by Doc Quantum
“Hold it right there.”
The four Freedom Fighters froze in their tracks as a sneering, German-accented voice spoke those words in English. They had finally been discovered.
“Turn around,” said the quiet, overly-confident accented voice. “Very slowly, now.”
Tom Wright, the Black Condor, spied two figures on the wooded hill above them with his keen eyesight, one stocky and muscular, and the other lean. At least, only two were visible; there could be others around. He waited for one of them to make a move.
“Well, well, well,” said the other in accented English, “if it isn’t the Freedom Fighters. I’ve been waiting for a chance to take you on for quite a while now. Don’t disappoint me.”
The forest was silent for a long moment, as everyone seemed to be waiting for another to make a move.
Finally, the larger figure rushed down the hill and, screaming, shot out blasts of what seemed to be short bursts of electricity. It looked from Darrel Dane’s point of view that he had a limited range. Meanwhile, the other lean figure shot up into the air, preparing to come down to strike at them.
Tom shouted, “Move!” and the four Freedom Fighters scattered. He himself took into the air and tried to avoid the flying figure whom he knew must be the Nazi superhuman called Neon, and who undoubtedly had the same powers as the original heroic Neon the Unknown, the late founding member of the Freedom Fighters.
Darrel Dane, the Doll Man, instinctively shrank to his customary six-inch height, jumping onto Uncle Sam’s shoulder, who himself broke off into a sprint away from the larger figure, whom they had guessed was the Nazi version of Magno.
Sandra Knight, alias Phantom Lady, ran the other way, keeping her eyes open for any others they hadn’t seen yet.
The Black Condor swooped in and out of the treetops and trunks at high speed as he was pursued by the Nazi pretender going by the name of Neon the Unknown, who continued to try to hit him with blasts of neonic energy. Tom idly wondered how much power this fellow could expel before he ran out of it. He wasn’t too worried about being hit by him, though. He just wanted to see what he was capable of. So far, he seemed to have been fairly well-trained, but likely had little field experience with anyone who could pose him a challenge.
Well, he’d just met his challenge. The man who had been born as Richard Grey, Junior, and now went by the names Tom Wright and the Black Condor didn’t even think he’d need to use his own ray-gun against this wet-behind-the-ears Nazi superhuman.
“Come on!” shouted the young Neon as he swerved back and forth, carefully avoiding hitting any of the large trees in his path. “Fight me, damn you! Are you a coward?” The Freedom Fighter had been up ahead of him, and gaining ground from him, so Neon shot off a few more blasts in front of him, but it soon became evident that he’d lost his prey. “$#!+!” the slender Nazi screamed.
A moment later, Neon felt two hands grab his ankles in midair. “What the hell?!”
“You asked for it,” Black Condor said as he swung Neon by the heels into a large oak tree and rendered the Nazi unconscious.
“Now that was too easy,” he said, and left him there as he took to the skies once again to rendezvous with his teammates.
Uncle Sam continued to run from Magno, but his labored breathing and shakiness were all-too-evident to Doll Man as signs of his bad health. The six-inch-tall hero leaped off of his shoulder to Uncle Sam’s dismay onto a nearby branch.
“Darrel!” said Uncle Sam as he stopped suddenly. “What are ye doing?”
“Get out of here, Sam! You’re all that matters right now! Go!” Doll Man said, refusing any other answer.
Uncle Sam frowned and reluctantly continued to run as Doll Man waited for the Nazi version of Magno to reach him. There was nothing in the world that Darrel Dane enjoyed more than putting bullies in their place, powers or no powers.
The raging Magno blundered through the underbrush of the forest and attempted to stop just as a huge fallen log appeared right in front of his head. His momentum carried him right into it, however, and Magno had just enough time to utter a German curse word before striking his head on the log, breaking his nose.
