by Dan Swanson, CSyphrett and Doc Quantum
The year 2039:
Protected for the moment from Futura’s deadly attack, Chemique launched an attack of her own. Miqui concentrated on the robot’s joints, speeding up the chemical breakdown of the lubricants, enhancing the chemical, electrochemical, and physiochemical processes of corrosion, and strengthening the swelling reactions in those materials that didn’t corrode. Futura’s joints experienced the equivalent of a thousand years of aging in only a few seconds, and she ground to a halt.
In Limbo, Mekanique was seeing the first indications that her plan might be going awry. “This is not what occurred! The chemical witch discovered that there is no chemistry involved in my internal power supply, though her dismay only lasted for the few seconds it took me to kill her!” She was disturbed and confused. “This is not possible!”
Wonder Woman snared the stationary Futura with her magic lasso, then ran around her at super-speed, wrapping the golden robot in a golden cocoon of unbreakable magic line.
“Excellent!” Chemique said approvingly. “Her built-in maintenance and repair capabilities were fighting me. Corroded and decomposed materials were somehow being replaced at an amazing rate. I don’t know how long I could have kept that up.”
Suddenly, there was a muffled explosion, and the golden cocoon shuddered, then collapsed, revealing nothing but smoke and an awful smell. Chemique’s senses verified that there was nothing left of the once-invulnerable Futura.
“It must have been an antimatter reaction,” she whispered in awe. “If it weren’t for your magic lasso, it would have destroyed much of the planet!”
In Limbo, at the instant of the explosion on the screen, Mekanique stiffened. Her whole body then rippled, as if it were a reflection in a pool of water into which a stone had just been dropped. As her concentration was broken, the time monitor showed a number of random scenes throughout history, and then the screen slowly faded to black. As the ripples faded, Mekanique began moving again.
Her sensors discovered Canary stealthily approaching her, floating on a flying disk and wearing an invisibility belt from the trophy room.
“You might as well take off the invisibility belt; it doesn’t hide you from my scanners. My mechano-spatial powers can stop any move you try, like they did the last five times,” Mekanique said mockingly.
Canary was confused. She had just disabled the two Doom Legionnaires who had been returning her to her cell after pretending to be knocked unconscious by Mekanique’s blow, but she had heard Mekanique use nearly the same words only a few minutes ago. It was almost as if Mekanique had forgotten their prior encounter.
Back in the World’s Fair parking lot, Chemique and Wonder Woman had just finished reviving their male colleagues and were about to start exchanging stories, when a flying armored personnel carrier landed nearby and a Special Forces squad, armed and armored, piled out. One of the squad members addressed them with a megaphone.
“You have violated the public display of super-powers law, and you are under arrest. Surrender, or we will use overwhelming force.”
“What the hell is the public super-power law?” Hourboy whispered to Wonder Woman.
“It is a constitutional right that everyone is equal. If one person uses super-powers and other people cannot, that’s discriminatory — and of course, that’s against the law.”
The squad deployed around them, aiming their weapons. Teleteen threw up a telekinetic shield. “We’d better leave; if they start shooting, I don’t know how long I can block that many guns.”
“Our time-cube can get us out of here, and we can take you with us,” Hourboy offered. “Need a lift?”
“Can you drop me at Paradise Island?”
“Consider it done! Gernsback, Paradise Island, current time — initiate!”
“I ask the males to remain on your flying disk and not step onto the island.” She shrugged apologetically. “Please don’t be offended; it is an ages-old prohibition.”
Inside the telekinetic shield, the time-cube began to shimmer. The glow expanded to envelop the four heroes, and then they were gone.
November 7, 1988 — the day before the Presidential election:
In the sky over Gotham City, Kid Terrific, WildCat, and Golden Boy had just popped into existence, planning to find the Justice Society of America and warn them of the impending attack from the Legion of Doom. In Limbo, Canary had watched their appearance in hopeless horror, knowing her teammates were walking into a trap set by their nemesis, Mekanique.
