by Doc Quantum
Wednesday, August 7, 1985, two days after the Crisis on Infinite Earths:
Captain William Prohaska Hawk and Captain Travis “Ace” Jordan strode, almost swaggering, down the hallway of an Air Force base in Santa Barbara, California. They felt on top of the world. True, they were the best of the best, but it was not that fact that made them happy this day.
The reason the two were so jubilant was that they had a hot double date with two of the most beautiful girls in California. Will’s date was Zinda Blake, a fellow United States Air Force Academy alumni and pilot in her own right. And Travis’ date was Tara Ferris Jordan, his beautiful wife and the mother of his child.
“So what do you think, Will?” Travis asked his best friend with concern. He was a tall, Nordic-looking man with pale blonde, almost white hair and a non-regulation white goatee that he’d grown over his leave. He was in his thirties and still in peak physical shape. “You think the Nazis are trying to make a comeback?”
Will Hawk was silent for a moment. The younger man, in his late twenties, had jet-black hair, a strong jawline, and a hawklike nose. Anyone who met him noted that his blue eyes were unnaturally piercing, like those of a bird of prey. Now he averted those eyes and tried to keep things irreverent. “All I know is what I’ve seen on the news, buddy,” he said. “It looks like they were making an attempt on Europe this morning. It’s been a virtual news blackout since then. I wish I knew.”
“Sorry, man,” Travis said, patting Will on the back. “I know you hate the Nazis for what they did to your dad. He was a great hero.”
Will smiled and said, “Yeah, I miss my dad. I wish he could see me now. But I’d like to think he would be proud of me, being the head of my own air squadron and all.”
“Hey, what were Larry and Nate up to tonight, anyway?”
Shrugging, Will said, “Probably the same as us, Ace. You gotta love these California girls. Hey, what’s that?” He pointed up into the sky at some moving objects.
“Oh, God, no,” Travis said after a moment. “They’re bombers! Run for it!”
It all began so peacefully, didn’t it? We were walking down the long hallway, my best friend and I, proudly dressed in our uniforms, all smiles, spit ‘n’ polished. And we were ready to take our best girls out for a night on the town. Nothing’s too good for my girl.
Then there’s the first shock. A bomb. And not too far away. They’re bombing us, we realize in horror!
Running. We’re running down the long hallway, trying to make it to the exit to see what’s happening. My baby. She’s in trouble.
Gaaah! An explosion blows out the wall behind me, and I’m sent flying toward the door. I black out for a few moments, only to awake just outside. Travis strikes my face for what seems to be the second time in an attempt to rouse me, and I grab his wrist before he can do it a third time. He gives me a firm nod, and I pick myself up in a moment of clarity and follow him. Barely conscious, I look up to see the hordes of jets in the air strafing the field. There’s no way. No. My baby’s gone. They’ve bombed her. My jet-black baby. Now only a smoldering ruin.
Will and Travis went running for the airfield just as the first wave of bombs ended. They quickly search for any undamaged fighter jets to take the fight into the air, but it was no use. The entire field was a smoking ruin. Nearby, rounds of antiaircraft fire were trying with limited success to shoot down the second wave of bombers. But as for the two pilots, they were grounded, and there was nothing more frustrating than that.
“They’re heading into the city!” cried Travis. “Damn it!”
“Over here!” said Will, pointing to a couple of antiaircraft guns. The gunners had been killed by shrapnel, but the guns themselves were undamaged. “At least we might be able to get a few of those bastards before they hit the city!”
Jumping into place, they began firing round after round into the attacking warplanes, which they couldn’t help but notice were painted with the insignia of the old Empire of Japan. Overnight, it seemed, the political landscape of the world had reverted to thirty or forty years earlier. Did this world love war so much that it could just pick up where the last war left off as if no time had passed?
“Ace, look over there!” Will said, pointing to the far end of the field, where the smoke had cleared enough for them to see that a few planes were still undamaged. “Isn’t that Larry and Nate?”
