The Manhunter of the SS Ubermenschen sat in a hard wooden chair. He had been able to commandeer a helicopter to fly him back to his quarters, hiding the damage he had suffered at the hands of his foe. Both of his knees were shattered from the blow he had taken.
He bounced a call to Dr. Joseph Mengele off of a special communications satellite. The Long Island-based Nazi scientist would know what to do even if he could not show up in person. That would be too much of a risk. The Manhunter relayed what happened to his mentor, giving details so that the good doctor could help plan a solution to this Quicksilver problem.
They could not lose Los Angeles to the Allies because of one renegade. If Los Angeles fell, the rest of Southern California would soon also fall like a row of dominoes. Then the rest of the state to the Oregon border. He would rather extinguish every living thing in the city than let that happen.
Richard Ito stood on a corner. Peace reigned for the moment, but he wondered how long it would be before the Manhunter threatened some other catastrophe for the people he had begun to protect as the new Quicksilver.
California was the first step for the Allies, according to Free California Radio. Border disputes were being fought daily with American forces slowly pushing back the Japanese. Although he wasn’t a killer, he knew he needed to help the invaders force their way north to L.A. He could do nothing else while he waited for his enemy to act.
Quicksilver appeared along the border in a blur of wind and snapping wood. Border patrols were captured easily by watchful American commandos as a chill phantom wind disarmed the enemy.
A nondescript man walked to where the Japanese army made their new headquarters since the fall of City Hall. He showed his identification and was shown to where the Manhunter concealed his recent injury.
The man placed his bag on the floor, dismissing the small staff he found trying to plan for a siege they were sure was coming because of the loss of guard posts along the border. His only interest was his mission and not the plans of others that needed to be carried out far beyond his workplace.
“Herr Manhunter, please bare your arm,” the messenger said, producing a hypodermic and a bottle from his bag. “Dr. Mengele has sent this to quicken the repair of your legs. It will grant you other abilities as well.”
Patrick Ito smiled when he heard that parts of the eastern border of California had collapsed. He knew his brother Richard had taken a hand from both what was said and not said over the public radio. He checked his equipment as news of the resulting fighting was broadcast all over California.
Leaving his small apartment as soon as he was ready, Pat went to the waterfront by bus. His first target was the coastal batteries in Malibu Beach, and he hoped to have the job done before the sun came up.
He got off the bus a few miles away and walked to the fence keeping people out. Cutting his way through, he found cover before the sentry arrived. Luckily, guard dogs weren’t on the premises at the moment. The Resistance fighter planted the plastic blocks he was carrying on his targets, then traced his way back to his entry and got safely off the grounds as soon as the sentry passed.
Pulling out a plastic box from his utility belt, Pat plucked out the antenna and pushed the button on the face of the box. Five detonators received the signal, running a small charge in the explosive they were planted in. The darkness was split by the tremendous thunder of the cannons exploding in the air.
Pat smiled, throwing the remote detonator away. He faded into the night as emergency crews tried to respond to the carnage.
The Manhunter winced as he stood on his own two feet for the first time since his defeat by this Quicksilver. He knew his enemy had taken advantage of his injury to spur the Allies into attacking his domain.
He would have to do something to thwart that now that he was able to move freely. Using the new powers granted to him by Dr. Mengele, he soared into the sky with a rush of power. Until this time, invulnerability and the strength of a thousand men had been enough for him. But as his enemies became more formidable, the Manhunter knew he would need certain other abilities to give him an edge. The new power of flight had freed him from having to use his legs as they healed. Moreover, he could also now release bursts of energy from within himself as burning beams from his eyes. The formula now in his system made him more than a match for any interfering superhuman.
Using these powers, he would meet the enemy and crush them as he had been grown to do. He would crush this advance, and then he would catch this man the Japanese soldiers called the Phantom Wind and kill him with his bare hands. The Manhunter vowed this with every ounce of his anger and need for revenge.
Richard Ito had been watching the American invasion of California from a distance. He was surprised to watch the Manhunter arrive from out of the sky, apparently with a new ability to fly, and he waited for the right moment to attack the Nazi monster.
He was doubly shocked when the Manhunter glared at the liberating American army and flames erupted from his eyes. American soldiers were caught in the beam, and mere ashes were left behind by the ruthless attack. That threw the rest of the assault force in disarray.
As Quicksilver, Richard appeared behind the hulking brute, smashed down with his linked fists in a blur. The Manhunter turned, eyes glaring out their infernal wrath, and Japanese troops caught by mistake were shattered from the sudden attack.
“Not too bright, are you?” said Quicksilver, invisible as he struck a hundred times in a few seconds.
The Manhunter burned everything he looked at, trying to draw a bead on his faster opponent.
Quicksilver picked his moment, time frozen around his vibrating form. Then he struck, using his speed to inflict more damage than normally possible. The Manhunter crashed against a tree, the fire in his eyes momentarily dowsed by pain. The speedster streaked away, returning fast enough that it looked like he never left.
The Manhunter tried to pick himself up, but numerous blows rained down on him in seconds. Finally, the wooden club Quicksilver used snapped under the treatment, and the Manhunter closed his eyes, slipping away into darkness.
Richard breathed a sigh of relief, tossing away the broken end of the club he still held in his hand. What to do about his prisoner was uppermost in his mind as he surveyed the battlefield.
Elsewhere, Captain Billy Dunn scanned the sky as he led a flight of bombers over the Los Angeles harbor. The Blue Tracer was part of the fighter cover until he could break away and head inland.
“Fighters at one o’clock high,” warned Bomber Jones over the radio from the back, eyes intent on his screens.
“Weapons are locked and loaded,” said Dunn. “The bombers come first, then we do the secondary.”
“Copy,” said Jones. “ECM is cranked wide open. Chaff and flares are ready.”
The Tracer clawed at the air as it soared upward to meet the Japanese fighters. The orderly formations broke down into individual dogfights as the pilots fought for supremacy. The multiple craft was there in the thick of things as Dunn used every trick and move he knew to put crosshairs on his foes and shoot them down.
“Bombs are falling,” reported Jones. “We lost a lot of our guys.”
“They lost more,” said Dunn. “Let’s split for our mission. Give me a course.”
Billy Dunn landed beyond the fighting that had broken out in the Sierra Madre mountains. The ground troops were pushing west toward Los Angeles, while the Japanese had seized several strong points and were trying to hold off the advance.
He kept an eye on the fighting as Jones and several men attached to the Army Corps of Engineers worked feverishly to secure a metal cylinder to the bottom of the Tracer. They were supposed to take off and deliver that box to a facility in Arizona.
Dunn didn’t know what was in the makeshift prison, but he did recognize that some type of gas was keeping it quiet and hoped that the gas would keep working. If that thing needed this type of precaution, he hated to see what would happen if it woke up while in the air.
Finally, Jones gave him the nod that they could leave.
The invasion of Southern California had started as a spur of the moment thing, but it was slowly becoming a juggernaut, rolling down toward the ocean. The U.S. troops were assisted by an invisible man roaming the countryside.
The Japanese troops retreated in disarray before the American forces and entered the city of Los Angeles, forcing civilians inside their homes. They had millions of hostages within the Orange and Los Angeles County limits. That would surely buy them time to retreat north to Sacramento.
But what had caused this sudden turnaround? And where was the Manhunter from Mars?