Magno fell to the ground and pushed the log off away from him, then stopping to reach to his face, where he found blood seeping from his nose. “Unehelich!” he shouted in anger and turned around, only to find a tiny, one-inch fist heading straight for his bloody face. Doll Man plowed into the Nazi with all of his normal-sized weight and strength, knocking the big brute back down.
The Nazi superhuman was very angry now and picked himself up again, attempting to melt the little bug, as he thought of him, to kingdom come with his electromagnetic power. Instead, he found himself inexplicably thrust up into the air as Darrel Dane’s psionic powers kicked in and sent him flying upward.
“Unehelich!” Magno shouted again as his face became almost as red as his hair. This wasn’t exactly going as well as he’d planned.
Doll Man, however, was having a great time. These next-generation Nazis were total pushovers. He and the others still had a mission to finish, so he ended the game he was playing with the Nazi superhuman and slammed him full-force against a large boulder. He’d have a terrible headache when he woke up.
Phantom Lady continued to run, when she had an urge to suddenly stop. Instinctively, she became intangible a millisecond before the sharp end of a knife plunged outward between her breasts.
An adrenaline rush went through her system as she turned around, quipping, “Now, honey, I can’t have you messing up my best features.”
A ghost-like figure that was fading quickly stood right behind her. It could only have been the Invisible Hood of the SS Ubermenschen. He made another attempt to gut her with the knife, only to realize that he couldn’t touch her, and tried to pivot on his heels to get away.
She could still connect with him, though, and she grabbed his wrist, forcing him to drop the knife even as she pulled him back in and kneed him in the groin. Unfortunately, he was still stronger than her and managed to land a fist in her midsection as he himself went down in pain. Sandra Knight quickly took advantage of the situation, striking the back of his head with her elbow, then up with her knee, quickly disabling him.
Most of her opponents tended to underestimate her, seeing her as just a girl, and she always proved them wrong. She was the Phantom Lady, the Lady of the Shadows, and she’d helped to train more Resistance fighters, agents and spies, both female and male, than almost anyone else alive.
The Invisible Hood had just enough time to groan before everything went black.
Uncle Sam ran, half-staggering, as fast as he could. His eyes followed the ground before him, and he found it hard to keep them open. He didn’t notice anyone before him until he was within ten feet of a man dressed all in red.
“Not so fast,” said the member of the SS Ubermenschen called the Red Torpedo, who smiled at Uncle Sam, calmly watching the white-haired symbol of America trying to catch his breath. “We’ve got to get you back home before Der Fuhrer finds out you ran out on him. I’m sure his feelings will be hurt if when he finds out about it. After all, you’re his prized house guest.”
“Wh-what… what the hell do you want, Nazi?” Uncle Sam said weakly, spitting as he said the last word.
“What do I want?” smiled the Red Torpedo. “What does any patriotic German want when he’s faced with a situation such as this? I only want to keep you safe and sound for the Fuhrer to do with as he will. He has plans for you. Great plans.”
“I got some plans a’ my own!” shouted Uncle Sam as he lunged at the Red Torpedo, and swung a balled-up fist at him, only to hit nothing but air.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha,” laughed the Red Torpedo from behind him. “What are you doing over there, Sam? I’m right here.”
Sam turned around and tried to tackle the figure, but again found nothing there.
“Or maybe I’m over here,” he said from somewhere beside him.
Uncle Sam tried to get this new figure, again having no success at all.
“Maybe I’m all around you,” he now said, as twelve figures who looked like the Red Torpedo surrounded him. “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. How do you like my little invention, Sam? I have fooled you, have I not?”
“Are you afraid to take me on, man-t’-man?” growled Sam.
“What a terribly primitive reaction, and how indicative of the American fighting spirit,” the Nazi replied condescendingly. “Ah, but this is getting quite tiresome,” he said after a moment, as a hand reached out and plunged a hypodermic needle into Sam’s lower back.
Before he quickly blacked out, Uncle Sam heard the Red Torpedo say, “Guten nacht, Herr Onkel.”