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Guarding Liberty

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Post Sat May 26, 2007 12:50 pm
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Joe Higgins left the FBI building with a smile. He had busted a spy ring as the Shield, contributing to the war effort in his own way. It was only a matter of time before Hitler's forces collapsed.

The Allies had made inroads into Europe. He wished he could be there, but his responsibility was protecting America at home. That was part of what why he had invented the formula and armor in the first place.

Higgins decided that he should get a drink, then head home for bed. He had been putting in a lot of time lately, both as Higgins and the Shield. He should get some shut eye, and start fresh in the morning.

That was the thing to do.

An explosion rocked the night air. A cloud of smoke was shoved into the night sky with abandon. Higgins grimaced. Looks like the night off is out.

Higgins ducked into an alley, exchanging his suit for the red white and blue armor of the Shield. That blast might have hurt someone. He needed to be there in case help was needed or there was something that pointed to sabotage.

Spies were everywhere as far as he could tell.

The Shield rushed across town, covering the ground with his superhuman speed and agility. Sirens told him the police and fire department were on the way. He should beat them there at the rate he was going.

The Shield turned a corner, grimacing at a fire burning out of control. The building seemed drab and old. Memory tickled the back of his mind, but he had other things to do first.

Men in trenchcoats and hats pulled low came out of the fire. They pulled guns when they saw the red, white, and blue figure standing a few feet away.

The Shield charged the small group. He protected his face from bullets as he plowed through the saboteurs. He didn't know what they wanted, but it was his job to stop them. Powerful swings dropped two outright, as the others fired as they ran away.

"Help!"

The Shield turned at the feeble voice. Someone had been left inside to burn. He couldn't allow that. He plunged into the fire without a second thought.

He found a man trapped under a beam. One powerful jerk sent the burning wood flying. The G-man grabbed the victim and leaped through the nearest window. He placed the man on the ground, checking him over.

Police and firemen cut the scene off, trying to put the fire out before it hit the next building. The Shield looked down at his survivor, wondering what was going on.

So much for taking it easy.

The Shield looked at the burning building, deciding it was time for him to find out something.

Post Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:17 pm
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He stepped out of a whirling circle of light in an alley not far from the burning building. Piercing blue eyes looked around as long legs carried him out of the dark. Sirens and lights told him that the normal authorities were on the job.

He straightened his blue swallowtail jacket and looked around. He had come a long way to get where he was standing. He didn't have a lot of time before his mission would fail because he didn't get to where he had to be.

He wondered how many earths were fighting the Axis at this point in time. He had moved from one to another that needed heroes to help America fight the forces of evil. Now he was on a third Earth. At least they seemed to have things well in hand as far as the war went.

Maybe all he needed to do was fix this one little problem and head back to where he was needed more.

The first thing was find out what was wrong and how to fix it.

He sensed his goal nearby, and walked toward it. It took a while, but he paused outside a closed building guarded by the Army. Whatever had drawn him from his home was in that building. He looked around for another exit than the front door.

He didn't want to lose time trying to explain his appearance to a nervous guard who might try to shoot first and ask questions later. Better to get in and find out what was causing the strange buzzing in his head.

Then he could explain things to whomever was in charge.

He circled around the building, looking for an entrance that wasn't covered by a man in uniform. They had the place sewn up from the looks of things. He might have to get on the roof from some other building and break in from the roof door.

He paused to consider his options, watching the guard on the front door again.

A long black car pulled up to the curb while he was still thinking. The guard walked down the three steps to talk to the driver. The exchange ended when a passenger rolled down and reached out of the back window with pistol in hand. The watcher couldn't stop the man in the car from shooting the Army private.

He bounded across the street. He couldn't save the soldier. He could stop these men from getting into the building. The four men exited the car, heading for the front door of the place. None of them knew he was coming until he turned the last one in line around, and swung a fist as hard as he could. The gunman went down like a sack of potatoes after hitting the wall in front of him.

That felt good.

The third man turned at the noise of his comrade hitting the ground. He brought up his revolver to deal with the strange looking newcomer. A bony fist clubbed him down before he could pull the trigger. A kick to the head said go to sleep. That's what he did, welcoming dream time.

The last two turned at almost the same moment. They saw the blue jacket, and striped pants, paused in shock. That was long enough for the newcomer to jump up the stairs and ram them. Both men went down in a heap, trying to get their guns back on target. He jumped up and down on them a couple times to discourage that with the soles of his boots.

One gunman got away, tried to get to his feet. Suddenly he was slammed into a wall. His friend joined him after a grab to the back of his neck.

Suddenly he had two guys he could question and find out what was going on.

"Hey fellas." His voice had some kind of country twang running through it. "What in tarnation is going on?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." One of the men said that with a straight face.

"You just killed a man for nothing?" The captor slammed his two prizes against the wall again. "Tell me another one, why don't you?"

"We have orders." The other man said. "That's all."

"Who gave them, varmints? Where is your chief? I want to talk to him."

"No one talks to the Colonel." A slap on the back of the head made him wince. "He's a voice on the telephone."

"I think we should get someone to take you away." The man in the blue coat pulled on the vest underneath the coat to straighten it. "Then I can start looking for your boss."

