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    Ronin's Oneshot Corner

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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:25 pm

    Snake Venom
    April 19, 1995
    Camp Buckley, Sapin

              Captain Jon “Guppy” Gesporzo lifted the entrance flap of his tent and squinted at the sunlight. It was a cloudless day in Sapin, and the dry plains were getting further baked by the sun. He arched his back and yawned again.
             “Hey Guppy, get your ass outta my face.”
             The man took a step forward as 1Lt. Ray Morton straightened up after exiting the tent.
             “Well stop trying to smell my farts.” His fellow officer retorted.
             The two went left down the row of olive green tents towards the solid buildings of their current residence. Before the evening of March 24, 1995, Camp Buckley had been a depot for coach buses that belonged to a Sapin-based tour agency. When Belkan troops crossed the border, Gran Rugido nationalized the site and soon after gave it to the Osean forces coming to help. The fence had been knocked over, and the large concrete lot used to place buses was now home to two squadrons of Osean Marine Corps helicopters. Jon and Ray belonged to HMLA-281, the Chimeras, as an AH-1 pilot and gunner respectively.
             Beyond the commune of canvas structures were a few garages for maintenance.  Wedged between two of them were a pair of portable buildings, like ones found at a construction site. The two walked between them to one marked “Chimera’s Den” and up the stairs. They could hear loud rock music blasting from inside. Beyond the door was several other aircrew of the squadron gathered in the squadron’s temporary lounge away from their home at Camp Forge back in Osea.
             “Heya Guppy, Shorty!” Captain Arnold Nicholas smiled. The two looked over at the man on the couch as he withdrew two cans of Diet Coke from a cooler.
             “Need a buzz of caffeine before we take off?” He offered.
             “Hit me.” Jon said, holding his hands out towards. The black-haired pilot gave the silver can a gentle toss through the air to Guppy’s hands.
             Guppy cracked open the can and walked to the flight schedule. As he’d suspected he was on the next sortie, which was labeled under the main role of the AH-1: close air support. The briefing was supposed to be going down in the next room in around ten minutes. He turned towards the big TV in the space, which was currently the source of the music rather than being turned to the news. Ironically they had to rely heavily on the media to get the big picture of how long the war might take. All they knew outside that was what part they had to play, and that was helping the advance from Sapin to Ustio and Belka.
             The ground drive in this area was a two-pronged effort. The Osean Army’s 12th Infantry Division would swing through the southern part of Ustio alongside two divisions of the Ustian Army. Part of the 1st MEF (the other part was poised to take the Futuro Canal) and two divisions of Sapin’s army would eject the Belkan Army from Arlon. To Jon, the war here in Sapin had a personal side to it. This was where the Sapin heritage in his blood came from, and where he had family members. It made that blood boil, and he’d personally made sure he was fighting here, where he belonged. Jon was an Osean, first and foremost, but he would be damned if he let his family’s home be defiled like this.
             He turned towards Arnold and took another slug of his diet soda.
             “You get tapped for flight lead?” the olive-skinned pilot asked. Arnold nodded and winked.
             “We’re gonna have some fun today. I’ve heard that things are turning around for us, we get to go on the offensive now.”
             That was good; Jon wasn’t one for running and his mount wasn’t made to defend, it was made to hunt. The Captain watching the TV stood up and switched it off.
             “Okay boys, time for class.” He announced.
             The eight Cobra crews and two Huey crews (just the pilot and co-pilot) tapped for the flight shuffled into the next room for the briefing. One of them watched the door as the others claimed desks, coming to attention when Major Jun-seo Park, a Huey pilot that served as the squadron’s operations officer, entered. He had the men take a seat before he walked towards a map on a three-legged easel and cleared his throat, contorting his jagged Oriental features.
             “Today we’re fragging aircraft to support a counteroffensive by the 18th MEB, to take the Sapin town of La Santia. We’ll be providing air support primarily to the recon elements as they establish forward positions to get a foothold on the southeastern edge of the settlement. We’re sending up two flights of six, four Cobras to provide direct fire and two Hueys to provide observation and CASEVAC. All-source intel believes that the Belkans have yet to reach the town, but there is a strong possibility that they have scouts in the area like us.” The Major began as he traced a line towards the map of a town from the symbols of OMC recon units with a pointer.
