"Whatever happened to the Justice Squad?"
Formation and Roster
Jack Brass brought the Justice Squad together, shortly after he began his own career as a cybernetically enhanced, gadget-using costumed crimefighter. His first recruit was former Ivy League classmate Ariel. Together they used their computer skills and funds to track down three vigilantes who had recently become active on the East Coast. The original roster was:
The Squad's first public mission seemed simple enough: respond to a bank robbery in progress, being carried out by a gang of oddly costumed and masked men. Jack Brass attempted to coordinate the operation from a tricked out van hidden in a back alley. Jersey Devil started things off on the wrong track by teleporting into the bank in an effort to conduct reconaissance. Unfortunately, he ended up in the vault amidst a bunk of money bags. His power prevented him from merging with the molecules of the bags, but the signature flashbang that resulted set the money ablaze. One robber was badly burned and his comrade in a panic as Jersey Devil beat a hasty retreat.
Ariel had phased into the bank lobby and begun to get the hostages out of harm's way by bringing them into her pocket dimension. Unfortunately, the experience panicked the civilians and slowed her progress. Hearing guns go off, Bullet smashed into the lobby with Aurora hard on his heels. Aurora took the brunt of the small arms fire, which powered up her force field just enough for her to shield most of the remaining civilians.
However, another group of bank managers and assistants were being held in the rear of the bank. Jersey Devil popped in between the robbery ringleader and these hostages but never saw the civilians huddled together in the office behind him. Instead he saw several robbers shooting at Bullet and Aurora. He teleported out of the room to attack the masked gunmen from behind. Unfortunately, the bank's security cameras caught him disappearing just as the costumed leader opened fire with a shotgun and hit several of the hostages instead of the hero, mortally wounding one.
Even as Jersey Devil appeared behind the trio of gunmen, stunning them with an intentional flashbang, Bullet saw the leader firing on the civilians through the office window. Enraged, he charged through the bank teller's stations and into the back room, where he hit the costumed leader at full speed, breaking his neck and skull. Jersey Devil and Aurora swiftly mopped up the stunned robbers, though Aurora misjudged her enhanced forcefield and severely injured one of them.
By the time Ariel returned to the lobby, the Squad was left with a dead civilian, two dead and two badly maimed/burned bank robbers, a group of traumatized civilians in the parking lot, about a million dollars in burned money, and a videotape showing one member of the team apparently dodging out of the way of gunfire aimed at hostages and another team member practically decapitating an unpowered criminal.
The team fled the scene in disgrace. Only the fact that nobody really knew who they were kept the police from knocking down the door to their warehouse base hours after the incident.
Second Verse, Worse than the First
The badly shaken Squad members wanted desperately to redeem themselves, just as badly as they wanted to avoid prison for their misadventures. So they laid low for a few weeks, trying to go over new tactics. Ariel practiced methods of transporting people through her pocket dimension without psychologically scarring them, Jersey Devil worked on controlling his flashbang effect, Aurora experimented with the intensity of her damage absorption and force field effect, Bullet trained in less "explosive" uses of his speed and strength, and Jack Brass pledged to be a more hands on leader.
Then there was a crisis at the city airport, where a group of terrorists with access to high technology had hijacked an airplane on the landing strip and were demanding a ransom and the release of some of their brethren from a nearby federal prison in exchange for the lives of the passengers. The terrorists had thrown a force field up around the plane that prevented the SWAT team from getting close.
Since Aurora's personal force field and Ariel's dimensional phasing could both penetrate the forcefield, the Justice Squad decided that they were the best bet to save the hostages. Ariel carried Jersey Devil and Jack Brass through the field while Bullet slammed Aurora into a wall to power up her force field to full strength and then carried her through the force barrier at high speed.
The rest is something of a blur. Jack Brass and Jersey Devil incapacitated the terrorists in the main section of the plane where the passengers were being held. Aurora extended her force field to protect the hostages while Ariel began to phase them out to safety. Bullet was blasted through the fuselage of the plane by unexpectedly heavy high-tech weaponry, but Jersey Devil took that terrorist out.
Then disaster struck again. The lead terrorist was in the cockpit of the plane and he was strapped with high explosives. Jack Brass called out a warning on the team's comm-link as he launched one of his cybernetic hands toward the terrorist (with instructions to disarm the bomb) and dove behind Aurora's force field. Jersey Devil tried to grab the terrorist and teleport away just as Bullet came crashing through the cockpit in an attempt to do the same thing. The near collision led to a one armed terrorist, Jersey Devil teleporting out of the cockpit with a cyborg hand clinging to him, and Bullet bursting out the other side of the cockpit as the bomb detonated, killing the terrorist, the pilot, co-pilot, and a stewardess. All the passengers were either spirited away by Ariel or safely behind the Aurora's protective force field as the front of the plane exploded.
Once again the team had failed in a spectacular, public fashion. This time, however, the authorities were hunting them in earnest.
The Squad members made a fateful decision. Jack Brass, Aurora, Bullet, and Jersey Devil decided to flee the country to a Latin American nation without formal extradition to the United States. Ariel, on the other hand, turned herself in to the police.
The Power of the Dark Side
The four expatriate Squad members ended up helping local rebels in exchange for sanctuary. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that the rebels were in league with a major drug cartel. Soon enough the Squad members found themselves sucked into the criminal orbit. Bullet discovered that the more he used his powers, the more his body began to alter even in his human form. His bones were the first to turn to metal, causing him to feel chronic pain and fatigue in human form. As a result he became addicted to opiates. The Jersey Devil tried to stay clean of the drug business, but he did act as an occasional courier while secretly taking advantage of his situation to perform a variety of thefts in Central America and the Caribbean. Aurora increasingly embraced the thrill-seeking side of her personality. At first she clashed with the machismo of the drug lords and their lieutenants, but eventually she proved her worth both as a front-line fighter and a planner.
Jack Brass, however, had a plan in place all along. He made contact with undercover DEA agents and offered them a deal: the Justice Squad would turn over the cartel members and help shut down their operations in exchange for being allowed to come in from the cold. Unfortunately for Brass, his offer came at the same time that the DEA was trying to gain itself a seat at the table of a new multiagency covert organization, code-named DOA--Deniable Operations and Assets. The DEA offered the Justice Squad members to the DOA as field agents in return for being let in on the covert ops action. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Jack Brass agreed and the four former superheroes, willing and unwilling, became part of the original DOA field team.
This team is based on the misadventures of my first junior high gaming group. We were playing Chaosium’s Superworld. It was our first time playing with these rules and we had an adult GM who was perhaps a bit too much of a stickler applying them. A big problem was that he was trying to play up the "fairly realistic" angle of the original Superworld rpg campaign setting, while we were thinking four-color adventure with soap opera angst mixed in. Most of the players were big X-Men, New Mutants, and Teen Titans fans. Several made characters inspired by these figures. My character was a mix of Cannonball and Colossus, another guy made a Nightcrawler variant, and we had a Kitty Pryde knockoff. Then there was an unusual energy absorber and an even stranger character made by my best friend at the time.
As always, the further back in time I go the murkier my memory becomes. But after our first two disastrous gaming sessions, we scrapped the Justice Squad (deciding that they had fled the country), made new characters, and had further adventures with slightly more success. I’ve modified all of these characters to suit the game system they are now being represented in and to fit into what I think makes for interesting characterization and a storyline.