Legend of World War II
August 2002 - Issue #5 of 5 - "Liberty or Death"
Written by James Pedrick
Created by and property of James Pedrick
Continued from Liberty - Legend of World War II #4
Scott Phillips/Liberty – He was once an agent for Military Intelligence and engaged to be married to fellow agent Carla Stephens. When Military Intelligence recruited him to be transformed into the world’s first ultra Liberty, Phillips thought he would only see his fiancé and friends for a short six months. But after more than a year, Scott Phillips was surprised to find his best friend, Walter Peterson, had married his former fiancé. What he did not know was that the government has told his friends he had died to keep the identity of their new ultra soldier a secret. While fighting together in World War II, Walter discovered that Liberty was really Scott Phillips before ultimately dying in combat. On that mission, he also learned that the Nazis had already discovered some of the secrets behind the Liberty Project that created him. Scott is now left with questions on how he will deal with his former fiancé and how his government will guard some of its most precious secrets for national security.
Carla Stephens – She was to marry fellow Military Intelligence agent Scott Phillips until she was told he died. Now, Carla is married to Scott’s best friend, Walter Peterson, and has given birth to a young son. Tragedy hit Carla’s life again when her husband was kidnapped by Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. But Walter was rescued by the new ultra soldier Liberty. Now, her life has been turned upside down as her husband believes Scott may still be alive as none other than Liberty. And before she can get to the bottom of the mystery, both Walter and Liberty have been sent off to the Second World War with only one coming home alive. With her husband dead, Carla’s last hope is that Liberty is her former fiancé.
Walter Peterson – Military Intelligence agent Walter Peterson has always felt like the third wheel to his best friend Scott Phillips and his fiancé Carla Stephens. After they were told Scott died, Walter fell in love with Carla and the two married. They had a child, but not before Walter Peterson was kidnapped by Nazi sympathizers. He was saved by the ultra soldier Liberty, who Walter believed was none other than Liberty. He learned his theory was correct while fighting alongside Liberty, but not before he ultimately lost his life in combat.
John Shepard – Along with Liberty, Shepard is the only survivor of a group of soldiers who fought in a top secret mission in Austria where they discovered that Nazis had information about the U.S.’s Liberty Project. Shepard is a devout Christian whose faith perplexes Liberty.
Colonel Medison – Medison was never comfortable with the Liberty Project. This rose suspicions in Scott Phillips as they sought out a spy from within the project. Medison, however, was really a trustworthy part of Military Intelligence and ultimately saved Phillips’ life from an attack by the true spy. Now, Medison has been appointed to a higher position within Military Intelligence and must determine how they can best handle the apparent leaking of top secret information about the Liberty Project he once reluctantly worked on.
The Liberty Project – The Military Intelligence’s goal was to create the perfect soldier. They did so when they created Scott Phillips into Liberty, thanks to the creative genius of Doctor Lowell and General Cunnings. The project almost suffered a set back when Nurse Teresa Nelson turned out to be a spy and attempted to assassinate Scott Phillips. Fortunately, Colonel Jim Medison managed to kill the spy before she was successful. After the success of Scott Phillips, the project has been unsuccessful on further attempts to create an ultra. What finally destroyed the project was when foreign spied attacked the Liberty Compound. But they were unsuccessful in stealing government secrets, when Doctor Lowell ordered the self-destruction of the compound, killing the facilities and creators in the process to save national security. Now, the government has learned the Nazis did managed to uncover some but not all of their top secret information on the Liberty Project.
Liberty: Legend of World War II - Issue #5 of 5 - "Liberty or Death"
Somewhere over the Atlantic
Scott Phillips, known now to the world as Liberty, sat on a ship as it sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. It was probably one of the only military ships heading toward the United States, as most were busy sending American troops into combat.
Scott could not understand why he, after being transformed into an invulnerable ultra soldier, was being sent back to America while others were dying.
But those were the least of his questions. Just a few days earlier, his best friend, Walter Peterson, was killed in combat. The brief discussion they had beforehand deeply concerned him. Walter had been told he died, as was Carla, the former fiancé of Scott who then wed Walter when hearing Scott had died. Why had the government lied to his friends during the long year he was transformed? Why did he have to live in a secret identity, always hiding behind a mask?
Liberty abruptly ripped off his mask, much to the surprise of everyone around him, though none of them ever knew Scott Phillips anyway, so his face was just another nameless one.
John Shepard continued to read his Bible. Scott still had not decided what he thought of that. He thought he made a decision a longtime ago in the matter of God and religion. His life seemed more complete then though.
“Why do continuously read that thing, Shepard?”
John Shepard closed the book to give Scott his full attention. “I plan to be a pastor, sir.”
