Things Aren't What They Seem
By C. W. Blaine
e-mail at email@example.com
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy successfully executed a surprise attack on American naval forces at Pearl Harbor. The next day, December 8, 1941, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on the Axis powers of Japan, Germany and Italy. President Roosevelt initiated the formation of the All-Star Squadron, a team made up of American super-heroes to act in the defense of the country. Their first mission was a retaliatory strike on Tokyo.
Led by Justice Society member Green Lantern, several of the most powerful members of the All-Star Squadron began the trek across the Pacific Ocean to the capitol of the Imperial Japanese forces. Several hundred miles out to sea, the heroes found themselves falling under the influence of a magical field that caused them to become slaves of the Axis. A Japanese terrorist, the Dragon King, was using the mystical Spear of Destiny to create the field. Only through the valiant efforts of the unaffected members of the Squadron was a complete disaster avoided. The heroes all returned home, unable to use their wondrous gifts within the sphere of influence. For the remaining war years, the All-Star Squadron fought menaces on the home front so that precious military resources could be devoted to the war effort.
That is the story as it is know.
But, in a place called Hyper Time, the outcome of key events may follow different paths and an entire reality may be established from effects of that different chosen path.
April 1943, Washington D.C.
Liberty Belle sat at the large oak table, waiting for their host to arrive. As chairperson of the All-Star Squadron, it was her official duty to represent the team at all high political meetings. She was sure that this would be another typical get together, with her and her partners dispensing the details of their most recent cases against Axis espionage. Seated with her were some of the members of the team most trusted by her. Johnny Quick, a speedster much like the Flash, and her current paramour, sat idly, looking out the windows at the front lawn of the White House. Green Lantern, former chairman of the Justice Society and quite possibly the most powerful mortal member of her team, twirled his magical ring on his finger, lost in thought. Dainette Reilly, the member known as Firebrand was busy applying lipstick, while stealing glances at both the Tarantula and Commander Steel.
The most patient seemed to be Amazing-Man, the only black man in the room. Liberty Belle knew that the former Olympic athlete had great respect and admiration for President Roosevelt, and that he was honored to be included in the meeting. In truth, he was the least likely to be chosen to be here. While he was a powerful addition to the team, he was not known for being even-tempered, and Liberty Belle was afraid that he might do something to embarrass the team.
She cursed herself for the thought. It was thinking like that and the actions that resulted from it that had allowed Adolph Hitler to take power in Germany. She had to admit to herself that her white only upbringing had jaded her to the plights of the blacks in the United States and she would have to work harder to overcome her prejudices. Amazing-Man was a teammate and a friend and that was all that mattered.
"Hey, Libby," Johnny Quick began, flashing his rogue smile.
Liberty Belle turned to her lover. "What, Johnny?"
"After this is over I thought we might go back to the hotel…"
"Easy, hotshot," she said smiling, "I'm not in the mood for the 10 second disappointment right now. You really need to get better control of your powers."
Tarantula and Commander Steel snickered and Johnny turned a slight shade of red. It was harmless banter; everyone knew that Johnny was head over heels for Belle. The entire team also knew that Jonathan Law, the Tarantula, also had an eye on Liberty Belle. The attention of the two suitors kept things tense at times, but she knew that when push came to shove, Law would back down in favor of Belle's obvious choice.
That hadn't stopped Dainette from pursuing every available bachelor on the team, except Amazing-Man. Liberty Belle had noticed in the past several months that she had gone out of her way to avoid the only colored member. Something was going on, but she hadn't had time to pursue it. Nor would she have time now as the door opened to the room and the Atom, former Justice Society member, and current member of the Squadron, and close, personal friend of the President wheeled in President Roosevelt. An Army general followed behind and the marine on duty closed the door.
"Liberty Belle, you get lovelier every day, I swear," the President said, taking her hand.
She waved the smoke from his cigarette away and smiled, "Mr. President, if you were only twenty years younger…."
He smiled warmly, "Don't let Eleanor hear you or she'll take a rolling pin to both of us!"
The other members of the team got up and walked over to shake the President's hand. Green lantern paused afterwards to whisper something to the Atom and then went back to his chair. The President spoke at length with Amazing-Man in hushed tones, and when they finally separated, the hero had a big smile on his face.
The Atom pushed the President's chair to front of the table and then sat down to his right, while the general sat down on the immediate left. "I've asked you here today for a matter of great importance. As you know, our forces in the Pacific have made great headway against the Japanese navy. With the help of our allies, we hope, hope mind you, to have all of this finished within a year."
Everyone commented their approval and the President continued. "This is not for sure…. we still have yet to draw out the Japanese battleships and their own super-people have caused us to slow down our planned advance. Prime Minister Churchill has been deeply disturbed by reports of the Japanese super-hero Tsunami and her devastating attacks on merchant shipping. To that end, he requested the help of our Office of Special Services in providing an answer to the dilemma."
The lights went dim and a marine private started up a projector in the back of the room. The black and white film that played showed a young, yet beautiful Japanese woman in a skimpy bathing suit being led into a prison cell by British soldiers. The President began to narrate. "We decided to try and kidnap Tsunami and bring her back to Allied territory to try and study her. For this mission, we decided to employ the services of the arch-criminal, the Ultra-Humanite."
