The Flash was trying to protect the frightened Doctor Alchemy from the massive hound that menaced him. Shoving Alchemy aside, he tried to steady himself so that he could face the huge creature without being flattened. He created a deep trench between the animal and where he stood, and even as he moved, his keen mind detected certain features about the beast.
It’s acting like an alien bloodhound. It sniffed Desmond’s scent and is apparently undeterred by the blinding spray of earth I’ve kicked up between us! This thing may not even rely on conventional sight to track its prey. Running across water can help disguise a scent. Maybe I can use that old ploy on a slightly exaggerated scale to protect Al!
The Flash grabbed Doctor Alchemy and raced across the country until he had sped directly across more than one river and a few lakes. His speed was so great that gravity had little effect upon him, and the nature of his surfaces was secondary to his amazing pace.
He looked back and saw nothing. “Now, Desmond, tell me what you’ve done to attract that thing! Every minute may count, so don’t lie!” he demanded.
Al Desmond wiped his brow and said, “Flash, as you know, I was in prison. Around a week ago, you and the JLA and those older heroes from the alternate Earth beat me. Heck, you beat all of the Crime Champions. Chronos and Felix Faust and I were all in our old cells, and I wager the Wizard, the Fiddler, and the Icicle were all cooling their heels in a jail on their own Earth across the dimensional divide. Well, Chronos had a cocky look on his face a day or so after you put us in jail. He would not explain his odd satisfaction to us. He just told us to meet him at lunch the next day. He said time was of the essence!”
Desmond stopped and glanced desperately around in search of the beast. “Faust and I obeyed, and when we saw him the next day, we approached him with lunch trays in hand. No sooner did we get near him than we found ourselves outside the prison! Chronos gloated as we fled into the nearby woods, and he said, ‘I managed to conceal a little time-displacement lens within a fake tooth. It took time to get fully charged, but it allows us to step briefly through time and space within very strict limits. It was enough to get us out of the prison and gain us one hour of time. They won’t know we’re gone for fifty-eight more minutes. Time will pass for them just as it did, with the sole exception that it will only be our chronal wraiths that meet in the lunch room and vanish!’
“We thanked him and separated. We’d had enough of a partnership, and Faust had little respect for anyone. We parted, and I made my way back home. I had a safe house waiting for me near Empire City. I was resting there when that thing appeared and tried to kill me! I fled, and it followed. I quickly figured that you were my only hope!”
“I am all too aware of your past crimes,” the Flash said. “Nothing you did in those cases could have summoned this thing. I wager that it was your involvement with the Crime Champions that led to this situation. Who knows what odd laws of science or nature you may have broken during your travels between worlds?”
The Flash managed to created a whirlwind just as the huge hound bounded into view and leaped at the odd pair. The beast fought its way through the strong winds and swiped at the hero with one giant paw.
It ignored my wind like it was a gentle breeze on a lake! I think my best bet is to get a bit rough with the beast, mused the Flash. He vibrated his body until he became intangible, and he passed directly through the beast’s body and out the other side. He nodded in approval as his tactic left the creature dazed. “Thank heavens something worked! I couldn’t have avoided Rover, here, for much longer!” he said.
He turned to talk to Doctor Alchemy, only to see the frightened foe vanish as a blinding burst of energy surrounded him immediately after the hound abruptly revived and touched him with one paw. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. In seconds, he was gone along with the hound.
That thing touched me also, but I didn’t vanish! thought the Flash. I can only assume it didn’t want me. It was sent to hunt down Doctor Alchemy, and once it had him, it needed to take him somewhere to some unknown master! I have a feeling that Chronos and Faust are also in peril. Perhaps I’d better contact my friend the Atom, since Chronos is his enemy.
The Flash was sitting in the office of the president of the Gotham Broadcasting Company, where his old friend Alan Scott listened to his story with deep concentration. “Jay, allow me to replay your adventure via my ring. With your permission, I’ll just pluck the memory right from your mind and project it here,” offered the ever-confident Alan Scott, alias Green Lantern.
Jay Garrick nodded and said, “Sure. I always did want to find out if I dream in color or not!”
Green Lantern nodded, and soon the two friends watched the exact series of events that had occupied the Flash earlier. “My ring can clear up one little riddle right now,” said Alan. “You noticed how our alien friend’s voice seemed to change from moment to moment? My ring identifies his accents as being an exact match for the specific regional dialects used by the British-born Fiddler and the European Icicle! The alien not only was a mimic for their weapons, styles of combat, and kinds of crimes, he also copied their exact voices. He must be a type of living mimic. He duplicates the survival traits of those he encounters. He copied your own speed to beat you!”
“Obviously, our next question is — where did he encounter Icicle and Fiddler?” said the Flash. “I called the prison, and they claim that he just appeared there and approached them. He ignored all the other prisoners and their guards. The Icicle said the alien just stared at them like they were germs on a microscope slide, and then he left. It sounds like he needed to come into contact with them to mimic their respective gear. They didn’t have their gear with them, of course, so it’s like he pulled the specs for their weapons directly from their minds. They insist they knew nothing of him before he appeared.”
Green Lantern frowned. “He ignored all the other prisoners there? He could have become a one-man army had he duplicated the powers of all the crooks held there. Why would he only seek out those two? All they really have in common with each other, besides larceny, is the fact that they were part of the Crime Champions, and we battled them with our JLA allies on both of our Earths!”
“I think the fact that they spent time in that void between Earths where they had their hidden base could be the factor that drew the alien to them,” suggested the Flash. “He may come from that limbo. Maybe he saw them there and followed them here.”
“What about their recent ally, the Wizard?” said Green Lantern. “It would be just like old Zard to accidentally conjure up something like the alien. He was also in that limbo with them.”
