Image based on New York Times, Late Edition, 7th June 1944.
New York Times (c) New York Times Company.
Freedom is my creation and of course, belongs to me.
Written by yours truly.
The Battle of Brooklyn
New York Harbor, 7.30am, March 1944
Heavy fog shrouded the harbor, bringing visibility down to a few hundred feet at most. The city’s towering skyscrapers loomed like Titan trees in the mist, adding to the surreal nature of the landscape. Fog horns sounded in the distance as the city woke up to a new day.
The destroyer USS Thatcher turned cautiously to investigate a suspicious sonar signature a mile off Liberty Island. Her skipper knew that the antisubmarine defenses of New York harbor were among the most potent in the world, and it was an incredibly brave or foolhardy U-boat commander that would even attempt to breach them; especially this late in the war when the Battle of the Atlantic had turned irrevocably against the German Navy, but he couldn’t risk a U-Boat sneaking in to wreak havoc here. New York harbor played host to the majority of the ships that ferried war materiel, supplies and equipment heading east across the Atlantic, and the Brooklyn Naval Yard was the busiest in the entire country; building, refitting and repairing thousands of ships, contributing immensely to the American war effort. Somewhere ahead of him, the 'Big T', the WW1 New York-class dreadnought USS Texas (BB-35) was anchored. Ringed by antisubmarine nets she acted as a floating battery in the harbor while keeping a watchful eye on the city. New York was her home port. A Casablanca-class escort carrier was being towed into the Yard by tugboats; another was just emerging from its berth to join its charges, a merchant marine convoy bringing more men and equipment to England for the much-anticipated summer invasion of Europe. After 4 years of the most destructive war in the history of mankind, it was time to take the fight to the Krauts on the mainland and liberate Europe from the oppression of the Nazis.
"Schleichfahrt..." ("Run silent...")
A periscope slipped quietly beneath the waves as the Thatcher approached. The American destroyer was pinging, but it would not find her. The shadowy German craft had slipped past the multiple perimeter defenses and detection systems at the mouth of the harbor; through Ambrose Channel, under the very guns of the Harbor Entrance Command Posts of Fort Tilden and Fort Hancock by trailing the American escort carrier now making its way to the Naval Yard. Her advanced technology ensured that she was all-but invisible to the American sensors. It had taken 3 years to assemble the immensely expensive craft at a secret base in Greenland even as the Thousand-Year Reich crumbled. Now they were in the very lair of the beast, it was time to strike and redeem the honor of the Kriegsmarine.
A small diner off Broadway
Captain Carol Anne Briggs, United States Women’s Army Corps attached to the Eighth Air Force based in England, sighed as she sipped her steaming hot coffee. Even though she’d been given an entertainment allowance for her current ‘mission’, she still lamented the fact that New York was an expensive city to visit, much less live in. And crowded too, nothing like the wide open spaces and clean air of Nebraska. WACs didn’t even get overseas allowances, she grimaced, but at least they were performing essential non-combatant duties, freeing the men up to do the actual fighting. Unofficially, Carol was contributing far more to the war effort than anyone could imagine.
The attractive cool blonde WAC officer (some called her a cross between Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall) was actually the dusky raven-haired star-spangled bombshell “Freedom”, the superhuman guardian angel escorting American bomber groups pounding the Reich. She’d captured the imagination of the American public and servicemen with her now legendary actions in the European Theater of Operations/ETO (and in no small measure, her striking beauty), downing German fighters that attacked the bombers without killing anyone; destroying Nazi flying robots and other bizarre contraptions; going undercover in disguise behind enemy lines to rescue captured Allied airmen, and most famously, fighting epic aerial battles against the Nazis’ own angel (though an angel of death to the Allies), the Valkyrie Brunhilda. In her non-combat capacity, Freedom was also a pin-up girl and USO performer, and her posters and image adorned bunks, barrack room walls, aircraft and tanks across the ETO. Now she was back stateside to cash in on her heroics and celebrity status, to help raise money for the war effort in a cross-country series of War Bonds Variety Shows, starting with New York. Although she wasn’t really keen on being pulled back as the intensity of bomber operations increased ahead of the expected invasion of Western Europe, she smiled at the thought of a Nebraska farm girl making Göring’s finest look like the Marx Brothers or Keystone Cops trying to fend her off. It was probably emasculating for her own top brass too, she suspected they’d side-lined her to allow the flyboys to shine with their new toys like the deadly newer-model P-51s making their presence felt over Europe. With the inestimable industrial might and military ingenuity of her country harrying the Germans to their destruction from the west and Stalin's invincible Red Army closing in from the east, she almost felt sorry for the Krauts. Almost.
