June 5th, 1944
"Whewww." Fitch whistled. "Get a load of these digs, will ya?" The lieutenant poked a thumb at the imposing Victorian edifice. "Hard to believe all the top secret stuff that goes in here." A Royal Marine stood inconspicuously inside the front doorway, doing his best to studiously ignore Fitch's presence. Fitch leaned over the door of the drab army sedan that had brought them out from London. "OK doll, showtime! Let's see what the high mucky-mucks have planned for ya."
Joan slid around in her seat and stuck her legs out of the doorway. Although she had worn a long trench coat over her costume, the front flap folded back to her thighs as she slipped out of the vehicle and onto the pavement. The young Royal Marine suddenly became much more interested in the proceedings, and gave a broad toothy grin at the sight of her of silky, well toned limbs.
"Gosh Billy, isn't it simply exciting? I mean all the cloak and dagger, secret agent stuff." Joan linked an arm into his as they walked up to the guard and handed over their ID cards and papers.
"I guess so. Seems a lot of trouble to go through. We could just have the briefing at regular army HQ, it's not like anyone there is going to blab to the Krauts." The young Marine checked all the papers thoroughly, and waved them into the waiting room. Fitch immediately spied Admiral Bankford and General Griffin in a heated discussion in the corner. He wondered briefly if they were arguing over Atom Girl, until he caught a snippet about an intercepted touchdown pass. He snorted to himself. The two men would argue about whether or not the sky was blue. There were several people in the small anteroom he didn't recognize, and a tall, aristocratic sandy blond-haired man. Although he had never seen him without his helmet, there weren't too many people who went around in jodhpurs with a rocket strapped to their back. The man noticed them and made a beeline.
"You must be Atom Girl! I've heard very good things about you” He said suavely.
"Charmed, I'm sure." Joan replied, putting her hand forward. The Englishman lifted it, bent, and brushed his lips on her knuckles.
"The pleasure is all mine, rest assured." The man released her hand, but Joan still held it out awkwardly, a blush spreading across her cheeks.
Fitch lit up a Lucky and squinted his good eye at the rocket man. "You must be Air Corps, if I may state the obvious. Whatsamatter, they don't have a rocket check girl at this joint?" He poked a finger at the heavy looking contraption.
"Yes, quite right. Lieutenant William Fitch, hero of the Battle of Midway, I presume." Fitch actually looked shocked for the first time Joan had known him, but it quickly passed. "I like to keep my rocket handy; you never know when a... situation might arise. Better safe than sorry."
"I get ya. Feel the same way. 'Be Prepared'- that's my motto." Fitch pointed at himself.
"Billy, that's the Boy Scout motto," Joan grinned at him "and you're no Boy Scout."
"I'm hurt, Joanie." Fitch made a face and covered his heart.
"If I may interrupt the banter" portly Admiral Bankford interjected. "The briefing is about to begin."
Bankford and Griffin walked into the briefing room, followed in a single file by the others. The two flag officers were a study in contrasts- the navy man was short and round, with a crumpled uniform and red cheeks that bespoke of a certain familiarity with the finer things in life. General Griffin was a tall, angular man with a hawk nose, starched uniform, and a reputation as a teetotaler.
The two men, and a British officer who must be their equivalent, stood in front of a wall display with a curtain in front of it. General Griffin began. "I'll get right to the point" He rasped in a gravelly voice. "You all know that the invasion is imminent. I have just received word that we are go for tomorrow at dawn." A hush fell over the room as an aide pulled back the curtain, to reveal a giant blow up map with the words OPERATION OVERLORD at the top. The map featured a section of the French coastline, labeled 'Normandy- Carentan Peninsula'.
Admiral Bankford stepped forward. "We are here to coordinate the activities of the various unorthodox and meta-powered individuals on our side." Fitch looked around in sharply, as he didn't see Sergeant Freedom anywhere in attendance.
Griffin continued the briefing. "Some of your compatriots have been briefed separately, due to the special nature of their missions. Sergeant Freedom, for example, is preparing for an overnight jump into
Fitch leaned into Joan, and whispered "Glory hound." into her ear. She responded with an elbow to the ribs that knocked the wind out of him. The others in the room looked around at them at the low "Ooof" Fitch emitted. Air Corps gave a good-natured chuckle.
