From The 86th Floor To Cheyenne Mountain
Standing in front of the massive window made of a reinforced glass-like material capable of withstanding a direct artillery round, a giant of a man looked out unseeingly from the top floor of the tallest building in the world, ignoring the magnificent view of a bustling, postwar New York City skyline spread out before him. Instead, the leader of their small group devoted to combating the forces of evil felt the attentive curiosity of his comrades examining the broad back that was currently shown to them, as they awaited in their seats around the conference table for him to finally tell them just why they'd all been summoned to their headquarters.
Finally, the impressively-muscled man turned around, facing them all, and in a rare display of emotion, he swallowed hard, and then spoke the most difficult words of his life to his friends.
They were all going to die.
Just a month ago, they'd considered themselves lucky to escape the devastation in a faraway land when their current foe had miscalculated and accidentally set off his stolen stock of deadly nerve gas, wiping out this villain and his minions. The band of adventurers had thought then they were far enough away from that disaster to escape any injury, but when their leader had later studied the last remaining sample of the unique nerve gas before locking it away in a secure vault, he'd realized with utter horror that his companions and himself had inhaled minute traces of that terrible chemical weapon when it had been inadvertently used.
Even though they hadn't even noticed this back then, and each of them still felt themselves to be in perfect health, the nerve gas had permanently affected their bodies, subtly poisoning them, and these effects would finally show themselves in several months, resulting in a slow and agonizing death. The renowned scientist, using all of his immense intellect, had frantically worked by himself in his laboratory for weeks, to at last succeed in inventing a medicinal cure in pill form. Unfortunately, there was an insurmountable problem with this treatment.
For it to work, the cure needed to be faithfully consumed several times a week for the next two years. Except that the poison in their bodies, while somewhat alleviated by this medicine, would still kill them all in about fourteen to fifteen months.
Still numbly listening, the group now heard their leader propose another plan that was truly risky, but this seemed to be the best suggestion that might possibly work. One of their own, during his recent chemical research, had made a breakthrough in identifying those organic compounds that allowed such animals as bears to survive hibernation when these creatures' life signs dwindled to almost nothing during the winter months. That, combined with their leader's research in cryogenics, had him now advise that all of them be put into what he called 'cold sleep', where their bodies would lie dormant in protective containers capable of supporting their survival. During this, the cure to the nerve gas poisoning could also be administrated to them during their artificial slumber.
However, there was a further complication regarding that last action. While the poison's effects would be almost totally slowed by the cold sleep, so too would the effects of the treatment for this ailment. Their leader estimated that it would take a minimum of fifty years in uninterrupted cold sleep for the cure to work, with an extra decade or two added to be on the safe side. The sleepers in their containers would never be aware of anything occurring outside their resting places, as the world went on without them.
Finally finishing his speech, the leader concernedly watched his friends, as they struggled to recover from what they'd just been told. Still, the group had in the past dealt with numerous life or death situations, so they took it all pretty much in stride, quickly beginning a long discussion amongst themselves about what to do. In the end, they chose to try their leader's plan, each of them agreeing to submit to a period of cold sleep for seventy-five years. Hopefully, when they woke up again at the end of that time, society and the world wouldn't be too strange for them in trying to understand their new culture and attempting to live in it.
Once the decision had actually been made, everyone in their group immediately became very busy. For the leader and the chemist, this pair devoted their full attention in laboring to ensure that they'd all survive the cold sleep experience, working further on the cure and the other elements of their hibernation.
The construction engineer was chosen to find a safe place somewhere in the world that would hold their new sanctuary. Using their leader's Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic for this was overly risky; even by rumor, too many people knew about it, and there was always the chance that one of their old enemies or anyone else with a grudge might find and destroy that location and the sleeping group within it also. Remembering a place he'd once visited during his construction work, this gloomy-looking man journeyed to a deep cave in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and he found it perfect for their purposes. This place was in a remote, isolated area that was geologically stable with no valuable minerals, timber, and the like nearby, and it also had year-round miserable weather, making it extremely unlikely to ever be visited or exploited by anyone in the coming decades.
