Behind the Lines

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At the moment of the big bang something or someone fiddled with the accepted order of things and brought not one universe into creation but an infinite number of them.

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Chapter One: The Muster.

Earth Seven:-

At the moment of the big bang something or someone fiddled with the accepted order of things and brought not one universe into creation but an infinite number of them. We on our planet in our vanity call ours Earth Prime.

The events you are about to discover happened on an Earth not much different than our own but different none the less.

On this world America lost the War of Independence only getting its freedom after skilful negotiation by President Lincoln a short time after the end of the Civil War. Two days later he was assassinated in the Ford theatre.

America still had the British monarch as its titular Head of State but to all purposes was free of interference.

America, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa became the cornerstone of Queen Victoria’s massive Commonwealth of Nations.

One World War was over but another was happening and the whole world held it’s breath.

Date:- August 1940

Location:- An all black Liberator somewhere over the English channel aiming for France.

The four engines of the Liberator kept up a steady roar that resonated through the bomb bay shaking the passengers that sat inside.

All but one showed varying levels of concern whilst the odd one out had his legs outstretched and was breathing easily.

The youngest was a short man with a shock of ginger hair. His name was Alan Pratt but most people knew his alter ego, The Atom.

He was the first to be recruited.

Alan was working late in the college physics laboratory going over his notes ready for his PhD dissertation in October, the first of many, when a gorgeous looking woman appeared, as if by magic, by his side.

“Good evening Mr’s Kent Lane or should I say Superwoman.” Alan replied with a raised eyebrow.

“Get into costume please Atom we’re due at a meeting with the Secret Service of both the US and the UK, as well as the President.”

“Ah.” Alan said. “When you said the secret services I was going to refuse but I can’t refuse the summons of my President.”

“Alan what are doing here you daft…” Alan’s girlfriend Mary looked around the laboratory in astonishment. She could have sworn she had seen him in here a couple of minutes ago. Shaking her head she turned out the lights and left.

At a secret location Alan was greeted by two men. They greeted him warmly.

“I am glad you could come.” The American said.

“It’s not your war after all.” The Englishman’s voice was cultured but without the plummy notes of the aristocracy.

“Hitler threatens us all so you see it is my war.” Alan surprised himself with this show of bravado.

“We need you’re help Atom?” Agent Smith, the American, explained. “In France on the boarders with Germany is a research facility doing work on Meta Humans. Brian?”

The Englishman took over.

“You’ll be properly briefed when the others are here but the crux of it is that we need a precise extraction of their top scientist on the subject, Hugo Rot Wang. He is also their fundamental expert on artificial intelligence.”

“You mean robots?” Alan said sceptically.

“We mean robots.” Brian assured him.

“And you say they are producing Meta Humans. I don’t think so.”

“You will be surprised to know then Atom that I have the misfortune to cross the paths of two of them, Nacht unt Webel, Night and Fog. As their names suggest they cut down on visibility. They were cold hearted killers for all their good looks and manners.” A newcomer said from the shadows

“Ah Doctor Midnite welcome.” Agent Smith greeted him and bowed to his supporter, the mysterious Fate.

Soon the others arrived each with his or her sponsor.

“This scientist you want us to extract?” Fairplay asked, his head tilted slightly to one side. “Will he want to be extracted?”

“Yes. He’s of old German stock and hates the Nazi’s. He’s also quarter Jewish so he has no doubt what his ultimate fate shall be.” Brian said.

Fairplay nodded slightly to himself.

“Fate has agreed to speed learn you in French, Dutch and German and with details of your character.” Brian continued.

“You make it sound like a play.” The Cat moaned as she rested languidly against The Bat’s powerful chest.

“It’s no play it is very real. Get it wrong and you won’t get any bad press in Variety you’ll just have your head offered you on a plate.” The Bat’s deep tones brought a sudden silence to the proceedings.