“Yeah,” Travis replied. “They’re trying to take off. Let’s keep ’em safe.”
“You got it,” said Will. The two trained their antiaircraft guns to the sky above the field. With any luck, their fellow pilots would be taking the fight into the air.
On the airfield, Nate Trainor scrambled into the cockpit of his jet and started up the engines. Larry Adam did likewise, but half a second later a bomb hit, blowing up both the plane and Larry within it.
“Aw, no!” screamed Travis, watching from afar. “Larrryyy!”
“He’s dead, Ace!” said Will, his mind quickly focusing on the next problem, despite his injuries. “Nate, get it in gear!” he muttered, knowing his buddy couldn’t hear him. “You’ve gotta get out of there, man!”
But the jet didn’t respond. And in another moment, Nate Trainor was also destroyed in a blast.
Another blast knocks me out for I don’t know how long, and where I was there’s only a crater left, and I realize I’m alone. I run. There was nowhere left to run, but I run. It really is the Nazis, I realize — or the Japanese, if the rumors about an Imperialist coup there are true. Somehow they’ve managed this sneak attack without being detected. Just too fast, I guess. I keep on running. Along the walls, toward the barracks. Toward my buddies. My buddy? Wasn’t my best friend with me a second ago? Oh, well. No time to worry about that now.
Twenty feet from the barracks, a bomb drops on it, blasting it all to pieces. I scream. All of them, dead. Dead. Tears are streaming down my face now. Or is it blood? I can’t see that well, but I keep running. My father would’ve expected me to keep running. And so I do. Away from the barracks. Away from the base. Somehow I manage it, and not just me. Travis catches up with me, and it’s a good thing, too — I can’t keep my mind clear from the red haze infesting it. Somehow we manage to get away without being killed. We find a Jeep and head into the city to get our girls.
Zinda Blake rose from the shattered ruins of the restaurant she and Tara Ferris-Jordan had been waiting at. Although her memory was extremely fuzzy, Zinda remembered having heard explosions and screaming.
“Tara?” Zinda brushed her long blonde hair out of her face and looked around, but her vision was blurry. The smoke didn’t help things much. “Tara, where are you?”
Seeing a hand from beneath some debris, Zinda rushed over and uncovered it. It was Tara, barely conscious. Her dark auburn hair was red with blood. “Tara!” she screamed.
“Z-Zinda… I’m… I’m dying. F-find Xeo. K-keep him safe.” Tara winced from the pain, fighting for consciousness for another moment, and finally said, “P-please tell Travis I — I l-love…” At that, she went limp. Zinda could tell she was already dead.
After a moment, she realized that someone was shouting. “Zinda! Tara! Where are you?”
Zinda heard the shouts. It was Will, thank God. She called back, weakly, “O-over here.” She was already losing a lot of blood and felt like she was going to pass out.
Will Hawk and broke through the smoke and found her, Travis Jordan hot on his heels. Travis had driven like mad back into the city as Will tried to keep from passing out in the passenger seat. Travis was silent all the way; he had known something was very wrong. And when the two pilots found the bombed and smoking restaurant where they were supposed to meet the girls, it seemed that all their worst fears were realized.
But while Will’s girlfriend was injured and looked hurt, it didn’t seem to be too serious. “Zinda, honey, are you all right?”
“T-Tara…” Zinda began weakly. “Sh-she…”
“Tara!” cried Travis, seeing the dead body of his wife. Grief-stricken, he fell to his knees and began to weep bitterly. “Oh, God, no… No, no, no…”
“Ace, we’ve… we’ve got to go…” said Will.
After several moments, Will was finally able to rouse Travis from his stupor. They made their way back to the Jeep, but only after Travis insisted on bringing Tara’s body along with them. Spotting bomber planes in the dusky sky, Will turned off the headlights and drove off as fast as he could.