Post Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:14 am
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Hans Bueller hated the thing in the box. It made demands on his limited resources, insulted him at every turn, and called for blood every time he opened the lid to use it. It had been a gift from the Fatherland.

More and more he thought about sending it back, and taking his chances without its aid.

Bueller looked around his office. He was an accountant for the neighborhood, a second generation German who believed in the Fatherland. Books for most of the businesses within two blocks of his office stood on narrow shelves against the walls. Receipts were bundled and dropped through his mail slot every day after work was done. He wrote out the accounts on his battered desk, cushioning his back in his wooden chair with a pillow from home. Two more wooden chairs were for clients who wanted to talk to him about their records.

He kept the box, a thing of ivory and sandalwood, in a hole he had carved out of the wall behind his chair. It whispered to him, even with the lid closed and locked, but he had learned to ignore it. Its powers had kept the War Department and FBI from figuring out he was leading sabotage efforts in New York.

Messages from his handlers had arrived with the night's work. Careful reading and a consultation with the thing in the box had led him to dispatch several of his best operatives to Washington. Their mission had been to capture documents valuable to the United States and publicly destroy it to hurt the war effort.

Even this late in the war, High Command had hopes of destroying America from within before Berlin fell.

The thing in the box hinted his effort would cripple the Allies for generations if he succeeded.

The radio informed Bueller that his agents had not succeeded in their mission. The Shield had stopped one group while they were setting a fire to provide a distraction. Another unknown man had stopped the other group while they were trying to enter the repository.

The thing had gotten a good laugh out of that news.

Bueller pondered his options, wishing he had installed a window in his small office. Looking at the clear sky allowed his mind to drift until he saw something he could use. He stared at the cracked plaster of his walls, brown eyes out of focus.

No matter how he turned it around, he had to go to Washington himself. That was the only thing that seemed likely to present a chance of success.

The man known as the Colonel to his minions pulled his wooden box out of the wall shelf, pulled a carrying case from beneath the leg space of his desk, and packed his muttering prize in the heavy canvas bag. He swiped his thinning brown hair back with one hand, while reaching for his suit jacket.

None of his men could see his face so he would have to drive down himself. Then he would make some phone calls to find out how much the Allies knew.

He could still salvage the operation if he hurried.

The thing in the box would give him some options once he was in the field. It knew things he could use to his advantage. Still he would have to deal with the Shield. Many others have tried to do that and failed.

Bueller took one last look around his office. His accounts would have to wait until he returned from Washington, if he returned. He wanted to direct things from this comfortable nest. He shut off the lights and locked up before making his way to the stairs at the end of the corridor.

He left a note to explain that he had been called out of town for a few days before walking to the subway station. A train ride under clear skies might be what he needed to shake the cobwebs out of his head.

That unknown man still bothered him. The whole thing bothered him. The accountant tried to set his craggy face in a friendly manner as he walked among his neighbors. He didn't need them to speculate about what could be bothering him.

Post Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:14 am
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"Why did you set the fire?" Joe Higgins looked at the man across the table. He had been asking questions for hours but so far had nothing.

"I don't know what you're talking about." The man sat with his hands on the table, looking up at the light. "I did not set any fire."

"You fired a weapon at the Shield. You were trying to leave the scene of an arson." Joe checked his watch. "Treason can get you shot."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Of course not." Joe stood up, pulling on his suit jacket. "If you say it often enough, maybe it will keep you out of prison."

Joe left the interrogation room. He took a deep breath. He needed to go home and get some sleep. Something had been targeted by the fifth column cell he had stumbled over but he couldn't think what. Fatigue wasn't going to help him solve this problem.

Steve Blaisdell, one of the assistant directors, came down the hall. His normal hangdog features drooped even more at that early hour of the morning. He held a stack of files under his arm.

"Got anything?" Blaisdell paused, before stepping in an observation room.

"Mine won't talk." Joe stretched his arms over his head. "He keeps telling me he doesn't know what I'm talking about."

"The Army wants these mugs." Blaisdell waved the files. "Seems more of the gang shot a private on duty while the Shield stopped these two. The brass at Fort Mead is screaming for blood."

"They won't talk to us." Higgins rubbed his face. "We're looking into their possessions but the only connection are tickets from New York."

"I'll messenger their photos to the New York office and get somebody to look into it." Blaisdell nodded to himself. "If they hung out with the local immigrant population, maybe some of the beat cops will recognize them."

"No harm in it." Higgins moved to let Blaisdell by. "I'm going home to get some sleep. Maybe I'll have an idea if I'm not tired."

"We'll keep trying until something breaks." Blaisdell headed into the interrogation room. "See you in the morning."

"Right." Higgins made his way to the elevator. The fog clouding his mind made it hard for him to even decide which button to push.

Higgins didn't remember the ride down to the lobby. He heard the bell. The doors opened. The agent crossed the lobby, waving at the night guards. A few hours more and another two men would be sitting at the welcome desk, screening visitors. Joe stepped out into the cool early morning air. The sudden drop in temperature opened his eyes for a few moments.

Time to get a cab.