She sighed again. If it weren't for Operation Payload and the gutsy First Lady’s intervention, the military would probably be trying to dissect her somewhere out in the desert to find out what made her tick. Imagine that, after volunteering (by sneaking into the heavily-guarded White House in disguise and revealing herself to an astonished Eleanor Roosevelt no less) to help her country, it took the military more than a year to decide how best to make use of her- a woman in combat, it was simply unheard of! She didn't care if the top brass thought she was a dumb broad either, she could bench press a battleship, was a mistress of disguise (and not just by putting a pebble in her shoes to alter the way she walked or putting on a hat and changing her clothes as taught by the OSS either, Carol could literally become other people), was a talented singer AND a ducky shincracker. Besides, it was her idea anyway, combining a variety show-style performance with the regular ‘strongwoman’ antics they’d planned for her tour. She knew she had sex appeal, and she knew how to use it, for a good cause. She smiled; flaunt it if you've got it. She was good at that, she had a flair for performing, and it certainly helped that she could impersonate any number of singers and Hollywood starlets, reproducing their routines during her show. Luckily the Army’s entertainment division had gotten permission from the artistes’ themselves for her to use their likenesses and songs (and managed to bum some original costumes off them for her performance!), and they’d even roped in her one of her favorite artistes, Glenn Miller, to write tunes for her show. She was happy to contribute to the war effort, whether by saving lives on the frontlines or keeping morale up behind it. The troops loved her, and she loved them in return.
Carol went over the routines for her show in her head. Rather than a straight-up patriotic rally, it was more of a Hollywood-style variety performance. For her opening act, she had a choice between flying on-stage with a flag as Freedom; performing an Andrews’ Sisters song as part of a lookalike trio then revealing herself, or her now-famous ‘Star Spangled Gal’ song and dance routine, (similar to Betty Grable and the Bombardier’s ‘Marching to a Love Song’), in which she would reveal from one of her Star-Spangled Gal backup dancers. This was followed by a short comedy sketch with the master of ceremonies Jack Benny, the famous radio show host and comedian (he was a blast, and great to work with; it’s always a pleasure to find out that folks you admire, admire you in return!) It was great fun being the 'funny girl' to his 'straight man', a reverse Dagwood and Blondie. Then a flight routine where Carol would invite a member or two of the audience to experience flying with her. (Look ma, no wires!) Plans to incorporate stunts like firing machine guns at her to demonstrate her invulnerability were deemed too dangerous for a live audience. Besides, folks already thrilled to her aerial combat antics in propaganda shorts like ‘Freedom against the Nazi Flying Robots’ and ‘An All-American Girl over the Reich’ screened before the main feature in movie theaters across the country, they wanted to see her in the flesh, despite the safety concerns that placed limitations on what she could do during her performances.
Next up, another song and/or dance routine, where she’d impersonate a famous singer/starlet, someone like Marlene Dietrich or Betty Grable. The audience ate it up, because her disguise skills were so impressive and her impersonations so dead-on, you could actually believe that the person onstage was whoever Carol was impersonating, rather than actually being a busty black-haired superheroine in a skimpy skin-tight star-spangled outfit wearing a realistic face mask, wig and costume. Well, they came to see me, she thought with a smile, it’s icing on the cake that they also get to watch celebrities as part of my performance who were otherwise engaged in war bonds tours of their own. Finally the climax of the show- a fifty-ton Tiger 1 tank captured in the Tunisian desert would be driven onto the reinforced stage, and she’d lift it in front of the awe-struck audience, balancing it on one finger while hovering over the stage. She would make a big show of straining to pick up the massive tank before finally hoisting it over her head, but really, it was all theatrics. The most feared armored fighting vehicle in the world was but a mere plaything in her hands; it was a small feat for her, but astonishing to the audience.
