by Doc Quantum
Four figures silently moved through the woods, carefully trying to keep from making any noise with each step, yet traveling fast enough to arrive at their destination at the right time. They knew that every moment that passed was another moment closer to being caught, and they could waste no time.
None of them had eaten for many hours now, and even these stalwart heroes began to grow weary from lack of sustenance.
Darrel Dane could think only of his darling Martha and little Violet. After so many years of life as a widower, in mourning for his first wife, he had finally found love again, this time in the other-dimensional Earth-One counterpart of his departed wife Martha Roberts, and he had finally been able to settle down and live as a normal man again rather than a soldier. He and Martha were raising a family together, and he wanted nothing more than to return to that life. For him, each step forward was a step closer to returning to her.
As she walked down this dark, lonely path in the forest, Sandra Knight’s thoughts were on the new friends she had made upon her recent return to Earth-X after the Crisis. Like Darrel, she wanted nothing better than to forget her old life and forge a new one, but she had her own reasons for that — reasons she did not enjoy dwelling on. She thought, rather, of the dashing young Jerry Noble and his California Resistance group. How strange to think that his elderly mother was the same age as she was! And yet she was considering some very real feelings for this young man, still a boy, really, in his mid-twenties. He had a level of maturity that was beyond his physical age, which made him a great leader. And his eyes — his eyes were not youthful eyes. They were eyes of a young man who had known tragedy in his lifetime, who had known war, who had known what it meant to kill another man. War left its mark on everyone it touched, and it had left its mark on this young man. Yet he had risen to grow above it, choosing to persevere and resist that which threatened to consume him and those around him. And so he had become a beacon of hope to the people of California, to the masses of people who had heard only whispers of his existence, yet wouldn’t recognize him if they passed him on the street. Sandy couldn’t help but be attracted to him. It gave her reason for hope, but the feelings she had for him scared her at the same time.
Tom Wright was considering more practical matters throughout this time of silent walking. He was one of the men instrumental in getting President Donald Daniel Richards elected after former President Brian O’Brien’s third and final term. O’Brien had been one of the most popular presidents of the United States of America since Roosevelt, and had been vitally instrumental in rebuilding the country after the demoralization and devastation of the Nazi regime’s time of power. The fact that he had once been the Depression-era vigilante crime-fighter known as the Clock strangely helped his election rather than hindered it. Everyone knew that it was the mystery-men who had won the world back from the Nazis after decades of war and occupation, and in the post-war climate of the 1970s they were very popular, indeed. Richards, having been the mystery-man known as the Manhunter during the war years, as well as having been instrumental in the Resistance movement, was almost a shoe-in for the Presidency once Wright and Richards’ other advisors played up his exploits as a mystery-man for all it was worth. The other party scrambled to find another mystery-man as their Presidential candidate, but in a desperate bid they could only come up with a former Hollywood actor to run against Richards. Needless to say, Dan Richards won by a landslide.
Some onlookers wondered why Tom hadn’t attempted to run for the Presidency himself. After all, he had at one time been a U.S. Senator and had far more political experience than the former police official, Richards. Wright merely responded that he was still physically a young man with a lot of life left in him, and wasn’t ready to become a “caged bird” just yet, as being the leader of the country would make him. He was the man responsible, though, for hand-picking Richards’ running mate, Chuck Wilson. The surviving former member of the Blackhawks was almost as popular as the legendary Blackhawk himself, and his easygoing Texan manner helped to cement the administration’s widespread popularity across the country.
Richards promised Tom he’d have a place for him in his administration whenever he wanted it, and he had planned on returning to his political life soon enough. Then the Crisis happened, and with it, the return of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, again attempting to take over the world, and doing a damn good job of it so far. Despite his wishes to put his mystery-man days behind him, it looked like he had no choice in the matter, at least not for a while. All that was important now was that the Nazis be stopped. And he was one of the men who was going to do it.
Uncle Sam’s mind was blank. He was just too tired to think about anything but putting one foot in front of the other.
A private cabin in a northbound train headed for Germany:
“So I had just finished convincing the little German village kids that I was an angel on the side of good, when Stormy Foster, the so-called Great Defender, walks in and starts passing out candy bars, dressed in a Santa Claus suit!”
“It was the middle of August!” Happy Terrill said, laughing uncontrollably. “The funny thing was — those kids never batted an eye! They’d never even heard of Santa Claus before in the course of their young lives!” He burst into a fit of laughter, finally wiping the tears from his eyes and saying, “I’m sorry. You just had to be there.”
“I see,” said Dee Tyler, smiling but unsure of what was supposed to be funny. “It’s… it’s interesting to hear about this side of Dad. He rarely talks about the years he was a mystery-man.”
“Stormy Foster keeps his personal life and his professional life completely separate,” Happy said. “He’d never even mentioned he had a daughter until now.”
“Naturally,” he said, winking at his little joke. “So how did that come about? Do you know who your real parents are?”