“I can’t see what help I’m going to be out of costume.” Doctor Midnite was practically blind in day light without his red tinged dark glasses and even then he could not see any fine detail.

“Here you are my friend. These are contact lenses with the same prescription as your glasses.” Fate passed over the box with its lenses and eye dropper. “The only problem with them is that they don’t let your eyes breath so your eyes will go dry and itchy. The eye drops are to help keep your eyes moist.”

Doctor Midnite put them in and looked at himself in the proffered mirror. He was shocked to see two startlingly blue pair of eyes staring out at him. He could just make out the faint redness of the pupil.

“Atom I’ll start with you first.” Fate put a hand on Alan’s temple.

“First what?” Alan replied.

“Guinea Pig!” The Sandman, Wesley Dodd’s, said with a laugh.

Unlike the others he was already to go when Falcon turned up, having had a premonition in a dream a few days ago.

Fate sighed.

“To speed learn. I’ve explained it already.”

“Sorry couldn’t have been listening.” Alan joked.

“Well that’s your hard luck.” Fate said peevishly.

Alan gave a short scream of pain as words, sentences, pronunciation poured into his head along with the whole life history of a stranger. A stranger that was rapidly become more familiar by the second.

“Agh!” Atom moaned rubbing his temples.

“You okay Atom?” Wildcat asked his friend.

“It’s like the worse form of hangover without the pleasure for being drunk.” Atom explained as The Cat reluctantly took his place.

When it was Fairplay’s turn he looked across to Fate and told him.

“You won’t need to speed learn me as I already speak German, Italian, French, Dutch, Polish and Russian fluently.”

“Yes I know but you need to learn your new history.” Fate told him.

“Just give me the dossier and I’ll speed read it. No?” To Fairplay what was in his mind was sacrosanct, the only real place that was private. With a irritated sigh he looked at Fate.” Alright but make it quick, the less time your inside my mind the better.

Soon the muster was complete and they were given time to recover.

The Muster.

Atom-Alan Pratt-Physics and Physical Education student at Cal Tech-abilities:-Can vary his weight and body mass from that of a feather to four times normal. Above average fighter.

Cat-Salina Kyle Wayne- Ex jewel thief now a socialite and environmentalist-abilities Cat like agility and a Judo expert and expert with a bull whip.

Doctor Midnite-Charles McNider- Blind eye specialist. Justice’s Medic-abilities Can see in total darkness. Uses black out bombs and rod along with medical based weapons.

Fairplay-Terry Sloan-Free Lance Reporter and novelist.-abilities a genius with superior physical and mental abilities.

Hourman-Rex Tyler- Pharmaceutical Researcher-abilities When a Miracol tablet taken has the strength, speed etc of eight men for one hour. Causes overconfidence.

Sandman-Wesley (Wes) Dodd’s- Playboy Industrialist- abilities Uses different narcotic vapours to render foes senseless. Can enter their dreamscapes.

Starman-Theo Knight- Astronomer and radio presenter of The Nights Sky. abilities Uses the Cosmic Rod which utilises star and sunlight to produce powerful effects and to fly.

“Cat, gentlemen. Your target is this man Professor Hugo Rot Wang. He’s the head scientist in the Nazi facility that is situated on the German boarder with France. Though he is their top scientist in the field of meta-humans and robotics he has been the new regime harshest critic. He is of the old Junker school of thought.” Agent Smith told them.

“The problem is that we don’t know how many guards there are or how many and what type of security devices are protecting the site.” The Englishman informed them. “You will be transported to London to meet the British Prime Minister and possibly the King and Queen, before travelling North to Yorkshire. There you will undergo a further bit of training before being dropped behind German lines where you will be met by the French and German resistance They will provide appropriate transport.”

The Englishman looked down at his notes for a moment before continuing.

