DC Universe: The Race, Book 1, Chapter 4: Executive Order

by Immortalwildcat and Vendikarr DeWuff

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“You know of the news, I take it?”

“Of course.”

“I am concerned that one of our kind should get involved in the national government.”

Will he? Or is this somebody’s idea of sending a message?

“What sort of message? And why choose Jay?

“That knowledge is hidden from me, at least for now.”

In a place beyond human understanding, two charter members of the Justice Society of America conversed. The Spectre pondered the possible outcomes of the upcoming election and the effects that they could have on the battle against evil. Doctor Fate, on the other hand, worried over the future of his friends in the JSA.

***

“What do you mean, you’re not sure you’ll support him?”

“Just what I said, hon. I mean, Jay is a friend, and God knows I trust him, but…”

“Dick, I can’t believe this! How could you not support Jay’s campaign?

Dick Grayson ran his hand through his hair. “You forget, Kara, I’ve been involved in politics before. President Nixon selected me to be ambassador to South Africa, after all. And Batman and I saved President Reagan’s life back in ’41. As Robin, I’ve been to the White House several times as his guest. If I come out and support a third party candidate against his Vice-President, he’ll take that as a personal insult.”

“Look, Dick, I understand,” chimed in Helena Wayne. “Red Robin and Dick Grayson both have their ties to the Republican Party. Still, I’d think that Dick Grayson could support the All-Star Party, even if Red Robin is too wrapped up in his own politics to help a friend and teammate.”

Karen Starr smiled. “That’s right. Luckily, Power Girl and the Huntress aren’t such political beasts.”

“Hey! That’s not fair! I’ve never let politics get in the way of Justice Society business before, but that’s not what this is! It’s Jay that’s running for President, not the Flash!”

“That’s what he says, but somehow I don’t think the people who asked him to run feel that way,” noted Helena.

“Don’t tell me you’re turning against him, too,” said a startled Karen. “Jay was the first one to really welcome me in the JSA, and he was the only one that never got snotty with me.”

“No, not at all. In fact, I think that he can count on any support he needs from the Wayne companies.”

“And from me,” sighed the one-time Boy Wonder. “I’m flying down to Washington tonight; I’ll try to speak with the President and make sure there are no hard feelings when I come out in support of Jay Garrick.”

***

Cat Grant stood among the group of reporters and TV crews, waiting to hear what Max Lord had planned. He had called a hasty press conference, and it didn’t appear to Cat that he had got the word out enough. There was just a small crowd gathered.

She noticed that the the TV networks had a small showing, looking to be just local reporters pressed into network duty. They must have considered it a small-time story. Almost everyone did. Cat then wondered why Mr. Olsen hadn’t.

Her boss at the Daily Star, editor Jimmy Olsen, had told her he got a tip of a big announcement here in Washington. Obviously it was a tip he could trust, because here she was, instead of letting one of the bureau reporters handle it.

Gotham Broadcasting — she reminded herself it was Scott Communications now — had a large crew out with one of their top anchors. They must have gotten a hot tip as well. Most other papers had second-string writers there.

One writer she thought was out of place was Terry Chase, reporter for that sleaze-rag, the Tattler. Curiosity got the best of her, so Cat walked over to her.

“Terry Chase?” She paused. “Cat Grant. We met at the Metropolis Press Club.”

“Grant. I see your paper is taking this seriously. Most of these bozos are sure going to be surprised.”

“I suppose. What has me curious is what you are doing here. I heard Neptune Perkins and Dan Dunbar will be here. You writing up the super-hero angle on whatever this is?”

Whatever? You don’t know why you’re here?” asked Chase.

“Formation of new political party is the scuttlebutt, but the invitation to the conference was rather vague.”

“Hon, you can’t scoop me here, so here’s the low-down. You’re right about a new political party — the All-Star Party. They are also announcing their Presidential candidate.”

“Perkins or Dunbar? Excuse me while I yawn. Nothing inspiring there.”

“Hon, ain’t that the truth. But they’re not the one. It’s Jay Garrick.”

Grant stood there stunned, definitely something she didn’t expect. But then her skeptical side won out. “What’s your proof?” asked Grant.

“Source in Lord’s office. Nice financial arrangement. But just wait a little bit, and you’ll have it official.”

“If you had all this, why didn’t you run with it?”

“My paper didn’t think it was worth the trouble. They want who’s sleeping with who and their screw-ups. Jay Garrick is not good press to them.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning I quit. I want to work for a real paper reporting the super-hero beat. Let me be honest. Can you get me an interview?

“I’ll do you one better. Give me what you have, and I’ll share a byline with you. I’ll talk you up to Mr. Olsen, and we’ll get you set.”

“Wonderful. Am I glad you spotted me,” said Chase.

“Me, too. Terry, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

***

“What the hell are they dressed like that for?” demanded Amanda Waller upon seeing Daniel Dunbar and Neptune Perkins in their old super-hero costumes.

Symbolism, Amanda. We want to invoke memories of the All-Star Squadron in the people’s minds. Best way is visually.”

“Lord, you may know business, but you’re an idiot at politics.” Amanda paused and took a breath. “They look silly. And Garrick is not the type of man to play on the Flash for elections.”

“But he is the Flash. Appearing in uniform is a requirement here.”

“Lord, Garrick won’t go for it. I know the type. He won’t play on the costume for votes. And I didn’t ask the Flash to run, I asked Garrick. And if you don’t see the difference, you better leave now.”

“Listen, Waller, you can’t talk to me like that!”

Amanda’s hands balled into fists as she replied, “I’d like to see you stop me without a squad of security.”

Lord raised a hand to try to calm her, but thought better of it and put it back to his side. “Amanda, let’s just relax. It’s going to get very busy from here on out, and we don’t need to start off fighting.”