There were gasps and Green Lantern spoke up, "With all due respect, Mr. President, you can't trust him."
The general spoke up. "Her, Mr. Lantern, not him. The Ultra-Humanite's brain is currently residing in the body of former actress Dolores Winters. It was a difficult decision to make, you must understand, and it could have gone either way. We could have dropped it and continued fighting on, or throw caution to the wind and pursue this course."
"What did he ask for in return?" Green lantern asked.
"A presidential pardon for use of his scientific genius," President Roosevelt answered calmly. "He got it. As you can see from the film, he and his operatives succeeded in capturing Tsunami. Unfortunately, she committed suicide before we could study her."
Green Lantern merely shook his head. The Ultra-Humanite, the most ingenious of all of the criminal masterminds was now a free man. "I don't believe it."
"Come, come now, Green Lantern, it's all for the war effort you know. If I can save American lives by making a deal with the Devil, so be it."
Green Lantern lowered his head and continued playing with his ring. "You're right Mr. President, I just find it hard to believe that the United States government would work with organized crime."
"Please, the Ultra-Humanite's organization is destroyed, and part of the bargain was that he would remain on the government's payroll for many years to come. We've assigned him to a special project in New Mexico that we hope will bear the fruit for our final victory," the general said.
The movie played on, with no sound, and the scene switched to some British soldiers carrying the body of a muscular Japanese man. "That is what we wanted to show you," the President began again. "That is the Dragon King, killed by one of the Ultra-Humanite's assassins. Unfortunately, the assassin, a being known as Deathbolt, was killed as well. I would have given him a medal."
Commander Steel spoke up, "If that is the Dragon King, then…."
The President smiled and the lights came back on. "Yes, my boy, the Spear of Destiny is now in British hands, more specifically, Sir Justin, the Shining Knight's hands."
The silence was almost deafening to Liberty Belle. The possibilities ran through her mind as she considered what the ramifications were. By allying with the Ultra-Humanite, the President had succeeded in removing the only obstacle that would stop the All-Star Squadron from entering Axis territory. "Sir?" she asked.
The President smiled and put out his cigarette. "It's time the All-Star Squadron took the war to the enemy, Liberty Belle. We're here today to formulate the plan of attack."
And like that, the American counter offensive began. It began in little bits, so as to gauge the Axis defenses against the All-Star Squadron. First there were assists in the air battles of the Pacific by Hawkman and Dr. Fate, who counteracted the Japanese Kamikaze attacks with ease. Then, Robotman and a team of Squadron members were on hand to secure Italy after the people revolted against Mussolini.
Commander Steel, who had spent time in a German P.O.W. camp, left for Fort Dix with Green Lantern, the Flash, the Spectre, Guardian, and the Shining Knight to begin to plan for the liberation of France. Still charged with the defense of the American shores, Liberty Belle put together a new team with her at the lead. Included were Tarantula, Firebrand, Dr. Mid-Nite, Amazing Man, and the Sandman. Johnny Quick and the Flash left for the Eastern front to provide aid to the besieged Soviets. In China, the Crimson Avenger, his Oriental partner Wing, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, and Vigilante provided support to Chang Kai-Shek's resistance.
The weeks flew by as the Allies gained victory after victory. The German superman, Baron Blitzkrieg, met an untimely demise at the hands of Commander Steel in Luxembourg, while a lucky German sniper managed to shoot the Flash on the Russian Front, making him the first casualty for the Squadron. On a mission to Australia, the Japanese had intercepted Phantom Lady and her tortured body had been found washed up on the beach. A German fighter took out Hawkgirl in early 1944 over the English Channel, which resulted in Hawkman going on a suicidal run into Berlin from which he never returned. Other fell as well, but the war still progressed on the side of the allies.
By June 1944, General Eisenhower was ready for a large-scale amphibious assault onto the French mainland. Dr. Fate and the Spectre ensured that they met virtually no resistance. The price, however, was there lives. Dr. Fate, not using his original helmet, but a copy that severely limited his abilities, died when he was overwhelmed by heavy artillery fire. The Spectre, for reasons unknown, then simply disappeared, as if he were chasing Dr. Fate's soul. Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt were the first of the Allies to march into Paris on July 1, 1944, liberating it in the name of the French Resistance, which he soon became a part of.
In August, 1944, the Japanese Empire, it's forces ravaged by America's super-heroes, sued for peace. Liberty Belle, along with General Douglass Macarthur, accepted the surrender. However, while both she and the general wanted to start rebuilding the Japanese infrastructure, hotter heads on Capitol Hill wanted otherwise. They cried that the dreaded Japanese had not suffered enough for their cowardly attack on Pearl Harbor, and a Martial Governor was elected over the island nation. Rex Tyler, also known as Hourman, a rich chemical manufacturer and ultra-conservative, was put in place by Roosevelt's opponents in congress. He immediately ordered the imprisonment of the entire Japanese royal family. Wonder Woman, Starman, and Black Canary soon joined him.