Liberty laughed, hiding his curiosity with his pride. “Now why would you do a thing like that?”
“Well, I want everyone else to feel the freedom I feel by knowing the Lord.”
“Freedom? I always thought of the Bible as full of restrictions and rules.”
“I like to think of it as a guide.”
“I can understand your anxiety over all this, Liberty. Obviously, you have a lot of questions, and we need to give you a lot of answers.”
“No shit, Colonel! You can start by telling me why my fiancé and best friend think I’m a corpse!”
Colonel Medison turned his attention from Liberty to John Shepard. “Lieutenant Shepard, the government thanks you for escorting Liberty here safely. I’m afraid we’ll need some privacy now.” He then turned back to the infuriated ultra soldier, “Please come with me. I’ll straighten this out.”
The Colonel and Liberty walked down a hall and into an empty room with mirrors. The mirrors were no doubt used so that others could watch from the room next room in case Colonel Medison needed assistance.
Colonel Medison rubbed his forehead. “Where to begin?” he asked himself.
“You can start by letting me know why Scott Phillips is dead to the world!”
“Scott, I am sorry for what has happened to you. I truly am. It is my opinion that Doctor Lowell and General Cunnings were misguided when they started their project. Even more disconcerting is that they sent you out to battle before they knew whether they could duplicate the success they had with you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The project is over, Scott. Since you were transformed into what you are today, there has not been one single success. Every soldier put through the program died as a result. Somehow, you made it, but we do not know why. The Liberty Compound was destroyed by our own from within because it was attacked by foreign spies trying to steal our secrets, attempting to make their own version of you.”
“The Nazis. In Austria, I apprehended some of the documents they had stolen.”
“Yes, the Nazis are working on emulating our project, but not just them. We believe the spies that raided the Liberty Compound were Soviets.”
Colonel Medison laughed under his breath, “Hardly.”
“So, what are we going to do?”
“Well, Scott, luckily neither the Nazis nor the Soviets know as much as they would need to get as successful as we even were with our failed attempts. However, if they were to get a hold of you, it could mean the end. They would not only have the secrets needed to create their own ultra soldiers… but we would have nothing to respond with.”
Scott was not happy with where this was going.
“Scott, that is why we had to put an end to your previous life. With friends and family, you would be vulnerable. Enemies could hold your loved ones hostage to get to you. That is also why… why we have to put an end to Liberty.”
Scott dropped his head in unbelief. He was not sure what to do next. Should he fight this? Should he accept it? He felt desperate. He felt alone… very alone.
“It pains me to do this, Scott. But we have to. Please don’t put up a fight. We can do this as painlessly as possible. You know how much our government has to do to protect our freedoms.”
“Okay. Do what you have to do.”
Two soldiers escorted Scott into a room with clear, bullet proof walls. The room was empty, except for a doctor and examination bed, really more of a table. Colonel Medison and few others watched from the adjacent room. Scott was now dressed in simple scrubs.
They quickly strapped him down onto the examination bed. The guards were clearly more at ease at that point. No man would ever be able to turn back now.
Scott took a deep breath as the doctor was about to begin. The first injection was a form of anesthesia, used to knock the person unconscious. As Scott looked at the needle, he realized he was not ready. He could not die like this, because he was not ready. In the future, he would wish he found another way to get out of the situation he was now in though.
As the injection needle crept closer to him, Scott used his incredible strength to break the straps around him. He grabbed a gun from the solider standing guard next to him while kicking him to the ground. He was so quick, there was no time for anyone else to react. He quickly shot the other, still-armed, soldier. He then grabbed the doctor’s wrist, turning it around and injecting the anesthesia into the doctor. The guard he kicked had then got up, but Liberty shot him, wounding him in the leg.
Colonel Medison was quick to send the six soldiers around him to attack. “Get him, men. He should be more vulnerable without his armor,” Medison said as he patted the folded Liberty suit lying on the table in front of him. “Why’d you have to put up a fight, Scott?”
The soldiers responded quickly. Six of them were at the scene firing at the door.
Scott used the door to block their fire, occasionally returning fire. He hit two of the soldiers but realized he needed another plan. If he did not get out of there soon, more men would be called after him. The only reason there were so few at that point was to keep the events as quiet as possible. He looked through the window at Colonel Medison and knew what he had to do.
Scott used his speed, powerful legs, and forceful strength to push through the clear, bullet-proof wall. It would have been impossible for any normal man to do so.
Immediately, he disarmed Colonel Medison, grabbing the pistol from his hand and shooting at guards as they turned their attention toward his new location.
Medison quickly ran through the shattered wall to get a pistol from one of the fallen soldiers.
Soon, all six of the armed soldiers were dead or severely wounded.