Normally Joe drove, or ran across town in his colorful suit. He didn't think he would make it as tired as he was. A taxi was the solution to that problem.

Joe waved down a yellow DC Cab, gave the address to his apartment, and settled into the back seat. He dozed slightly until he arrived in front of his short building. He paid the driver with a thanks, then headed upstairs to his place.

Tomorrow he would have a fresh mind. The New York connection was bothersome, but maybe a good clue. He dropped into bed, barely kicking his shoes off before sleep said hello.

He dreamed of eagles and star spangled suits asking if he wanted to protect his country, and why wasn't he doing it.

Post Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:47 am
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The man in the blue coat wandered the strange Washington, visiting places that meant the same no matter what world you walked in. He had stopped one group, but the rest were still out there. He had to find them before they did whatever they planned.

What he needed was a good idea.

He paused at the Lincoln Memorial, studying the face of the patriot there. Old Abe had done a lot of things, good and bad, but he had done what he could to hold the country together. A bullet in the back of the head had been his reward for his trouble.

"Any ideas, Abe?" His voice sounded hollow inside the white building. "If only I could get my hands on one of those Nazis. The Army nabbed them up quick after I got done. I need to find the rest of the varmints."

He closed his eyes, trying to remember what he had seen from earlier that night. The short fight had happened in a blur, but he recalled a voice, an accent. It spoke of New York. He couldn't think of why it reminded him of that city.

Where would a visitor to town go?

He pulled his jacket forward. He turned from the statue, thinking where he would go if he had no place to stay in town. Plenty of hotels dotted the landscape. One had to hold the rest of the spies.

He decided to start along the Potomac and work his way up the shore. Sooner or later he would find them if he was persistent enough. The question was would it be before they committed their next attempt at whatever they were doing. He could sense dire consequences if he failed to stop them.

His tour elicited a number of negative answers as he worked his way across Washington. The sun came up and he was no closer to an answer. Time to expand his search. Maybe one of the towns around the district held the rooming house, or hotel, he wanted.

That would take more time. He had a feeling that was something he was short on. There had to be some way to speed things up.

He sat on a park bench in the early morning chill, looking at nothing at all. He thought his idea was still good. He just didn't have the manpower to search any more. He thought about his problem again.

A bunch of Yankees arrive in town, try to commit a crime. What would any escaping spy do? Report in is what he would do. Then what would the big boss do? He would show up to take over personally. How would he get to Washington from New York if he was arriving from New York?

Plane, train, or automobile.

He decided to check out the train station. That was the easiest way to get to town rapidly while allowing for privacy and sleep. Aircraft was still mostly for important things and too expensive for most.

It had to be by train.

Of course he could be wrong but nothing ventured, nothing gained. He had nothing better to do anyway. He got to his feet and started walking to check the train schedules.

If he was lucky, he might catch the mastermind and nip this in the bud. Then he could return to his own world, and deal with his own Nazis.

His clothes attracted some attention as he made his way to the train station. That was to be expected after all. At least he didn't have to sign autographs. He started up the steps to the platforms, glancing over at the arrivals board.

A train from New York City was due in about an hour.

He made his way to a concealed spot to watch the trains coming in. If he was wrong, he would have to start over at square one. If he was right, it would be a quick end to the war for some infiltrators.

The train rolled into the station a little bit late. A conductor called for disembarkation. The people got off in front of him, and he didn't know which one was his man. This might have been a mistake after all.

Post Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:48 am
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The Colonel tucked his aide under his arm, regretting the weight of it as he did so. The thing in the box tugged him toward the ground, drawn by some unfelt chain. He could do without that.

"Someone waits for us." The voice left trails in his mind.

He knew better than to ignore the warning. That would be to deny the reason he had brought the artifact in the first place. Why ask for advice and not take it?

The Colonel paused as if looking for a sign, or a welcome committee. His eyes instantly saw who the thing in the box meant. He forced himself to keep his head moving as he started to walk again.

Whom else could it be but the buffoon in the patriotic costume?

He decided to head for the phone bank provided for the weary passenger to call a taxi, or a friend. Only he would be calling his men. Something had to be done about the impostor standing by the door in his ridiculous top hat.

It would send an excellent message to the rest of America too.

The Colonel put in a dime, asked the operator for the number he wanted, and waited for one of his men to answer. When that happened, he gave coded instructions for what he wanted. The confirmation made him smile.

Now all he had to do was wait. The mummer would be shot down in a random act of violence. No one would ever know his unit was responsible. That's how it was supposed to be.

That didn't explain what had happened earlier when the Shield had been kept busy but the other group had still failed.

"He waited for them too." The thing in the box shook a little on the floor. "He thinks he missed you."

"We'll let him keep thinking that." The Colonel hefted his luggage and started for the entrance. "He must know something if he's here looking for me to arrive. He'll have to be eliminated."

The spy kept his eyes on the doors as he walked. The mission could fail with a simple wrong move. A small crowd joined his march to the exit. That gave him cover.

Now was not the time to stand out.

The Colonel stepped out on the front portico of the station. He still had to wait for his men to arrive. He didn't like that. He stood too close to discovery for his liking. He looked around for a place he could wait while not being noticeable from the street.