Before Squad B could begin their search, another glowing fog appeared in the air, and Hourboy, Chemique, and Teleteen of Squad C shimmered into existence.
“Looks like Gernsback finally has this time-travel stuff nailed!” Hourboy exclaimed in satisfaction. He guided Squad C’s flying disk closer to his teammates. “Has the fun started yet?” he asked. “We don’t want to miss anything!”
“Don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing — at least until you die!” came a cold, mocking voice from the empty air around them, and then the sky was filled with flying super-villains as Futura and Vandal Savage unleashed the android Legion of Doom in their desperate attempt to restore their own timeline.
The Legion of Justice fought valiantly, though at least one of the heroes from the future was filled with despair. In our timeline, Kid Terrific thought to herself, this battle never happened! Mekanique already comes from a timeline that was wiped from existence, and now our own past has been changed. Will we suddenly cease to exist, or can we find some way to undo the new changes if we win this battle? And then she asked herself an even harder question. If we can find a way to undo the changes, do we really want to restore our timeline?
Knight Base, headquarters of the Legion of Justice, in the twenty-third century:
Rexford Tyler sat as always in his chair, because he could not move anything but his eyes and lips. A voice command had been built into his chair so that he could take advantage of the sights and sounds of the twenty-third century. Rexford was known as Timepiece, and his specialty was chronal and temporal physics. It was he who had built the intelligent robot brain called Gernsback and the time-cubes that had sparked the journey back for the members of the Legion. Now he was worried, because all contact had been severed. A rescue mission needed to be sent back to find out the cause, but Canary had ordered him to remain behind if anything went wrong. Timepiece was stuck watching the mission clock with no way of taking part in events, since there was no way for him to help remotely. That needed to be changed.
Timepiece floated his chair into the Legion lab. His chair had various prosthetics that responded to vocal commands. It took some time, but Rexford added various pieces of equipment to his computerized housing. Time to go where I have never gone before, he decided as his waldos finished their handiwork. I could lose my life’s work over this little stunt. But that does not seem like much compared to the lives of my friends.
“Initiate seeker program,” he told the artificial brain called Gernsback. “Phase when ready.”
“Affirmative. Initiating seeker program,” replied Gernsback in his usual hollow tone.
A boom sounded in the lab as a tube of energy opened in front of Rexford. His hover-chair flew into the entrance. The tube closed as soon as he started down its iridescent length to his destination. “Here I come, guys,” he said to the fast-passing air.
The tube dropped Rexford in a dark corridor. “Desynchronize,” he said to Gernsback.
“Desynchronizing,” Rexford heard Gernsback say just as chair and boy faded from view.
In Mekanique’s Limbo headquarters, Rexford Tyler watched from a distance, unseen and unnoticed by all due to his chronal ability to remain one second out of sync with linear time, as the temporal loop in which his teammates were caught in was played out before his eyes. It took him some time to think of a way to break it. Finally, he came up with a plan.
He waited for Mekanique to become engaged with the various meetings she was using to influence her preferred timeline into existence. Then Rexford locked her out for the time he needed to make alterations. Hopefully she would not notice that a temporary block shunted her back to her entrance point even as she tried to enter the temporal niche she had built.
Two can play with time, Timepiece thought as he went back to the holding cells for his friends.
“Bubble,” he said to enclose himself from the effects he had set up. “Synchronize. Desynchronize with Canary.”
His hover chair popped into existence for a nanosecond. Then it vanished, taking the beaten Canary with it.
Canary told Rexford everything she remembered about the encounter and trap that had led her team into captivity. Now Timepiece and Canary moved slowly back to the makeshift trophy hall of Mekanique.
“The Legion of Doom?” questioned Timepiece after she had finished talking. “Their presence is most unexpected.”
“That’s not all, Rex,” said Canary weakly. “Mekanique said something about… man, my memory is getting fuzzy as I think about it — but it had something to do with her changing history now.”
“Well, of course. That is the reason you were sent back, was it not?”
