Written by Gincognifo :: [Tuesday, 02 February 2010 08:01] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 29 May 2021 15:50]
April 7th, 1939
As the Italian invasion force approached the coast of Albania, the troops on board the transport ships were in a boisterous mood. Most of them felt no animus towards the Albanians and regarded the invasion as a pointless waste of time, but the excitement of going into action, especially against an enemy regarded as largely defenseless, was palpable.
The invasion plan called for three waves to attack Albania over the course of three days. The largest and most critical of these was the first wave, which was split into four groups, each of which was to land at a different harbor and then move on to a different inland target.
Gianpiero Guttuso was an ordinary Italian soldier, part of the second group of the first wave. They were nearing the port of Durazzo, which the Albanians insisted on calling Durrës. Once they had secured the harbor, they were tasked with moving inland to capture the Albanian capitol, Tirana. Gianpiero was proud to be part of the most important piece of the invasion, even if he regarded the invasion itself as an annoying distraction from the important business of chasing pretty women.
As they approached the harbor, Gianpiero scanned the shoreline keenly through a pair of binoculars that his mother had insisted he take with him to the army. The Italians were expecting no more than token resistance from the Albanians, even though Mussolini's ultimatum had made it very clear that an invasion was imminent, and his examination of the city bore that out. None of the heavy weaponry that would be required to repulse the Italian force was in evidence.
The only people he could see who appeared to be waiting for the approaching Italian ships were a customs officer and a young woman, standing on the docks. They made an odd couple: a middle-aged official and an angel-faced young woman. She was bellissima; maybe twenty years old, tall, with dark chestnut hair tied back into a ponytail. She wore a simple pair of canvas trousers that looked as if they had seen several years of continuous labor and a simple white cotton blouse. Her feet were bare.
Suddenly, the woman looked straight at Gianpiero. She must have seen the flash of his binoculars and instinctively looked in that direction. It almost seemed like she was staring into his eyes across the half mile of ocean that still separated them; but that was impossible. The girl winked and Gianpiero was so startled that he almost dropped his binoculars.
"Merda!" said Gianpiero. "Ah pretty lady, I trust that you will be gone by the time we land; I would sooner shoot myself in my bountiful heart than be forced to harm such a beautiful creature."
Gianpiero walked off to join the rest of his unit, ready to disembark. He whistled a few stanzas of an aria from his favorite opera and idly wondered if all of the women in Albania were as beautiful as the mysterious girl on the dock. If so, then this could prove to be an even more exciting adventure than he had anticipated.
The first Italian ship docked in the harbor and a squad of soldiers, Gianpiero among them, scrambled to disembark. They were met on the dockside by the customs officer and the beautiful young woman.
"Welcome to Albania," said the customs officer. "May I please see your passports."
The Italian officer in charge of the squad laughed. "We have no passports!" he said. "We are here to occupy your country."
The customs officer sighed. He turned to the lovely, dark-haired woman next to him. "You were right, young lady," he said. "They are here to invade." He pulled a whistle out of his pocket and blew it, fiercely. A pair of gendarmes who had been watching the scene from the other end of the dock drew their machine pistols and slowly approached.
The Italian soldiers unholstered their rifles and pointed them at the customs officer and his young companion. "Do not be ridiculous," said the Italian officer. "You are under detention." He waved for his men to take the two Albanians into custody.
The young woman spoke for the first time. "Do not lay a hand on me," she said, "or you will surely regret it."
The Italian soldiers laughed and ignored her warning. Two of them grabbed the customs officer by his arms and another pair grabbed the woman in the same way. Gianpiero rushed to make sure that he was one of them; the chance to lay his hands on such a lovely creature could not be passed up, and perhaps he could charm her by showing uncommon kindness as her captor.
The men holding the customs officer marched him towards their ship. The men holding the woman tried to do the same, but inexplicably found that they were unable to move her.
"Dio mio!" exclaimed Gianpiero's companion. "You must weigh more than both of my grandmothers!"
"You are as strong as you are beautiful!" said Gianpiero, hoping to distinguish himself from his boorish companion.
"I do not go anywhere where I do not wish to go," said the woman in perfect Italian, "Now let me go before I lose my patience."