His muddy eyes spotted a bench sticking out from behind a column. He could sit there until his men pulled up the drive in front of the station. The thing in the box would warn him of any danger until then.

The fifth columnist put his bag on the sidewalk under the bench as he sat down. The column was about two feet from the end of the wooden seat. He could turn and watch the front of the station without being seen. That meant he could keep an eye out for the man in the hat without being seen at first.

He checked his watch.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Destroying the United States wouldn't be quick either. He needed to calm down and plan out his next move before anyone got on to his cell and stopped his operation.

None of his men could stop the Shield, no matter what they privately thought.

He had a feeling they weren't a match for this other watcher either.

The white haired man came out of the station, looking around. He looked just like he had stepped off the poster that resembled him. The Colonel pretended to be sitting and waiting while watching out of the corner of his eye.

The man turned and went the other way, heading into Washington's center. He walked purposely through the crowd, never looking back.

"He thinks he missed you." The thing in the box shook slightly from laughter. "He hopes to get information from the army."

"As long as he is out of the way so we can continue." The Colonel stood, wiping his face with a neckerchief. It had been a long time since he had sweat like that.

"We shall see him again." The icy voice cut the spy with its assurance. "Best to get ready for that."

"Don't worry me." The Colonel banged on the box. "I know what must be done."

The thing in the box remained silent.

Post Tue Sep 04, 2007 3:27 am
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Joe Higgins wore his armor as he drove over to the army outpost. He needed to talk to them about what happened the night before. The Shield had more pull than a regular FBI agent trying to horn in on military business.

Sometimes they needed a man like him to do the impossible.

Joe parked his car down the street. He jogged up to the building, glad that the sentries knew enough to pull their rifles from their shoulders, but smart enough not to try and shoot him. What happened must have drove it home that nowhere was safe in a war.

"I'm here to see Colonel Caine." The Shield raised his hands. "I have some questions about what happened the other night."

"Hold it right there." One of the privates looked up and down the street for any suspicious looking pedestrians. "We'll send someone to get him."

"I can wait." The Shield kept his hands up. There was no need to alarm the sentries any further than what they already were.

The other sentry stepped inside. He spoke with someone that Joe couldn't see. He came back with a nod. A few minutes later, a trim man with red hair came down. He had left the jacket of his uniform behind, but not his service pistol.

"How can I help you?" Colonel Caine glared at the costumed patriot.

"I just wanted to ask you some questions about whatever you're guarding here." Joe wondered what required a colonel as a commanding officer. "I stopped some enemy agents in the middle of a fire across town. They seem to be connected to a bigger spy ring, a bigger effort."

"We're guarding some documents." Caine looked up and down the street. "Come upstairs. We can talk in my office."

The Shield followed the army officer into the building, pass checkpoints and secretaries, and up to the top floor of the building. Caine had an office in a corner, windows overlooking the street. The colonel moved to keep watch, a predatory bird looking for prey.

"What kind of documents are you guarding, Colonel?" Joe didn't want to sit, and the visitor's chair didn't look like it could hold the extra bulk his armor put on his frame.

"We have a number on loan from the Library of Congress." The colonel frowned. "Most date back to the Revolution. It would be a public disaster if anything happened to them and it were known."

"So these documents would be perfect targets for espionage." Joe could see that. The war was going against the Axis. Any morale destroying event could stall the tide of war, maybe blunt the attack of the counter invasion.

"Without a doubt." Caine rubbed his face. "Some of what we are holding formed the platform of our government. If anything were to happen to them, America's fighting spirit might dim before we can finish the job overseas."

"What about the men you captured last night?" Joe knew there was a link. "Were any of them from New York?"

"They wouldn't say." Caine glanced at his visitor. "I sent them to Fort Meade to let others investigate it."

The Shield nodded. He could call someone to get information when he returned to the FBI building. He might even have to run up there to talk to someone in person.

"Do you want more men stationed on guard here?" The Shield knew that the Bureau would lend some agents, perhaps get aid from Washington's police to help out.

"No." The colonel shaded his eyes as he looked down on the street. "We're getting more troops and I've decided to billet them close by so the building will act like a fort. That's funny."

The Shield walked over to glance out of the window. A tall man walked down the street, dressed in striped pants and a blue coat. It looked like a top hat covered his head. A recruiting poster come to life was the first thought that came to Joe's mind.

"Let me go down and talk to him." Joe turned to leave the office. "I think this is the rescuer from last night."

Joe rushed down the stairs to the street. The other man smiled when he saw the Shield's stars and stripes.

"Who are you?" Joe pushed pass the sentries, wondering what was going on.

"Tarnation, boy." The tall man drew himself up, frown on his face. "I'm your Uncle Sam."

"I don't think so." Joe smiled despite himself.

"I think so." Uncle Sam rubbed his goatee. "I admit I've come from a long way to be here."

"I need to talk to you." Joe made an after you gesture. "Come inside. We'll talk in the Colonel's office."

"Fine with me, son."

Post Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:01 am
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Hans Bueller examined the agents remaining under his command. If it were up to him, he would fall back and build up his strength again. That would allow the Army to grow lax again while he added men to his platoon of spies. He knew his superiors would not accept his assessment.