“Doctor Midnite you will be the German military Doctor, Major, SS-Sturmbannführer Franz Keppler, Fairplay will be your assistant Doctor Captain, SS-Hauptsturmführer Carl Luger and Cat shall be Nurse Lieutenant, SS-Obersturmführer Cara Voss. Atom is your driver Sergeant, SS-Scharführer Alan Matthew Lotz.

All four of you are SS personnel. You’re job is to get access to the research facilities under the pretext of giving the staff and military medicals.”

“Starman and Hourman you are officers with an organisation which deals with providing slave labour to industry which the centre is using at an unnatural rate.

Sandman you are the local Catholic priest. Father Pierre Morpheus. The head of the unit is a strong Catholic so that may give you a way in. You’ll be the one working closely with the French and German resistance groups.” Agent Smith filled them in. “Remember if you are caught the US and the Brits will deny any knowledge of you.”

The phone rang making them all jump.

Agent Smith picked it up. “Yes sir we are all ready for you. Thank you sir.”

He put the handset down as if it was so fragile that it would shatter.

“Ladies and Gentlemen the President is on his way.”

As stupid as it may have sounded the hero’s lined up as if at some sort of parade with the selected hero’s out in front.

The door opened and the Presidents little dog, Falla, trotted in first with a superior air. President Harry S Truman followed with a strange rolling gate as he forced his polio afflicted callipered legs into motion.

The mystery men and women felt their chest’s swell with pride.

“Ladies and Gentleman I have asked our agents and those of our old friend the United Kingdom to bring together all of you so called mystery men and women. The war with the Nazi’s may yet draw this great country of ours into its clutches, but at the moment we can only sit and watch, aiding the UK when and how we can. I am calling on you to come together as unit, a society fighting for justice at home here and abroad.”

Superwoman stepped forward.

“Mr President as you know, The Bat, Amazon and I are in accord with this sentiment and now you have given our fledgling society a name. ‘Justice’.” She turned to face the assembled hero’s. “If you are wondering why we have not gone and stopped the war with our powers it is because we dare not. Hitler has got his hands on a powerful device, an artefact that affects those who’s powers are not scientifically base but what you would call magic. If we enter the sphere of influence of this artefact we find ourselves fighting for the Nazis.

That is why you have been chosen to get Rot Wang out of German hands because all of your abilities are scientifically based.”

The Bat stepped forward.

“Mr President these are the agents that, I know, will do the job.” The President smiled a warm smile at them.

“Of that I have no doubt.” He replied.

“May I present, Doctor Midnite, Atom, Starman, Sandman, Mr Terr… Fairplay, Hourman and my partner The Cat.”

The President made a point of shaking each persons hand and wishing them well. Rex had already met the President at Bannerman Chemicals and wisely kept quiet so not to reveal his stammer.

The President cocked his head over and whispered.

“Remember young man to take a deep breath first, good luck Mr Tyler and remember you ring.”

“Thank you sir.” He replied with just the trace of a hesitation before looking down at the signet ring adorning his finger. His chest swelled with pride at the fact the President remembered him.

Within a few moments the President had gone.

“I believe Hawk has found a suitable location for your centre of operations so while you are settling in we need to get the chosen of you over to England.”

“I will transport them and the British Agent to London. Then they are on their own.” Fate offered.

“Thank you Fate.” Brian said.

Soon the members of the newly formed ‘Justice’ was shaking their hands and wishing them luck and then they were gone leaving just Fate and the agents and the select few.

Fate waved his hand and a glowing globe with seats in appeared before them. One by one they gingerly entered and sat down.

Atom, Alan, was pleased to see a queasy look come over the British agents face.

The flight to England allowed the Agent to brief the hero’s with further information that could help with the mission.

Four hours later they had arrived at a secret location in London, UK.

An hour later they were presented to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and King George the Sixth and Queen Elizabeth at a private meeting.

Winston was a bull dog of a man that radiated a chained up sort of energy that Alan had only seen with his best pal and undisputed world champion boxer Ted Grant, the Wildcat.