Then, depending on the audience's reaction, an encore performance, a semi-burlesque act where she'd slowly strip off her celebrity disguise of choice bit-by-bit to reveal Freedom- a bit risqué, true, but word had gotten around that this was part of her USO performance for the troops abroad, so folks back home were naturally curious to see it. She’d already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in war bonds in just a few days of shows in New York alone, despite the cold weather. They’d been thrilled rather than scandalized by her performances, maybe she should seriously consider going into show business when the war was over…
“Stop it!” she thought. “I’m not just a showgirl, I’m Freedom. I’m a trained lawyer, dammit!” Yet she relied on her good looks, skill and powers in equal measure, and she definitely enjoyed the attention. Humph…instead of being a role model for women like her hero the First Lady, perhaps she’d allowed herself to become just another sex symbol... But that was the whole point of her persona, wasn't it? They always underestimated her because she was such a dish, and she used it to her advantage. Plus the enemy almost never expects her to come bursting out of some random person, whether it be a captured Allied airman or a Dutch milkmaid; the shock of her reveals was often enough to take the fight out of the bad guys without her having to resort to fisticuffs. All except Bruni, somehow she always knew when I was around, even in disguise...
Carol found it was almost harder to perform on stage than going into battle, but at least the nervous energy built up in anticipation was used up with all the singing and dancing, just like combat. Truth be told, she felt more burned out after exams at law school- that was more taxing, memorizing statutes, precedents and case law, and then having to reproduce them, no, regurgitating them for exams…urgh. So much for trying to be a real-life Perry Mason. The comedy routines were something else, though. Being witty on stage in front of a live audience was tough, but her comic sparring partner took up most of her slack, and he taught her a lot about show business. And she loved every minute of it.
"Enough daydreaming, Carol," she thought to herself. “The Big Apple awaits!”
She had half a day to herself before she had to be back in the Broadway Theatre for rehearsals; it was one of the few indoor venues big enough for her flying antics and the Tiger weight lift routine. It was still very cold, so outdoor performances were out of the question.
Carol planned to see the sights in Manhattan, working her way down to Battery Park, and hopefully have lunch on the waterfront within sight of the Statue of Liberty. The fog was pretty thick today, though. She could always fly over the city, but her handlers had advised against it, and so here she was, just plain ol’ Captain Carol Anne Briggs on libo, sightseeing in the Big Apple without a wingman. She certainly turned heads with her statuesque hourglass figure and good looks, but the blonde WAC officer wouldn’t attract as much attention as Freedom sashaying down 42nd Street or soaring overhead. Obviously.
New York Harbor
The Thatcher shuddered as it came to a complete and sudden stop, throwing crewmen off their feet. It was as if she’d been seized from below by gigantic unseen hands. Metal groaned in agony as something crushed her keel in a vice-like grip; then just as suddenly, the destroyer was pulled under the waves. A dull thump was heard, an underwater explosion. The surface roiled as oil, debris and human body parts floated to the surface, marking the grave of the USS Thatcher.
"Fächer!!" ("Fire torpedoes in fan-spread!")
Lookouts on the baby flat top being towed into the Brooklyn Yard cried out in alarm as a pair of subsurface wakes appeared out of nowhere heading straight for her- torpedoes in the water! Unable to evade, the escort carrier erupted in a thunderous detonation as the sonar-equipped torpedoes, more powerful than any used before in the war, tore through her hull and exploded in the ship's bowels, setting off her fuel and weapons stores.
"Achtung!! Gefechtsstationen!!" ("Attention! Battle-stations!!")
Something monstrous broke the surface of the water, an immense dark blue-grey war machine, a terrible sea-dragon rising from the depths to wreak vengeance upon its enemies. A tank-like armored superstructure bristling with guns and torpedo tubes topped off by a turret with multiple glowing ‘eyes’ emerged from the bay, towering more than 300 feet above the waterline. A cartoon shark adorned its right 'knee guard', along with the vessel's name. Beneath its legs, just under the surface were a pair of gigantic 12,000 ton ‘Seewolf’ robot submarines that acted as the giant craft's subsurface transport and propulsion system.
