by Dan Swanson, based on a concept by Tynnechris
A month had passed after everyone had returned from their intel missions. The Legion’s Stealth Squad had gone to Earth and had returned with time-travel theory from Amgov’s secret files but no actual time machine. Canary was pleased to note that Chemique had excelled as the field leader of the Squad, and the rest of the team also performed admirably.
Now the Legion of Justice was ready to undertake its most important mission ever — saving the timeline from the android monster Mekanique, her creator Rotwang, and the immortal villain Vandal Savage, alias Joh Fredersen, whom they had come to realize was a parallel universe version of their own General Urbane. Vandal Savage and Mekanique planned to attack and wipe out the Justice Society of America using an army of androids called the Legion of Doom — a group they had stolen from General Urbane — and then take over the world, reestablishing Savage’s absolute dictatorship from his capital city, the highly advanced, sterile mechanical city of Metropolis.
The Legion of Justice scientists, Rexford Tyler (Timepiece), Theresa Knight (Star Lass) and Drake Burroughs (Greenfire), with help from the Legion artificer and armorer Randall Tyler (Hourboy) and their intelligent supercomputer Gernsback, had used the information recovered from Feithera and secret Amgov files to build several working time machines — small, shimmery silver cubes that glowed when they were activated, and which included a calendar readout so the Legion would always know when they were, even if they weren’t sure where. Gernsback could communicate and control the time cubes through time and space, and they could be used in conjunction with a new and improved type of boom tube to deliver a team of Legionnaires anywhere and anywhen in the universe. That was the theory, at least.
Besides time travel, there were other big problems, such as where and when in the past could they do the most good, and what should they do when they got there? The Legion’s scholars, strategists, and tacticians — Gina Lance, Cathy Beamish, Miqui, and Challenger Who Screams and Leaps — pored over the historical data that Cathy had retrieved and the information recovered from the download of Mekanique’s memory. They had been unable to agree on a single course of action, so they had decided to send three teams of Legionnaires back into the past — two of those teams to protect obvious weak spots and the third to gather more intel.
Though they hadn’t been involved in the science or strategy sessions, Sandy, Horus, and Tommy Tamare had not been bored. Somebody had to fulfill the Legion’s heroic responsibilities. These three captured the space pirate Bull Coxine along with his ship and crew, broke up a Goldenwine smuggling operation, thwarted an assassination attempt against the Mongrule of Tschai by Mist-Master and the Society of Assassins — they had been hired by the infamous Wotan, who was stewing on the hellish planetoid called Hades. And they apprehended the super-villain team X-Pack — consisting of Doctor X, XLass, Black X, and MistreX — on the planet Xtrema.
Canary gathered the team for the assignments and briefing.
“Squad A consists of myself, Star Lass, Greenfire and Hawk Lad. Mekanique’s memories show that she considers the JSA to be particularly vulnerable during four specific time periods between 1945 and 2005. In July of 1949, the JSA was placed in suspended animation for a year by enemies. (*) Target time one is in 1950, immediately after they are restored and for a month afterwards. Target time two is late December, 1985, when the JSA return from their imprisonment in a magical device which simulated the end of the world and forced them to fight the battle of Ragnarok over and over again until they were saved by Johnny Thunder! (*) In 1989, a change in the government policies towards super-heroes forced the JSA and all other heroic groups to disband — again, though they re-formed again in six months. Target time three is shortly after the JSA re-form but while they are still demoralized. And target time four is in 2002, right after the team returns from a difficult mission to the Savage Land in Antarctica.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret Conquest of the Earth,” All-Star Comics # (April-May, 1950) and Justice Society of America: Ragnarok.]
“What about the twelve years from 1951 to 1963?” Kid Terrific wanted to know. She was particularly worried about this period, as it was so long. “Why wouldn’t she attack during that time, when the JSA was demoralized and disbanded? That’s when I would attack if I wanted to wipe out the JSA!”
“Yeah, I know. That worries me, too. It’s possible that she wants to defeat them all at once, as a group, rather than having to seek them out and fight them one at a time. The propaganda value of her victory among the normal people of the time would be greater that way.”
“She’d have to be freepin’ arrogant to be absolutely certain she can take the JSA all at once, even with an army helping her,” Teleteen commented. “I don’t believe it.”
“I don’t, either,” agreed Canary. “There must be some other reason she’s avoiding that era, or maybe we’re being set up somehow, though I can’t see how. And I’m thinking there must be a dozen other time periods that might be good targets for her that we don’t know about yet. So, that’s where Squad B comes in.”
“Kid Terrific, Sandy, and WildCat are Squad B. Their primary mission is to contact the Monitor and see if he’ll give us access to his files.” She planned to continue but was interrupted.
“The Monitor? He’s nothing but a legend!” Horus squawked.