The Kings stutter was noticeable and Rex once again didn’t speak just in case the King would think he was making fun on him.

“Well.” Said Winston his trade mark cigar clamped tightly in the corner of his mouth. “I wish you all the best in your venture and to thank you for coming to poor Britons aid. As for the rest of us we will just have to pull in our belts and K.B.O.”

“K.B.O?” Terry asked with a puzzled expression.

“Keep Buggering On.” Churchill laughed.

What amazed all the hero’s was how knowledgeable the Queen was about them.

“We have our own superhero’s but like most of you they are confined to this country.” She said. “Which is a great shame actually. Good luck all of you and may God keep you safe.”

They left the meeting and were driven to a safe house just north of Watford. As they arrived the sirens sounded indicating a bombing raid.

Out in the small garden the Hero’s stood as they listened to the heavy out of phase drone of the German bombers engines.

In the distance they could hear the thump of anti aircraft fire and then the whistle of bombs being dropped.

The sky glowed red from the fires the incendiaries caused.

They stood there in total silence as they watched the horror of what the British people were enduring night after night.

The next day they were driven north to a secret airfield used by the S.O.E to drop agents into enemy territory.

A British airman came into the area where the hero’s sat. He went to each of them in turn and checked their parachutes and its straps before clipping them by a long lead to a wire that crossed over the bomb bay.

“Good luck mates.” He told them in a strong cockney accent.

He crossed to the first of them as the aeroplanes bomb bay cranked open. The noise and the buffeting of the wind was incredible as they shuffled forward.

Alan desperately wanted to go to the toilet but he knew that that was a illusion created by his fear.

Up on the wall was a bank of lights all at red.

The Liberator changed direction slightly to bring them over the drop zone.

The bank of lights went green and they one by one jumped out.

The few moments of free fall was exhilarating before the lead pulled them up short and deployed their wing like black parachutes.

Doctor Midnite’s incredible night sight allowed him to see all of the others and the pale light coming from the target area. He watched with satisfaction as the others controlled their chutes to bring them to the target, that is all but Alan who was drifting a little right toward a copse of tree’s.

At the secret location they were given an intensive course on how to use the wing parachute and how to land safely.

They were let off one evening and now dressed as members of the RAF’s Eagle squadron, a squadron of Americans who had come to England as volunteers to help the war effort, they went down to a local villages bar or as they called it a Pub.

They were all in RAF blues except for Salina who wore a nurses whites.

They sat in the corner enjoying, if you could call it that, the English warm bitter beer. Salina had a Port and Lemon which she told them later was disgusting.

Theo was chatting up the Barmaid when the door opened and a group of RAF staff came in.

The Squadron Leader spotted them and crossed over.

“Welcome to old blighty, glad you decided to join in. Just give the old Hun an extra squirt for me. Now what are you drinking.” He ordered their drinks.

“I’m Squadron Leader Parker and this is my crew. Sit down for God sake don’t salute otherwise we’ll be here all night.”

He introduced his Wellington crew to them one by one.

What struck them straight away was the ethnic mix which the USA was still struggling to match. There was an Australian Co-pilot, a New Zealander as Wireless Operator, the air gunners from Jamaica and India, navigator from Canada and finally a South African who was Tail End Charlie, the air gunner in the tail turret.

For the rest of the evening they didn’t need to put their hands in their pockets as drinks came flying in from everywhere.

Terry was in his element as he swapped jokes and crossed to the piano and began playing Joplin rag time hits as well as some old favourites.

It was midnight when they got in and in the morning they realised how strong the beer was as they nursed thumping headaches except for Terry who was fresh as a daisy.

Two days later the Wellington crews came in from trying to bomb the Terpitz in a Norwegian fiord. They lost at least half of the squadron in the other half there were many injured airman.

If the team had thought it was some sort of game they realised then they were absolutely wrong.

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