Liberty Belle protested to the President, but she knew it was no use. The President was taking ill more and more often, and she was dealing with the Vice-President more and more. Rex Tyler was a drug addict, addicted to the vile chemicals that gave him his powers. He was unstable she had said, but Harry Truman had only smiled and remarked on her physical attributes. In protest, she finally resigned from the All-Star Squadron. Johnny Quick had immediately left the Russian Front to be with her, but she had convinced him to go back and fight for freedom.
By November, Wonder Woman had resigned as well, returning to the states and disappearing. Starman, who had never been the most stable of people, left the Earth, just up and left one day, never to return. He had left his mark, however, as Black Canary was pregnant with his child.
In December 1944, Commander Steel coordinated with General Eisenhower to drop an atomic bomb on Berlin. The Manhattan Project which had been headed up in the final stages by the Ultra-Humanite, had developed the device months ahead of schedule, and the Vice-President, who was running the show as the President lay dying, was not hesitant to use it. Germany sued for peace the next day.
Victory was celebrated everywhere in the United States and Britain, as well as in Russia, France, and elsewhere, while Green Lantern led Allied troops into the prisoner camps scattered throughout Germany. The stories that came back were too horrid for Liberty Belle to believe, but Johnny Quick had confirmed them when he returned. He no longer smiled as much, and the two became distant. By the summer of 1945, they had separated and she had moved in with Jonathan Law.
The war had been one, and the survivors came home, except for one. Nobody knew what happened to him, but Green Lantern never returned from Germany.
New York City, 1950
Libby Lawrence-Law stepped out of the cab, paid the driver, and then walked into the hotel. She was running late for her lunch date, an old friend from the war years. She hadn't though of him much since she last saw him at President Roosevelt's funeral, and he had looked so sad then.
She entered the dining room and a waiter directed her to a table occupied by a short, yet stocky man with red hair. "Al Pratt, it's been too long."
Al Pratt, the former super-hero known as the Atom, stood up and waved to a chair. "Sit down, Libby, please."
Libby sat down and picked up the menu. "Is this a social call or can I eat? I'm warning you, I'm a legally married woman now."
Al did not smile. "How's John?"
"Just finished another novel," she said looking over the salads.
"I need your help."
Libby put down the menu as the waiter reappeared. She made her order and waited for him to leave. "I'm not a super-hero anymore, Al. I gave up the whole Liberty Belle stuff before the war was even over. Anyway, President Truman controls the Justice Society now."
Al looked as if he were going to spit. "That's not the Justice Society. I belonged to the Justice Society; it's nothing more than Truman's hyper-powered thugs. Look at the membership for God's sake: Hourman, a drug addict and control freak, Firebrand, a whore at best…"
"Al, please lower your voice," she said.
He continued, but in a lower tone, "Robotman, if that's even Chuck Grayson's brain in that mechanical suit, Black Canary, another whore, that new Starman, Amazing-Man, an idiot nig---"
"Al!" she snapped. "Will was, no, is our friend. He believes in the Justice Society."
Al waved her off. "Fine, whatever, the point is that every single member has something wrong with them. Oh, and the all mighty leader is the Ultra-Humanite! Do you really believe he's reformed?"
"You're a bigot?" Libby asked, shocked.
"So what? I'm entitled to like whomever I want. I know its not the right way to think, but…."
Libby reached across the table and grabbed Al's hand. "What is it?"
"My girl, you guys never met her, but we were real good together, ya know? She ran off on me with a…you know…" He didn't finish the sentence.
Libby looked into his eyes. "Al, that's no reason to blame an entire race of people. You two were meant for each other, that's all."
A tear welled up in his eye. "I know, I'm sorry." He wiped the tear away as the waiter brought their food.
"So, now that we have solved your racism problem, what can I do for you?"
"I want to kill President Truman and I need your help."
Libby choked on her salad. "What? Are you nuts?"
"Hear me out…."
"No, Al," she said getting up. "You've lost it. I'm sorry that you lost your girl, if I wasn't married, I'd go out with you, but that's crazy talk."
"Please, Libby, listen, you don't know the whole story."
Libby picked up her handbag. "I don't want to hear it, Al! Go away and don't contact me again."
Al Pratt grabbed her hand and pulled he close. He whispered something in her ear and her complexion turned white.
"No…" she said, sitting back down.
The home of Jonathan Law and his wife was bustling with activity on a cold morning if February 1951. The television was rambling on about the death of Communist insurgents in China while John, clad in his old brown Tarantula costume, served drinks to his assorted guests. His wife, Libby, wore plain slacks and one of his shirts, and he fondly remembered her being dressed just the same one dark night in 1942 when Johnny Quick wasn't around. Everyone else was in costume. He recognized the all from the war years as a member of the All-Star Squadron: Wildcat, Wonder Woman, Guardian, Commander Steel, the Shining Knight, Johnny Thunder, and Johnny Quick.
"Chambers, how's it going," Law asked as he handed Johnny Quick a drink.
The blonde-haired speedster smiled. "Okay, John, how are you?"
The Tarantula smiled weakly, looking for the proper words. "Uncomfortable."
"Don't worry about it. No hard feelings?"
