Free City Of Hamburg

It's hard to imagine a city more different from Kingdom than Hamburg. Steeped in nearly 1200 years of history, it stands in contrast to the overnight paradise of Jericho Sayle. Kingdom City rises from the desert, while Hamburg sits in the marshes of the Elbe, washed by cool rains from the North Sea. Kingdom City is almost wholly dependent on metahuman powers to keep it operating and to defend it, while Hamburg benefits (or suffers, depending on whom you ask) from a remarkable dearth of superhumans. What they have in common is that both a free cities, giving them a great deal of latitude in conducting their internal affairs, and both are leading centres of technical innovation and economic powerhouses.

Hamburg's rebirth as a true free city came after it was struck by disaster in 2000. The city's senior defender, the legacy hero das Schreckgespenst (the Spectre) intervened when the city was attacked by Northern Storm of the Furies. Never particularly stable, as is typical for a member of the Furies, this time the ice- and water-manipulator seemed berserk with rage. Those few survivors that were near at hand report Northern Storm bellowing something about someone called 'Anya' and seemingly pleading the Spectre for help. Whether this information is accurate, and the true cause of the fight, is unknown, but the destruction it wreaked is unquestionable.

Northern Storm, accompanied by a battalion of militia borrowed from Ionique, flung geysers of icy water that could induce hypothermia in seconds, and sent javelins and walls of ice to try and crush his foe. The Spectre responded with evasion and a series of guerilla attacks, gradually whittling away at the crazed supervillain's support with his stunning Death's Hand attacks and Ghost Bombs. Meanwhile, though, the civilian casualties and property damage was escalating. Every time the Spectre dodged, part of a building would be levelled by the attack, or a car would be frozen solid, or the ground itself would be pulverised under glacial forces.

The battle raged for nearly two hours; the Primacy failed to intervene because the Hamburg Embassy was one of the first buildings destroyed, and they had trouble orchestrating a response from Berlin. Northern Storm and the Spectre duelled all across the city centre, from the Fairgrounds to Michaeliskirche to the Rathausmarkt, destroying buildings centuries old, and recreating the carnage of the British firestorm bombings of WWII, but with cold as a the medium instead of incendiaries. In the end, the Spectre's combat skill and eerie powers proved the superior, and he struck the tempestuous Fury a crippling blow from behind. Though dazed, Northern Storm was able to gather enough of his wits to call upon the last of his powers for one last terrible display. He reached into the Arctic oceans, and lifted an iceberg the size of a city block into the air over Hamburg… and let it fall.

Nearly 5000 citizens died in the attack, and hundreds of thousands lost homes and businesses. The impact of thousands of tons of solid material was like a minor comet strike; the entire inner city was devastated by the impact, and much of the outer regions were damaged by shards of the iceberg and the tremors and flooding that followed. Northern Storm disappeared following the attack, though he has been sighted infrequently lurking in the Arctic seas, and there is a Class Lambda warrant on him; the Spectre was assumed killed in the impact.

For a while, Hamburg was declared a permanent disaster area; the damage was so severe, the German government could not see any way to make the ruins habitable again in the short term. It became the abode of squatters and looters, who regularly had to flee form the military patrols tasked with keeping people away from the sewage-contaminated crater. At last, an inspired scientist named Professor Hieronym Konnigsedge announced a visionary plan to rebuild and renew the city. He addressed his plans to the people of Europe directly, rather than the governments, and petitioned several of the largest corporations and richest foundations for funding. With this groundswell of popular and private sector support, the German government had little choice but to accede, but they did so by declaring the remains of Hamburg to be a free city, rather than supporting the rebuilding effort.

The reconstruction is ongoing, but truly remarkable progress has been made in just three years. Nearly 75% of the ground has been reclaimed and rebuilt, with wonderful, baroque buildings reminiscent of Prague, Dresden and the other great architectural centres of Europe. Unlike the barren steel and glass of Kingdom City, Hamburg is a place of stone, wood and brick, a new city with the feel of the old, possessing a vibrant art, music and café culture. Artists criticise Kingdom, but flock to Hamburg. Despite this, it has become a city of science as well; various Triland subsidiaries have research labs nearby, and the city's heart is home to a substantial atmospheric simulation facility. Hamburg is considered the pre-eminent place for those looking for venture capital to bankroll a new venture or innovation. Its population nears one million, many of them former citizens evacuated after the Northern Storm disaster, but equally many gather from the cream of the world's scientists, artists and philosophers.

But perhaps what Hamburg is best known for is the Red Tower. After what they had suffered, Konnigsedge was easily able to convince the residents that 'superheroes' were a deadly threat that must be avoided. To this end, he unveiled as a centrepiece of the city a massive, crimson alloy tower, designed in tribute to Hamburg's coat of arms, that housed a Suppression Generator of his own design; a field that inhibited the abilities of metahumans. Beings with unusual chemical or genetic traits, or advanced non-human physiologies find their powers nullified or drastically reduced. The field also strengthens collective reality, making supernatural powers and magic harder to tap into.

Ironically, this has made the city a popular resort for superpowered beings that are 'slumming it', or wish to go incognito, or evening planning to retire. With their distinctive powers negated, they have an easier time avoiding recognition, and can be reassured that their enemies will be similarly impeded if they arrive looking for a fight.

Regional
Africa The Pact
Nigeria The Ministry of Extraplanetary Technology
X-town
Asia Ubyezhich
Europe
Germany Free City of Hamburg
North America
United States Kingdom City
Oceanic
Pacific Ocean Pacifica Prison
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