by Dan Swanson
Chapter eight — Gathering the Forces, Part 2 ####### CHAPTER 6
Mary Marvel thought for a few seconds. She didn’t actually know if her ‘new friends’ were even still alive. Earlier this year she had been sent back in time and then across the vibratory barrier to another Earth, home to Captain Thunder, Mary Thunder and Captain Thunder Jr.* These heroes had been granted their power by the ancient Mohegan shaman, Merokee, and they defended their world much as Mary and the Captains Marvel defended their own.
(* see Mary Marvel, Monsters by LibbyLawrence, in the Files section)
Mary had saved the heroes of that other Earth from a trap that was similar to the Suspendium trap the heroes of her own world had fallen prey to, and warned them about the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths, which would destroy their universe. She had hoped her warning of the catastrophe 32 years in their future would allow them time to find some way to save themselves. Well, now she would find out.
She already knew she couldn’t cross the vibratory barriers to the other Earths any longer. Everyone on Earth-S who had ever crossed the barriers before the Crisis had tried and tried again, and failed and failed again. She needed some special help, so she headed for the subway tunnel in New York.
She lit the mystical torch, and Shazam appeared before her. “Your grave mission is known to me, Mary. I regret that I alone do not have the power to help you visit your destination universe. In truth, I don’t know if that universe yet exists.”
“Although you never knew it, the Shaman Merokee and I had been friends for many years when first you met. Shortly after you returned from his world, yet long before the Crisis, communication between Merokee and myself was sundered despite my continuing efforts to contact him.”
“The two of us had long ago exchanged powerful magical tokens of friendship, and it may be that by adding my power and yours to the power of the token with which he gifted me, you may be able to reach his universe. Yet it will be a dangerous journey — if in fact his universe was destroyed in the Crisis, you may find yourself totally outside of space and time, in a place that never existed and where time never began, and I have no way of knowing if even a Marvel could long survive in such a place.”
Mary smiled.” I’ll take that risk, sir. If we Marvels had been given advance warning of the Crisis, I think we could have discovered a way to survive it, even on our own. Merokee and the Thunders must have figured out something! After all, by the time the Crisis rolled around, they all had an extra 20 years of experience that we missed here on our own Earth, trapped in Suspendium. What do I have to do?”
Shazam handed her a belt — it had not been in his hand an instant ago. She recognized it immediately. “It’s a Thunder Belt!”
“No, my dear, there is a copyright on that name. Call it instead a Belt of Thunder! Here is what you must do — travel to the mystic cave that you used to travel to this other world the last time. Change back to Mary Bromfield, then rub the belt buckle to unleash Merokee’s power — yet speak my name instead of his. And concentrate very strongly on Merokee’s world — remember the mystic cavern where you first encountered him.”
“I believe Merokee will sense someone calling on him via the Belt of Thunder, and when he senses my magic intertwined with yours and his own, he will pull and I will push and you will travel to his world. If you are successful in crossing to this other world, you may return in the same manner. I will be awaiting you.”
“You must hurry! You are due back at the Rock of Eternity in only seven hours and you have to gather as many of a world’s heroes as you may!”
Mary exited from the Rock of Eternity within sight of Camp Merokee, as she had convinced her adopted mother to call her new venture. She flashed into the mystic cave. This time it was empty. The ‘Native American relics’ she had seen the first time she had been here had been props left by Zotan, ‘the King of Time’ (“But not really even the king of his own backyard!” Mary thought smugly “after he tangled with the Thunder Family and me!”). She found the mystic torch that had summoned Merokee — on the other Earth, she reminded herself. But it was a good sign that there was one here as well.
She used her super speed to ignite the torch, and set it into a niche in the wall. She noticed that, like the torch in the New York Subway tunnel, no matter how long it burned, the magical wood of the torch was never consumed. She changed to Mary Bromfield, then sat down on a convenient boulder and composed her mind.
She remembered the other cave, so similar to this one. The other Mary, her virtual twin! And she concentrated on remembering Merokee — who had reminded her so much of her own mystical mentor, Shazam. When she could almost see him standing in front of her, she rubbed the belt buckle and spoke her magic word – “SHAZAM!”
