I was on my way back from visiting the west coast when I got dragged into some kind of energy vortex. It was like a sideways tornado and it was way more powerful than I could break away from. I was almost home, when it hit and then I was somewhere else. The mountains and river looked the same, but there was no Lake Aven and Pinnacle City wasn’t anywhere to be seen!
I stayed high in the sky and flew south along the mountain chain knowing that I should come across a city, before too long, like Cheyenne or Laramie. My direction sense is pretty good, and using my power to enhance my vision a bit, I could see some subtle differences once I came upon some roads. There was a two lane blacktop running north-northwest where Highway 693 should be, only it had signs saying it’s Highway 87. And none of the markers were for Saratoga, they were for Wyoming. Then I remembered the GPS in my comm unit, but I couldn’t find the satellites!
By this point, I’m getting pretty freaked out. I see a couple of cars, but they’re antiques. I started scanning the radio band and got signals on the AM band, playing old music, and some kind of radio shows. I didn’t pick up anything in the FM range or microwaves. BLEEPING time travel!
I flew into a little gas station near a town called Chugwater and scoped out the newspapers in the racks. There was a Denver Post and a Cheyenne Tribune, the Denver paper was a day older than the Cheyenne paper, so I placed my “present” as on or about September, 13, 1948. It was late at night and no one was around, but I didn’t want to take any chances and drifted back up into the night sky to read my papers. I hope the out of date nickels I put on the racks don’t freak anybody out, too much. Nothing I could do about the lack of ancient currency, at the moment.
I found a spot back in the hills, where nobody seemed to go much and tuned my vision so I could read by moonlight. The front pages of both papers had stories that tripped alarms for me. They talked about the second World War as if it hadn’t ended, yet. The Germans were said to be staging out of England for an invasion of the US and Canada. I couldn’t find a single mention of the atomic bomb, so it looked like that never happened where/when-ever I was, or was delayed somehow.
There were stories about people called “Gladiators” that seemed to be supers, like me, fighting in the Atlantic and Pacific fronts. The Japanese had landed in Mexico and were pushing deep inland to stage an invasion from the south and west. It was like stepping into a Harry Turtledove novel. I
needed more info, I needed some sleep and a good meal, too.
It was about that time that I noticed a thrumming noise above me, like an old helicopter or something. I looked around and was shocked to see a flat, lozenge-shaped airship, like nothing I’d ever seen outside of Popular Mechanics. And, like nothing I knew from the WWII era. It was dark, almost black, except for the gondola and other appendages. A spotlight hit me, a voice called out on a loudspeaker, “Stay where you are, I mean you no harm!”
I stayed where I was, and presently the craft descended to about 50 feet overhead and cut motors. As they spun down, the silence closed in. A door opened in the bottom of the gondola and the voice called out, “I’ll drop you a ladder.”
I laughed. “No thanks. Don’t need one!” and I rose into the opening. There was a little man, inside, with white hair and the strangest clothes I’ve seen since I was a kid, watching old movie serials on video with my Uncle Jay. He seemed startled that I could fly, but not so much by the look of me.
“My name is Edmond Binder,” he said, “I’m called ‘the Futurist’.”
I asked how he knew where to find me. Well, it turns out he’s the one who brought me here. Reaching into the future and pulling things out is what he does. Since I needed to get a better feel for where and when I was, I decided to go along with him for awhile.
We went back to his base, not too far from the site of Pinnacle City, in my world/time. There, I was able to get some food, and get some info. I was right in that the presence of supers had changed the pattern of the war. America had an atomic bomb project, but it didn’t receive the backing it had in my world. Germany had abandoned their bomb project due to repeated failures and the success of their super-soldiers. They had even had some success in empowering normals, to create an army of super-strong, extremely fast solider they called Blitzkriegers.
