Los Angeles, California, was Richard Ito’s city. He walked its streets, toured its facilities, inspected its conquerors any time he wanted, even though a curfew had been issued. Ordinary soldiers that tried to stop Richard’s wanderings went to the hospital. Normal men weren’t a match for his lightning speed as the new Quicksilver.
His presence in the vast city had started to destabilize the garrison in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, even though he rarely attacked the enemy. Point of fact, if Richard was left alone, he left the Japanese Army alone.
The problem was that Richard was wanted in both of the identities he maintained, and typically he did not approve of some of the soldiers beating up the defenseless on the street. Both of these factors kept men in khaki uniforms riding to the various hospitals in the city.
The Manhunter from Mars surveyed the map of Los Angeles and the miles that made up its boundaries. The leader of the SS Ubermenschen had been loaned at his request to the Japanese authorities to spur inroads into America. He had soon found himself blocked by this new Quicksilver, or Phantom Wind, or whatever he was called by these rebellious Californians.
Not known for his patience, the Manhunter arrived at station KDOC, now known as the Imperial radio station. He went to the broadcast booth, hurling a female announcer out into the hall, then smashed the music player effortlessly to cut it off.
“Listen to me, Los Angeles,” he said in his wraith voice. “This rebel known as Quicksilver will arrive at City Hall in one hour, or I will begin killing every tenth man, woman, or child until he does. That is all.”
Patrick Ito waited for the intelligence officer known as Control. This one was a man with deep set eyes, salt and pepper hair, and a fondness for bow ties.
He hoped to get back into the Nazi-and-Japanese-Occupied state of California to join his brother and the resistance group he had been forced to leave behind because his brother had carried him over the line into free American territory.
“Hello, Mr. Ito,” said the intelligence officer when he arrived. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Not at all,” said Patrick Ito. “I’m hoping you can get me back across the border.”
“The Nazi Manhunter seems angered by your brother,” said Control, lighting a pipe with a match. “He’s threatening to decimate Los Angeles. Word was relayed a few hours ago across the free network.”
“You can’t let him do that,” said Patrick, a look of terror in his eyes. He knew the Manhunter was a monster from a nightmare. “If he runs amok in L.A., thousands could be killed.”
“We’re hoping to give him something else to think about other than the local people and any Resistance he might sweep up,” said Control. “We have decided to liberate California. To that end, we are sending units in to attack targets in various places. You’re to land in Los Angeles and attack the coastal batteries there. Secondary targets will be sent to you if you succeed. The primary goal is to help strip the city’s defenses and prepare for an armed landing by our forces.”
“What about the Manhunter?” asked Patrick.
“We’re hoping that your brother will give himself up,” said Control.
“That’s not likely,” said Pat. “Richard will never give himself up for strangers.”
“I hope you’re wrong,” said the intelligence officer.
Richard Ito walked the streets of Los Angeles, brown eyes making cynical observations as he passed. He had begun to earn a reputation and didn’t know if that was good or not. He heard the Manhunter’s announcement on a public radio and knew it wasn’t good.
“Mother,” Richard Ito said, then vanished from the street corner.
He reappeared moments later across from the City Hall in what he called his working clothes, the costume of the new Quicksilver. He gazed thoughtfully at the home of the Occupation government.
So the Manhunter wanted to play hardball. How hard did he want to play?
Quicksilver flashed to the base of the building, where he began slapping the outside walls of the City Hall. At first he went slowly, getting the feel of the brick and concrete. Then he began to speed up, vibrating his hand increasingly faster as he went. Suddenly, bricks began to explode inward from the repetitive slapping, and cracks ran through the masonry. The walls began to fall inward.
The speedster stepped back to admire his work. City Hall was starting to fall down, the outer walls cut through at their base. Maybe the whole building wouldn’t collapse, but it would be unusable for the time being.
The Manhunter looked at the rubble that marked where City Hall had partially collapsed into the surrounding streets. He growled as an aide brought a phone to him. “I do not want to talk to anyone,” he said, lifting the aide up by his neck.
“It’s him,” choked out the aide.
“Who?” demanded the Manhunter. Then realization struck. “Give me that.” He tossed the man aside, grabbing the headset. “Where are you, vermin?” he shouted into the phone.
“I wouldn’t worry about that too much if I were you,” said Quicksilver on the other end of the line, laughing out loud. “I would worry about what I plan to do next, unless you want to meet, just you and me.”
“Where and when?” said the Manhunter eagerly.
“How about the beach?” asked Ito. “Five minutes.”
“You’d better be there,” warned the genetic creation.
“What makes you think you can stop me if I am not?” said Quicksilver. “Make your life easy. Go back to Germany.”
The Manhunter hurled the phone through the outer layer of what used to be City Hall in his rage.
Patrick Ito walked to where his plane waited. He would be flown around the enclosed state of California to the blockade ships in the Pacific. Then he would be dropped on the beach and meet his contact. After that, he was to start planning the destruction of Los Angeles Batteries.
The California Resistance would supply whatever he needed, but he was leery of that. One cell he had belonged to had been betrayed, and the traitor was unknown. He didn’t want to take any more chances than he had to.
The plane took off after he made himself as comfortable as he could in the skeleton seats provided. Marines and Navy personnel filled out the rest of the passenger seats. Some were reporting back to their ships, while some would be ferried to other theaters. They were all answering Uncle Sam’s call.
The Manhunter arrived at the beach, eyes blazing in hatred as he searched for his enemy. The rebel scum would pay in blood for the insult he had heaped on the Occupation forces. One man was not going to thwart the Reich. Especially not a worm such as this.
“Over here, stupid,” said a cold voice from behind the Manhunter.
The super-soldier turned, growling at his enemy, but he only saw air.
“You’re a mad dog,” said Quicksilver. “You know what happens to mad dogs?”
The Manhunter turned, viciously swinging through empty air.
“They get put to sleep,” said the speedster.
The Manhunter had just started to turn when something smashed against the side of his legs with ferocious intensity. His knees separated into torn tissue from the invisible blow, and he collapsed, gritting his teeth against the pain.
“You may be a rock,” said Quicksilver from a hundred different places at once. “But even the rock can be worn to nothing by the wind. Go home, Manhunter. There is nothing for you here.”
Then the speedster was simply gone.
Patrick Ito landed on a beach under the cover of darkness. He should have known Richard would send his own warning. Demolishing City Hall was a bold statement, indeed.
The Manhunter was rumored to be in seclusion, but none of the boys in Naval Intelligence knew why. It was suspected that he had encountered someone with disastrous results, but no one knew for sure. Patrick wondered, but it was useless information to him. He was supposed to destroy the coastal batteries that protected Los Angeles from invasion. Encountering any enemy forces would put his task in jeopardy.
He decided it would be best not to tell Richard he was back in town. His brother would not like that at all, especially not after he had broken Pat out of prison and carred him over the border.
Pat buried his deflated dinghy and rubber suit under a pile of rocks. He pulled his hat down and headed for the road, careful to avoid patrols. The curfew was still in place.