The Schlachtschiff (Battleship) 'Hai' levelled its primary weapon at the second Casablanca-class escort carrier as the baby flat top desperately tried to scramble fighters off her deck. The bizarre claw cannon, a death ray of unimaginable destructive capabilities blazed blue lightning, and in a flash of eldritch fire and billowing smoke, the escort carrier blew apart with a deafening roar.
The USS Texas already had her steam up, and went immediately to general quarters; her klaxons howling as concealed shore batteries opened up on the intruder. The Texas joined in with her 14 inch main guns, but the shells bounced off the bizarre craft's ray shields, blasting away into the surrounding city. The 'Hai' unleashed another low-power death ray beam at the Texas, incinerating part of its superstructure. Badly damaged, her captain and its surviving crew refused to pull back or abandon ship, instead throwing the battered old battleship into a collision course with the gigantic Nazi war machine, intending to ram it before it could cause further damage to the city. The 'Hai', despite its immense bulk, brought its right 'hand' down under the Texas' keel with surprising speed and dexterity, lifting the 27,000 ton battleship clear out of the water like a toy. Unable to withstand the terrific stress on her keel and borne down by its own weight unsupported by the sea, the Texas snapped in half with a tortured scream of metal. The USS Texas disappeared in a tremendous explosion as her magazines detonated, adding to the plumes of smoke now obscuring the harbor.
Elements of the Atlantic Fleet stationed in New York Harbor were now at full battle stations. Destroyers and other escort vessels joined the fight, making torpedo runs and raking the gigantic enemy war machine with gunfire at short range, desperately maneuvering in the narrow confines of the harbor to avoid being picked off by the 'Hai's weapons. But to no avail, nothing could penetrate the massive German craft's shields.
The Schlachtschiff 'Hai', Kommodore Uwe Petersen commanding, powered up her main weapon as his vessel neared the mouth of the East River. He surveyed the devastation around him with grim satisfaction. For too long had the American mainland remained untouched by the horrors of war. No longer.
Operating at maximum capacity, the 'Hai' would be able to ravage American and Canadian naval facilities on the east coast of North America for up to three to four weeks. After which, without any hope of resupply or escape, her commander could only expect to self-destruct his vessel somewhere important, like the Panama Canal, a true 'Himmelfahrtskommando' ('Suicide Mission'). An expensive verlorene Hoffnung ('forlorn hope'), true, but hopefully it would swing the tide of war back in Germany's favor; or at least allow more time for the production of new wunderwaffen that would allow Germany to win the war.
"Kommodore! There! We must destroy Lady Liberty!"
His First Officer, long suspected to be an SD plant, pointed excitedly at the Statue of Liberty off their port bow, almost shouting that they should destroy it first as it symbolized the corrupt American values of liberty and democracy that acted as a beacon attracting waves of untermenschen immigrants to its shores. Kommodore Petersen snapped “It is not symbols that are pushing our troops back to the borders of the Reich, Fregattenkapitän (Commander), it is men and weapons. We’re not here to destroy tourist attractions, it is a futile gesture, as stupid as bombing population centers as an act of vengeance. Our mission is to destroy the American naval capability at its source, and cripple their ability to transport troops and weapons to Europe. We are fortunate that we are now in a target rich environment. I will not waste time and effort destroying a mere bauble, not with half the American Atlantic Fleet arrayed against us”. He growled under his breath; as master of the vessel his word was law, but here was this man, son of a high-ranking Party official openly challenging him- by right he should have the man flogged or shot. Having politically-reliable officers and men aboard to ensure compliance with the Party doctrine of fighting to the end was something the Soviets did, not the Wehrmacht... This he did not need, not in the middle of a battle!
Carol could hear the massive explosions in the harbor, the unmistakable sounds of battle and air raid sirens going off. While she was confident in the ability of the Navy to deal with the intruders, something felt very wrong. Her ultra-keen hearing picked up something else over the gunfire and explosions, a bizarre humming sound and mechanical clanking separate from the usual sounds of machinery aboard a ship. There was something very large and unusual in the harbor, and from the sound of it, the Navy was getting hammered. It was times like this that she wished she had x-ray vision like Superman.