They only cared about results.

He didn't know how much of a victory it would be destroy some papers when he could destroy men and machinery, but he had his orders. The thing in the box was there to make sure he carried out those orders.

The arrival of the Shield and the other costumed super patriot made things more complicated. Nothing they had could handle the armored hero. Bueller couldn't count on him to give up and move on so the fifth column could do their work and get out of town.

"Report Klaus." Bueller glared at his chief subordinate, hand on the top of the box. "What do we know?"

"The man dressed like a recruiting poster walked back to the target. He seems to be incredibly strong and fast. He talked with the Shield briefly, then they both went inside. The target is still inside the building as far as we can tell." Klaus bowed at the end.

"We will attempt another night time operation." Bueller looked his underlings over. "Instead of trying to create a distraction, we'll quietly sneak into the building."

"How do we do that?" Other faces echoed Klaus's question. "Have you already got a plan?"

"I will have by tonight." The Colonel swept his watery gaze over his underlings. "We must accomplish our task and leave the city as soon as possible. Eventually the city will be placed under guard and we will face capture before the mission is completed. I need one man for a driver. The rest of you I want to get some rest, and then we will have a mission briefing at six tonight."

The men broke up, Klaus volunteering to drive by default. Bueller grabbed the heavy chest, nodding for him to lead the way. The two men walked to the sedan the spies were using. Bueller got in the back, plopping the box down beside him.

"Where are we going?" Klaus got behind the wheel, looking over the seat at his passenger.

"I want you to drive by the target." The Colonel sat back, pulling out a notebook and pencil. "You will hear things being said. I want you to ignore that, and keep your eyes forward at all times. Understood?"

"Yes, sir." Klaus started the engine, and pulled the car out on the street. He drove carefully through the city streets. The police stopping them could lead to trouble.

A search would not fail to find his commander's chest, and Klaus had feeling that what was inside should not be exposed.

Klaus concentrated on his driving, and drove carefully around the office building that housed what they were after. He heard a strange voice emanating from the back as they went by. It surprised him enough to start to turn his head. A slap to the back of his head stopped him.

"Eyes front." Bueller's voice was followed by the sound of a hammer rocking back. "I don't want to tell you again."

"I'm sorry, sir." Klaus felt his face redden. "I was surprised."

"Just keep your eyes forward." The Colonel let the hammer down gently so he didn't shoot if he didn't have to do so.

Klaus nodded, glad to have escaped a bullet wound. He didn't know if the Colonel would have shot him. He was glad he didn't have to find out right then.

"All right. Take me back to the base." The Colonel slammed the lid on the box. "I have everything we need now."

Klaus drove back to the rented house using streets different from the ones he had used to get to the paper vault.

Post Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:03 am
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The Shield frowned as he stood by the window in Colonel Caine's office. He looked out on the street. He had a decision to make and he found that his usual sharp mind had jammed up at the thought of the impossibility of events.

It wasn't every day you got to talk with your Uncle Sam.

"Let's say you're right." Colonel Caine had repaired to the chair behind his desk. "They'll come after the documents. We can get a regiment here to protect them."

"That's up to you." Sam sat in the visitor's chair, hat on his lap. "I think we can set a trap for the varmints and haul them in. I don't know why they're after the Declaration, or how they know it's here, but I'm sure that's what's going on."

"How did you know that?" Caine's eyes narrowed.

"I've a connection to the symbols of freedom, son." Sam smiled. "I knew the papers were here when I first arrived."

"I have to agree, Colonel. We should set a trap." The Shield idly watched the traffic below. "It's also clear the spies know the papers are here, and are going to keep trying. We don't know who their source is so we can't risk contacting anyone for help. Anyone could be a mole for their side. I have a feeling they already know I am involved, and that Uncle Sam is also here. We're unmistakable for any watchers. If we were to leave, and come back under cover, we might be able to take them by surprise."

Caine sat back in his chair. The two star spangled heroes could see the gears turning over in his head. Finally he stood with his decision.

"I agree, gentlemen." Caine pulled his sidearm from his desk and buckled it on. "There's a side door around the back of the building. That's where you need to come wearing some kind of disguise. The only other way into the building is through the front. Once you leave, I will leave men posted to keep up the pretense we're guarding the building but the majority will be stationed around the area and keeping watch."

"How long do you want us to wait before we come back?" The Shield already planned to secure normal clothing for himself and Sam.

"About six." Caine stepped from his desk, gesturing for them to follow. He led them down the hall, then to the second floor. A room full of guards surrounded a caged enclosure. A safe sat in the middle of the protective area. "This is the safe room. Any enemy will have to fight their way through the front and up the stairs. Then they have to get to this room."

"This is where we'll have to spring the trap." The Shield examined the battlefield. "We'll have to let them get here with minimum resistance."

"We'll have to think of other ways to get into this room." Uncle Sam also looked around. "I don't think they'll try the door again. They don't have the men for that."

"The only other ways I can see is to bust through the floor, or through the ceiling." The Shield pointed up. "The Colonel's office is right above us, I think."