“Then listen to what I say, Lord. Get those men back into their regular clothes, and fast.”

“OK, OK, Amanda, whatever you say.” He then called out to Perkins and Dunbar and had them change in the tent set up behind the monument.

Amanda watched them walking off and shook her head. She then looked at her watch and muttered to herself, “Garrick, you had better not be late.”

***

In Keystone City, Jay stood before the mirror and asked his wife, “Joan, which tie goes best with my suit — the blue and yellow stripes, or the blue and red stripes?”

“Hold them up, let me see,” she replied. After looking at both of the ties, she walked over to the closet and pulled out a tie with alternating dark and light blue stripes. “I think this one goes best.”

Jay gave her a sheepish grin and said, “Thanks, hon. Don’t know where my head is today.”

I do. It’s in Washington, D.C., where the rest of you — and us — should be in about ten minutes.”

“OK, OK, just let me finish here, and we can get running.” He tied his tie, then called out to his son.

“Yeah, Dad?” said John Garrick.

“Just want to remind you you’re not running. No one knows you’re Whiz Kid, and I want to keep that secret for now. You just wrap your hands around my neck while I hold your mother.”

“I know, Dad. That’s how we did it before my powers kicked in.”

Jay nodded, looking at his son and wife. “I am so lucky to have you both. I love you.”

“I love you too, hon; now we really have to run.”

“All right, can’t have the fastest man alive be late,” said Jay Garrick. He then scooped up his wife, his son wrapped his hands around his father, and off they ran.

***

A limousine pulled up to the entrance below the South Portico of the White House and stopped just long enough to discharge a colorfully dressed passenger. His cape swirling in the early afternoon breeze, Red Robin quickly made his way to the door, presenting his identification for the Secret Service agent there. Once inside, he was escorted to an elevator, taken upstairs, and ushered into a study in the President’s living quarters.

“Good afternoon, Mr. President. A pleasure to see you again,” said the masked Dick Grayson as the room’s sole other occupant stood to greet him.

“Robin! Welcome back, son! Please, sit down.” President Ronald Reagan, ever the amiable host, gestured toward an overstuffed chair. “I suppose I should call you Red Robin now, shouldn’t I?”

“Robin is fine, sir. I appreciate your seeing me on such short notice.”

“Robin, you know that you are always welcome here. Just as you and Batman were always welcome at my home and at the Governor’s mansion back in California.” The President’s eyes narrowed, focusing on the younger man. “Something’s troubling you. Something I can help with?”

“It’s about the upcoming Presidential race, sir. I know it’s still pretty far off, but there is something in the works that I want to discuss with you.”

“You mean… Jay Garrick’s announcement today?” Seeing the surprise evident on Red Robin’s face, the President chuckled. “Oh, it’s no secret here, though I’ve made sure that everyone understands that it is to be kept secret. It’s his announcement to make, not ours. Never could stand politicians who have to tell the press everything as soon as they find out.” The President reached for a candy dish on the table next to him, took a handful of jelly beans in one hand, and passed the dish toward Red Robin with the other.

“Here’s my dilemma, sir. I owe you and your party a great deal, both as Robin and in my everyday life. But Jay Garrick is a dear friend, a man I’ve respected for over forty years. I don’t wish to seem ungracious, sir, but I’m throwing my support behind him, and I wanted to make sure you and Vice President Dole know that.” Dick rushed through the words, trying to get them all out before his nerve deserted him.

The reaction from President Reagan was not at all what he expected. “Is that what had you all nervous, lad?” asked the President.

“Well, umm…”

Ronald Reagan let out a loud, hearty laugh, which attracted his wife from another room of the White House.

“Ronny, is everything — oh! Red Robin! I didn’t know you had arrived.”

“It’s all right, Jane. Robin and I were talking about the Garrick situation.” Reagan turned to face his wife of many years. “It seems that the young man, here, is supporting Mr. Garrick’s campaign and wanted to let me know personally to avoid any hard feelings.”

“How considerate! Have you told him about your little surprise for Mr. Garrick, then?”

“No, I haven’t gotten to that yet.” The President turned back to an incredulous Red Robin. “You see, while I will support Bob in his run for the office, I have no objection to you supporting your friend. I’ve met Mr. Garrick a number of times myself. He’s a good man, and he may make a good president as well.” Seeing disbelief in the hero’s eyes, he explained. “Politics is not an all-or-nothing situtation. Just because I think one candidate is suited for the office does not mean that another is not. Political expediency makes it necessary that I support Bob Dole, but if Jay Garrick is up there taking the oath on Inauguration Day, I’ll be just as happy. And to that end, I’ve taken certain steps that I felt were in order.”

“Steps, sir?”

“Yes. You recall, back in 1951, when the JSA was brought before the Joint Congressional Committee? That was a nasty situation, and a lot of loose ends were left from that, which were never taken care of.”

Loose ends? Involving the JSA?

“Certainly. Because your friends simply disappeared, rather than cooperate with the Committee, they were filed as a potential national security risk. That classification still exists, thirty-five years later.” The President shook his head ruefully at the slow grinding of the governmental machinery. “At least it did until this morning.”

“What do you mean?

“I mean that, as of ten o’clock this morning, I signed an executive order pardoning Jay Garrick and all other members of the Justice Society for any and all crimes, suspicions, and allegations stemming from the Un-American Activities Committee’s actions in the 1940s and ’50s. All the better to ensure that no possible taint from that sad time in our history is allowed to affect the nation’s costumed heroes.” President Reagan stood, offering his hand to Red Robin. “Now, I think that press conference is due to start in a few minutes. Would you like to be there for it, or would you prefer to watch it here with Jane and myself?”

“If you don’t mind, sir, I’d be proud to stay here and watch it with you.”

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