“Yes, but… no. It was different. Oh, if I could only remember. We were wrong about her intentions — completely wrong. That’s all I know.”
“Do not worry about that now. I have a plan. First, though, we must revive Greenfire.”
The Legionnaires approached the wooden uniform hanging on the wall.
“Ready?” Rexford asked.
Canary nodded, raising her hands.
The couple phased into existence for ten seconds. It was just long enough for Canary to yank the uniform off its spot. She hastily shook the wood out of the body-suit, hoping for just a spot of the overconfident personality of Drake Burroughs.
A burst of green flame erupted from the empty body suit. Suddenly, the cloth was full as if it held a real body instead of a mass of energy.
“Burroughs?” said Canary.
“I’m back,” said the voice of Greenfire, sounding tired and subdued. “Fill me in.”
“We have an unknown amount of time to prepare for the return of Mekanique, the team is in a dungeon below us, and the Legion of Doom is somewhere in the building with unknown numbers,” said Canary. “Have you got all that?”
“Got it,” said Burroughs. “Let’s take ’em out.”
Canary and Timepiece looked at each other uncertainly. “Are you sure you’re up to this, Drake?” she asked, worry lacing her voice.
“Oh, yeah,” said the crackling voice of Greenfire. He sounded angry.
“–thinks she’s so smart. I tell you, we should have left long ago. Took her technology for ourselves. That would show her.” The voice was that of Psycho Queen.
Her fellow Legion of Doom member Fabricator walked next to her down the corridors of Mekanique’s keep, readily agreeing with everything she was saying. Then a sheet of green flame wrapped around him, holding him off the ground, and then throwing him into a wall so hard that bones snapped on impact. “Aghk–!” he cried in pain.
“What th–?!” Psycho Queen quickly realized that they were under attack and turned her visage on the Justice Legionnaire, wherever he was, to scare him into helplessness. “Burroughs, I know it’s you. Come here, little boy…”
Canary’s suddenly appearing boot struck her across the cheek, spinning her around. Two feet struck a spot between her shoulders and drove her into the wall, face first. Hands grabbing the side of her head slammed her face into the wall again. Psycho Queen slumped to the floor in a dazed and battered swoon.
“I never did like that bitch,” Canary said grimly. “How many should we expect?” she asked Timepiece.
“According to Gernsback, there are nine members of the Legion of Doom present at Mekanique’s headquarters, along with six armed guards.”
“No problem,” Burroughs said.
As Canary and Greenfire continued down the corridors, Timepiece made sure the Doom Legionnaires never saw the two Justice Legionnaires until it was too late.
Rexford worried about Greenfire but kept it to himself. Burroughs was doing his job with a grim efficiency that he’d not had before he had been tortured by Mekanique and the Fabricator’s wood moving through his body of energy.
Canary seemed to sense the same thing. “Are you feeling all right?” he heard her whisper to Drake several times.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m doing fine. Really.” Greenfire said this briskly, shrugging the concern off with a nonchalance that rang false to his comrades.
They had several encounters with armed guards during their search, but with the help of Timepiece they had avoided any further members of the Legion of Doom. They finally reached the prisoner’s cells where they found the weakened and immobile Star Lass and Hawk Lad. The two were kept in a glass tubes full of some kind of liquid, with air tubes stuck down their throats. “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” Canary said under her breath, biting her lip so she wouldn’t express her shock at the tortures the others had gone through. “Let’s… let’s get them out of there, guys. Now.”
Rex kept his poise as he unlocked the cell-tubes, which drained the liquid in which they were kept.
“Hurry, hurry,” Canary ordered, watching the two crumple to the bottom of the tubes as the liquid was drained out. Finally, she and Greenfire pulled Theresa Knight and Horus out and induced them to begin breathing once more.
They had been stripped of their costumes, but Timepiece found them nearby, and after drying them off with towels and determining that they had sustained no visible wounds on their bodies, Rex examined his fellow Legionnaires before the others dressed them back into their costumes once more. He hoped that there was enough left of them to put back together in reasonable facsimiles of sane minds.