"Predicting the enemy isn't perfect." Caine nodded at his men before leading his visitors out of the vault room. "I'll have gas masks issued as well as secure the perimeter before I start pushing the men out the back way."

"We'll go ahead with our part of the deception." The Shield started for the door. "That'll give us time to get disguises. Hopefully we'll have these guys in the bag by morning."

"I'll have everything ready by the agreed time." Caine followed. "Hopefully the attack won't come before we're ready."

"These rats are smart, maybe smarter than us, but they won't attack before sundown." Sam smiled. "They'll need darkness to make their getaway if they do succeed in stealing, or destroying, the Declaration. No one wants to be seen walking around wounded after a fight."

"Attacking under the cover of darkness will probably be the only thing they do that we can plan on." The Shield paused at the door before stepping out on the street. "Come on, Sam. We have to make a stop and some calls before we get back."

"I'm right with you, Sonny." Sam waved at the army privates as he pushed his top hat on his head. He stepped out in the street, breathing deeply of the Washington air.

"I have a feeling our spies have a few tricks to show us." The Shield headed for his car. "I wouldn't be surprised if they already knew we're going to lay in wait for them."

"The men in there were honest." Sam got in on the passenger side of the sedan, placing his hat in the back seat. "None of them would betray their mission."

"We'll have to find out where they're getting their information when we catch them." The Shield started his car and pulled away from the curb.

Post Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:04 am
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Joe Higgins looked around the vault room, wearing a uniform over his armor. As long as no one saw him up close, he could get by wearing his mask. All he had to do was wait for the action to begin.

Joe didn't like to wait. He preferred to look for the saboteurs before they struck. Director Hoover had men in the field doing that, but the agent didn't expect them to succeed. The ring had too much information about operations. It would be child's play to avoid a search with the amount of forewarning they had been able to acquire so far.

Still Colonel Caine's plan seemed to be working. Joe and Sam were the only ones in the vault room. Most of the men in the building were on the first floor, keeping watch. The majority had been snuck out and waited for something to happen from where they had taken up watch.

The only flaw Joe saw in the plan was the possibility the spies knew the trap was set and were taking steps not to step into the trap.

The ambush could go the other way if they weren't careful.

An explosion rocked the bottom floor of the building. Joe glanced out the window. Men rushed the front, throwing grenades at the door of the repository. Choking drifting upstairs told Joe he needed to don a gas mask.

"Tarnation." Sam was at Joe's shoulder, frowning at what he saw. "It looks like they're using gas on our boys."

"They need to fall back." Joe ran to where gas masks were kept in a locker. He broke the lock off, grabbing the protective equipment in his hands. He tossed one to Sam before donning his own. "Let's help them out before it's too late."

"You go ahead, son." Sam held his mask but didn't put it on. "I've a feeling that's what they want."

"Splitting us up." Joe nodded as he put his gas mask on. "Let's see if we can turn that against them."

"Go on, son." Sam moved to the safe. "I'll look after the safe."

Joe rushed from the room, heading for the stairs. He saw men moving in the fog that shrouded the first floor. They wore gas masks and civilian clothes. Most were armed. The ones he saw that didn't carry a firearm, held a box marked explosives.

Obviously they didn't plan to take the Declaration with them.

Joe didn't plan to let them get away with it.

The Shield charged into the group of agents. His armor reflected bullets as his fists went to work. Men flew with every punch. Some of them fell victim to their own gas as masks were torn away.

Joe spotted a box, like a chest, sliding toward him. It came to a halt close to his feet. He realized a box that size could blow a hole in the building if it were a bomb. Best to get rid of it before there were problems.

The Shield bent down to pick up the box when the lid flew open. A head stared out at him, grinning slightly. Then the head erupted from the box, dragging a body of fur and muscle and sinew. Joe stepped back, frowning at the thing towering above him.

"Finally I am free to move and do on my own." The thing from the box flexed hands as big as hams. "Thank you for this opportunity."

"Opportunity?" Joe flattened an agent trying to get by him. "What opportunity?"

"The opportunity to finish my task and free myself from that prison." The thing from the box laughed. "The Colonel will be happy not to have me around, I think."

"I'll be happy not have you around myself." The Shield leaped, swinging a fist. No point in trying to negotiate. The thing from the box was with the agents, and it had already said what its intentions were.

The thing swung with the back of its hand. Joe flew across the lobby into a wall. The thing laughed again. This was its time of action. No petty patriot in a costume was stopping it.

Post Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:37 pm
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Sam waited in the vault room. He wanted to get into the fight. Nothing made him happier than busting the heads of his country's enemies. He couldn't do that now. The Shield would have to handle it.

If they got by the Shield, he would be waiting for them.

Sam waited by the door, listening to the mayhem going on below. It sounded like a whole army down there. Hopefully Caine would shore up this nest to make sure they didn't escape. No matter what happened, the saboteurs couldn't be allowed to get away with destroying the Declaration.

Someone tried to get through the door. Sam grabbed his face and flung him down the hall. One down.

