It is 1777, a turning point in the American Revolution. Despite help from the superhuman soldiers of the Legion of Liberty, George Washington’s surprise crossing of the Delaware and subsequent has failed and the general has been ignominiously captured. General Charles Lee, unpopular with the rank-and-file troops of the Continental Army, has taken over command from Washington, further reducing the morale of the patriot forces. Troops are deserting left and right, and some decisive action must be taken to show them they can win this war. The Continental Congress sends John Adams to roust a squad of eight superhuman Legionnaires and give them new orders: rescue General Washington, who is being held captive on a prison ship off the shore of British-occupied New York City. As the sails of the prison ship have been removed, it is merely a hulk, anchored and swaying gently on the waves.
Adams secretly loads the Legionnaires onto a smuggling ship to New York City, sending them to a trusted contact, Hercules Mulligan, one of Washington’s infamous Culper Ring of spies and informants. As a front, Mulligan runs a tailoring shop that serves half the British officers in New York, providing him with easy access to all sorts of gossip—and uniforms.
As the smuggling ship sails into New York Harbor, Salem witch Sara Wilde, a talented flier and shapeshifter, transforms into a seagull to survey the prison ship and assess its layout and guard complement. Hobomok, a Wampanoag psychic, establishes a telepathic connection between the soaring shapeshifter and Martin Saulnier, the charismatic acting leader of the rescue team. As a seagull perched on the ship’s rail, Sara reports eight Royal Marines guarding the deck of the ship. As a mouse scurrying below decks, Sara reports another dozen Marines guarding the corridor to Washington’s cell. The rebel general is the only prisoner on the hulk.
Upon reaching the safety of Hercules Mulligan’s tailoring shop, the landing team debates tactics; they were each chosen for a reason—their powers are uniquely suited to the mission. Henry Cannon, a former dock rat, can control fire (a deadly weapon against a wooden ship), and will secure a dory to make the crossing to the hulk. George Dalton (aka the Boy with the Healing Hands) and Philomon Smith (the Plymouth Rock Boy) both can turn into water form, and they plan to travel through the ocean itself to board the prison ship. The feisty moonshine runner Jack Morgan can breathe underwater and plans to swim to the hulk. Meanwhile, Martin Saulnier and the others will execute a brilliant ruse. With Hercules Mulligan supplying the team with British uniforms and equipment, Martha Hall (the Mistress of Wind and Weather), Henry Cannon, and Hobomok dress as Marines, and Martin Saulnier dresses as a Colonel of Marines. Martin forges a set of transfer orders, hoping to bluff the Marines aboard ship into releasing the imprisoned General Washington to him directly, where they will simply march Washington off the prison hulk with the full cooperation of the enemy. Hobomok makes every effort to maintain the psychic link between Saulnier and Sara Wilde, but the situation is starting to get chaotic.
Initially, the plan goes well. Henry stays on the dory while Martin leads the “Marines” aboard the hulk, giving a command performance as a confident Colonel of Marines. The guard sergeant on the hulk check bows to Martin’s authority and sends a couple of privates to retrieve Washington from below decks. While they wait, a large launch draws up to the prison ship, and Henry recognizes the tall and imposing Native American woman in the stern from a previous battle. Kahwihta is a member of the Order of the Seventh Circle, a mysterious and powerful elite unit of superhumans fighting savagely for British supremacy. Martin Saulnier growls in frustration; his beautiful, masterful ruse, nearly successful, has all been for nothing. But Saulnier, nothing if not briskly cunning and resourceful, comes up with a new audacious ruse on the spot—to assume command of the British prison guards, and make them fight Kahwihta!
Because of the increasingly chaotic communications with Saulnier via Hobomok’s psychic link, Sara has been scurrying around below decks as a mouse, trying to figure out an alternate plan if Saulnier’s ruse doesn’t work. When, suddenly, all the guards rush up the ladder in response to an urgent call to arms, Sara slips under the door to Washington’s cell and shifts back to human form to explain the rescue plan. But from the shouting and stomping sounds coming from above deck, it seems as though the plan has gone to pot. In a mounting panic, Sara shifts Washington into a mouse so he can slip under the door and head for an open cannon port, then back again when she receives confusing impressions from the minds of Hobomok and Saulnier. What’s she supposed to do again? Unfortunately, she has made so many shifts in such a short time, though she does manage to get Washington out of the cell, she ends up stuck in the cell herself, shape shifting powers completely offline! Damn and drat! Switching tactics, Sara sticks her arm out the viewing hole of the door, shatters the door lock with a witch bolt, and joins General Washington at the open cannon port. Although Sara can fly without any trappings, she believes she can’t fly without her magic besom, so she loads Washington onto her hazel wood broom and zooms out the cannon port toward New York City. Free at last!
Meanwhile, the superhero battle has begun above decks with a burst of fire. Henry Cannon blasts the launch with a burst of roiling flame, scorching most of the crew and slowing them down, as Philomon Smith and George Dalton splash aboard the boat to immediately shift new states, stone and wood, respectively. Drawing up in fully confident glory, “Colonel” Seulnier commands the British Marines to make a line the rail and open musket fire. Convinced he is, in fact, their bold and fearless leader in this sudden violent conflict, they obey and start firing on their allies, other British troops lead by the fearsome Kahwihta.
While Saulnier’s troops repel boarders piling over the rail from the launch, Hobomok casts a psychic bolt at Kahwihta. The Native woman is injured, but immediately splits into three copies of herself, each physically manifested and powered. One Kahwihta strikes Philomon (Plymouth Rock Boy) squarely in the head with an axe, knocking him unconscious; Philomon’s stone head is very, very hard, but Kahwihta’s stroke was phenomenally powerful. George attempts to blast the boarders away with a cannonball of sea water, but some boarders struggle through to start a melee with Saulnier’s now-loyal troops. Saulnier leads the charge into the melee, while George quickly applies his healing powers to Philomon, bringing the stone man back to his feet.
Enraged that one of the Kahwihtas managed to knock him unconscious, Philomon rises and throws a mighty punch at the nearest copy. The blow completely crushes her to the deck. Henry Cannon, rising from the sea, blasts the other two Kahwihtas to smithereens with an explosion of flame and then ducks back under the water to avoid the shrapnel. With panache and cries of encouragement, Saulnier leads his stolen troops to victory against the boarders, momentarily shaken when one loyal (but suborned) marine takes a killing blow meant for the “Colonel”. How sad, really, that in the end the British marines have killed one another, but the Legionnaires are on a critical mission, and in the end, Needs Must!
After the battle, Saulnier tells his troops that British superhuman allies removed Washington from the hulk during the battle. Because of their courage and loyalty, he says, Washington is still a British asset (no, he actually isn’t). Feeling humbled by their sacrifice, Saulnier commends the surviving Marines on their performance, and loads his party of disguised Legionnaires back onto the dory. When the Legionnaires return to Mulligan’s tailoring shop, where Washington suggests they will receive medals for their bravery, the Legionnaires emphatically request that Mulligan somehow see to the welfare of the suborned British Marines (who will be executed once their role in the rescue is made clear to their command). Washington is only distractedly sympathetic, but Hercules Mulligan promises to send the infamous Agent 355 to resolve the situation.
Washington rescued, the Legionnaires’ next mission is to return the favor to the British and kidnap Prince William, who is serving as a Midshipman on a ship currently moored in New York Harbor, right back where the wreckage of Kahwihta’s launch is sinking, in flames, into the sea.