"In any case, I'll turn you over to your individual briefer for details of your own missions. Good luck and God be with you."
Fitch had noticed a dusky dark haired girl with ruby red lips, her lithe figure ensconced in a tight black wrap, standing a few feet to his right. He gave her a smile, and she gave a sexy one in return, showing off two rows of bright white teeth that contrasted nicely with her tanned skin. He was thinking of going over and saying something to her when Bankford approached. "Good to see you are paying attention, Fitch."
The lieutenant turned to look at the admiral "Just familiarizing myself with the surroundings, boss." He turned back to look at the girl again, but the space was now empty, with only a hint of darkish fog in the area where she had been standing. "Whewww." He let out his favorite whistle.
Atom Girl stood to the side, and appeared to be attempting to burn a hole through Fitch with her eyes. The young lieutenant hoped she didn't develop a new power all of the sudden.
Atom Girl sat on the guest room couch, her knees drawn up to her chest. He arms were wrapped around her bright gold boots, and her chin rested dejectedly on her shapely knees. "They're not going to use me!’Kept in Reserve' Bankford says! What am I going to do, serve coffee to the code room?"
"I'll take mine black." Fitch quipped, and then regretted it. He lit up another smoke and looked at her thoughtfully. "Sorry about that doll, couldn't resist."
Joan continued to stare down at her boot toes, and said nothing.
"You'll get your chance, before you know it. Anyway, being 'in reserve' means they know you are the really big stick- they want you ready in case the shit really hits the proverbially fan- pardon my French."
"You really think so, Billy?" Atom Girl turned her head to look over at him.
"100 percent sure." He was actually only 50% percent sure. He was a little miffed himself, having lobbied to deploy Atom Girl to the Pacific, but Griffin and Bankford had overridden him. He didn't want to come all the way to Europe to warm the bench.
"Well, I guess we'd better rest up, then. Good night, Billy" She unzipped her boots and slipped her feet out. Leaning back, she stretched her long legs out and admired they way the glittered in the low lighting. She wiggled her toes a little.
Billy got up, and walked over to the door, navy cap twirling in one hand, and cigarette dangling from his lips. He turned suddenly at the door frame "You know Joanie, if you need ahh, a little company, I...”
"Good night, Billy." She turned to the door and blew him a kiss.
"Night, doll. See you in the funny papers."
Fitch shut the door, stuck his hands in his pockets, and sauntered down the hall.
Joan lay on the couch, and stared at the ceiling. She really didn't know what to do. She had half considered asking Billy to stay, but the Iowa preacher's daughter part of her thought better of it- she just wasn't that kind of girl. Anyway, she still couldn't figure him out. He seemed to like her, but then again, he treated all pretty girls that way, like that little tart sorceress at the briefing today. She glowered a little as she thought about it. Why did it make her so mad?
"..and I'm telling you we have to push them off the beaches within the next few hours, or this war is lost! Why is everyone at High Command so sure this is diversion?! I'm here, and I tell you this is the invasion! Here, now, in Normandy! I'm taking command of the reserve Panzer units myself, if I have to force them at gunpoint! The Fuhrer and his sleeping pills be damned!" Field Marshal Erwin Rommel slammed the telephone receiver into its cradle. He looked thoughtful for a moment, wondering what might have happened had he been visiting with his wife today as he had originally planned. He dismissed the thought: there was no time for idle what-ifs. He turned to his adjutant. "Send the dispatches, all reserve Panzer units to move forward and counterattack with utmost effort. Inform 2nd Panzer to move southwest with all speed possible." Rommel turned to study the wall map, as his staff moved little flags indicating the troops and tanks of the 12th SS Panzer Division closer to the central beachhead. The Americans had landed there, and so far had been having the roughest time moving off the beach, as well as having almost all their armor support founder in the rough surf. "We'll push them back into the Atlantic yet." He said to himself, and smiled.