Several more men rushed the door, firing guns at the door. Sam waited by the door, hand protecting his face from splinters. He waited for the first one to enter the vault room. As soon as he saw a part of the man's body, he swung a knobby hand. The whole group fell down in the hall. The freedom fighter rushed out in the hall and made sure they were knocked out. He retreated back into the holding area as shots rang out from the steps.

The Shield must really be busy with all of the rats rushing up the stairs.

Sam looked around for a weapon. He needed something he could stall them with until he got some help. He decided the desk would be a great stopgap. He picked it up and hopped out in the hall. The spies leveled their guns but he threw the furniture before they could shoot at him. The disguised sentinel of liberty hopped back in the room. Bullets ripped the air just before he heard a solid impact and some outcry.

"That worked great." Sam looked around for something else he could throw.

Sam picked up one of the filing cabinets. He hoisted it on his shoulder and carried it over to the door. He waited for the bullets to stop flying. He imagined that they thought things would be easy once the Shield was out of the way.

Sam squinted down the hall. The fifth columnists had a barricade down by the stairs. They seemed afraid to come closer. He decided to reinforce that fear. The filing cabinet flew like a javelin. It smashed against the makeshift wall with a bang. Someone cursed at the flying furniture.

Sam laughed. Then he went to get another filing cabinet. Maybe he could force them back downstairs.

Sam went back to the door. He glanced at both ends of the corridor. None of spies had made it to the other stairs at the back of the building. Once someone thought of that he would be fighting on two fronts. He flung the cabinet toward the saboteurs. Someone cried out as the weight carried him downstairs.

Sam grabbed the last cabinet, frowning as he looked around the vault room for more ammo. He had some chairs, another desk, and a hat rack. Slim pickings meant he would have to improvise something.

Sam grabbed the hat rack. It could be the diversion he was looking for to help him out of his current situation. He spun the thing in his hands. It seemed a little off balance. It would have to do.

He yanked one of the chairs up, and went to his post by the door. The wood felt light, snowflake light. He picked out one of the men. He flung the chair as hard as he could at that man. He didn't wait for them to recover from the wooden missile. He charged with the hat rack in both hands. He knew a little about swinging a stick around.

Sam cracked the first guy's head with the end of the improvised club. He swept the body of it through their ranks, snapping the heavy wood because of the combined weight of them. That left the patriot something the size of a baseball bat. Some of the men were still in the mood to fight, even with the drubbing he had already given them.

He could fix that.

Sam went to work with the club. Swings with his powerful arms slung his enemies down the staircase. It looked like he had taken care of that one band of evil doers. Time to get back to the vault room.

Sam backed into the room, happy at his easy success. He wanted to go down and help the Shield. His mission held him prisoner on the second floor. He turned at the sound of someone in the room with him.

One of the spies had snuck past him while he was dealing with the others. The man had a pile of explosives piled against the safe. It looked enough to blow the safe to bits with everything inside it.

Sam leaped across the room. He could see the man fumbling for matches. He wasn't going to let that fuse be lit.

The man looked up, eyes wide at the flying man. He went for a gun tucked under his coat. He wasn't Wild Bill Hickok. Sam hit him in the face before he could get the firearm out for use. The freedom fighter followed with his other hand hooking in. The dynamiter hit the floor, eyes rolling back in his head, bruises already forming.

"Maybe next time, varmint." Sam pulled the wiring out of the sticks so the dynamite wouldn't blow up by accident.

Post Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:28 pm
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The Shield picked himself up. The spies had got past him, headed upstairs. Sam would have to handle things on his own. The crusader had a big problem of his own to handle.

The creature stood next to the steps, a laugh on its skinless face. If the Shield wanted to go upstairs, he would have to go through it.

The Shield glanced at the empty box. He advanced on the ape monster, wary of its long arms. He didn't know what it would take to put the thing back in its resting place. He decided that he would try the easiest way first.

That meant slamming the thing and shoving its face into the chest and shutting the lid. That was easier said than done.

The Shield feinted, trying to draw the thing out. A long fingered hand went for his head. He used the arm as a pivot to get inside its reach. His fists beat a tattoo on its forehead, driving it back a few steps.

Hands clamped down on Joe's shoulders, long nails failing to penetrate his shoulder armor. It picked him up off the ground with the intent on throwing him across the room. The patriot slammed both feet against the thing's face. He used that to flip over and out of the grip of his enemy.

The Shield landed, and leaped forward. He swept his arm across the legs of the thing from the box. The monster hit the floor face first. The G-man turned, swinging a fist as hard as he could. His hand landed in the center of the creature, driving the air from it. The Nazi minion fell on its back.

Time to see if his plan would work like he thought.

The Shield grabbed the thing from the box by the neck, forearm under its chin. He dragged the furry beast over to where the chest lay. He shoved its face into the empty space, slamming the lid on the back of the skull. He did it again when the monkey tried to pull out of his grip.

The box pulled at the monster. It tried to dig into the floor, tried to prevent entering the box. Joe stomped on one hand, and then the other, to loosen the grip of the beast. He grabbed fur at the base of the thing's spine, and lifted. The thing shrank as the chest called it home to its cell.

"I don't want to go back in there." The thing moaned. It tried to hold on to the edges of the box.