“Not so! The Monitor is the God of Time in the Auron pantheon,” Sandy contradicted him.
“The Monitorrr is well-known in the Empirrre of Elaigarrr as the Ultimate Obserrrverrr, Rrrecorrrderrr of All,” added WildCat.
“After the Crisis, the Dominants decided not to invade the Earth, as it was the home of the Monitor,” said Cathy, trying to clarify the discussion. “I read this in their histories of the time period. They noted that the formation of Amgov eventually caused the Monitor to leave Earth when General Wildman tried to force him to work for Amgov.”
“Hold on!” Drake shouted. “Who the heck is the Monitor?”
“The Monitor,” began Rexford in a didactic tone that sounded like a lecturer at the Legion Academy, a tone that allowed no disagreement, “is a legendary figure — possibly mythological, possibly real — with great powers, who supposedly guards this universe from invasion from other universes. In the legend he is immortal and can see any event, anywhere and anywhen in the universe, and he is sworn not to interfere unless extra-universal beings are involved.”
“Wrong!” said Theresa. “Mekanique’s memory shows that there are several Monitors, and that each of them has been assigned a section of the universe to, well… monitor. They are pledged never to interfere, but to record everything.” Theresa disagreed, despite Rex’s tone.
“Actually, I heard that the Monitors all live on a world at the center of the universe, and they assign agents to each sector of the universe, and these agents patrol their own sectors and fight evil,” said Randall.
“Well, now I know!” said Drake sarcastically. “Thanks for giving me such a clear picture.” He’d been harder than ever to deal with since his blowup with Horus. “It all sounds like freep to me.”
“There are a lot of legends about the Monitor, as Drake says. If he existed, we think he briefly lived on Earth in Kansas in the late twentieth century, and Squad B is going to look for him. No more arguments or discussion!” Canary rarely gave a sweeping order such as this one, but she didn’t want this mission briefing to run all day. “If they can’t find him, they will return to base and await reassignment.” That flat statement ended that discussion. She continued making mission assignments.
“Squad C, consisting of Hourboy, Chemique, and Teleteen, will head back to the year 2039. According to Legion of Justice history, the 2039 version of the Legion fought a giant time-traveling robot at the 2039 World’s Fair in New York City. But we now know that the Legion of Justice wasn’t founded until around 2050. A time-traveling robot sounds like Mekanique, though I don’t quite understand the giant part. So you guys find out what really happened and help defeat the robot, especially if it turns out to be Mekanique.”
She turned to Rexford Tyler. “Timepiece, you will remain here to monitor the action teams with Gernsback, and yank us back here if we get into any trouble they can’t handle. You will not, under any circumstances, leave your post.”
Rex started to complain, but Canary cut him off. “Rex, we’re using barely tested prototype time machines based on stolen theory and technology. Your science team wedded this new prototype with the boom tube — and just a month ago, we discovered just how unreliable the boom tube could be. If anything goes wrong with one of the action teams’ time cubes, you are their absolute best chance of getting home safely. You’re our safety net, Rex, and I’m not sending any teams into the time stream without the best safety net I can arrange.”
Canary didn’t explain her orders very often, a trait she’d probably picked up from long association with General Urbane. But she’d also learned that sometimes explaining orders made them easier to follow, and she judged this to be one of those cases. And after the explanation, Rex understood just how important his role was. He nodded, and Canary continued her briefing.
“Your team leaders — myself, Kid Terrific, and Chemique — will brief you with everything we know, and we’ll be ready to leave in two hours. If you’ve got questions, see if your team leader knows the answer. If not, she’ll ask me.”
Some two hours later they were ready. Departure times had to be staggered, as the new boom tube configuration was still finicky. Squad C got away without problems. A few minutes later, Squad B vanished.
“Uh-oh!” Rex mumbled from his monitor station.
“What’s uh-oh mean?” Canary demanded. “I don’t like the sound of that!”
“We monitored some power fluctuations just as they left. We had expected fluctuations and built high-capacity power-compensators — and they worked; they smoothed out a tidal wave into something like a large ripple. But I don’t think they ended up exactly on target. Gernsback is working on that now.”
“As soon as possible, contact them and let them know what happened, and see if you can assist. Meanwhile, how long before you can fix this so it’s safe for us to leave?” Canary asked him.
“I’d say all we have to do is wait a couple of hours, and the local distortion in space-time will subside, and you can leave then.”
Greenfire started to emit a greenish glow, which expanded like a fog rolling in, and surrounded the rest of Squad A. “No need to wait. I know where we’re going, and I have the power to take us there.”
The magical green fog shrunk and clung to them, and soon they were bathed in cool, flickering green energy. They could somehow feel the life in that green glow, feel it responding to his will. There was a moment of intense green brightness, and then there was a sound:
And they were somewhere else.