The breath left the Tarantula's chest. "Thanks, I needed that."
Johnny Quick waved it off. "Don't worry about it. After Libby and I spilt, I made my way out to California. I met this cute, cute, cute redhead named Lucy. She's a comedian. I had to fight off her husband, some Cuban guy, but I won out in the end. I'm happy…. and I'm happy that you're happy. I understand you have a daughter?"
Tarantula nodded. "Yep, Jesse. I think that Libby named her after you," he added, winking.
"Smart choice. Lucy's pregnant, too. We plan on getting married next month. You and Libby will have to come."
"I'd like that, Johnny. Maybe we could talk about the old days."
Johnny's smile faded. "Yeah, maybe."
Tarantula took that as a cue to mingle a little more and walked over to where he wife was engaged in a discussion with Wildcat and Wonder Woman. "Yeah, 'Polly here comes back from Japan all disheartened, and I says "sit down and tell Ted all about it'," Wildcat said, patting his thigh.
Wonder Woman blushed. "I never, ever thought that such a rogue would ever charm me, but there's something so lovable about him," she said pinching his cheek.
"Any children?" Libby asked, putting her arm around Tarantula.
Both Wildcat and Wonder Woman laughed. "I already have a daughter, Diana, back in my homeland. We Amazons can't get pregnant by normal means."
"Yep, damn shame about that," Wildcat began. "We try four or five times a day, and still no luck!"
Libby rolled her eyes and moved over to the Shining Knight. "Justin, it's been so long. Why didn't you keep in contact?"
"Verily, my lady," the knight began. "I have been acquainting myself with this new world I find myself in and protecting the shores of Britannia from foes."
"Busy with work, huh?"
The knight looked down. "Indeed. I swore fealty to the king and by Arthur's sword, he makes me prove it!"
Libby patted him on the shoulder and then called for silence. The assembled heroes quieted and Jonathan Law sat down next to Wildcat. "I want to thank you all for coming here tonight. It's good to see you all, I've forgotten how close we once were. Unfortunately, the man responsible for this meeting could not make it tonight, as had a prior engagement that is most important."
Libby sighed and set her dink down. "As you know, it was with the aid of the Ultra-Humanite that we were able to assure an ally victory over the Axis powers; without his help, I don't know if we would have won. However, as Green Lantern once warned, the price of victory may be too high.'
"Al Pratt, the Atom, has recently learned that certain forces within the government are bent on world domination. When the Ultra-Humanite was welcomed into the government's arms, I don't think that President Roosevelt had any idea what his plans were. The capture and subsequent deaths of Tsunami and the Dragon King were too easy, and we should have suspected something at the time. Looking back, I realize I failed as a leader when I didn't see the obvious in front of me."
"Speak fair lady, you are amongst friends, what ails thee," the Shining Knight said.
"The Ultra-Humanite could not have gotten Deathbolt, a hyper-human, into the Axis territories without help. The minute Deathbolt crossed the mystical field; he would have been a pawn of the Axis. He had to have help. Al, working alone on his suspicions, has confirmed that in agreement for his aid, the OSS secreted Heinrich Himmler out of Germany to the United States and replaced him with a robot double, created by Charles Grayson, the Robotman. The robot Himmler was in Berlin when we dropped the bomb, the real one was here in the United States. The Ultra-Humanite used his power and influence, granted him by the unsuspecting President, to kidnap Vice-President Harry Truman and places Himmler's brain in Truman's body. Himmler, as Truman, then began a systematic takeover of the government, while the Ultra-Humanite went about secretly worsening the President's medical condition."
The room was silent. "President Truman is actually Heinrich Himmler and the Justice Society is completely under his control. Look at the events since the war. He picked the heroes with greatest flaws and exploited them. Rex Tyler is so dependant on his Miralco pills that he will do anything to keep his chemical companies making them, including executing the Japanese royal family as he did in 1947.'
"He used the JSA to destroy the communist party in China, just as was reported on the news today. Russia is on the verge of economic collapse since he had the Society build the Western Europe Wall, isolating them from the rest of the world. When the Jews tried to form a state in Palestine, he accused them of being Communists and sent the Society in to destroy them. Now, instead of what might have been the Jewish fabled land of Israel, we have the Christian Republic of Palestine. Do you remember how the new Starman, who happens to be a former National Socialist, used his cosmic rod to lay waste to the Islamic lands in the Middle East? When was the last time any of you saw a mosque or a synagogue? We don't see them now because they are labeled fronts for the Communist revolution. What Communist revolution? Stalin doesn't have enough healthy people in Russia to start a car wash, much less a revolution!"
"What do we do?" Johnny Quick asked.
Libby took a deep breath. "We take over. We arrest Himmler, we take down the Justice Society and we convene a Constitutional Congress, with delegates from all 48 states, plus any territories that want to join in, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, whatever. We form a new congress, elect a new president, and then we fade away."
Commander Steel stood up. "Are you nuts? We can't take on the whole U.S. Army? Himmler would run us over. We don't have the power to stand up to someone like Starman! Maybe if it were Ted Knight, wherever he is, but this new guy is young and mean. I've seen him!"