The soldiers ignored her and simply redoubled their efforts to move her. She stood with her hands on her hips, shaking her head. They strained and pulled with all of their might, but found that they could not shift her slender arms by a fraction of a millimeter, let alone move the rest of her. Gianpiero was beginning to worry that there was more to this woman than met the eye, and there was plenty of that. No woman, no matter how strong or fit, should have been able to resist two strapping young Italian soldiers.
Suddenly, the woman moved. She took her hands off of her hips and grabbed each man by the front of his tunic. With a disturbing lack of effort, she lifted each man a few inches off the ground and let them dangle there for a few minutes.
"I tried to warn you," she said. "I do not want to have to hurt you."
The two soldiers began to curse. Gianpiero was beyond astonished. How was it possible that two grown men, members of the fine Italian army, had been unable to move a mere slip of a woman, yet she was able to lift them with only one hand?
The young woman drew back her arms, carrying the soldiers as if they weighed no more than a tennis ball, and then threw them forward, letting go of the soldiers' tunics as her arms reached the apex of their arcs. The two men flew through the air.
The sensation of being lifted by a young woman and thrown through the air was a unique one for Gianpiero. For a while, he could almost persuade himself that he was flying, and he began to enjoy it. He looked down and saw the ship that had brought him to Albania pass below him at high speed, then he began to arc down towards the water. He and his companion landed with a pair of large splashes.
The two men surfaced and began to tread water. Soldiers on the ship laughed nervously as they threw a pair of life preservers to the two embarrassed men.
The Italian officer was shocked and disbelieving. If he had not seen it with his own eyes, then he would have dismissed the event as an hallucination brought on by an excess of grappa. He drew his pistol and aimed it at her chest. "At arms, men!" he ordered. "Aim your rifles at this woman."
A dozen men aimed their rifles directly at the woman.
"Signorina, please surrender yourself at once," said the officer.
"No," said the woman, simply. "You will release the customs officer and you will surrender."
"You cannot throw us all into the water, Signorina," said the officer. "You are surrounded and we have our rifles trained on you."
The woman moved so quickly that she became a pale blur. In an instant, she closed the distance between herself and one of the soldiers and grabbed the end of his rifle.
"This is what I think of your rifles," she said.
Before the soldier could think of pulling the trigger of his gun, she turned her wrist, twisting the barrel of the gun into a crude spiral and shattering the wooden stock. The soldier instinctively pulled the trigger and immediately regretted it; the distorted gun backfired and exploded in his hands. The soldier screamed and ran back to his ship, clutching his burned and wounded hand.
"Shoot her!" shouted the Italian officer.
Ten soldiers fired their rifles and the officer fired his pistol. The squad were moderately well trained and the range was short, so five of them hit their target, although they did not realize so at first. The woman showed no reaction at having been shot, so the soldiers assumed that they had missed. Then they noticed the bullet holes in her tunic.
"That tickles!" said the young woman.
At that point, the Italians decided that discretion was the better part of valor; they turned and ran back to their ship. They left the customs officer behind. The two gendarmes with the machine pistols arrived and took positions on either side of the woman. They fired a burst above the heads of the retreating Italians to encourage their flight.
The commanders of the Italian invasion force, sitting in the harbor at Durrës, briefly discussed their next move. Returning to Italy and telling Il Duce that his great Albanian adventure had been sent packing by a single young woman was out of the question. One way or another, they had to take the harbor and move on to Tirana.
They decided to deploy the mini tanks.
The armored component of the Italian invasion force consisted of a number of L3/33 "light" tanks, or tankettes. These miniature vehicles were far smaller than the Panzers used by the Germans, and lacked a rotating turret, but each L3/33 sported a pair of powerful 8mm machine guns that were sure to cut through the freakish woman who was defending the harbor.
The woman watched the tanks being unloaded with a curious look on her face. In spite of what the Italians may have hoped, she did not seem to be particularly intimidated by their force of tankettes, and showed no sign of retreating. She gestured for the other Albanians to clear the area, and the customs officer and the gendarmes retreated, gratefully.
A half dozen L3/33 tanks, moving two abreast, rolled up the dockside towards the Albanian strongwoman. They halted twenty yards from her, fanning out into a semicircle so that each tank had a clear shot at the woman. The commander of the small armored squad popped his head out of the top of his tankette and shouted at her to surrender, but she ignored him completely.