The magic star burst, gift of noble Merokee, and the magic lightning, legacy of mystical Shazam both struck Mary at the same time and she vanished.
Or did she? When she opened her eyes, she was in the same cave, sitting on the same boulder. Even the torch was the same. But she was Mary Marvel now — or was she? She realized that she was indeed wearing her own costume, and she felt normal. Which Earth was she on, though?
She could sit here all day and wonder, while a mighty, mysterious enemy moved closer to her world, or she could go see what there was to see! There really wasn’t much choice, was there?
She flashed out of the cave and headed for New York/Metropolis. She was able to determine from signs along the highways that she was going toward Metropolis, so maybe she was on the right world!
In the distance she saw a flying figure dressed in blue with a red cape approaching her. He was too big to be Captain Thunder Jr. When he got closer, she could see a red and yellow insignia on his chest. “Oh my!” she said to herself. “This must be Earth-1, because that must be Superman!” As he drew even closer, she became more confused. His costume was a mixture of Captain Thunder Jr. and Superman, but not either one. When she was close enough, she was able to recognize his face. It was Captain Thunder Jr., but over the years he had grown — now he was as big as Captain Marvel (or Superman, she thought with a blush).
He changed directions to fly alongside her. “You must be Mary Marvel. Welcome back to our world! You are well-remembered here, since your warning allowed us to escape the deadly destruction that accompanied the Crisis! And from the wicked witch’s trap as well!”
“And you must be Captain Thunder Jr.” she said, uncertainly. If he was, he had grown up. And how! With his boyishly handsome face, wide smile and curly hair, she thought he was even dreamier than Superman!
“Used to be, but now I’m Thunderman!” He stopped and hovered in place, and she saw the differences more clearly. The yellow sunburst on his chest had been modified, it now had a big red ‘T’ inside it and was clearly designed to be reminiscent of Superman’s chest insignia. “I got tired of being called Jr. because of a guy who isn’t my father — and in fact isn’t even related to me at all! So, I’ve been Thunderman for ten years.”
“Well, I really like your new costume! And you sure turned out well!” she was almost reduced to stuttering.
“That’s what Mary Thunder said, too. You don’t look half-bad yourself! Except, of course, how young you still are — it’s been over 30 years, and you haven’t aged a minute!”
“Why thank you, Thunderman! This is just as strange for me. I saw you only a couple months ago and you were my age!”
Thunderman shook his head. “Time travel sets up some weird situations, all right! So what brings you here? Have you come to save our world again? You really are a legend here, you know…”
“Actually, I’ve come to ask you and your fellows for help. There is a major crisis facing my Earth, and even with all the heroes we can gather, we might still not be strong enough to stop it.”
“Jiminy! I’m on my way to an informal meeting of the Society of Justice; just the place for you to tell your story and ask for volunteers. Follow me!”
“On my way!” she replied, while thinking ‘I’d follow you just about anywhere!’
Thunderman lead the way, and landed on an observation platform on the top of a building. Mary recognized it; on her world it was called ‘the Dominion State Building’ and it had been the tallest building in the world for many years.
“When Doc Damage retired, he gave us a nice deal on his old headquarters. Top four floors are ours. Reception, conference room, trophy room and labs on the 86th, living quarters and guest rooms on the 85th, below that are the airplane hangars and other storage and the 83rd is empty. Great location, great view!” He stopped and thought for a second, then continued “But you probably know all that already, don’t you?”
“I’ve never heard of Doc Damage, and on my world, this building is an office building and the top two floors are taken up by a restaurant and gift shop.”
They opened a door into a small room. Inside, Thunderman laid his hands on a glass plate and a green light flashed. He then looked into a device that resembled the small end of a binoculars, set into a wall, and another green light flashed.
“Just for fun, let’s see if our security system recognizes you,” he suggested. It didn’t. He typed some information into a keypad set into the wall and they heard a beep. He had Mary try again and this time she was recognized. “I’ve given you limited access, which means the top floor conference facilities. I would give you full access but I can’t do it from here for security reasons, and it takes more than just one of us. But limited should be all you’ll need, especially if you’re in a hurry.”
“This is so cool!” she said. The Squadron of Justice was in the process of building its own headquarters building, and there were plans for this type of security. She was making careful mental notes of everything she saw.