Wildcat raised his hand. "Not to mention any members they have in reserve. I've heard rumors about a Martian that crashed in Nevada back in '47 or '48, taken to some Army Air Corps base and hidden away. I don't want to go up against some Martian."
"Oh, that's crap and you know it!" Johnny Quick snipped. "There are no little green men from Mars."
"Hey, I used to spar with a guy who was stationed out there at the time and he said it was true."
Johnny Quick waved him off and looked at Libby. "Regardless, Steel is right. We don't have the raw power to go up against the Society. They added a new member last week, a new Hawkman. That's a lot of muscle, even without Wildcat's Martian. The most powerful of us is Johnny Thunder, and from what I understand, he's a pacifist now."
The young man in the green suit nodded. "I'm only here as a token guys. My time with the Resistance taught me that fighting proves nothing. Old Johnny is a lover, not a fighter."
Wildcat listed several derogatory names for Johnny Thunder in addition to being a lover. "Doesn't matter, his control over his Thunderbolt was crappy at best."
Johnny Thunder was about to say something, but Wildcat cracked his knuckles, indicating what his response would be and quieted down.
"That leaves Wonder Woman, and, no offense, but I don't think she can take both Starman and Hourman. Then we have Amazing-Man to deal with, and he's no pushover. We need a heavy gun, like Dr. Fate or Green Lantern, and both of them are dead."
Libby looked at her former boyfriend, with the face of a teacher ready to scold a student, "Who said Green Lantern was dead?"
He sat alone, in the middle of the camp. It had been emptied long ago, but he could still smell the putrid stench in the air. The snow clung to his blonde beard and the wind whipped into his tattered clothes. A small fire, with a goose on a spicket was the only source of heat. Alan Scott, the man once known as Green Lantern sat staring into the fire, trying to forget.
But the demons attacked his mind, filling it with the sights and sounds of the day he had first entered the concentration camp. He remembered the dead bodies of the men, women, and God help him, the children as they were piled up.
He could have stopped it.
It was thought that raged through his head constantly, eating away at his soul. The army had moved on, and remembered a man named Rock trying to convince him to leave, but he couldn't. He instead chose to remain there, a silent sentinel, forever guarding the awful place where so many had died.
Al Pratt, clad in his Atom costume approached slowly. The man once known as Green Lantern did not stir, did not acknowledge his presence even as he sat across from him. "Alan?"
Green Lantern did not move, but instead played with the green ring on his finger.
"I know what you feel, most of us felt it. There was nothing you could do at the time."
Alan Scott looked at him with cold, green eyes. "I should have tried. We should have tried. They killed children, Al; children who had committed no crime other than being born Jewish."
Al shrugged. "I know, Alan, more than anyone, I know."
Alan's expression changed. "My God, I forgot…you're Jewish."
Al Pratt nodded, his blue hooded head bobbing up and down. "Yeah, my family changed its name, but we couldn't change our faith. I've never been here."
"How'd you get here; I thought you were back in the states."
"Blackhawks owed me a few favors. They operate independently now, running supplies to Russia every now and again. They knew you were here; Hell, Truman knows you're here."
"Alan, things have gotten complicated back home."
Alan Scott's face changed with rage. "I don't care! We sat back and worried about saboteurs and bundists while innocent people were being tortured and killed. We sat back in our cozy homes, our cozy lives and secret identities while children were being thrown into ovens like something out of a fairy tale. The United States can go to Hell! Truman can go to Hell. You can go to Hell."
"What, Alan, am I supposed to walk away now that the mighty Green Lantern has spoken? Oh, you feel bad because you didn't save the day, so now the whole world must suffer? What the Nazis did was wrong, Alan, but that doesn't mean we give up or feel sorry for ourselves! My people have been chased from one end of the Earth to the other, labeled as Communists and criminals, hunted down by the very same Justice Society we founded! You go to Hell! You go to Hell and give me that damn ring so I can do something about all of this!"
Alan Scott stood up and wiped the snow and ice from his beard. "No! The ring is mine and with it, I'll make sure that this camp never operates again!"
Pratt looked up at him. "It's not the camp that killed all of those people, Alan, it was men! Men who are still alive, men who are still killing innocent people. The Ultra-Humanite put Himmler's brain in Truman!"
The muscles in Alan Scott's jaw clenched. "I'm not leaving. I swore an oath."
Al Pratt got up and began to walk away. "Some oath. What good is it to protect the innocent when there are no innocent people left?"
President Harry Truman looked at himself in the mirror and straightened his tie before putting his glasses on. The woman is his bed stretched and winked at him. "Good morning, Mr. President."
He turned. "Good morning, fraulien Reilly, it is time for you to get into costume and play the good little super-hero."
Dainette Reilly got up, not bothering to cover herself and walked over to where here costume lay on the floor. "What story are you going to give Mrs. Truman this time?"
He watched he bend over to pick up the costume. "It doesn't matter, she will be dead soon, let her get angry."
"So, it's true, you'll be dumping that body for something else?" she said, pulling her underwear up.
"Yes, Ultra has found a young war hero with political connections; his body will do just fine."
