by Doc Quantum
Wh-where am I? thought Uncle Sam as he struggled to wake himself from what seemed like a bad dream. His eyes were too tired to open just yet. I feel so weak. Can’t remember where I’m s’posed to be. Somethin’ about the Freedom Fighters. We — we were traveling back to Earth-X — somethin’ went wrong. Sam felt as if he’d been drugged. He could hardly gather enough strength to merely open his eyes or wake up.
I’ve got to wake up now, he thought. Somethin’s gone wrong, I’ve got to get up… got to…
Sam struggled through the haze and forced his eyes open, despite the intense drowsiness he felt. And what he saw sent a shudder down his spine. He found himself in a spacious room, an advanced laboratory that was mostly painted black rather than the standard laboratory white. It was filled with Nazi soldiers and scientists, all hustling about. Peering at a mirror across the room from him, Uncle Sam saw himself. He was strapped to a huge Swastika in a crucified position. Blasphemous rats, thought Sam as his mind began to wake up a bit more fully.
Finally, he was noticed. “Ah, Herr Onkel Samuel, you are finally awake,” said a dangerously beautiful female scientist. “This is good. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Doktor Ulla Minerva, head of the Third Reich’s Ministry of Science. By now you must be wondering where you are. To put it quite simply, you are in Nazi Germany. Oh, don’t look so shocked. We were expecting your return to Earth-X and had been prepared for it.”
“Y-you bastards!” Sam managed to weakly shout. He was angry but knew he had to cool his head and find out as much information as possible. “H-how could you have been prepared for our return?”
“We knew that you and the other Freedom Fighters had left our Earth to join in with your allies from the other universes against this Anti-Monitor who threatened to destroy everything. I find that scenario highly unlikely, myself, but it did afford us some ample opportunities. An ally of mine who specializes in the occult sciences, such as they are, had a theory about you, Herr Onkel. In a rare collaboration between the Ministry of Science and the occult experts in the Thule Society, we managed to capture your geist — your spirit — which was left behind on Earth-X when your physical body was transferred to Earth-Two. It was our Doktor Thirteen’s theory that there existed an Uncle Sam on the America of each Earth, and this was the means by which you traveled from one Earth to another. Your spirit was already on Earth-Two when you arrived there, as it had never left, and your spirit waited for your return when you arrived here. It was a simple matter of trapping your Earth-X spirit in your absence and await your physical body to join it for you to be captured.”
Uncle Sam’s head swirled. This was the same theory that Roy Lincoln had come up with before they left. And it was one he hadn’t thought to prepare for. After a few moments of considering what he’d heard, Sam finally asked, “What’s happened to America?”
“America? Well, Onkel Samuel — if I may call you that — part of your beloved America belongs to us once more. California has been conquered by an invasion force composed of German and Japanese soldiers.”
“J-Japanese? How did you manage to gain their trust again, after y-you Nazis betrayed them back in the war?”
“Oh, I won’t bore you with the details, Herr Onkel, but suffice it to say that the dream of power and glory by allying themselves with the Nazis were too much to pass up when they were given the chance. I would say we would have to worry about reprisals in the future, but we are all fully aware of a potential Japanese revolt. It has been taken care of.”
“You’ve taken California. How did you do it? And how did you retake Germany? There was supposed to be a joint American-Russian occupation force stationed here.”
“Ah, yes. You would be surprised how many of those young American and Russian soldiers felt Germany to be more of a home to them than their own mother countries, having grown up during the Nazi Occupation. We had agents within these armies feeding us the information we needed to take them swiftly. And it was not just Germany that we took–”
“You’ve taken Europe as well.”
“Ja. And Northern Africa. A certain contingent found the dark continent of some further use to our forces, although I am not fully happy with the spreading out of our armies at this point. Ah, but that is another story.”
Sam kept talking. “How could you possibly have retaken Europe, Northern Africa, and California in such a short time? It was only a few weeks ago that the Crisis ended.”
“Weeks? I’m afraid not, Herr Onkel. It may have been a few weeks ago that you left Earth — Two, was it? You only arrived on Earth-X three days ago, however. And the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which led you away from our Earth — why, it ended three months ago. It is November, 1985.”