As everyone else rushed for nearby air raid shelters, Carol ducked into the restroom, quickly slipping off her shoes and flesh-colored stockings to reveal red and white striped boots. She dropped her uniform skirt and pulled open her jacket and blouse to reveal a magnificent busty torso clad in a skintight star-spangled costume with red and white stripes, cape and short skirt. Finally she tugged at her beautiful face and it distorted, stretching into an unrecognizable mass, her face and hair finally pulling off to reveal long raven hair and the blue-masked visage of the dusky ravishing superheroine Freedom. She moaned slightly as she was freed from her confining disguise. Carol regarded her blonde mask, what she used to look like before her body effected its startling metamorphosis into 'Freedom' when she turned 21 with a mixture of regret and guilty pleasure- regret that she had to hide her true features beneath a mask of her old face, and secretly finding her little stripteases every time she 'transformed' extremely...pleasurable. She tucked her discarded mask and clothes into her rather large handbag, donning it like a backpack. This entire operation had been performed in a split second thanks to her super speed. Freedom shot into the grey skies to give battle to the enemy, whoever they were. Once the war is over, she thought, I'm going to have to build up my own network of intelligence and informants if I'm going to continue being a superhero. She couldn't be relying too much on intelligence services like the OSS, Army Intel and SOE, they usually had their own agenda and she was starting to think they were treating her like a mushroom, keeping her in the dark and feeding her a lot of horse manure...
The Schlachtschiff 'Hai'
The radar operators aboard the German battleship (even though it was technically a giant robot, the Kriegsmarine considered her a ship. Unlike the Heer [Army], the Kriegsmarine had plenty of experience in constructing and operating such large war machines) alerted Kommodore Petersen of the rapid approach of a small radar blip from Manhattan, marked hostile (they were deep in enemy territory, what else could it be?), moving far faster than any aircraft then in service.
"Rakete (Missile)?" he asked. "Could be, sir, but it's slowing down, it will be in visual range...now!"
The bridge crew stared out in surprise as their screens showed a shapely woman with long flowing black hair hovering several hundred feet above their ship. The gunfire from the American ships, feeble and ineffectual though it may have been, had ceased completely. The beautiful American superheroine quickly studied the gigantic German fighting machine, scanning its hull, noting and memorizing weapons emplacements, searching for potential weak spots, the German Navy Ensign and what she took to be the ship's name, before her voice rang out loud and clear over the sudden silence that gripped New York harbor:
"Kriegsmarine Schiff 'Hai', cease hostilities, lay down your arms and exit your vessel or I will be forced to destroy you!"
"Schiesse, it's Freedom!"
"All FLAK gunners, open fire, take her down, take her down!!"
Kommodore Petersen shouted "Feuer Frei!!" ('Light her up!')
The air around Carol blossomed with deadly flak bursts as the ‘Hai's antiaircraft guns opened up on her. She easily dodged the high-velocity rounds, and even the biggest shells had no effect on her. But she had to be careful, she couldn’t afford any stray shells crashing into the city and hurting civilians. She needed to take the fight out of populated areas, or contain the threat, and fast!
"The hard way it is then..." she sighed.
She flew straight at the lumbering juggernaut, dodging flak and its surprisingly agile arms, then dove, suddenly coming up at an angle from behind and under the 'Hai's port side. She gritted her teeth, bracing for impact. Just as she was about to slam into the war machine's hull, she hit what felt like an invisible barrier that knocked the wind out of her and threw her backwards. Something flickered briefly before her, an energy shield of some sort, before she was swatted aside with tremendous force by the 'Hai's fist. Carol was sent hurtling away, crashing into the muddy bottom of the Hudson River.
Undeterred, Carol shot out of the river, trying different angles of attack; raining multiple super speed blows on the 'Hai's shielding in the hopes of battering her way through, flitting around the monstrous war machine like an angry hornet faster than the eye could follow as the 'Hai' attempted to crush or blast her from the skies like a troublesome gnat.
Seeing that a frontal assault was futile, Carol dove into the water to attack from below, but the keel was shielded as well. Carol stopped for a moment just out of range of the 'Hai', catching her breath while trying to formulate a new strategy. Perhaps the field deflected fast moving objects, like bullets and shells, but allowed objects moving at normal speeds or immobile objects through? She dove back into the harbor and floated to the surface, bobbing up and down in the water like a cork waiting for the 'Hai' to pass over her and allow her to float through the shield, but the 'Hai' crew simply laughed and lobbed command-detonated depth charges at the American superheroine, blowing her out of the water.