Muttering a request to the god of beautiful women to forgive him for harming such a glorious creature, the commander ordered the tanks to open fire. Twelve 8mm machine guns barked into life, peppering the young woman with fast-moving bullets.
It was immediately clear to the Italians that their bullets were having no effect on the woman. Bullets ricocheted in all directions, many of them scattering back in the direction they had come, scratching the thin armor of the tankettes.
The woman's blouse was almost completely shredded, revealing a tight-fitting black and red garment beneath. The woman stood there, facing the mini tanks, with her chest thrust out towards them, letting the hail of bullets wash over her.
The assault paused. The woman tore off the few remaining strips of her blouse. Over her torso, she wore a skintight halter top of an unknown, slightly shiny material. The garment covered her well-endowed chest, but left her long neck, flat stomach and toned arms exposed. It was dark red, with a black double-headed eagle, the national symbol of Albania, woven across the front in black.
"It is my turn, now," said the young woman, in a steely tone that was loud enough to penetrate the interior of the tankettes and which loosened the bowels of more than one of the Italian soldiers.
She advanced slowly, sauntering casually towards the tankettes as they continued to pour bullets into her path. Her halter top was as bulletproof as she was. She stopped in front of one of the tankettes, barely a foot from the twin machine guns that were fruitlessly raking her with bullets.
The gunner of the nearest tankette stopped firing and shifted the position of his guns so that they were pointed at the woman's head instead of her chest. He began firing again, hoping that her face was more vulnerable than her impossible torso. A salvo of bullets struck the eyeball of her left eye, each one capable of tearing through the skull of an ordinary human; every bullet shattered on impact with her eyeball, scattering over the ground as small pieces of shrapnel.
The woman laughed and winked. "I see what you did there," she said.
She closed the short distance between herself and the tankette. While the tankette's machine guns were still firing, she stuck one finger from each hand into the barrels. Rounds exploded inside the barrels, which immediately split. The explosion backed up into the small armored vehicle and smoke began to pour out of it. The crew quickly bailed out and ran for the safety of their ship.
The young woman sauntered over to the next tankette in line and casually picked it up as if it weighed no more than a small bag of sugar. She idly tossed it up and down a few times, giving the nauseous crew a chance to bail out. When the vehicle was abandoned, she cocked her arm back and threw it out to sea, far past the Italian ships.
The crew of the next tankette realized where things were going and abandoned their vehicle before she had finished throwing the previous one. Their instincts were spot on. The young woman grabbed the front armor of the vehicle with her hands, digging into the armor plating as if it were soft clay. She pulled her hands apart, tearing the front of the vehicle into two ragged halves. She casually threw the pieces of tankette over her shoulders behind her.
The rest of the tiny armored vehicles made a rapid retreat, burning out their engines, such was their haste to get away from the impossibly strong woman.
As the Italians returned to their ships, Albanian gendarmes and soldiers, emboldened by their alluring young ally, started taking up defensive positions around the harbor. If the Italians wanted to make another landing, then they would have to do so under fire.
The Italian landing force retreated to their ships; the ships retreated from the dockside and sat in the harbor while the Italian commanders considered their next move. The next move was to subject the town to a full-on naval bombardment, in the hope that the heavy guns of the battleships that had escorted them across the Adriatic would prove effective against the young woman who had bested their tanks and soldiers.
Gianpiero Guttuso, still wet from his encounter with the young woman, watched events unfold through his trusty binoculars. He was relieved to be back on a transport ship, away from the impossible Albanian woman. He was also relieved that his ship had no guns with which to shell the harbor, because he had a bad feeling that anybody firing at the woman with the double eagle on her chest would soon regret it.
Gianpiero's worst fears were confirmed in an unexpected manner. Moments before the capital ships opened fire, he watched in stunned disbelief as the bulletproof woman rose up into the air as if it was a perfectly natural thing for her to do.
She floated in mid-air for a moment. When the big guns opened up, she suddenly disappeared. A series of explosions appeared in the air, equidistant between the capital ships and the harbor. None of the shells fired by the Italian ships had made it to the shore; impossible as it seemed, the young woman had intercepted every one, moving so fast that she was all but invisible to the naked eye.
