“I suppose I could have leapt off that edge immediately and tried to save him, but to be honest the thought didn’t cross my mind. I had Shiera to look for, anyway. I was frantic at first, not knowing where she had run off to. I leaped into the air and soared up around the mouth of the volcano, finally spotting her on the outer slope below. She had somehow scaled down the sheer top without incident, but now that she was on a less dangerous slope she had been attacked by one of Mochtar’s guards who must have fled earlier. She was hurling rocks at him to slow his attack, but he was slowly gaining ground. Before he cleared three more paces, though, I had pounced on him and struck him down. On a whim, I removed his hood.
“’The man from the states!’ Shiera exclaimed, recognizing her would-be assassin. ‘Hawk, the volcano is going to erupt soon. Should we try to save these men?’
“’Krakatoa is claiming those men who violated her. It’s not our place to interfere,’ I consoled her. And with that, I scooped Shiera up into my arms, took to the air, and flew us back to safety.
“Now, do I get to eat before my steak gets colder?” Hawkman asked. Most everyone chuckled.
“It’s going to be so hard to follow up all these great stories,” Captain Marvel said, “but I’ll do my best! I knew from the start that, if I was going to tell about my most exciting adventure, it would come down to choosing between my run-ins with Sivana. But there was this one time, not that long ago, that I had an encounter in which I didn’t know which member of the Sivana family was the danger!
“It was one night last summer, and I had been invited along on a Boy Scouts camping trip -- not as Captain Marvel -- but as plain ol’ Billy. We had just made smores, and were sitting around the campfire telling ghost stories. There was a loud crash out in the woods that scared the willies out of all the kids. I told them to sit tight while I volunteered to go investigate. I grabbed a flashlight, and crept off into the dark woods to see what had caused it.
“What I came across was almost too horrible to describe. It was a giant man, at least nine feet tall, but his skin was stretched out much larger, and hung off his body like sacks. The giant stumbled forward blindly, trampled through a bush, and then tripped and fell. The horrible thing just lay there wriggling -- almost more like a worm than a man -- before it stopped moving all together.
“I’d only needed to see a few seconds of that before I’d said my magic word and transformed into Captain Marvel. But there was nothing even Captain Marvel could do, because the man-monster was dead. And as much as I wanted to investigate, the wisdom of Solomon told me to protect the Boy Scouts by getting them out of the woods as fast as possible without alarming them unduly. I returned to the camp as I was, and was welcomed with cheers by the boys. I told them a bit of a fib, saying that I was searching the woods for a rare and valuable owl, and that I needed them to go home so they didn’t scare it off. After explaining that I’d already sent Billy back to Fawcett City, the kids all agreed to pack up and come back with me.
“The next day I returned to the woods to look for the body, but it was nowhere to be found. I found the spot where it had been, and the area looked swept clean. I had certain powers at my disposal I tried to use to divine what had happened. Calling on the power of Zeus and the wisdom of Solomon combined, I used postcognition to sweep the last few hours for clues. Nothing. I decided to look for clues the old-fashioned way and tried to find the direction the monster had come from the previous night. Using the speed of Mercury, it took no time at all to find the broken bush and other signs of its passing. Since the creature had been sightless, and ignored any obstacles in its path, I was hoping that it had traveled in pretty much of a straight line. My guess seemed to be panning out, but I had only followed the trail a mile farther away from the city when I came across my second strange encounter. A giant rat, maybe four feet long, was scurrying towards me! Not wanting to fisticuff with oversized vermin, I pulled a big branch off the nearest tree, waited for it to get close enough, and then swung that branch like a golf club straight into it. That rat went flying! And just as it did, a humungous cat nearly as tall at the shoulder as me came bounding out of the woods and chased after it.
“The cat and mouse I could follow backwards through time with postcognition. As they walked back through time, I eventually saw them backing to an old, Victorian-style house sitting alone in the woods -- the kind that just naturally looks spooky and haunted. I returned my sight to the present so I could examine the house. It was old and in disrepair, but it wasn’t boarded up.
The front steps creaked under my weight as I ascended to the porch, so I floated the rest of the way to the front door in case the wood was rotted. The door was unlocked, and creaked open for me. The living room inside was small but well-furnished. The curio cabinet in the corner was full of small antiques, and the vases and rugs in the room all looked expensive.
“’Is someone there?’ a familiar female voice called out. Suddenly, a gorgeous blonde in a red housedress stepped into the room from the hallway.
“’Beautia Sivana,’ I said, recognizing her immediately. I crossed my arms and braced myself for whatever trap her father had in store for me.
“’Captain Marvel, what a surprise! What brings you out this way?’
“’Oh, I was just playing a little cat and mouse...’
Beautia had to think about it for a few seconds, but then she smiled and nodded. ‘Oh yes,’ she said. ‘Father didn’t leave us much when he...died, but he did leave us Whiskers and Ratty. Please, have a seat!’ she added, waving at the couch.
“I walked closer to the couch without sitting down. Beautia plopped down on the couch anyway. ‘Whiskers and Ratty weren’t the only giants I saw, and one of them is dead. Now you tell me your father is dead. How is that possible?’