Once he'd cleared it with their leader, the construction engineer quietly gathered workers from their secret clinic, where earlier those laborers had delicate brain surgery performed on them to wipe out their criminal tendencies, and he took them to the place chosen for their sanctuary to start building the safe haven. Afterwards, further painless modifications to their memories of all the former villains and criminals would cause them to totally forget what they'd just helped to construct.
The electrical engineer also traveled to the sanctuary to set up the power plant and automatic apparatus that would operate all the necessary machinery without any human supervision. A small hydroelectric facility and solar panels would feed renewable energy into batteries designed by their leader years ago that were far more advanced than any others of their kind in the world. This engineer also built a communications post to receive and record radio programs, and he as well added a new invention of his that would pick up and copy any future form of television transmissions, since it was evident to him that this type of technology would be the main method of distributing news and entertainment in the coming decades. It would all be stored so that when the group finally woke up, they could at least start to understand their new world.
Back in New York City, the lawyer, along with the cousin and the archaeologist, started numerous rumors around the planet's various underworlds that the group was going into retirement, disbanding, getting ready for a massive move against their enemies, and anything else they could think up to keep lawbreakers and other villains from realizing the band of brothers was about to permanently disappear. Everyone sadly acknowledged that none of their friends or acquaintances could ever be told the truth. After a long period of time without any news of them, those people would hopefully go on with their lives after assuming the group was dead or otherwise never coming back.
In the meantime, the trio also disbursed the complete assets of their organization, plus everyone's personal effects. Records, mementoes, and trophies (including some truly dangerous inventions and weapons seized from their defeated enemies) were either hidden, destroyed, or else disposed of safely. A great deal of money was anonymously contributed to numerous charities worldwide. Several secret caches of weapons, food, water, medicine, valuables, and useful equipment were set up in various locations throughout the globe, though with any luck, these wouldn't really be needed when they came out of their cold sleep.
Regarding that, the archaeologist came up with an important point concerning their reappearance, leading to another group conference and an additional decision. Once fifty years had passed and the likelihood that they'd been cured was realized, there was always the possibility that sometime then before their planned awakening, the world would again require their experience and abilities to battle another villain or menace, or more happily, to use their brains to help humanity. Just like they'd done for the last fifteen years.
At this point during the conference, the electrical engineer announced that he could set up an automatic scanner in the communications post at the sanctuary to check for specific words or phrases in the recordings of news programs, to see if the proper criteria was met to bring the sleepers back to life earlier than planned. After thoughtful nods from everyone there, this was agreed to, and then they all went back to work.
Eight months later, already beginning to suffer from the nerve gas poisoning despite taking their leader's cure, seven humans and two other beings had a last banquet with each other, and then they fearlessly went to their cold sleep capsules placed next to each other in a single hardened room deep under a mountain. Laying themselves down in these, six men and one woman calmly closed their eyes, and they waited for the dark.
Sixty years went past, and then an electrical automation still flawlessly working reacted to President Hayes' speech, sending a signal further down the mountain into the sanctuary cavern holding the comatose group. Room lights flickered on for the first time in decades, and the lids of seven cold sleep capsules slowly rose, sending puffs of icy vapor into the air, as their occupants began to awaken into a world that now truly needed people like them.
Condensation began to evaporate off the lids of the coffin-like containers, where one of their number, who'd been in a particularly sardonic mood the day before they'd entered these, had thoughtfully labeled their names in his neat handwriting upon those pod lids, just in case these objects indeed became their final resting places. In order, the names were:
CLARK SAVAGE, JR.
ANDREW BLODGETT MAYFAIR
THEODORE MARLEY BROOKS
THOMAS J. ROBERTS
WILLIAM HARPER LITTLEJOHN