Scott directed his pistol toward Medison just as Medison had his pointed at him.
The two were at a standstill.
“Come on, Scott. You know this has to be done. I didn’t make this decision. They’re going to get you even if you kill me. Where will you go? Who will you turn to?”
He was alone. “Maybe I’ll take myself to the Russians.”
Colonel Medison grinned. “You know you wouldn’t do that.”
Scott remembered the last time someone was about to kill him. When he found out the girl he loved, or at least the one he was making love to, was spy. He would have died if it was not for Medison saving his life.* Medison was a good man with good intentions. Perhaps it was time Scott trusted him and take one for the team.
(* See Liberty – Legend of World War II #3)
Scott dropped his weapon. “You’re right.”
Just at that moment, John Shepard saw what was about to take place. Curious, he snuck his way through the compound, uneasy about what the government’s motivations were concerning their Liberty soldier. The compound was huge, but it was obvious this area of the compound was secret even to those in the secret compound.
Hearing gunfire, he rushed to that point. If it wasn’t for him being so close, he would not have even heard the gunfire as the rooms were all so well insulated, sound did not travel much.
He saw Medison about to shoot at the defenseless soldier known to him only as Liberty and promptly jumped in front of him, shooting toward Medison.
Medison was shot in the chest just before he pulled his trigger, shooting Shepard in the lower abdomen.
“No. Why’d you do that?” Scott cried as he tried to stop the bleeding in Shepard’s stomach.
“You have a purpose,” he said quietly. “‘There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death. I should fight for my liberty as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.’* You have a purpose… to preserve Liberty.”
(* These words were first spoken by Harriet Tubman, a black woman who escaped slavery and then fought to save as many other slaves as possible through the Underground Railroad. She helped bring liberty to more slaves than any other person!)
John Shepard quietly passed away. Tears ran down Scott’s face. Why would someone sacrifice their life for him? Especially when he was not even sure he wanted someone to sacrifice his life for him.
But Scott had little time to reflect, for he did not know how soon others would come looking for him. Knowing how all Military Intelligence compounds work, he found a switched used to activate the gasoline sprinklers. He quickly turned it on and programmed the spark trigger to go off in ten minutes. That should be more than enough time for the remaining men throughout other areas of the compound to safely exit the building when they saw the sprinklers had been activated.
First, Scott dressed his personal savior up in the Liberty armor. The fire that would soon erupt would easily make the bodies indescribable but the armor would still be very much intact. They would think he died in the explosion and assume the emergency self-destruction method was employed by Medison because Liberty had rebelled, deciding not to go quietly.
Scott dressed in Shepard’s uniform and exited the premises.
The compound exploded. And with it, the identities of both Liberty and Scott Phillips died. From that day on, his name would be John Shepard.
Scott Phillips, dressed in the identity of John Shepard, watched from afar.
A neglected baby cried in the background as Carla Stephens fell to her knees in tears. Her friend, Major Samuels, had recently informed her that the mysterious Liberty soldier had died a few days earlier. He was now just a legend.
Scott watched. “I’m coming home, honey. Soon. It just isn’t safe now,” he said to himself, as if she could hear. He then reached into his pocket to pull out the book often read by John Shepard. “But first, I have to find myself… and perhaps something else.”
“Why weren’t you there for me?” An old John Shepard said. Those words were the last ones his love, Carla Stephens, ever spoke to him. John, known to Carla as Scott, had not let her know he was a live until years later.
It was not until her own infant son had died of a rare disease that he finally visited her. He told himself it was to protect her, but maybe it was to protect him from dealing with reality. The reality that his life with Carla would not be the same, could never be the same.
He tried to comfort her. But by then, she had already suffered too many losses. He was too late. She could not believe he waited so long. They never saw each other since.
From the end of World War II to 1985, John Shepard had many adventures.*
(* You’ll have to wait to hear those adventures!)
Now, John Shepard was a pastor. At eighty-five, he was tired of fighting battles.
But as he watched the events unfold in New York City, he could not help but remember Carla’s last words, “Why weren’t you there for me?”
The torch fell off the Statue of Liberty, the embodiment of what he stood for was being desecrated by ultra terrorists.*
(* See Prime: The New Adventures #1!)
On Sunday morning, John Shepard walked in to the sanctuary and stood before his congregation. “Today, I leave you, my sheep but do not forget what I have spoken. For the end is near.” With those few words, his sermon was over… and a new chapter began in the life of Liberty
Well, I hope that was worth the wait. After a more than three years... the Legend of World War II mini-series is finally being completed. Liberty returns in Prime: The New Adventures story "Welcome to the Big Apple!" The story begins with issue #1 with Liberty battling Prime in issue #4, the conclusion!
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