“’It was the blow to his head after our last encounter. He couldn’t recover from it, and his condition deteriorated until he...slipped away in the night.’
“’I’m sorry for your loss,’ I said honestly, though I couldn’t bring myself to shed a tear for the old terror. “Could someone else be using your father’s inventions?’
“’No, that’s not possible!’ she said innocently. ‘There’s only the two of us staying here.’
“’That’s right,’ said Magnificus Sivana. The burly, brunette strongman stepped into the room, wearing an ordinary shirt and slacks in addition to his usual white headband. ‘With Father gone, we’re only staying here long enough to plan how we can restart our lives. But you probably don’t believe us. Why not take a look around?’
“I accepted the generous offer of a guided tour, but asked to start with their father’s laboratory.
Magnificus nodded, went out into the hallway, and pulled the arm on a suit of armor. A secret door slid open, revealing a staircase going down. I followed Magnificus, with Beautia behind me. The lab was full of what will undoubtedly pass for state-of-the-art technology 30 years from now. I couldn’t even tell what some of it was for at just a glance. What I could tell was that everything was turned off, but nothing was very dusty. And, on the other side of an open doorway, I could see the glow of an electric light flickering. Curious, I moved towards the doorway. Magnificus tried to warn me not to bother with that room, which made me VERY curious. But, as soon as I stepped into the doorway, electricity arced across the doorway from a dozen points and coursed through my body. My whole body went both numb and rigid.
“’I did warn you, didn’t I?’ Magnificus said. ‘But you never did listen, you big red cheese!’
“The room in front of me looked like a tomb, and the flickering light was placed over what looked like a glass coffin with the elder Sivana inside it. But when Magnificus called me that, it was with the evil sneering voice that could only belong to his father. I tried to speak, and could only sputter out, ‘Sivana, how?’
“’I suppose you’re trying hard to grasp it all, circus reject. Let me make it easy on your limited mental capacity. And you’re a captive audience anyway, thanks to my electro-paralysis field. Anyway, after our last encounter--’
“’Yes, yes, after my mysterious death in our last encounter--’
“’Fine, fine! Yes, it was a bit of a setback, but nothing that science couldn’t lick! Now stop interrupting, or I’ll set the field to maximum intensity. They’ll be picking bits of you out of their wine glasses in France after that. Of course, I plan to do that anyway, but not until after I’ve had a proper chance to gloat. Now, where was I? Oh yes. My loyal children brought me back here and used one of my inventions that makes the subconscious mind audible. I was then able to instruct them in how to construct a machine that would revive me, but I knew it would take time. And let me tell you, it’s pretty dull laying around in a coma for weeks. So I tricked Magnificus into building me something else. The poor sap thought he was putting circuitry in his headband that would allow us to communicate telepathically. What it did was jam his own thoughts while receiving my own, broadcast to him from my handsomely restored noggin over there.’
“’Giants.... Scheme to...take over...world?’
“’Now I’m really insulted. If I was trying to conquer the world, it would be conquered by now. I’m just making giant monsters as a side hobby.’
“’That’s all I needed to hear, Sivana,’ I said, as I swung my hand back into Magnificus’ face. I stepped through the field and turned around to face him with my hands on my hips.
“’What? How?’ he sputtered out of his son’s mouth.
“’Easy -- I was never affected at all. The invulnerability of Achilles protected me from your paralysis rays. I just wanted to know what I’d stumbled upon before I shut it down.’
“’Oh, yoouuuu...’ Sivana fumed, while I reached into the wall and tore out the ray-projecting arch he had built around the doorframe. I looped the arch around Magnificus, and twisted it tight around him to bind his arms.
“’That ought to hold you,’ I said. Beautia was still in the basement, but wisely standing in the far corner like a fox trying not to get spotted by the hunter. ‘Beautia,’ I called to her, ‘will you call the police, or do I have to do the honors?’
“’The police?’ she said so naively I was prepared to believe it. ‘But father hasn’t really done anything wrong this time.’
“’There was a man who died in the woods last night after being the victim of your father’s growth experiments.’ Turning to Magnificus, I added, ‘Do you want to tell me who he was before I take that headband apart you’re using to talk to me through, Sivana?’
“’Oh, just some idle hobo I was lucky to lure here. You see, I was really experimenting with increasing a person’s mass and strength without affecting size. The hobo was a failed test run. When I tried it on Magnificus here next, though, it worked just fine....’ And with that, Magnificus flexed his muscles and shredded the metal band I had wrapped around him. ‘Now, we’ll so how well the strength of Hercules fares against -- oof!’
“Just then, I’d belted him in the chops. Magnificus staggered a little, but looked unharmed. I had to pull my punches for Magnificus’ sake, but it looked like I couldn’t pull them too much. ‘Beautia,’ I appealed to her again, ‘if you want to help your brother, see if you can figure out how to turn off this headband from your father’s end!’ I was wrestling with Magnificus now, as he tried to stop my hands from reaching the headband controlling him. I was still stronger, a lot stronger, and that was what made it so difficult. I had to fight back without breaking his arms! And then, while I was busy gauging my strength, he threw himself backwards, and we both tumbled head over heels through the wall of the basement. Magnificus came out on top, above ground, while I had plowed a small crater into the earth beneath him.