"I don't want you running around loose." The Shield slammed the edge of his hand against its grasping hand on one side. He did it again to free that monkey paw.

The Shield hoisted the thing higher. The beast struggled in his hands. Joe kicked the other hand loose. That made it easier to finish the job. The thing screamed as it shrank down inside the wood, becoming just a head looking up. The G-man slammed the lid down, smiling in relief.

"I hope you're happy in there, ugly." Joe picked up the chest and placed it behind the counter. He taped a quickly scribbled sign on the lid of the box. He could make better arrangements later.

The muffled voice that replied expressed opinions that the Shield didn't wait to hear all the way through. He still had a job to do.

The Shield searched the bottom floor before making his way to the front staircase. He checked the gunmen laid out on the steps, throwing the guns down to the bottom landing. He didn't want them to come to and try to shoot him in the back.

The Shield headed for the vault room. He needed to make sure that Sam was okay. The stranger seemed to have taken care of all of the gunmen trying to rush him. Some of them might have tried to circle around to the other stairs and try to take him from behind.

The brains seemed to favor a two prong attack to accomplish his goals.

"Hey Sam!" The Shield paused by the open door to call out. He didn't want to get brained by his ally. "It's me."

"Come on in, son." Sam's voice seemed happy. "I got someone I want you to meet."

Joe stepped inside the vault room. Sam had piled a passel of dynamite and a pistol on the remaining desk. He had noticed the other furniture outside. Caine could clean that up with the rest of this. A man sat in the other chair, tied to it with his belt around his wrists.

"I want you to meet Hans Bueller." Sam smiled slightly. "He's behind all this. I'm sure you can use him to clean out more rats. My work here is done."

"Your work is done?" Joe looked down at the tied up spymaster.

"My world has its own Nazis to deal with, and I have to go back and help with that." Sam placed his disguise next to the explosives and pistol. "It's been a pleasure to meet you. Maybe when the war is won, I'll have a chance to come back and talk to you again."

"Good luck, Sam." Joe wondered where the old man thought he was going.

A whirlpool of light wrapped around Sam as he raised his hand in farewell. A wind pushed trash away from his star spangled form. Then he was gone.

"You don't see things like that very often." Joe grabbed Bueller by the neck, ready to take him downstairs.

Post Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:29 pm
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Joe Higgins led the clean up, fueled by the information taken from Hans Bueller's records. Hoover gave him another commendation. Neither knew that Joe would be turned into a statue by the Eraser at the end of the decade, only returning just before the universal Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Uncle Sam's war ended with a robot brain impersonating Hitler brainwashed the whole of Earth X. He and his fellow Freedom Fighters led a rebellion that finally restored freedom when the Justice League and Justice Society arrived in the middle of the conflict. Victory brought some time on Earth 1, and then back to rebuild Earth X.

The two patriots took a minute to talk during the Crisis, catching up. Freedom Fighters and Crusaders met and formed fragile friendships to fight for the remaining five Earths. These ties were confused momentarily the brief time the planets were merged with one time line.

Joe Higgins led the reformation of the Crusaders thinking of how things had gone for his one time ally. The destruction of the Declaration and Bill of Rights on Earth X had shifted the war against Uncle Sam.

It had been that close to shifting things on his own Earth.

Bueller's plan would have caused America to fight to a standstill with the loss of millions, billions, of lives. Mr. Justice had reported battling a demon behind the Nazis called the Green Goblin. Joe could easily see the demon enjoying more innocent lives snuffed out over the course of an extended war.

It was ironic that Sam had saved another Earth from the scheme that had crushed his own under worldwide tyranny for decades.

Joe thought about it sometimes as he looked over reports of crimes from all over the world. One day he would have to pay Sam back for his help. He didn't know what he could do.

The doorbell rang to the Crusader building. Joe looked at the screens. The headquarters had suffered a number of break-ins the last few months. He smiled as he dropped the reports. He walked down to the door to greet his guest.

"Hey Sonny." Uncle Sam stood on the doorstep. A smile crossed his face. "I was in town and thought I would drop by and see how the better half was doing."

"I doubt that." Joe laughed. "You have a problem and you need someone to help you with it."

"You take all the fun out of this, Shield." Sam laughed himself, doffing his top hat. "Can I come in and talk about this?"

"Of course." Joe stepped aside. "My house is your house. What threat to freedom are we facing today?"

"I don't know." Sam followed his ally up to the meeting room. "I have a feeling it's something familiar."

"Well, the last time we got together, it was about the Declaration of Independence." Joe took his seat. "Let's start with that. That's the only threat to freedom that we worked on together."

"I wonder where Bueller is right now." Sam sat down in the Fly's chair.

"I wonder where that thing is." Joe sat back, remembering those days. "I let the army have it. I still have a couple of friends I could ask where it went to after I turned it over to Colonel Caine."

"Maybe somebody got out of jail and has decided to finish the job from back then." Sam pulled on his goatee. "Maybe some demon thing needs to get the job done so he can leave his chest behind."

Joe frowned, thinking the same thing. The Army had taken the box to put in one of their storehouses. Maybe he should find out if they still had it.

"Let me make some calls, Sam." The Shield smiled.


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