Richard Ito belted a coat over the homemade costume he now wore, putting the scarf in one of the coat’s pockets before leaving his place. The costume was almost an afterthought. He’d grown up hearing the exploits of the famed Freedom Fighters, but his favorite member had been one of the ones who disappeared decades ago. He could have been one of the heroes executed by the Nazis, but it was unlikely. As rumor had it, the original Quicksilver had simply disappeared into time and never returned. Maybe he would someday, but until then, Richard would use his name.
A few seconds later, the new Quicksilver stood miles away in front of the Central Prison. He tied the scarf around his head and hid his coat under a garbage bin.
Quicksilver ran right at the wall of the prison, and just before impact, he started running up the brick surface, defying gravity.
Reaching the top, he propelled himself in a huge broad jump, and his flying body soared over the parking lot for visitors and staff. He began to run in place as the ground approached. When he touched the earth, he charged the central building and climbed up to the roof.
Guards patrolled the roof of Central Prison without thought of an attack. Prisoners were held and immediately disposed of in the declared way. Escape could not be accomplished in the time the condemned was held. Rescue would be costly, as machine guns and rockets would keep all but a battalion of troops out until hostages could be taken. An attempt by super-powered heroes such as those in the Freedom Fighters was also unlikely. America had traditionally kept her heroes close and used them sparingly to support the war effort, having learned during the last occupation that American heroes tortured or executed on live television was bad for morale. Quicksilver thus had the full weight of surprise on his side as he slipped through the sentries like a phantom wind.
Inside the prison, the speedster found his progress slowed by the checkpoints installed to keep riots from spreading and escape attempts to the minimum. Still, he moved from floor to floor invisibly until he found his brother sleeping in a cell. He checked the hall before pausing so that he could be seen.
“Pat!” he called in a low voice, slapping the metal on the cell door and making it ring.
His brother sat up, instantly awake. Pat looked around, spotting the masked man instantly. “What’s going on?” he asked as he moved to the cell door. “Who are you?”
“It’s me,” Quicksilver said. “I’ve come to get you out.”
“Rich?” said Pat. “Get out of here before you’re spotted. This is exactly what he wants.”
“The Manhunter,” said Pat.
“I’ll worry about him later,” said Quicksilver. He brought his hand across the metal bars of the cell door in two instantaneous sweeps, catching the cylinders before they hit the ground. “Let’s get out of here,” he said, grabbing a handful of Pat’s shirt.
“What about the rest of these people?” Pat asked.
“I’ll light a candle for them at St. Tim’s when they’re shot.”
“That’s cold, Rich,” Pat said.
“We don’t have time to argue,” said Quicksilver. “My priority is you and no one else. I’ll see what I can do after I get you out of here and somewhere safe.”
“I don’t want to go,” said Pat. He shook his brother’s grip and started back to his cell.
Quicksilver knocked him with his calloused hand to the floor, unconscious. Throwing his brother over his shoulder, he began working his way out of the prison, carrying his brother with remarkable speed to the roof. It was child’s play to run down the side of the prison and up the opposite wall.
Alarms sounded as he zipped down the other side of the wall. In a second, he had vanished into the night. Behind him, guards scrambled to find the escapee, sure that he was still on the grounds.
Quicksilver flew across the state line into Free America. Telephone connections had been cut with the rest of the United States when Japan had taken over California, making communications extremely difficult, if not impossible. The Occupation kept it like that as much as possible. That meant Pat would be kept out of the picture and safe as long as Washington didn’t lose any more ground to the rats.
The speedster flew back to Central Prison, telling himself he needed his head examined for what he was about to do.
Quicksilver traced his way back into the building past the now-alert guards in a twinkling. He threw the switches for the cell doors to open on each floor. The guards tried to point their weapons at the condemned men and keep order, but suddenly they had no weapons to hold. Jagged pieces of metal trailed behind the speedster like bread crumbs.
The prisoners rushed for the main gate, and the door swung open while the guard was slammed into a wall. The men and women paused at the entrance to the building. Crossing the exercise yard would have been suicidal under ordinary circumstances. In this case, something was throwing men from the wall too fast to be seen. The prisoners fled from the building as the gate in the wall rotated open. Outside, they went their separate ways, fleeing into the night.
Richard Ito smiled as he worked with the chemicals he was experimenting with. The radio was on, and broadcasts of alarms from the mass escape were still being issued, as well as superstitious-sounding reports of a mysterious phantom wind which had seemingly been responsible for the escape.
Pat Ito was of primary importance to the Occupation. Hopefully, his brother would play it smart and stay out of the state. If he were caught again, a bullet in the head was the most he could expect from the Japanese forces.
Richard finished what he was doing and put the chemicals away. All he could do now was check it in a few hours to see what had happened in the beaker.
Tomorrow, he would walk the streets. Despite telling his brother he wasn’t interested in the fight, it had felt good to stump the authorities. Maybe another old lady would need the new Quicksilver again.