by Doc Quantum
A few weeks after the Crisis, most of the members of the Freedom Fighters now assembled in full costume in a rented laboratory.
Uncle Sam sat strapped into a chair, connected to a large, hastily-devised apparatus of Darrel’s and Roy’s devising based on the theories behind the second Flash’s treadmill, which he once used to travel between the Earths. Sam looked terribly uncomfortable. “Uh, are we ready ta begin yet, son?”
“Almost ready, Sam,” Darrel replied. It had been a long few weeks while they built this device, and the anticipation of seeing his wife and daughter again was becoming unbearable for him. Darrel closed his eyes for a moment and breathed. “Let’s hope this works.”
Roy flipped a few switches on Darrel’s signal, and a hum erupted in the air as a huge Tesla coil, like those seen in old Frankenstein movies, crackled to life just behind Sam. The device was closely patterned after a dimension-hopping machine that had been created ten years ago for the purpose of jumping from Earth-X to Earth-One by a scientist friend named Dr. Newton P. Lovell. It was helped along by Uncle Sam, who had not been able to travel to Earth-One under his own power since he had previously never been there before. This device would need to be more powerful than the original and would also require more effort on the part of Sam in order to work, at least theoretically.
“OK, Sam,” Darrel shouted over the tumult, and Sam seemed to wince as he focused all his concentration on creating a link to his Earth-X self through a vortex.
“Back to Amerika,” Tom muttered grimly, “where people speak as much German as they do English.” Even over a decade after the end of the war, the occupation of America (called “Amerika” during the Occupation) and the rest of the world still had lingering effects. The mind-control ray used by the Nazis in the last few years of the war had taken away a great deal of independence from people worldwide. Whereas Earths One and Two had their times of personal independence, such as the 1960s “Love Generation,” Earth-X had no such chance to indulge in exploring personal freedom. They were too busy trying to keep their heads afloat after the war had taken its full toll on the world and their lives. It was akin to the Great Depression of the 1930s, only it had outlasted the Depression by several years now.
Tom wondered sometimes why the Nazis on Earth-X had seemed to have a monopoly on technology ever since the 1940s. It was they who had discovered the atomic bomb at the same time as the Americans. They had won the space race, and ultimately overcame America where it hurt the most — in their own thoughts and minds, using the mind-control ray. When the war was ended, it was hoped that the rest of the world could benefit by the technology built by the Nazis since the 1940s. However, much of it had mysteriously disappeared, along with the bulk of the Nazi brain trust and the Nazi hierarchy, save for a few patsys to take the fall for the rest of them in the war trials that followed.
The scientifically gifted members of the Freedom Fighters had tried to do their part in helping society out. Darrel Dane had even sworn to retire until and unless he was needed. He married the Earth-One Martha Roberts, who had emigrated to Earth-X with them (his first wife, the Earth-Two/Earth-X Martha, had been killed by the Nazis years ago), and she had already given birth to their first child, Violet, who was now a beautiful one-year-old girl. He was eager to get back to them and out of his heroic persona.
Uncle Sam almost seemed to start glowing as if from the inside, now. It was true he was a mystic of sorts, but nobody ever thought of him that way. And even fewer had ever thought that he and the Spectre could have anything in common. And yet they were similar. Both were spirits with a purpose — different purposes, yes, but both on the side of good and justice. And both of them had seemingly begun life as mortal men and had died in order to become what they were now. “D-Darrel, m’boy — how long must I keep this up?”
“Power level’s increasing, Sam!” Darrel shouted. “But you need to just give it a bit more of a push!” He motioned to Roy, who turned back to the other Freedom Fighters and had them ready themselves.
Sam began to see spots before his eyes and felt he was about to black out. At that moment, faint blue sparks seemed to jump out from the platform he and the machine were focusing on, and a blue whirlwind began to form, ascending through the high ceiling of the rented laboratory. This whirlwind continued to increase in speed and brightness as it became the vortex they needed.
“You’re doing it, Sam! Just a few moments more!”
“Darrel!” shouted Roy. “Sam’s dying here — we’ve got to make the jump now!”
“Just hold on, Roy! If we jump too soon, we could be jumping to nowhere!”
“I-I’m all right,” Sam managed to say just loud enough for them to hear. Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead, which by now was covered with bulging veins created by the strain. “But I can’t hold on for much longer!”
“My God,” said Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady) to Tom as she saw Sam’s condition. “Roy could be right — Sam looks like he’s dying!”
“Sam’s been around longer than any of us, Sandy,” said Tom. “And he’s the only reason we’re as young as we are now. He’ll hold on. He has to. Earth-X means more to him than we may realize.”
The blue vortex increased in ferocity and opened a small portal above it, which seemed to create a vacuum which they all felt as the air was sucked into it. They had been prepared for this, however, and they had opened all the windows as well as brought in an air pump to make sure they didn’t die of suffocation.
Darrel felt the strain of the moment. But he didn’t want to blow it, and kept his eyes on the readings, ignoring the others who needed his word to jump through the portal. “Steady… steady…” he shouted as he raised his hand, palm toward the others as a stop indication. The readings continued to increase. Finally, he lowered his hand and shouted, “Now! Jump!”
As planned, Roy and Sandy jumped in first. Darrel ran over to Sam and began untying his bonds and the various wires attached to him. Tom waited in anticipation, wishing he had been the one to go with Sandy instead of the often-disagreeable Roy, but understood the reasons why. Each of the scientists needed to be paired with a non-scientist.
Darrel undid the last wire hooked up to Sam. “All right, Sam,” he shouted, “Tom and I will make the jump next, but you need to follow us closely and close off this side of the vortex to keep it from getting out of control.”
Sam nodded weakly and stood by the side as Darrel and Tom ran into the vortex and leaped into the portal. His Earth-Two spirit-self would stay here, but his physical body would have to make the leap to join his Earth-X spirit-self. Uncle Sam walked right into the vortex and leaped.
His last thought as he passed through the portal was, Something’s wrong. And the Earth-Two laboratory grew dim as the vortex grew dim and vanished.