The German war machine edged closer to the Brooklyn Yard, its bizarre death ray powering up to full capacity.
Now royally ticked-off, Carol threw herself into an all-or nothing attack. She rocketed upwards, breaking the sound barrier in a huge sonic boom, ascending higher, ever higher until she reached the edge of space, then abruptly dove back to earth, hurtling ever faster, increasing speed, until she was streaking into the skies above New York like a blazing comet. Fortunately for her, her invulnerability extended to her costume, so it wasn't burned up on re-entry, but at that point she didn't care if she ended up in her birthday suit so long as she stopped the rampaging Nazi behemoth.
The gloom of the foggy March morning was lit up by a flash many times brighter than the sun, followed by a tremendous crack that could be heard a hundred miles away, as an angel fell to earth.
Freedom had concentrated all the energy of her descent from the edge of space, turning herself into a kinetic energy penetrator of unbelievable power that blasted its way through the 'Hai's mysterious energy shielding. Clearing the shields, she sliced through its 12 inch thick armor plating like a hot knife through butter, punching clean through the Nazi war machine's primary power source and out through its heavy bow plate; miraculously missing any of her crewmen and causing few casualties (the ‘Hai’ was heavily automated, requiring a much smaller crew than a warship of equivalent size, and they were all currently at their action stations). The 'Hai' lurched ponderously to a halt as its heart was suddenly ripped out, its unearthly shields visibly flickering and dying. She was helpless now, dead in the water, and no matter how heavily armed, armored and dangerous she was, she was surrounded by half the US Navy’s Atlantic Command; reinforced with fighters and bombers circling overhead, and they were out for vengeance. The Schlachtschiff 'Hai's fate was sealed.
Freedom flew in through the jagged hole she'd made in the 'Hai's chest, making her way to the bridge. No one barred her way. Helmeted Kriegsmarine sailors wearing life jackets hesitantly pointed submachineguns at her as she strode through its passageways. There was no need for further hostilities; she just wanted to make sure that the killing stopped.
The beautiful American superheroine had a look on her face that would quail the heart of even the toughest fighting man. "Take me to your captain,” she demanded.
As the gorgeous leggy Valkyrie was ushered into his presence, Kommodore Uwe Petersen experienced a sense of defeat and hopelessness he had not felt since the end of the Great War. As a young destroyer commander, he had served in the great Battle of Skaggerak (Jutland), and was present at Scapa Flow in 1919 when Admiral Ludwig Von Reuter had given the order to scuttle the High Seas Fleet. Already stung by defeat, the proud German sailors would rather see their beautiful warships sent to the bottom than allow them to be divided up as spoils of war by the victorious allied powers. He felt ashamed that he hadn't gone down with his ship, but promised himself that he would strike back at the allies one day. The OKW ('Oberkommando die Wehrmacht', German High Command) had chosen him to command the 'Hai' not because of his political reliability, but because he was a battle-proven commander who would not shy away from battle and wanted to take the fight to the Americans in their homeland. Now, after a brief and glorious struggle, he found himself surrendering in humiliation again.
"I am here to accept your honorable surrender, Kapitän." Freedom said. Her tone was final and her expression was stern, there was to be no negotiation. “You’ve fought well, but the killing and dying stops now.”
The solemn greybeard replied, "I have already entered the self-destruct codes that will destroy this vessel and all of New York City, Fraulein Freedom. You are too late." He gripped his Luger P-08 tightly in his hand, afraid that it might slip from his sweaty palm. This woman 'Freedom's strength was truly terrifying.
Carol's eyes widened. Then her eyes narrowed, her gaze hardening; millions of lives were at stake. "Abort the self-destruct sequence, or I will beat you to within an inch of your life, Kapitän."
"Kommodore Petersen, Fraulein Freedom," he corrected her. "My first officer and I are the only ones who know how, Fraulein, and we take it to our graves..." he gestured at the crumpled lifeless form of the Fregattenkapitän lying on the deck behind him. Petersen had shot him moments before Freedom had forced her way onto the 'Hai's bridge.