Truman smiled. "Ah, my little tiger, you need not worry. We will get you a body fitting one of your pure blood from which we will spawn a new race of true humans."
She walked over and pressed her naked chest against him. "I'm so glad I found you when I did. To think I wasted so many years pursuing those…inferiors."
Truman laughed. "Ah, but we must keep up the act, my dear. The black one on your team, the non-human, he can only be kept in line with your kisses. So long as he believes that he can share your pure embraces at night, he will remain a useful tool."
She walked over and began to put on her suit. 'I just still can't figure out how Ultra knew what I was looking for when he approached me during the war."
"Ah, you were lost, a beautiful flower in a garden of vines, my dear. So beautiful, yet looked over for all of your beauty. You were never appreciated for what you were, and Ultra saw that in his wisdom. Thanks to him, we will live forever, ensuring that all of the dog races are erased from the Earth and that only the pure will survive."
She finished dressing and began to put on her lipstick. "You know, even though you got the amendment defeated, Eisenhower will probably win the next election."
Truman shrugged and walked towards the bedroom door. "I want him to win. I need the time to adjust to the new body, and then in 1960, we will be ready!"
The Justice Society of America, along with President Truman, stood before the gathered crowds in the brand new Washington Stadium, home of the country's newest baseball team, The D.C. All-Stars. It was to be one of the last few official events of the Truman presidency, with Dwight Eisenhower taking the reins the next month.
Snow was falling, but the air was warm as thousands of people cheered for their favorite super-heroes and for the new professional ball players. The Ultra-Humanite, whose brain inhabited the body of the former Mr. Terrific, Terry Sloane, who had reportedly died of a heart attack earlier in the year, waved to the photographers. His plans were coming together and he was on the verge of achieving real power. Eisenhower's distrust of Communists would allow the country to concentrate more on foreign policy, providing the excuse needed for American forces to post themselves in countries all over the world. The Allied nations would never dare oppose the requests of the great general who had fought so valiantly in the war.
Behind the Ultra-Humanite, his Justice Society waved to the crowd as well. All of the current membership was represented: Hawkman, Starman, Black Canary, Hourman, Amazing-Man, Robotman, and Dr. Mid-Nite. The Dr. Mid-Nite was the most recent addition, replacing the member that had died during the war. This one was a female as well.
Amazing-Man waved but his thoughts were not on the cheering crowds. He was busy trying to play in character, trying to act the somber, grieving hero. The decapitated body of his lover, Firebrand, had been found several days before, and the incident had been written off as an ambush by Communist sympathizers. Will Everett, Amazing-Man, could care less. Since 1946, he had been the Atom's mole in the Justice Society, secretly gathering the information Al Pratt would need. In the process of the deception, Al had to portray himself as a bigot, while Will made believe that he was the stereotypical dumb black man who thought only with his groin and not his brain.
Amazing-Man knew that Firebrand was still alive, but in another body, and he suspected that this new Dr. Mid-Nite was the most likely candidate. It would only be a few minutes more and life as he had known it would change. There was no way to legally prove that Himmler's brain was inside Truman's body and the only way to stop him and the Ultra-Humanite would be to kill them. For the remaining loyal members of the All-Star Squadron, World War 2 still had to end.
"My fellow Americans and baseball fans," the President spoke into the microphone. "It is probably the most fitting legacy of my term in office to dedicate this field and this team. I know that in recent years, there have been those of you who wonder about how far the power of your government will extend into your personal lives. I can assure you that while you average citizens have nothing to fear, the New York Yankees may have something to worry about!"
The crowd roared in approval and flashbulbs crackled like ball lightning. Truman smiled and reached over to shake Ultra's hand. Then Hawkman shouted something and pointed in the air. Ultra looked and turned a sickly white.
Flying down on a green platform of energy were mystery men and women not seen for years, many believed to be dead or retired. Green Lantern led the charge, with the Atom, Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Wildcat, Wonder Woman, and Tarantula behind him. Immediately, Hawkman and Starman leapt into the sky to meet them head on. Wonder Woman kissed Wildcat on the cheek and sailed into the air. She drew her sword and met Hawkman's mace with a clang that crashed over the roar of the crowd.
Johnny Quick moved with blinding speed, going directly for Truman. It had been decided that only he would be fast enough to get in and deliver the killing blow. He approached the President, moving faster than the eye could perceive, and reached out to grab the President by the throat.
Bursting through the crowd of photographers, who were moving for a better view, the red, white and blue form of Commander Steel moved like greased lightning, going immediately for Robotman. Years before, Steel and Charles Grayson, the man whose brain was inside the Robotman's frame, had been best friends. Steel had lost contact with his friend after Robotman had gone to Italy. When he had finally resurfaced as an ally of the Ultra-Humanite, Steel knew that his friend was gone. He landed a punch on a metal jaw, sending the mechanical man sprawling. "I want to know who you really are before I kill you, you bastard!" he cried.
Robotman swore in German. "I am your superior, that is who I am!"
The Atom leapt down as Green Lantern turned his attention to Starman. Starman sneered. "You should not have come back, swine! Better you would have remained in the Fatherland, crying over the souls of long dead vermin!"
