"I wouldn't put it that way. In fact, I wouldn't put it anyway at all to the others. There's no need to start them thinking I'll do this on a regular basis."

"B. S., Lady. That's not the way it works, The Strangers can't be keepin' secrets from each other if we're gonna be a team."

"I am not a part of your team."

"Oh, yes you are, after this."

"Leon, I am asking you, as a friend…"

"You ain't my friend, unless you're a Stranger. Are you a Stranger?  Are you?!"

"Fine! Tell them whatever you want to!"

Zip-Zap smiles as big as he can.

Back in the warehouse…

"Three down, two to go, Leather-Face!" says Grenade to Tyrannosaur.   "Still like your chances?"

"Bah! I'll destroy you all myself!" Atom Bob uses his transformation powers on the floor beneath Tyrannosaur. "You do well to bow down to me, Atom Man."

Atom Bob transforms the floor beneath him to a large hole. "I bow to transform, Tyrannosaur!"

In another part of the room, Electrocute is zapping Torso with her electricity.

"Stay back, Electrocute!" yells Lady Killer. "He's the last one, but his arms could reach you if he could think straight."

"But he can't think with us attacking him, El-I mean…" Torso finally falls over in exhaustion.

"You got him, cutie!" says Grenade. "And Tyro's in the drink! I wonder if Dinosaurs can swim!"

"No need, no fear, when Spectral's here," says Spectral as he flies down in his yellow form. He carries the waterlogged Naiad and Tyrannosaur in both his hands.

Suddenly lights flash behind them. "What th…" starts Electrocute.

Yrial and Zip-Zap run in with many reporters with bright lights following close behind.

"Cheese it," yells Atom Bob. "The media."

"Police call went out about this kid running in the street," says one reporter. "Everyone's been on the lookout for you people."

"One side," says another. "I got here first."

"Who are you people?" asks another reporter.

"Is one of you Elena La Brava?"

"How do you spell your names?"

"All right," starts Lady Killer. "Let's just settle down. I'm Elena La Brava…and from this moment on, I'm also Lady Killer. The seven of us standing up have indeed gained special powers…ultra powers. And from this moment on, we plan to fight for justice and peace in this world as The Strangers."

"Wow! What a story!"

"There's been nothing like this since the Squad!"

"Yeah, and most of them died."

"Get ready for a picture Stranger…you just became world famous."

***

Later at J. D. Hunt's Nu Ware Headquarters…

"…Names are Atom Bob, Spectral, Lady Killer, Grenade, Electrocute, Yrial, and Zip-Zap." J. D. Hunt watches the news broadcast with anger.

"Sorry, Sir," says his assistant. "I take full responsibility for TNTNT's failure."

"Not your fault, Waddell. They had the training and they had the tech…we just underestimated our opponents."

"It's good of you to see is that way, Sir."

"Have to be realistic. Have to know when you cut your losses, move on."

"But Candy will tell the world that you built her."

"She surely will…and I'll surely look the cameras straight in the eye and lie my fool head off. 'Sure, we're the world leaders in technology, but there's no way Nu Ware could build anything that advanced. She was sicced on me as some sort of set-up, probably by the government or these 'Strangers.' I'm calling for a full-fledged investigation…though I expect well get a cover up.' So as long as they're looking in the > world, they're never going to get anywhere. END OF STORY!"

Later, at the Davies Medical Center…

The nurses who are caring for John Domino watch the news broadcast in surprise.

"Can you believe it? They were on the cable car that hit our Mr. Domino."

"They get ultra powers…he gets a piece of shrapnel stuck in his head."

"…And we want to make up for that the best we can," says Atom Bob as he enters the hallway with the rest of the Strangers behind him. "He was the only one got hurt in the cable car accident and we wanted to help."

"And how do you think you'll do that?" asks a nurse, hiding her nervousness behind sarcasm.

"We intend to pay for his medical bills," says Lady Killer getting out a checkbook.

After that they all crowd into Johnny Domino's little room.

"How is he?" asks Atom Bob.

"No change," says a nurse. "Still in a coma. His father's taken up residence over in the corner there by his bedside."

All the Strangers crowd around his bed to look at him…and to their surprise…he opens his eyes.

NEXT ISSUE

An ultra crime boss has come to San Francisco and The Strangers have to bring him down. During which they meet two more ultras from the cable car accident. Will those two be good or bad? Also look for Johnny Domino in the up coming Night Man: A New Twist series.

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