"Ich werde dich töten!" ("I will kill you!") a burly sailor cried, throwing himself into a flying tackle at Freedom. She side-stepped, easily dodging the German seaman, but the distraction was all Kommodore Petersen needed. He knew Freedom was fast enough to intercept a bullet, all he needed was an opening. He swiftly pressed his Luger to his temple and squeezed the trigger.
"No!" Freedom cried as Kommodore Petersen blew his brains out with a smile.
Freedom was horrified. So much senseless loss of life, and for what? National pride? Honor?
She turned to a young officer, a lieutenant by the looks of him; he should be next in the chain of command.
"You, (Kapitän)Leutnant! How much time do we have before this ship explodes?" she asked in accented German. "Hurry!"
"T-t-twenty-five minutes, F-Fraulein!" he stammered, edgy at the events that had just unfolded, but also because he was awestruck by Freedom's beauty.
"Then tell your men to abandon ship, Leutnant. There's not much time."
"Raus! Raus! Alle mann von Bord!" ("Out, out, all hands abandon ship!") The young officer screamed at the men around him, they rushed to the emergency escape pods that would launch them clear of the 'Hai'.
They had cleared the bridge before Freedom could finish. She'd meant for him to order the whole crew of the German juggernaut off, not just the bridge crew! Could she afford to rush from deck to deck ordering or manhandling the rest of the crew off the ship before it exploded? Could she risk it, with so many lives at stake in the city? “SNAFU, God-damn it!” she swore loudly.
Freedom wracked her brains for a solution, time was running out and she didn't want anyone else to die; not today, not if she could help it. Then it hit her- the ship's internal communications array! Kommodore Uwe Petersen was about to give his final order, from beyond the grave.
"Achtung!" she said into the ship's comms. Even though their interaction was brief, Carol could perfectly recall the old Kommodore's voice, and mimic it.
"Alle Mann von Bord!"
She activated the ship's klaxons and hoped that it was enough. She was relieved to see cylindrical escape pods launch themselves from the 'Hai's hull, as the 500 hundred crewmen of the German war machine abandoned ship.
When she was satisfied that all the German sailors had made it to safety, Carol flew off the bridge. She thanked God that the Navy had the good sense not to send in any Marine boarding parties and let her do the talking first. She flew under the gigantic Nazi war machine to the point she was certain would take the greatest strain for what she was about to do. She could try towing it out to sea, but that would take far too long. Now she was about to put her claims of being able to bench press a battleship to the test...
Carol grunted as she began to lift the monstrous war machine, her immensely powerful form straining to carry the 55,000 ton 'Hai'' on her back. Feet by feet, it rose out of the water, Carol putting more muscle into the effort as she increased her flying speed. Careful, she could not afford to let the damned thing plummet into the city.
"Oh God, please let this work..." she pleaded silently.
Five hundred feet, a thousand. Higher, ever higher Freedom rose with the towering monstrosity perched on her mighty shoulders; its two massive carrier submarines attached to the ‘Hai’s legs dangling beneath it like gigantic water shoes. Carol picked up speed. She could feel her muscles expand as she grunted with the incredible effort of flying while holding the Cyclopean German craft aloft. I probably look like a Macy's Parade Float by now, she thought absurdly. Not a good look for a pin-up girl... She continued to propel herself forward. Concentrate, Carol. Faster…The giant machine groaned under the strain that was being put on it, but it held together.
Whatever onlookers who had not taken cover in air raid shelters marveled as the beautiful superheroine soared overhead with her mountainous burden. The fate of New York City was in her hands. She couldn't...she wouldn't fail...
Faster, she accelerated. Faster. God, the pain! She struggled to pick up speed as the full weight of the Schlachtschiff 'Hai' bore down on her. Every muscle in her body strained, every fiber in her being felt like it was on fire, screaming for release. If I get out of this alive, I'm going to sleep for a month, she thought weakly.
She cleared the coast line, ships below her looking like toys in a vast lake. The Atlantic Ocean stretched out for what seemed like an eternity before her. She was 2000 miles away from her home. A sudden homesickness gripped her heart, a longing to see her parents; she felt as if she’d never get the chance to see them again. She shook her head, dismissing such morbid thoughts. She was a fighter. Carol pressed on.
"For my family... and for my country..."