The invincible Albanian reappeared in a blur, still floating in the air; she held herself as if bracing herself against thin air. One gun that had lagged behind the others in the initial bombardment fired. Observing her through his binoculars, Gianpiero watched with astonishment as the young woman was struck in the chest by a massive artillery shell and did not move even an inch.
Gianpiero was familiar enough with the laws of physics to understand that what he had just seen was impossible, or at least very difficult to explain. The young woman may have been strong and bulletproof, but the shells had struck her with enough force that the transfer of momentum should have sent her flying. The woman was either incredibly dense and therefore heavy, or she was somehow bracing herself against the impact, using her flying ability.
The ships fired another fusillade of shells, with the same result. Moving at impossible speed, the provocatively dressed superwoman intercepted every shell in mid-air. Armaments that were designed to rip through armor-plated ship hulls spent themselves uselessly against the skin of the young woman; skin which appeared to the naked eye to be soft and smooth, but which was proving itself to be harder than steel.
The battleship Giulio Cesare was still trying to shell the Albanian coast when the young woman came for it.
The ship had been sent to escort the landing force to Durrës. Dating back to the first world war, she massed over 20,000 tonnes, was over 500 feet long and carried more than 50 guns of varying calibers. Her heavy 305mm fruitlessly fired their massive ordnance towards the harbor at Durrës, but every shell was intercepted by the young woman.
The spotters on the ship noticed that she was intercepting their fire closer to the ship than before. The explosions that indicated that a shell had struck her invulnerable body were now ripping through the air only a hundred meters from the giant ship. Then it was only fifty meters. Then it was only twenty-five meters.
Then it was no distance at all. The woman appeared in front of each gun in turn and placed her arm in the barrel. When the gun fired, the shell exploded in the barrel, tearing the barrel apart and sending a massive explosion racing back to the base of the gun, igniting the magazine. It all happened too quickly for the gunners to react. One moment, the Giulio Cesare had 13 heavy guns, the next it had 13 ragged craters in its hull and a series of intense fires.
Panic gripped the bridge when the true extent of the damage became clear. The captain ordered a hasty withdrawal as fire crews attempted to save the ship.
Kohar Duka watched with satisfaction as the Italian invasion force withdrew. There were still three other landing groups that she had to deal with, but the one that had been threatening the capital had been defeated.
It had been five years since the young farmer's daughter had discovered that she was an orphan from another world possessed of incredible powers, raised by the farmer whose farmhouse she had landed behind. As she had grown from adolescence to womanhood, she had argued with her father about the role that she should take in the affairs of the wider world. She wanted nothing more than to be a farmer; to work the land and make things grow. Her father argued that she had a wider destiny.
As totalitarianism had spread across Europe and as the Italian dictator had made more and more demands of tiny Albania, Kohar had begun to realize that she had a responsibility to defend her adopted homeland.
It had been easy for her to pluck the radio transmissions of the approaching Italians out of the air and the work of moments to break their feeble encryption. She knew exactly where and when the Italian landings were scheduled to occur.
Now, wearing a uniform that she had made herself from the swaddling blankets that had accompanied her from her home planet, she had struck her first blow for Albania. She launched herself into the air and made her way north to the next Italian landing site, cutting through the air like a supersonic eagle.
In a way, she was disappointed that the Italians had provided such little challenge for her. Until this moment, she had not realized just how far beyond the rest of humanity she really was. Her strength, speed, invulnerability and flight made her like a goddess among mortals. There was so much more that she could do than to just defend Albania.
She could rule Albania, toppling the feeble king Zog in a moment. She could establish an Albanian Empire, stretching from the furthest tip of Spain to the wilds of Siberia. No army, navy or air force in the world could hope to stand against her.
In her mind, she saw her future going down two paths. She could carve a path of blood to Rome, Berlin, and Belgrade; slicing through soldiers, tanks, ships and aircraft like a scythe through a field of human wheat. She could sit on a throne of polished skulls and rule the cowering, fearful masses of humanity as their one, true queen.
Or she could go back to the farm and live in quiet obscurity, only coming out when her homeland was threatened.
That was a decision for tomorrow. Today, she had an invasion to repulse.