“Well, that’s a nosy question,” said Dee. “But no, I don’t know who my parents are. All I know is that I was left in Dad’s care when I was three months old, after he had settled down and gotten married. I already had my name, Delilah Tyler, too. Dad never formally adopted me, and I’ve kept my surname all this time. I kinda like it. I’m not sure, but I think my parents must have been acquaintances or friends of my Dad. No one leaves a baby with a perfect stranger.”
“Have you ever done much to look into it?”
“What’s to look into? Records from the mid-1960s are scattered at best. So much information was lost during the Occupation. I suppose there’s no real way of tracking down my genetic parents unless someone actually came forth and told me outright that I was their daughter. It doesn’t really matter to me, anyway. Stormy and Mabel were great parents to grow up with. They still are. And I have a little brother, too — Stormy Foster, Junior. He’s fifteen. But believe me, if I had been born with a name like Stormy, I wouldn’t have passed it on to my kid, that’s for sure.”
“I could look into it a bit more for you, if you want me to,” offered Happy. “I used to be an investigative reporter. A pretty damn good one, too.”
“Y’know, there’s one thing I’ve wanted to ask you about since I met you.”
“Yes?” said Happy Terrill, suddenly sporting an ear-to-ear grin.
“What the heck kind of name is Happy, anyway?” said Dee.
The smile dropped from Happy’s face, replaced with a scowl. “If you must know, my real name’s Langford.”
Dee Tyler cracked up. “Langford? That’s worse than Happy! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Happy Terrill could only sigh.
Adam Weishaupt Hitler, the son of Adolf Hitler who acted as Deputy Fuhrer of the Third Reich, stepped out from the plane in the dead of night and was quickly ushered across the paved landing strip to a waiting limousine, circumventing Virginia’s U.S. Customs altogether. Although it was a risk to travel into enemy territory in this way, it helped that America and the rest of the world had been subjected to brainwashing nearly twenty years earlier. It had created a generation of Nazi sympathizers, either willingly or subconsciously. It also made getting around all that much easier.
Nazi geneticist Josef Mengele had bought his place in the Hamptons through a false business front in the 1970s and had made it his primary home, flaunting the fact that he, a wanted Nazi war criminal, could get away with doing just that. Many others in the upper Nazi echelon, who had primarily been hidden away in parts of South America and elsewhere in the Third World until recently, believed Mengele to be a complete lunatic.
Lunatic or not, he was the genius who had given Adolf Hitler a genetically perfect son and heir in the 1960s, back when Der Fuhrer’s health was beginning to fail him and he had to have a robotic double created to appear in his place. He had also been the genius behind Der Ubermensch Vorhaben, or the Superman Project. During the war, a small number of super-humans were killed or captured by the Nazis, and each one was brought to Dr. Mengele for study. Indeed, from the bodies of the original deceased members of the first group of Freedom Fighters, led by Uncle Sam, he had created four out of the five members of the SS Ubermenschen, who as yet were little more than a propaganda tool, he knew. Still, propaganda and morale were important elements in war, and Mengele was always willing to do his part to stretch the truth a little bit.
In the long drive to Mengele’s home in the Hamptons, the concerns that had been building up in Adam’s mind over the past few weeks began once more to eat away at him. These concerns had been bothering him so much that he had felt them important enough to take the great risk to travel across the ocean to enemy territory in order to see his mentor and closest advisor. Part of him was glad to see his father in such good health once again, but he wondered what use he himself now had in the Third Reich, since Der Fuhrer’s life seemed to have been extended indefinitely. His father appeared to be a man roughly twenty or thirty years older than him, but in truth he was in nineties. Adam also wondered if perhaps Der Fuhrer was now even healthier than he was. Where did that leave him? Ulla wasn’t helping matters any, either. He wasn’t very experienced with women, but he could tell that she was hiding something from him. He wondered if he could trust her any longer.
And now he had just heard about this business with the Martian, who was starting to become increasingly difficult to control, now more of a liability than an asset.
Adam Hitler poured himself some bourbon and looked forward to his meeting with his mentor, as well as Mengele’s important house guest. He was starting to think he needed as many people on his side as possible, although if you had asked him why, he wouldn’t yet have been able to articulate it.
It was time.
Roy Lincoln grabbed his dark overcoat and put it on over his special suit. It was true that his explosive nature had lately been confined to his hands once more, but he could never be sure if the rest of his skin could also become explosive again as it did a decade earlier. He couldn’t take any chances on any premature disturbances before the appointed time, so the suit had to remain a regular fixture, much to his and Darrel’s disappointment. His friend swore he would continue to find a way for him to live free of this damnable suit once and for all, and enable him to control his abilities enough to be able to, say, touch a woman again. It just might take a little bit more time.
He didn’t mind. By now he was used to it.
The Human Bomb left the hotel room and headed for the train station. He hoped there would be enough time for him to make his escape after all this was over.