Not long after, they were back at the hangar just as it began to get dark. “It’s time for us to escape, Ace. We’ve got to get to D.C. to warn them — tell them what’s happened. My father had contacts there, which I’m sure I could look up. Ace?” Will looked over at his friend. “Travis?”
Travis Jordan still held the limp body of Tara Ferris in his arms. “You go ahead, Will. You and Zinda get out of here — now.”
“Ace, listen to me,” began Will. “You’ve got more to worry about than yourself. What about your son? What about Xeo?”
“Now, Will,” Travis insisted. “I’ve got to bury my Tara. It’s what I have to do. I’ll be on my way shortly. Just leave. Now.”
Knowing the stubbornness of his friend, Will and Zinda went in search of a plane.
I know I’m in shock, because everything in those hours — or were they days? — is almost a blank, except for one thing. I know my buddy’s girl died, but mine survived.
It’s nearly nightfall, and Zinda and I are wandering around the charred ruins of jet planes. I think I must be going crazy when I spot an undamaged fighter jet. It’s my baby, painted jet black. By some miracle, it’s only been singed. I think to myself, it’s only twenty minutes to Nevada, and the Axis forces can’t have cemented their occupation of California just yet.
Still in shock, I jump into the cockpit, Zinda right behind me, and attempt to take off. It works. Somehow we make it to Nevada and to an American base there. I can’t remember anything between the takeoff and the landing, but I know it had to have been a miracle that we made it out of there.
The uniformed men at the base are both shocked and suspicious at our arrival. And then they realize who I am, who my father was. It doesn’t hurt to have a father who’s a renowned war hero, especially if he was known as Blackhawk.
The blitzkrieg attack orchestrated by the Nazis and Imperial Japanese was at several key locations around the world and was almost simultaneous. Thanks to the sabotage of Nazi sympathizers, power outages and media blackouts ensured that news of the attacks could not spread far. In a world still attempting to overcome the Nazi occupation of the 1960s and early 1970s, it was a terrific shock. Who would have thought that history could repeat itself in such a drastic way?
Dmitri Pushkin was a member of the elite Soviet Rocket Red Brigade, Russia’s premier defensive air patrol. When the news of the Nazi invasion of England and parts of Europe broke out, Dmitri was chosen to go to the United States to coordinate a defense. It was only a matter of time before the Germans would attempt another invasion of the Motherland.
Paco Herrera was visiting relatives in Spain when the Nazi wave hit. Although now only a mail-plane pilot, he had been a resistance fighter during the days of the war. Now another war was here, and Paco knew it was time to fight. He escaped to America with his cousins.
Elsa Hendrickson was the only daughter of the famed Hans Hendrickson, a member of the elite Blackhawk squadron who had died fighting the Nazis in the last war. Now twenty-two years old, she was raised to be the best of the best. Her piloting skills were without equal in her homeland of Holland. And it was Holland she was worried about now, because while visiting friends in the U.S., it had been invaded once again by the Nazis in a quick, decisive invasion that had left everyone wondering exactly how they had done it.
Reed Grover-Baines had been at Dover Airfield in Kent County when the Nazis invaded England once more, this time in full force. He wanted to stay and fight for England, but his friend and mentor, war veteran Sir Justin Sheldrake, had a critical mission to perform and wanted Reed’s help. For the future of the nation, they needed to fly Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family to safety in Canada, and they were the only men able to do the job.
Jimmy Chan was a young, hotshot pilot from Vancouver, Canada. He was twenty-five years of age and the son of Weng Chan, youngest member of the Blackhawks. His father had been one of only two members of the Blackhawk squadron to survive the war and had filled the young boy’s head with stories of honor and glory. Now grown up, Jimmy was on his way to try to live up to the legacy, and just in time, too. For the Nazis were back and had now invaded most of Europe, England, North Africa, and now Southern California. He called his father, who told him to look up a certain old friend.