Feature: The Clock Strikes, Epilogue: The Spirit of America

by Christine Nightstar and Doc Quantum

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The Nazi Dollman was stronger than I was; he took my punches like I was a little kid and laughed at me. It took me months to realize this isn’t the game I was trained for. It’s a whole different game — a rougher game. Both are played for keeps, but in this one, the stakes are higher.

When I first met Jerry Noble, he accused me of being nothing more than a glorified thrill-seeker with powers. He was right; I never felt the calling like he did to be a hero from his childhood. When I was recruited into Project Hero as a teenager and taught how to fight, I thought I was something special. And it did make me special, but I wasn’t using my training right. Then I met Darrel Dane, the real Doll Man, and my life changed. I saw injustices and criminals that were far worse than I ever thought when I trained at his side. I was being groomed to become the Doll Man’s successor; Darrel taught me everything he thought I needed to know to survive.

While fighting the Nazi Dollman, I couldn’t let myself collapse from his attacks; something was keeping me from collapsing. He shattered my mask, and I couldn’t fall. He battered me more than any opponent ever has before, but he couldn’t put me away. Was it anger? Pride? Patriotism? I don’t know.

Lester Colt put down the pencil, looked at the page, read it, crumpled the page up, and lit it on fire with a match.

San Fran Sue came into his cell. “Hey, Lester, dahling, there’s been a lot of Axis communications concerning you the last few hours.”

“I figured, Sue,” replied Lester. “Anything interesting, or are they still blabbering that I finally showed my powers or told my name to Dollman?”

“We also have some visitors,” said Sue. “One of them is quite pretty. Should I be jealous?”

“Visitors for me? Who knows I’m here besides you, the Resistance, and the military?”

“She has the look of one of the others — real military type.”

This can’t be good,” said Lester. “What name did she use — the Clock or Lester?”

“I asked for Lester Colt, AKA the Clock,” said a tall blonde woman in a black leather uniform, stepping out from the door behind Sue.

“Lester, dahling, this is Captain Zinda Blake.”

Lester rubbed his eyes a few times as he realized she was wearing the familiar emblem of the world-famous Blackhawks. “So what do you want with me, Lady Blackhawk?”

“It’s not what I want,” said Zinda, “it’s what the president of the United States wants. He wants you to be the field commander of the new Freedom Fighters.”

Lester was taken aback for a moment. “That’s… quite an honor. But why not give it to someone like Uncle Sam, or even Blackhawk himself?”

“Because you are among the first of the new generation of heroes to consistently have reports of daring and courage reach his ears,” said Zinda, though from her tone of voice, he knew she didn’t necessarily agree with the president’s decision.

“That explains it,” said Lester. “He doesn’t want an experienced leader, but a Resistance saboteur and escape artist as a leader.”

“I’ve spoken with Jerry Noble and his group, as well Sue and hers,” said Zinda. “You always put the group first. If you think a group mission is too risky, you tell them and take it on yourself, even if you don’t know that you’ll survive. You’d rather risk your own life than jeopardize the group you’re with.”

“To be honest, that’s mostly because I don’t work well with others,” said Lester. “But I value the lives of my friends to the point that I would rather die than endanger them.”

“You also show good strategic and tactical sense, retreating when you’re outmatched or holding strong until you see an opening,” said Zinda.

“If you’re talking about my fights with the Silver Ghost and the Nazi Dollman, I was relying a lot on luck,” said Lester. “I’m also very sore from that last fight. That mask I wore was a bulletproof Kevlar-Nomex blend, and he shattered it. Not to mention he nearly head-butted me to death. I’m still feeling the effects of a concussion.”

Then another figure walked into the room. This man was tall and slender, with white hair and a goatee. When he removed his dark trenchcoat, he revealed a suit of red, white, and blue beneath.

“Would it help you to decide if I told you that I thought you were right for the job?”

“You’re… you’re Uncle Sam!” said Lester. “But I thought…”

“Yes, I know,” said Uncle Sam. “But my role as the leader of the Freedom Fighters has changed. Age has caught up with me, son, and I’m no longer a battlefield leader. I need someone strong and decisive to act as field leader in order to keep my men and women fighting the good fight. Even I can’t be everywhere, and you have experiences USA the Spirit of Old Glory told me about that would make you perfect for the job. You just need to say yes, and in time America will be whole again.”

“Yes,” said Lester before he could stop himself; the man was just too damn inspiring to say anything else. “I will lead the Freedom Fighters… but on my terms.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” With that, Uncle Sam reached out his hand and healed the beaten and battered Lester Colt.

“Wow,” said Lester, suddenly feeling much better. “There’s one thing I don’t understand. How did I stay standing when I was being beaten by that Nazi Dollman?”

“Your heritage, or rather the spirit of one of America’s heroes joined you,” explained Uncle Sam. “You know who I’m talking about. Your late uncle, Denny Colt, called himself the Spirit back when I knew him. He was able to enter your body and strengthen it. Hitler forgot that we are a fighting people whose spirits can’t be broken. You realized it yourself. You touched a place that few others ever reach — your heart.”

“But…”

“Your heart, courage, and concern for others are why I chose you,” said Uncle Sam as he began walking away. “Experience will come, as will skill as a leader. Until then, fight the best fight you can.”

“I’ll inform the president of your decision, Mr. Colt,” said Zinda Blake.

***

August 14, 1986, 22:30:

In a turn of events unforeseen by sources tied to the White House, President Donald Richards has named the field commander for the new Freedom Fighters as Lester Colt, also known as the Clock.

The confirmed founding members of the new Freedom Fighters, a group potentially comprising every super-hero in America, are to join their field commander at an undisclosed location in one month’s time.

And one of those heroes may be Plastic Man, whose apparent death was reported earlier this month when he was supposedly killed by the Nazi super-agent with a powerful solvent. It turns out that this legendary hero of the war actually survived his second brush with death when he re-formed his body days later from the preserved chemical remains. After being checked out by baffled doctors, Plastic Man appears to be in good health. His brush with death also seems to have inspired him to come out of retirement and join the war effort after months of inactivity.

American Press Service

***

A secret SS laboratory somewhere in Germany, two days later:

“You knew what the price for failure was, Agent Dollman. You failed on many levels. You did not defeat the saboteur known as the Clock, you did not capture him for examination, nor did you capture his vehicle. All you brought us was a little information about him, his name, his abilities, and why he keeps getting through our traps, which is why we are not killing you for incompetence.

“But something is wrong with you, and we will have to put you through the program again. Project Dollman was a failure. You are now the newest candidate for Project Blitzkrieg.”

The man tied to the table screamed as a high-pitched motor suddenly began to whine.

To Be Continued

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