"Now, Alan!" the Atom cried, engaging Dr. Mid-Nite.
Green Lantern nodded and concentrated. His ring glowed and the beam played over all of the members of the Justice Society. The mystical green field sprayed over them, doing nothing more than causing them to glow. Then the field of energy moved to the members of the All-Star Squadron. In an instant, the identities of the Justice Society were telepathically made known to Green Lantern's allies.
Johnny Quick hesitated as the identity of the President washed over him. "Son of a b…." he started to say as the President's eyes went wide and fired bolts of energy at the speedster. The beams hit Johnny square on and he screamed as his body burned. He moved away at blinding speed and ran into a wall, sending innocent bystanders flying. A panic washed through the crowd as they realized that this was real.
Commander Steel picked up Robotman, and using his own mechanical muscles, ripped his arms out. Sparks flew and the smell of burning insulation filled Steel's nostrils. 'Say hello to Satan for me, Herr Goebels!" Robotman started to speak, but Steel kicked him in the chest, denting it. The blow had destroyed much needed components for keeping Robotman's brain alive. He started to get up, but couldn't right himself without his arms.
Amazing-Man grabbed Ultra by the shirt. "I've had enough of you, you white-supremist bigot!"
"Ah, my very own Brutus, a Judas who sold his soul for 13 pieces of silver, eh Will?" Ultra said, smirking.
"Yeah, that's it. Think whatever you want, but this crap ends now!" Amazing-Man said, throwing Ultra to the ground.
Truman turned, saw the confrontation and flew at Amazing-Man, slamming into him so hard that the former Olympic athlete was knocked back all the way into right field. Amazing-Man landed with a resounding thud.
The Atom looked at Dr. Mid-Nite. "You're a nobody!"
Dr. Mid-Nite threw down a blackout bomb, instantly turning the surrounding area into pitch black. The Atom felt blow after blow connect and he swung wildly. His adversary moved around him, kicking him in the kidneys. The Atom fell to his knees, knowing that if he didn't get out into the light, he was a dead man.
With a war cry, Liberty Belle ran into the black cloud, coming to the Atom's aid. A high kick from Black Canary knocked her on her back. "Dinah! Why?" Liberty Belle said from behind broken teeth.
The blonde bombshell known as Black Canary laughed and jumped on top of Liberty Belle. As she drew her fist back, a black foot kicked Canary in the jaw, snapping her head back with such force her neck broke. "No time to ask questions, Libby, we got a fight going on," Wildcat said springing past her.
Dr. Mid-Nite saw Wildcat approaching and pulled out a pistol. She aimed and fired. The bullet struck the hero in the shoulder, sending him spinning, but the muzzle flash had given away her location to the dazed Atom. The Atom leapt at her and struggled for the gun. The two rolled in fury and Mid-Nite was able to bring the gun to the Atom's head. "Damn, commie!" she cried pulling the trigger.
The Atom readied himself for the end, but nothing happened. The gun had jammed. He took the advantage and slammed his palm into Mid-Nite's nose, forcing the cartilage into her brain.
Liberty Belle ran over as the cloud dissipated and grabbed the Atom. "Al, come on, we have to get Truman. Wildcat was right, he's not human. I don't know what he is, but I got the distinct impression of someone from Mars, believe it or not."
The Atom struggled to his feet and the two moved over to Wildcat, who was cursing like a sailor. "Look at my arm! That bitch! Look at my damn arm!"
Hawkman swung his mace at Wonder Woman's head, but missed cleanly. "I thought you had been killed by partisans, Eichmann!"
"It takes more than some human trash to kill a member of the master race!" Hawkman cried, swinging again.
Wonder Woman laughed. "Always with this 'master race' garbage! Don't you see that the only true race is the human race?"
Hawkman roared with frustration as he realized that the woman was toying with him. He swung high and low, but was unable to connect once. "I have trained for thousands of years for warfare, you just happen to inhabit the body of a young man! You are pathetic!"
"Jewess slut! I will kill you and toss your intestines to the dogs!"
Wonder Woman whirled and swung her sword. The blade, magical in nature, cut through the mace and through Hawkman's neck. The head went flying over the walls of the stadium as the body plummeted to the ground. 'There is your 'Final Solution'," she said grimly.
The battle continued on as Starman tried to match power with Green Lantern. The Emerald Gladiator barely acknowledged the attack. The years of grieving had changed Alan Scott, he had become more focused and that had given greater control over his ring than he had ever thought possible. He wrapped Starman in a green hand and squeezed the life out of him, even as he scanned the area for President Truman, or more correctly, the alien that was posing as him. Alan's ring had registered that the being that had taken the form of Truman was powerful, more powerful than any other mortal being Alan Scott had ever encountered.
He spied the President and Ultra running for an exit, being covered by police. Alan did not want to take the chance of harming the police and rose in the air. He saw Liberty Belle and the Atom helping Wildcat with a wound, Commander Steel and Wonder Woman battling Hourman, who seemed to be stronger than ever. Amazing-Man and Johnny Quick were dead, as Tarantula had just confirmed. Green Lantern nodded and left the stadium.