Three hundred miles off the coast of New York
A blinding blue fireball of pure destruction, a full forty miles in diameter erupted over the Atlantic Ocean, blazing fiercely for several minutes; it was as if the gates of Hell itself had opened and the fires of damnation were pouring out to consume the world. The flash from the detonation could be seen miles inland. Any ship caught in its blast would have been vaporised instantly. And then it was gone.
It was only with the dawn of the Atomic Age that there would be a force of destructive power that could even come close to rivaling the eldritch detonation, but in that brief instant, humanity trembled at the world-ending energies that had been released.
Somewhere along the New York Coastline
Carol struggled onto the beach; she had no idea where she was. She'd been thrown clear of the blast, perhaps a hundred miles or more and had washed up...where was she, anyway? New Jersey? "Aaargh", she groaned. She felt like she'd been gangbanged by the entire Persian Army. Tired, soaking wet, cold, bedraggled, sore all over, she sure didn't feel like a glamor girl.
She was certain a Great White shark had tried to take a bite out of her while she was floating in the ocean. Betcha he’ll be gumming for a long time…
She felt her back, remembering her backpack and disguise. Thankfully it was still there, but it was waterlogged. Well, at least she had spare disguises in her hotel room, which was probably 60 miles away in New York City. A short flight away, but at that moment, all she wanted to do was curl up and sleep. She staggered into the treeline, and flopped down. She was beat. At least she was still alive, but more importantly, the city was safe. Yaay, me. Remind me to give that Hitler knucklehead a stern talking to about starting this damned senseless war, she thought drowsily. She pulled her cape about her and fell into a deep slumber.
New York City, later that day
Finally arriving back at her hotel in her still-damp mask, wig and WAC uniform, Carol rang her manager to cancel the evening's performance, she needed a break to recover from her titanic exertions. She also reminded herself to take a quick cross-country flight to see her folks once she’d recovered. Her handlers gladly agreed; it gave the show's writers time to incorporate what the radio news broadcasts and papers were already calling 'The Battle of Brooklyn' into her show's storyline. Besides, she deserved a rest after what she’d done. It was a tremendous propaganda coup, the Nazis' last hurrah defeated in full view of the American public. Countless thousands of grateful New Yorkers would later descend on Freedom's War Bond Variety Show to see the lovely heroine who had saved their city and marvel at her antics, making her war bonds rallies some of the most successful of all time. Truly the Cat’s Meow! And a new chapter had been added to the saga of Freedom.
Before she left New York for the rest of her cross-country tour, Carol made sure to salvage the naval vessels sunk in the harbor. Using original blueprints and materials at the Newport News shipyard where the Texas had originally been laid down, she was instrumental in the rebuilding of the USS Texas in record time. With a new crew eager to avenge the deaths of thousands of servicemen on American soil in the 'Hai's cowardly sneak attack, the Texas sailed eastwards to provide heavy naval bombardment at Omaha Beach during Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Western Europe in June 1944, and would continue to serve with distinction until the end of the war. The sense of triumph that the German High Command felt when news of the 'Hai's attack reached Berlin was wiped out when almost all of the ships destroyed during the battle were back in action after a few short months, continuing to haunt the Axis Powers. Their last desperate naval gamble had failed, all thanks to a girl from Nebraska named 'Freedom'.
Cool story, especially having how she does all of the sex-symbol stuff, but doesn't entirely like the fact that that's seen as her big contribution.
Do you plan on just keeping AM and Freedom essentially different incarnations of the character, the way golden age and modern Superman have little real connection?
Same person, different time periods. 'Freedom' is slightly more brash, younger, inexperienced. More idealistic, wave the flag, rah-rah. As Muhammad Ali says, "A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did when he was twenty has wasted thirty years of his life."
AM's literally seen the world, gotten screwed over by the military, is married with kids. That changes one's perspective, I think. Primary difference between them would be the 'Maternal Voice', Freedom was prepared to deliver a beating to get results, AM would've used subtle insinuation/mind control. The 'MV' developed out of the subtle mind control Freedom/AM unconsciously (at that time) exerts on people around her when she's in disguise to make her impersonations more believable. Strength- she's gotten more powerful over the years with more practise, ability to control her strength when she's around normal folks.