The Flash walked restlessly over to a globe and gave it a spin. “Right! I did some checking on him, as well. He vanished shortly before our alien appeared. I’d even suggest that he switched places with him. Remember, the three villains were going back and forth from our Earth to the Justice League’s Earth as part of their last crime spree. Maybe the Wizard managed to pull another such switch to free himself.”
“I know that thing didn’t come from Earth-One,” said Green Lantern. “You know, it feels funny to call that Earth, where heroes came about years after we started our careers, Earth-One. Seems like our world should be Earth-One! There should be a committee somewhere we could complain to about it!”
The Flash smiled and said, “We’re number two, but we try harder! I think we’d better try to find the missing alien and the Wizard. As much trouble as he has caused us over the years, I’d still be sorry to think the alien killed him.”
“One good thing about Joar Mahkent is that his old equipment has a faint energy pattern about it that my ring can trace,” Green Lantern said, speaking of the Icicle. “If the alien is truly using an exact duplicate of his old ice gun, I can home in on it!” The ring began to pulse, and Green Lantern nodded eagerly. “He’s in action. We may have a few years on Barry and Hal, but we do have better timing!” he said.
“Like a fine wine!” said the Flash, grinning. They flew off in search of the energy trail, and Green Lantern’s powerful willpower, channeled through the ring, concealed their departure from the GBS offices.
The Flash was busy in a fight for his own life as the huge hound growled and pounced for him once again. He dodged with ease as an emerald shield appeared to protect him. “Thanks, pal!” he said to the Green Lantern of his world as the green guardian used his own power ring to help his friend.
“No problem!” said Green Lantern. “At least the sudden arrival of this thing eliminated the need for much of an explanation. You had barely found me and Chronos, here, when that beast popped up!”
“That’s the hound that took Alchemy away,” explained the Flash. “I’m glad your ring was able to do what Atom and I failed to do — locate Chronos, here.”
Chronos wore his colorful green and gold costume along with the chalky white mask. He was not at his best, since he had first been abruptly carried skyward by Green Lantern, and then the pair of them had been attacked by the hound. “Alchemy and I separated days ago!” cried Chronos. “If this thing is on his trail, then it has no business with me! My time is precious!“
“Look, Clinton, my ring tapped into your unique chronal weaponry and led me right to you,” said Green Lantern, using the villain’s real name of David Clinton. “If I hadn’t found you first, you’d be a snack in that thing’s stomach by now!”
The Flash said, “Can you identify the animal with your ring?” Even as he spoke, the scarlet speedster was sending a cascade of sand into the hound’s path as they raced along the shores of a California beach.
“Let me try to contain Rover, there, when the sand settles, and I’ll see,” said Green Lantern.
The Flash nodded and said, “I’ll offer my own hunch. Perhaps the animal comes from the weird Limbo between Earth-One and Earth-Two. I think it picked up the scents of the Crime Champions during the time they hid out there in their headquarters. Like a bloodhound it followed them here and is trying to hunt them down for some purpose!”
Green Lantern’s emerald energy surrounded the hound, and he nodded. “Bingo! The animal is from Limbo. My ring indicates that the same energies we encountered there in that void also are found around it. You and the other Flash and my Earth-Two counterpart spent more time there than our pals, so it may be more than chance that led us to the animal and its prey. We may have retained some trace of the same energy from our time there.”
Chronos quietly hesitated between two extremes. He wanted the protection the heroes could offer him, but he also had every instinct telling him to attack them while they were distracted. Handling a small hourglass in one gloved hand, he waited tensely.
“Your ring has caged it, all right!” said the Flash. “I assume another hound like this one is hunting down Felix Faust as we speak — perhaps even already found him! Since it’s doubtful your ring could pinpoint a man with his magical resources, I have another suggestion.” The Flash whispered quickly to Green Lantern, who smiled and nodded in agreement.
Chronos hurled the hourglass and cried, “Those expressions would stop a clock, but you two won’t stop me!” Before he could say another word, the hourglass struck him, and he stiffened like a statue.
“Nice move!” Green Lantern congratulated the Flash. “You put him directly in the path of his own weapon! He’s OK, but in a type of trance.”
“I knew that was the most-likely effect of the weapon,” said the Flash. “The Atom and I talked about his old foe’s arsenal in depth. If he had not been tied up with personal matters, he would have joined us.”
“Now that we goaded him to do just what we wanted to do, I’ll draw all Limbo energy from his body and transfer it to you after linking us with an energy tendril,” said Green Lantern, who bathed the immobile Chronos in green energy and then allowed the energy to cover the Flash. “Ready, pal?” asked Green Lantern.
“I think so,” replied the Flash.
Green Lantern released the hound, and it bounded over to touch the Flash. He vanished along with the hound just as Doctor Alchemy had done earlier. Green Lantern was drawn along with them to the void between the Earths, and he quickly shielded his pal as they reached a strange fortress in the storm-tossed depths of Limbo.
“It worked!” cried the Flash. “By irradiating me with the Limbo energy residue that drew the hound to Chronos and Alchemy in the first place, you also managed to trick it into bringing me here! Wherever here is!”
“I’m glad I was able to shield you,” said Green Lantern. “Looks like we’ve found Alchemy, all right! He’s on display over there with some decidedly alien beings.” He indicated a wall of transparent tubes in which individual figures were encased. Doctor Alchemy was trapped in one of them. The other tubes contained strange alien beings of various types. “This is some type of Limbo prison! The hounds must have been trained to hunt down and return escapees, and because of their time in this dimension, the Crime Champions apparently triggered the hunt command by leaving when we took them back to our world!”
“A pretty theory, but sadly incorrect in certain details!” said a mocking voice as the heroes turned to see a sinister but familiar form.