Walk Softly, and Carry a Big Stick
"Dammit. Dammit!" Griffin read the decoded intercepts that had been handed to him. He put his forehead into his hands and rubbed his temples vigorously. "Omaha beach is already a shit sandwich, and there are elements of a heavy Panzer Division and supporting Panzergreniadiers moving up. Those guys are the best trained and most experienced unit in Normandy, and have the latest, most advanced heavy tank designs. Rocket boy and his men are tied up at Juno and Gold beaches holding back the panzer reserves up there. Dammit! They were supposed to think this was a diversion, and not release the reserves so early!"
"Apparently, Rommel didn't read the memo." Bankford offered drolly.
"Wise-ass. That overcast is moving back in, limiting the effectiveness of our air power." Griffin sighed. "Is she ready, Bankford? Do you think she can pull this off?"
"Well, Griff," the admiral rolled his cigar around in his mouth. "There's only one way to find out."
Atom Girl sat at her small table, and pushed the spoon around in a bowl of soup she wasn't really interested in eating. She had gone ahead and put on her outfit, but it was already after noon and she hadn't heard a word yet. She was herding a pea around the edge of the soup bowl when Fitch burst in.
"Up and at 'em, Atom Girl! You just got activated"
"Really?!" She shot up from her chair. "What's going on?"
"Apparently, things aren't going to well, and you Joanie, are what's going on. Briefing in two minutes."
"Stand back everyone!" Fitch ordered. The small crowd of onlookers, military men and scientists, took a step back as Atom Girl removed the two glowing cylinders out of separate pouches in her utility belt.
"Here's mud in your eye." She stated, as she brought the rods together in front of her. There were 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the crowd as a bright blue and yellow flash engulfed the area, and the lines of force shimmered around Atom Girl for a moment, just as they had on that day in the lab.
"OK, A-Girl, Doc Z said that new outfit should be able to withstand a little higher speed- he mixed some carbon and asbestos fibers into a new synthetic- he calls it 'Zoflar' or something. Give it all you got- that tank division has to be stopped. You've got the coordinates, and there's a map in one of your pouches, as well as a miniature radio. I'm going to hit the beach with these army boys as soon as I can, I'll try and contact you from there."
"Be careful Billy." She said, and grabbed his hand.
"Right back at ya, doll."
He took a step back, and Atom Girl knelt down slightly, like a basketball player waiting to catch a rebound. The lines of force began to gather all around her, building up to the point that she was almost hidden in a shimmering curtain of wavy distortion, and then she flexed her legs, leaping upward like a bullet fired from a rifle. She punched through the low overcast and was gone from sight in a second. The crowd was awed even more than before. A few "Wows!" and "Holy Cows!" punctuated the murmur of the group.
"Go get 'em kid." General Griffin growled into the sky.
Atom Girl immediately found herself engulfed in a wet grey mist. "Gotta go lower." She thought to herself. She felt more than saw something in front of her, and flew below the grey overcast just in time to swerve around a radio tower that loomed in front of her. "That was close!" By that time she was over the coast, and was leaving
"Fall back to the rally point!" Sergeant Johnson grabbed Torres by the collar from where he had fallen, and moved back to toward the rubble of the farmhouse. A few hundred yards behind him, one of the kraut 'King Tiger' tanks pulled up over a low rise. The massive German fighting vehicles had made short work of the limited amount of inferior US Shermans that had made it ashore. There was a 'BOOM' as the Tiger slammed one of its massive 88 millimeter rounds into the remains of the building he was trying to reach, blasting in to oblivion. The shockwave laid him out, and he let go of Torres; he found himself staring up into the grey sky. "So much for plan B" he thought to himself. He prayed a little prayer that the weather would lift long enough for some 'Jugs' * to fly in and buy them some time. Suddenly there was another 'BOOM', and a sound like freight train going by, even louder than the tank gun. Johnson had the impression of a blue and gold streak in the sky above him, and he thought maybe a battleship round had just gone by at low altitude. He lifted himself up and looked back toward the German positions, hoping to see a crater where the battlewagon round had taken out the German tank. There was a girl there.