In the parking lot, the President and Ultra hopped into a waiting car and roared off with a full police escort. Alan Scott decided then that the battle was lost. He could not, would not risk any more innocents. Johnny Quick's actions by not staying focused might have already murdered innocents when he crashed into the wall. No more, he thought, and turned towards the sky, racing towards freedom.
Libby Lawrence sat with her daughter, Jesse, and watched the news. Jonathan was in his study, writing his newest novel. The newsman on the television continued his story, obvious excitement in his voice. "And since the destruction of the Justice Society by members of the American Communist Party, in the guise of former World War 2 super-heroes, the fear of more super-powered terrorists attacking members of the government has spread. FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, after confiscating all film and audio evidence from the fateful dedication ceremony, issued a report today that it appears that all of the terrorists, with the exception of the fake Green Lantern, had been killed by members of law enforcement."
Libby smirked. It wasn't true. They had escaped, those who had lived, and ran to France, where Johnny Thunder had arranged for their protection. Without the Justice Society, there was no way they could be found here. Recently, Wildcat, the Atom, and Commander Steel had returned from a fact-finding trip in the States. Wildcat was currently training the next generation of Squadron members on Paradise Island with his new wife, Wonder Woman. Commander Steel and the Atom had other plans.
"We've secured an agent. A former marine named Oswald. We had to use our own loyal contacts in the government to set it up…damn kid's a communist, but he knows intel and he's been trained by our friends," Al Pratt said, sitting down next to Libby.
"We've narrowed down the list of possible inheritors of Himmler's brain. We thought at first it was Joe McCarthy, but that didn't pan out," Commander Steel said. "It was Dainette that gave us our two possible candidates; two brothers from New England."
Libby shook her head. "I just can't believe that Dainette is Marylyn Monroe…she's so…."
'Sexually pleasing?" Al said, smiling. "Yeah, I like her now, too. But Steel managed to secure some of Ultra's files from the Pentagon - - we still have some friends there."
"So, they all have to die?" Libby asked.
The two men remained silent and Libby told Jesse to go bother her father. When the child left the room, Steel began again. "Yes, we're positive Himmler is one of these guys, but there's no way we'll get as close as we did before." He pointed to the news broadcast.
The announcer was speaking into the camera. Behind him, five costumed people stood at a podium. An athletic man, very handsome Libby thought, was speaking. "I'm Green Lantern, the new one, and I am the official representative of a galactic police force. I assure you that nobody is going to assume my identity."
The crowd of reporters laughed and the announcer continued. "As you can see, this new Justice League of America has inherited the title from those brave heroes of yesterday. The team includes a new Flash, the daughter of the original Black Canary, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. Some of the unique facts about some members include that Black Canary, who is actually only 10, was aged to an appealing 19 using technology left over from the Truman administration. The Martian Manhunter has worked for our government for years, since arriving on Earth in 1947 when his ship crashed in Nevada. It was he that replaced the president when the communists attacked years ago. When asked if they were going to invite other super-heroes to join, the Flash commented that many have been asked, but nobody has agreed."
Steel nodded. "We think that Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman are okay, but Canary and the Martian are definitely working for Ultra, wherever he is now. Hell, he could be J. Edgar Hoover for all we know. They asked Superman to join, but he didn't, thank God. We're trying to recruit him now, but he doesn't believe in conspiracy theories."
"We have gotten one important ally, a new adventurer in Gotham called Batman. He will eventually join, gauge their weaknesses, and remain in the background in case we need him."
Libby began to cry. "Will it ever end?"
There was no reply.
"You sure about this?" Al Pratt asked from their view behind some bushes.
"I've set it up for three points of fire," Steel said. He was dressed, like Al, in a Dallas Police Department uniform. "It's either him or his brother."
"When do we get the brother?"
"Not yet," Steel said, bringing his rifle up and pointing it at the motorcade. "Oswald better not screw up."
"He's got the best shot, we've trained him to do this, and he'll do okay."
"I hate this. I hope we're not wrong. All the evidence points to Kennedy or his brother."
"You think Ultra gave us a trail to follow that was wrong?" Al asked, eyeing the motorcade.
"Can't take that chance," Steel said, pulling the trigger.
In the FBI headquarters, J. Edgar Hoover watched the news reports on the television. He smiled and scratched his head. He wondered who had pulled the trigger. He had ordered his forces into action immediately, and had set up a meeting with the Justice League. Everything was working as he had planned.
He walked over to a cabinet and unlocked it. Swinging the doors open he peered at the jar inside. There, floating in a murky fluid was a brain and eyeballs. "Poor, Heinrich, far too trusting."
He poured a drink and clanked the glass against the jar. The eyes moved. "Yes, still alive, but can only see. Maybe I'll free you one day, but then again, maybe not. The things I can do with only a brain would amaze you." He stuck his tongue out and blew a raspberry. Then he closed the doors and locked the cabinet.
Details, details, he thought. He would have to take care of Ms. Monroe before she talked. A faked suicide would work and he had plenty of agents willing to do the job, as long as they got their fifteen minutes of fame with her.
The mind of the Ultra-Humanite considered all of the possibilities of this new world he had created and finished his drink before assuming his distraught face for the cameras.