It was 2531 AD and hostile aliens were bent on conquering the solar system. Steve Smith had always wanted to be a space commando, and he signed up as soon as the Geeks started their unprovoked attack. Fresh out of training, he was deployed as the sixth member of the V.C.s or 'vacuum cleaners', a squad of star soldiers, replacing a dead man called Crick. At first his brothers in arms (Ringer, Dwarf Star, Hen-Sho and Loon) didn't like him much because he was the only one of them born on Earth. They nicknamed him 'Earthworm'; he regarded the rest of them as 'half-castes' (although he was wise enough to keep that opinion to himself). Matters were further complicated when Smith was forced to kill Dwarf Star's twin brother, Midge, to prevent him from being captured by the Geeks and enduring a fate worse than death. Midge himself asked him to do it, but that didn't stop Dwarf from hating his brother's killer.
Smith became a true V.C. when the Geeks destroyed the Terran conurbation of Transatlantic City, killing his parents and two little brothers. The former rookie was consumed by rage, rejecting the offer of compassionate leave with the words, "No! I'm a V.C. — a hard veteran now!" (Compassionate leave would have been pretty pointless anyway, unless Smith had a burning desire to stare at the smoking crater where his home town used to be.) Retrained as a star scout, he went on to distinguish himself in a number of battles.
Ringer blamed Smith for thinking up the expedition on which their popular sergeant Jupe was blinded. He tried to kill Smith, and then secretly cut Smith's palm with a razor when Jupe made them shake hands. Smith and Ringer then infiltrated a Geek planet, disguised as Geeks. Ringer was discovered and tortured, all the while screaming for Smith to rescue him. Smith did eventually rescue Ringer, but only after transmitting the Geeks' location to his fleet and taking a Geek general hostage. Thanks to Smith, (a) the humans captured their first ever Geek planet and Geek prisoner, and (b) Ringer was tortured so much that it drove him insane. However, Ringer later sacrificed his life to stop Smith being killed by the Dishwasher, a treacherous member of the diplomatic corps.
Smith eventually helped Jupe to end the war by destroying the Geek High Command. Weakened by loss of blood, he saw the ghosts of his dead comrades encouraging and guiding him.
In 2581 AD Earth and her colonies had been at peace for fifty years. Smith, now a major, had a job keeping one of Earth's 'defence pylons' soot-free with a high-tech vacuum cleaner. Suffering from a mild case of PTSD, and with a tendency to wash his hands with unnecessary frequency, he often 'forgot' to take his meds, thus enabling himself to hold conversations with the dead V.C.s. While he was attending peace celebrations with Jupe (he had initially not planned to go, but all of the dead V.C.s turned up in his bedroom at once and guilt-tripped him into it) the Geeks mounted a surprise attack. The veterans' ship landed on the Moon and the ghost of Hen-Sho persuaded Smith to suit up, grab some weapons and go help some beleaguered soldiers (with Jupe's help, of course).
Impressed by Smith's skill and courage, the Earth authorities made him the head of a brand new squad of V.C.s, comprising Kali, Ryx, Lin-Fu, Ronsalle and (to Smith's disgust) the Geek volunteer Keege. Smith's hatred of Keege was tempered by the realisation that he was treating the young Geek with the same prejudiced attitude which Ringer had had towards the 'Earthworm' Smith himself fifty years ago. When Keege proved his trustworthiness Smith reluctantly decided to keep him on the squad. Ronsalle died in combat, being replaced by a trooper called Diderot, and joined the dead V.C.s haunting Smith.
Jupe later died saving Smith's life on Charon so that Smith and the rest of his squad could discover and transmit the details of a planet-killing weapon the Geeks had hidden at the edge of the solar system. This earned Smith and the other V.C.s the G.C.C. (Global Combat Corps) Victory Cross — all apart from Lin-Fu, who had sacrificed her life to send Earth the vital data. During the events on Charon, Diderot was injured, which led to the discovery that he was an alien-manufactured cyborg. This had been unknown to everyone, including Diderot himself.
When the G.C.C. investigated they found that 200 other 'facsimile humans' had infiltrated their ranks. Diderot was incarcerated, but Smith made a point of visiting him in his cell so that he could hand him his Victory Cross personally. He also petitioned the G.C.C. for Diderot's release, but was unsuccessful.
In 2582 AD, Smith and the rest of the V.C.s were sent on a mission to discover the source of the facsimiles. It emerged that they had been created by the Polity, an alliance of alien cultures. The role of the cyborgs was to 'witness' the human-Geek war, which had been secretly incited by the Polity, who derived intense pleasure from watching others fight. Smith discovered this when the Polity tried to mind-probe him and the process malfunctioned, because of the scars on his psyche caused by the first Geek war and the intense Geek interrogation he had endured on Charon. This meant that Smith was able to temporarily overhear the Polity's conversation. As he later put it, "Who knew that being damaged goods would have an upside like that?"1
In 2583 AD, the V.C.s' ranks were swelled by new recruits Tycho and Tommy Hoff. The team successfully managed to bring influential Geek pacifist Gaek'rr to a conference of anti-war Geeks, meaning that there was a chance that the peaceful Geeks would unite with the human race to oppose the Polity and finally end human-Geek conflict forever. Keege, who by this time Smith thought of as his friend, sacrificed his life in order to bring this about. As Smith led the rest of the V.C.s away from the conference hall, after ushering Gaek'rr in, he reflected that "It ain't the end. I know that. But it feels like a good, clean start. Frick, what more could I ask?"
Powers and abilities
PowersInteresting hallucinations (if, indeed, that's what they are).
AbilitiesAstute tactician (he pulls the V.C.s' fat out of the fire time after time); good at making things (he created Brother's 'hippy' avatar); able to fly Geek ships; can paralyse people with nerve blows; proficient at unarmed combat; dark sense of humour.
Strength levelPeak human male.
EquipmentA spacesuit with his name on it.
TransportationA starship controlled by the artificial intelligence nicknamed Brother (later destroyed); G.C.C. (Global Combat Corps) battlecarrier James Earl Carter.
Hades grenades; land torpedoes; blitz cannon; spark guns.
12000 AD prog 1441.
- Appearances of Steve Smith
- Character Gallery: Steve Smith
- Images that feature Steve Smith
- Fan-Art Gallery: Steve Smith
- Steve Smith quotations
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