by Doc Quantum
By the time Ryan Choi had run back into the large stage area of the Crestwood Mall, he found only a group of young people in costumes in the process of securely binding the Bundist terrorists, who were all unconscious and badly beaten. Amerika’s Crusaders had been defeated.
“Ryan!” called a familiar voice to his side.
Karen Beecher broke off from the others to run toward him, and they embraced. “I’m so glad you’re all right! Are you hurt? What happened to you?”
“I’m… I’m all right,” said Ryan, distracted by the sight of the gaudily costumed people on stage. “Jared sent me to the bottom of the river, but I managed to escape. I ran most of the way back here, but I guess you didn’t need me, after all. So, who are these people? Are they some of the famed Freedom Fighters we heard about? I don’t recognize them.”
“They’re new heroes,” said Karen.
Ryan looked at her with astonishment. “New heroes? But we didn’t think this world was capable of producing any new ones. That’s fantastic!”
“Come with me,” she said, grabbing his hand. “I’ll introduce you.”
Ryan followed her quickly to the stage, and Karen waved for the others to come over to them.
“Guys, I’d like you to meet Ryan,” said Karen.
“Nice trick with that force-field,” said Flare, who was nursing more than a few visible bruises and slight burns beneath her skimpy costume. “The name’s Flare.”
“Thanks,” said Ryan, shaking her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
Offspring immediately began bouncing in place in the form of a black and white basketball as Karen said, “This one’s Offspring. As you can see, he’s the son of Plastic Man, hence the name.”
“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Offspring with a faux New York accent.
Karen turned to the final two people still standing on the stage: a slender, short teenage girl in a skintight costume of black and blue, and a young man wearing a black bird-themed costume with wings. “And these two are the Raven and Spidergirl.”
“Actually, it’s Spidergirl and the Raven, not the other way around,” said the teenage girl, smiling as she shook Ryan’s hand. The Raven also shook Ryan’s head and gave him a slight nod, as if to say, “It’s fine. Just go along with it.”
“So what do they call you?” asked Offspring.
“What do you mean? My name’s Ryan.”
“Sure, but what’s your code-name?” asked Offspring. “If you want to be one of us Young Allies, you’ve gotta have a code-name.”
Ryan looked questioningly at Karen, who shrugged.
“We came up with the name a few minutes ago,” explained the Raven. “The Young Allies is a bit less wordy than the Young Freedom Fighters, after all.”
“Well, I don’t have a code-name,” said Ryan, scratching his head.
“No problem-o,” assured Offspring. “We can come up with one for you. Your friend, here, is the new Red Bee, after all.”
“I am?” asked Karen.
“Offspring’s idea,” said Spidergirl with a sigh.
“All right,” said Karen, shrugging.
“But what should we call you, Ryan, my man?” said Offspring, pondering the idea as he took the shape of the famous Thinking Man statue. After a few moments, in which he shushed anyone who attempted to speak, a cartoonish light bulb popped up from his head, and he said, “Aha! I’ve got it! We’ll have to call you Force-Field Frank!”
“But my name’s Ryan.”
“Details, details…” muttered Offspring offhandedly. “Are ya really smart? Can you invent things?” Ryan nodded uncertainly. “Cool. We could call you Brainy, or Egghead, or Gadget, or Gizmo!”
Ryan Choi frowned, not liking any of those names so far.
“We can come up with a name later,” said Karen. “All that matters is, I think we’ve found a way to help the Allies on this world, after all.”
“But can we undo the damage already caused by Jared?” said Ryan, looking back at the bound super-villains. As he looked, he frowned.
“What’s wrong?” asked Karen.
“Where is Jared, anyway?” asked Ryan. “He isn’t tied up with the others.”
“Sure he is. He–” began Karen, but stopped when she realized Jared Stevens had indeed gone missing. “We’ve got to find him immediately!”
The new team called the Young Allies immediately spread out in search of the man now known as Fate, but to no avail. Jared Stevens would not be found that day.
As for the Young Allies, their dreams of making a real difference in this war ended up hitting the stone wall of reality when the team was forbidden to fight the Axis invaders in California as the young heroes had planned. The order, which came down from President Donald Richards himself, made the Young Allies little more than a team of morale-boosters for the American public at a time when it desperately needed heroes. Offspring knew that his father had something to do with it, since Plastic Man and the former original Manhunter had been friends for years. However, none of the young heroes could do anything about it but accept their fate.
And even after the Freedom Fighters returned later that year, the Young Allies remained at home, their hands tied from doing anything that made any real difference in the war. Their primary activities were accompanying Flare on her recruitment tour of the United States and performing with their abilities, while occasionally having an adventure or two, both as a team and as individuals. It wasn’t long before they began to feel like housebound heroes.
As for Amerika’s Crusaders, they all turned out to be American-born Bundists rather than German agents. Unfortunately, they were not unique in their traitorous actions against America and the Allies; thousands of Americans were amongst the millions of Nazi sleeper agents scattered throughout the globe. These sleeper agents, brainwashed during the years when the mind-control ray was in full effect, could be almost anyone. Several of them held various powerful positions in government and business, and their actions had enabled the Axis to gain a lot of ground in the war. But there were many more still out there that were still in place, just waiting to assist the enemy at the right moment.
Meanwhile, Karen Beecher and Ryan Choi offered their knowledge to the United States government, since they were sure that Jared Stevens had used technology from Earth-162 to help Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy reconquer much of the globe.
Ryan Choi almost called himself Brainiac, after the Earth-162 inventor of the force-field that inspired Brainiac 5’s later force-field belt, but he finally decided on a code-name that was slightly different: Brainchild. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best one he could think of, if he had to pick a super-hero name. Along with a digital library containing much of the scientific knowledge of Earth-162, Ryan’s brilliant inventive mind helped him improve the equipment used by Flare, Spidergirl, and the Raven, making them even more effective as heroes.
As the new Red Bee, Karen found she had a lot to live up to, since the original Red Bee — who was killed by the other-Earthly Nazi villain Baron Blitzkrieg while saving the Freedom Fighters back in 1942 — was a revered hero. (*) To fit with her new code-name, she had Ryan invent a special weapon for her called a stinger; it was a short sword-shaped device capable of transmitting electric shocks and compressed air, and it could also be used as a sword. Karen was already skilled in the art of fencing, so it seemed like a natural fit.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “That Earths May Live,” All-Star Squadron #35 (July, 1984).]
It would take a full year before the Young Allies finally saw some real action in the war. But that was a tale for another time.