The Killer Skies

The following bit of short fiction is about the brother of the character that I ran in Gotham Knights: 1943. I wrote it as a little something to help link the game and the characters in it to the larger world in which the action was taking place, to show another side of the fearsome woman whose apt code-name was “The Fiend,” (pictured here and here in her transformed state) and to depict the fact that despite the flag with the black spider on it, there were human beings on the other team during the War.

May 14, 1943

Pilsen, the Sudetenland, Nazi Germany (once Czechoslovakia).

Major Friedrich von Teufel of the Luftwaffe arrives at the side of the hospital bed of one of his flyers and looks down on him with a smile.

“Guten Morgen, Ursenbach,” He says kindly to the wounded, bandaged man, who reaches up to him and takes his hand.

“Gruppenkommandeur,” utters the flyer weakly.

“Save your strength and get well, Leutnant,” von Teufel pats Ursenbach’s bandaged hand before reaching into his coat pocket and withdrawing an envelope. “I took the liberty of bringing your mail myself, since I was coming to see you. I believe it is from your wife,” he says and deposits the envelope on the blanket. He turns to leave.

“I want to join you again, in the killer skies,” Ursenbach calls after him. Von Teufel half-turns back to him.

“Do so, but do not rush back too quickly. Von Richthofen is dead.”

German Luftwaffe Pilots

Luftwaffe pilots

*              *              *              *              *

Back in his quarters, the Prussian nobleman sits and closes his eyes for a moment, then looks at a calendar. He remembers, and reaches to the table at the side of his bed. A gloved hand plucks a framed picture from the table. He gazes at it thoughtfully and his facial muscles work. A hand reaches for the bottle of cognac that sits on his nightstand: a present from Father.

There is a knock at his door. He looks up.

“Die Tür ist offen,” the Major responds, rising and setting the bottle down. A slightly younger officer enters, and von Teufel greets him “Was brauchen Sie, Hauptmann Kuhn?”

“A communiqué from Headquarters, Major.”

Friedrich purses his lips, an expression common to his family, “Is it urgent?” He inquires, a bit reluctant to leave his ruminations behind to hare off to deal with some emergency.

“Nein,” his subordinate responds. His eyes drift down toward the picture that his superior officer holds. It is a picture of the Major, in uniform with lesser rank insignia. At his side is a beautiful, sharp-featured blonde woman in an evening gown. Other well-dressed people stand about them. Hazarding a bit, he says, “She is lovely.”

The major laughs, though there is a touch of pain in his laughter, “No, Kuhn, this is no sweetheart of mine… She is my little sister Brigitte,” he turns the picture so that his comrade can see their family resemblance more clearly. “It would be a brave man that tried to woo my lovely Gitte,” he chuckles, “look but don’t touch, that one.”

Slightly taken aback, Klaus inquires further, “Was bedeuten Sie?”

Von Teufel looks at the picture for a moment and shakes his head, “She is brilliant, fierce and headstrong, and so very like our father the Baron… maybe even more formidable,” the humor fades and he grows wistful, “But she has Mother’s poise and calm.” He goes on with great pride tempered with melancholy, “to the man that can actually withstand her, she will make a fine wife. Pray God he exists… and that she is alive to meet him.”

“Why would she not be? Is she not safe back home in Teufel?” the junior officer senses that the Major needs to talk, and so he prompts him for more.

“Nein, mein freund. There was no keeping her at home… no, not my Brigitte. She went missing in action last year in Frankreich on some sort of mission for the RSHA.”

“I am sorry…”

“Do not be, Hauptmann. I am not the only one that has lost a little sister, and I must accept what is,” he pats the other man on the shoulder and dismisses him, “Go on. I will read my orders and be out shortly.”

Once alone again, he sits down on his bed again and removes the portrait from its frame. It goes into the breast pocket of his jacket. He pours a small cognac for himself and raises it.

“Happy birthday, Gitte.”

*              *              *              *              *

“The Englanders are coming, men. To the air at once. Für der Vaterland,” Major von Teufel speaks calmly and firmly on the night-shrouded tarmac. His homeland is under attack and to its protection he must go. Now, this is not a matter of politics, of race or Party. It is a matter of honor and of duty. It is a matter of honoring the memory of the lost.

He and his men dash to their planes and shortly are aloft, flying all but blind save for radar to find and stop the wave of inexorable, incoming British bombers.

Messerschmitt BF110

Messerschmitt BF110

*              *              *              *              *

Major Friedrich von Teufel was shot down in his Messerschmitt BF110 over Pilsen on May 14, 1943 when his gruppe (squadron) engaged an RAF force intent on bombing a munitions factory.

74 British four-engine bombers were shot down by the German night-fighters in a fierce aerial battle. Joseph Goebbels, writing in his diary, recorded that the biggest setback from the British raid on the factory was that the drafting room was destroyed.

The very same day planning for Operation Pointblank was begun in Washington. Operation Pointblank laid out a strategy for round-the-clock Allied strategic bombing against Nazi Germany as a prelude to the invasion at Normandy.

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