“Three months? Tarnation! Even so, how could you Ratzis have retaken so much ground in just three months? Before we left this world, we’d believed the Nazis to be gone forever. How could you possibly have kept an underground force of Nazis a secret for ten years? The last time you Nazis reared your ugly heads up was back in ’76 in New York, while me’n the other Freedom Fighters were on Earth-One. You were stopped by some American heroes who’d been Freedom Fighters in the past, and they’d believed that those were the last Nazi holdouts.”
“We Nazis have an amazing capacity for patience, Herr Onkel. We knew that it was only a matter of time before the tide would turn. After that disastrous and foolhardy New York expedition, led by a renegade Nazi leader despite being ordered to do otherwise, we continued to build our forces in secret. We waited for a day to come like the recent Crisis, which came out better than we’d thought ever possible. And… we had some help.”
Doktor Ulla Minerva turned her head toward a far door and watched as it opened. Through the door walked a large, muscular man dressed all in black. It was too dark in that corner of the room for Sam to see him clearly, but there was something strange about him. He was just a bit too white.
“Herr Onkel Samuel,” said Dr. Minerva, “I would like you to meet our greatest ally. It was he who shared with us his his mighty strength and wondrous technology. His true name is impossible to pronounce with human throats, but we call him the Manhunter.”
The Nazi walked up to Sam, now, clearly enough for him to see. His skin was as white as ivory, his head was shaved bald with pale blond stubble, and he was beetle-browed. The luminescent blue eyes beneath that brow told Sam that he was clearly not human.
“Or, more precisely, we call him the Manhunter from Mars.”
The white-skinned Manhunter looked Uncle Sam up and down as he walked slowly back and forth before him, examining him closely as if looking for any and all weaknesses. Finally, he stopped and peered into Uncle Sam’s eyes, who met him with evenly-matched eyes of steel.
The Manhunter from Mars spoke. “Your country is ours. It is only a matter of time before we’ve regained it all, and then the world.”
Uncle Sam spat upon the chalky white face of the Manhunter. “Dictators have been saying lines like that since the beginnin’ of the world. And they’ve always been defeated by people who believe in freedom. You’re no diff’rent.”
“I will admit you’ve given the Nazis a run for their money, back in the days of the War,” said the Manhunter with a nearly flawless English accent. “You had only one advantage — the super-powered beings on your side. But in the last decade, the tide has turned. Many of your allies have died or retired, and new super-powered beings have sprung up among the Nazis. I command one such group — the SS Ubermenschen, or SS Supermen, in your tongue.” The word tongue was spat out. “Would you like to meet them? I think you may be surprised.”
Four men came in through the same door the Manhunter had come through. Uncle Sam was at first shocked at their appearance and then angered at this disrespectful display. It was four doubles of the men who were a part of the original Freedom Fighters in 1941, and who had died on their first mission — the Red Torpedo, Neon the Unknown, the Invisible Hood, and Magno the Magnetic Man. “You Ratzi bastards! How dare you disrespect the four brave men who died fighting against tyrants like y–”
“Silence!” shouted the Manhunter. “These four men have been very useful in the war thus far. As both soldiers and propaganda tools. As you will be…”
Uncle Sam felt the giant Swastika he was strapped onto begin to rise. The roof opened up, and he was slowly thrust through it, then over the roof to dangle over the side before a large crowd of people. At the sight of him, the crowd gasped in shock, was silent for a moment, and — to Sam’s regret — slowly began to cheer and applaud.
A high-pitched voice spoke up below him, inciting the crowd on to greater intensity. It was Adolf Hitler himself. He had to have been pushing one hundred years old (ninety-six, to be exact), but he still seemed to have the fires burning within him. He was in a wheelchair but was supported by a young, strong-looking man who bore only a passing family resemblance to him.
Dr. Minerva soon joined Hitler and the young man on the podium and smiled a dark smile up at Uncle Sam as the Manhunter and his SS Ubermenschen were received by the adoring crowd with a huge cheer and salute. Everything was being televised, Sam realized. And being broadcast to the United States of America. This was a propaganda victory over the U.S., if not a physical one. Morale was sure to be hurt back home.
Uncle Sam could do nothing but pray.