The Allies had been less ambitious, drawing natural supers together to form the team they called the Arsenal of Democracy. The supers helped protect the Atlantic convoys from the German submarine wolf packs, but in the end, it was a change in strategy that helped turn the tide for the Axis powers. In this world, Hitler or one of his advisers, decided to continue hammering the English and held off on turning the war toward the Eastern front until much later. They attempted the first invasion of England in 1942, which failed, but they established a successful beachhead in June of 1944 and with the Blitzkriegers and massive air support, England fell. Hundreds of thousands were evacuated across the Atlantic and the British monarchy moved it’s seat to Montreal.
With western Europe more or less pacified, Germany turned with a vengeance on the Soviets.
In the Pacific, the war progressed much like it had back home, as near as I can recall, until about 1943 when one of Japan’s supers magnified a hurricane sinking half of a USN task force and scattering the rest, so that they missed a major sea battle that I can’t remember. This gave Japan enough leeway to make a stab across the Pacific to land on Mexico’s west coast, at Puerto Vallarta. Things hadn’t gone well, after that. The Japanese were fighting their way inland and north. The US, Mexico, and other Central and South American nations had joined together, in a way we’d never dreamed in my world. Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela were learning from American ship builders and their naval forces were growing at a rapid pace. Planes from the US patrolled the skies from Canada to Tierra del Fuego and the Japanese advance was slowed to a crawl.
With Great Britain out of the picture, the Germans were flexing their muscles in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, cementing their hold on North Africa and expanding their territories along the eastern Mediterranean.
The details of the war are just too complicated to keep in my head. It’s 1948, now, and the Americas, along with Australia, are the last bastion of freedom on Earth.
While Binder, “the Futurist” was filling me in, he let a few things slip that I’m pretty sure he didn’t want me to know. He mentioned that most of the Allied supers, including former villains, were member of the Arsenal and were working to defend the hemisphere. That being said, his base seemed to be pretty lightly manned. On top of that, the locations of the command centers didn’t match up with this location. Let’s just say I was a little suspicious.
He showed me around the base, including an arsenal of bizarre looking weapons he’d plucked from some future or other. A lot of them were really fanciful, with that 1930s Flash Gordon styling. He then showed me a newer section, where he’d been pulling things out that looked more familiar to me. There was a laptop computer, a rack of M-16 rifles. A Hummer with a flat tire. I asked about these things and he admitted they were some of his newest acquisitions, and that it was only since his work with the Arsenal that such things had been coming through. His power to grab objects from the future was natural, but working with the Arsenal, he had been able to develop an amplifier that allowed larger objects to be recovered, and expanded the “range” of his ability. It looked to me like he’d been limited to futures that mimicked the science fiction of his time. That he’d been limited by that pulp magazine cover vision of the future.
He still couldn’t bring really massive things through. The machine’s aperture was limited, so they weren’t snatching jet fighters or tanks from the future. They were getting books, however, and the computers he had running in one room were being mined for the data they could provide, depending on the interests of the former owners, I suppose.
The trick had always been that the technology he brought back was always based on science he couldn’t duplicate. He hadn’t been much help to the war effort until they’d developed ways to expand his reach to futures with reproducible technology. Allied soldiers had assault weapons based on the earlier AR-180 in .30 caliber. They had reliable, compact, transistorized radios, receivers and two-way. In place of satellites, there was a network of sub-stratospheric balloons linking the Americas in a communication network that was nearly undetectable, thanks to its use of narrow beam radio beacons. All the death ray rifles and electro-beam pistols he’d brought back in the early days were museum pieces, now. Their exotic power sources depleted, he’d never been able to replenish them. Oh, a few of the gadgets operated on principles he could understand. He carried an ultra-sonic sleep gun at his hip that could be recharged simply enough.
It was all very interesting, but my bull&#$! detector was insistently buzzing and I finally told him I’d heard enough and would he please either send me home, or direct me to the exit. To his credit, he never really lied to me, he just omitted some details concerning his work and his position in this society, but I’d guessed, by then, that he was something of a ne’er-do-well, even if he did spend part of his time working with the good guys. He admitted that the machines at this base were incomplete and he lacked the ability to reopen a portal to a specific future, once it had closed. He promised to help me get home, if I would help him. Help him ‘what’?
Help him win the war.