Horst ordered his driver to halt as they came over the low rise. Major Weasel, in the lead tank, had just fired a round into a stone building that the Americans were falling back to, when there was loud noise from the sky above. He immediately ducked into his hatch, expecting the impact of heavy artillery round. When he heard nothing, he poked his head back out, and was amazed to see a beautiful blonde woman standing in front of Wessel's panzer, hands on her hips, and a defiant look on her face. Horst thought about the various super-humans the allies used, but did not recognize her. He would definitely have remembered her. He laughed to himself- there was no extra-powered human out there that could stop a tank division. The laugh caught in his throat as the girl grabbed the front plate of the Major Wessel's Tiger, lifted the 75 ton machine high over her head, and flipped it backwards into Tiger no. 335 to his left.
Atom Girl watched the giant German tank sail backwards, end over end, until it slammed into the tank behind it with a tremendous impact. She tried not to think about the men that were inside, but she had seen the devastation that they had wreaked on the troops trying desperately to hold on in the area. She hoped that the display of power would convince the other Germans to give up, and she went back to her hands on hip pose. Several machine guns had opened up on her, and the incessant pelting of thousands of rounds per minute was beginning to annoy her. Then there was a 'CRACK-BOOM' from one of the panzers, and everything went white as a sledgehammer hit her in the stomach at 3600 feet per second.
Horst watched, incredulous, as at least five MGs poured fire into the girl, and the tracers merely arced off in random directions after striking her body. In fact, he could hear some of the ricochets plinking off the armor of his own vehicle. His funk was alleviated when another Tiger down the line fired an armor piercing round into the girl, propelling her backwards into a tree with such force that it was sheared off at the trunk. "Outstanding shot!" his own gunner yelled over the intercom. Horst couldn't shake the feeling that it was a very bad idea.
"Ooooh- peaches and cream!" Atom Girl rubbed her stomach. The blast had merely stunned her, but she realized the main portion of her outfit was reduced to blackened tatters around her. "So much for 'Zoflar'." She had hoped to keep her costume on for this one. She sat up, and spied the tank that had fired the round, barrel still smoking.
"Back up! Back up!" Horst screamed to the driver over the intercom. There was a clashing of gears as the big engine strained to get the bulky tank moving in reverse. The blond woman had stood back up after taking the high velocity tank round straight to the midsection, and was now just a streak heading for the panzer that had dared fire at her. She was instantly atop the vehicle, and bent the barrel back into a 'C' shape, until the entire turret ripped out of its mounting ring. Horst got a quick impression of the commander and gunner dangling off the edge of the turret and finally falling to the ground, and the loader sitting in the now turretless vehicle, with a heavy shell in his arms, wondering where the breech of the tank gun had suddenly disappeared to. The topless girl swung the now empty turret around in arc, and sent it sailing into a barn where the infantry had set up their machine guns, knocking it flat. She turned her head and scanned around, with a grim look on her face, until she locked eyes with Horst.
Atom Girl saw the last Tiger beginning to move backwards at high speed, with great clods of dirt flinging skyward. "Oh no you don't!" she said to herself. Flying quickly across the gap, she grabbed the big panzer by its front right track. She could feel her strength level starting to drop, as the flight over and her activities were taking their toll. She didn't think she could pick up a whole Tiger again, and was worried about what another '88' round would do to her. With a shearing squeal, the tank track ripped off in her hands, with metal pins and cleats flying off in all directions. The tank began to describe an awkward circle, as it only had traction on the left side. Joan saw the commander speak into his throat intercom, and the big vehicle halted. She stood with hands on her hips as the vehicle halted and he slowly raised his hands and climbed from the vehicle. All around her, German soldiers were leaving their positions, throwing down their weapons, and walking towards the American soldiers who had arrived on the scene.
Horst stepped from the vehicle, and a
In the background, Sergeant Johnson propped up the now conscious Torres, stuck a Camel in the dazed corporal’s mouth, and lit it for him. "I guess I got my 'Jugs' after all." he laughed. "Thanks lady."
*P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers. So nicknamed for their short, fat, and round fuselage.
Continues in Chapter 6, Everyone Should Have a Goal...