by Philip-Todd Franklin
At one of the few still-functioning television broadcast stations in the newly freed state of California, anchorman Sam Morris sat at his desk wearing a dark brown suit as he waited to give what was to be his first truly free account of the news to the public. Most of the state still had major damage, and some towns had been nearly completely destroyed as the Occupation army of Imperial Japanese and Nazi German forces had fled the state. (*) Joe the cameraman, using the only working camera in the whole station, was still focused on Sam’s guest during the commercial break.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Smash Team-Up: We Will Fight Our Countries’ Battles.]
Sitting across from Sam was Governor Steve Gramm, Senator Jack Wellington, and Macy Dawn Johnson, the wife of the deceased Lieutenant Governor William Phillip Johnson, who had been lost in the first few hours of the invasion on August 7, 1985.
Sam thought to himself, Not too long ago, this group would not have been in the station with me. There would have been a room of armed guards, and the wrong spoken word would have got me shot live on the air. Man, how things change.
He was brought back from his thoughts as Susie the producer was motioning him on as she mouthed, “And in five, four, three, two, one,” her fingers on her left hand falling with each count.
And as the camera panned across to Sam, the teleprompter began to roll, and he spoke. “Hello, one and all. This is the midday Los Angeles News, once again free from point to point. And with me today I have three very special and lucky guests, along with April Wood with the weather, so please stay tuned.” He smiled as the light on the camera went dark.
Sam turned to look at his guests and spoke as the off-site monitor showed a videotape shot the day earlier. “In a few moments, as we’d discussed earlier, I’ll ask you some questions. Just feel free to answer as you wish.”
Each of his guests nodded once to him, each having their own personal thoughts. Senator Jack Wellington, who was really the Earth-One super-villain called Hi-Jack, truly wished he were somewhere else as he thought, If it wasn’t for what I promised both Jenkins and Macy, I wouldn’t even be here right now.
In moments, the camera was back upon Sam, and he began to speak again. “With me today is Steve Gramm, the man who was and, at this time, still is governor, Macy Johnson, the wife of the late Lieutenant Governor William Johnson, and our esteemed Senator Jack Wellington, who had been away in Washington during the invasion. Gentlemen and lady, I wish to thank each of you for taking time out of your extremely busy schedules to stop by here today.”
The governor spoke before either of the others could open their mouths. “I think I speak for all of us here, Sam, when I say that we are just plainly grateful to be able to be here today.” He added with a smile, “I sure know that Mrs. Johnson and myself are happy to be alive, for sure.”
“Thank you,” said Sam. “I guess I should start with you, Governor Gramm. We have reports that say during the last hours of the Occupation, you and others who were being held captive were freed by a well-put-together strike force of California’s own Resistance fighters led by a couple of mystery-men. Is that an accurate report, sir?” he asked, with all the innocence of someone who knew he was leading someone on.
“Well, Sam, I don’t know about the mystery-men part, but I can say that things would have been a lot worse all over the state if it hadn’t been for various members of the Freedom Fighters, along with the California Resistance fighters and the U.S. military, fortified with the help of the Canadian and Mexican military forces,” said the governor. “A lot was happening during that time. It was nothing but mass confusion, as far as I can remember, was that not right, Macy?” he asked.
“Yes, I have to agree with the governor here, Sam,” replied Macy. “There was a lot going on, and as everyone will remember, I was worried more about my two kids than anything else at the time.”
The questions continued back and forth about the Occupation and the recent liberation before Sam ever asked a direct question of Jack, who had been sitting there the whole time, not really saying anything. “And what has been your take on this whole thing, Senator Wellington?” Sam finally asked.
Jack first cleared his throat before he said, “Well, Sam, I wasn’t stateside during the invasion, but I know that my colleagues in Washington will do what is needed to help with the repairs and rebuilding. I’m still nearly overcome with joy to find that my sister, here, and her kids are still alive and well after not knowing for so long.”
After nearly thirty-five minutes of the broadcast, not including commercial breaks, nearly none of the questions that Sam had asked were answered directly. It was almost as if no one really wanted to be on record with denying or encouraging the reports. Sam looked at his guests and said, “Well, I’d once again like to thank the three of you for coming here today and taking this risk. Is there anything that any of you would like to add?” he asked.
“Yes, Sam. I have an announcement,” said the governor. “I’m planning a press conference in a few days once I get a chance to see the total damage, and then I’m going to see about fully replacing those of my staff who were unlucky during the dark days.”
“I know everyone will be waiting for it with glee,” Sam said in a deadpan voice. Turning to the camera, he continued. “Please stay with us, and we’ll have the weather with April Wood.” And the camera light went off.
Sam Morris sat there as his guests left, thinking to himself, I know there’s something I’m not being told. Now just what is it, and why?