             “We’ll approach the town from two directions. The first flight, Fang 1, will come from the south and sweep past and north of the town to attack any Belkan forces before they can establish a presence in the town. The second force will swing in a parallel axis with the ground units, mostly LAV-25s and HUMVEEs, call sign “Roadrunner”, and provide them with support.” The man went on, running the wooden stick in the respective motions. Ray put a hand up.
             “What are the rules of engagement? Do we know anything regarding civvies in the area?” He asked.
             “Assume that there are still noncombatants in the town, and only fire on buildings if its confirmed they are occupied by hostiles alone. Even then stick to your guns or rockets; don’t wanna collapse a building with a Hellfire.” The Major replied readily. A Huey pilot, Kirk Doque, put his hand up.
             “I’m assuming we’ll have a specific formation so the Cobras take fire first?” He said when acknowledged. Park flashed a smile.
             “You guys are getting ahead of me.” He commented as he flipped the map over to reveal said subject.
             “Each flight will have the Cobras ahead and on the flanks of the Hueys. The Cobras will be carrying most of the heat, but each Huey will be armed with its own M2s for defense and light attack, but again their main role is being ready to evac anyone who gets injured. When we approach the town, the Hueys will gain some altitude and stay in a holding pattern south of La Santia.” The major explained.
             “Fast movers?” someone else asked.
             “Navy said they’ll try and have some fast-movers on scene to provide support, probably F-18s or A-6s.” He replied. A few scoffs could be heard behind Jon’s head.
             “Any kind of FAC work will come from a guy attached to the scouts. Now, the FARP will be 17 miles south of the fight. 18th MEB also has an aid station there to receive any wounded the Hueys bring in.” He added. The man had a few more photos to show.
             “Our latest intel tells us that the closest Belkan unit to La Santia is a company of mechanized recon using Luchs APCs and Wiesels as well as troops in Fuchs APCs. Less threatening than Leo 2s with accompanying Zeuses, but stay on your toes.” He reported, consulting some photographs that’d been marked to show the location of several of said vehicles. The man looked over the group of Marine aviators.
             “In addition, the BAF is still a factor in the fight. I’m assured that our counterparts in their faster machines are working to get air superiority, but don’t rely on that completely. If any enemy fast movers show up, get out of dodge and call in the proper assets.” He reminded them all.
             “Any further questions?” He asked. No one could think of any further ones, and so Park dismissed them to get their things.
             In the building next to them that’d been converted into a hangar for keeping up the aircraft of the squadron, one of the corners had been set up to hold the crews’ flight gear. Jon took a dark green flight vest off its rack and pulled it over his shoulders. He carefully stuffed his maps into the large pouches and grabbed a camouflaged helmet from the shelves above the vests. As he secured the flight gloves on his hands and made sure his helmet strap was tight, the pilot approached the armorer for the last piece of his gear: A Colt M45 handgun. Weapon holstered on his hip soon after, he met his co-pilot near the large doors to the structure.
             “Ready to get some?” Ray winked as he put on a pair of Oakley sunglasses.
             “Damn straight, Shorty.” Jon returned as he adjusted his boom mike.
             Waiting for them on the northernmost edge of the tarmac were four AH-1W Super Cobras in three-tone camo, each bearing the markings of the squadron on its engine pods (though from their angle they could see only one). Next to those were two UH-1N Twin Hueys in the same livery. The rest of the flight was on the opposite end.
             Jon walked up to the Plane Captain (or more, the Helo Captain) and gave him a greeting slap on the shoulder.
             “Weapons all clear so far?” he asked, glancing at some ordnance handlers as they looked over an AGM-114 Hellfire. Ray joined him before he looked over the tools of rotary-wing warfare himself.
             “What’s the ammo type for the Gatling?” the redhead asked, pushing up his sunglasses.
             “We made every third round a tracer, sir.” The enlisted Marine replied. Ray nodded and looked back at their Cobra, official known as “Fang 07”, which carried eight AGM-114s, and two 19-shot pods of Hydra 70 rockets.
             Jon conversed with the head of maintenance a bit more before joining Ray to inspect the machine. As they’d expected it looked more than ready, and the weapons attached to its stubby pylons were firmly in place. Jon came around to the left side and carefully navigated up into the rear cockpit, while Ray sat in the front. The final restraints from flight were removed from the AH-1 and systems were powered up. Jon looked out and saw a plane director waiting for him. With everything in the cockpit ready, he nodded and got the signal to start up the engines. The man adjusted his boom mike and reached for the open window.
             The two powerplants behind the aircraft’s crew made a long draw as they came to life. At the top border of Guppy’s peripheral vision, he saw the blades begin to rotate, gaining speed with each lap as Jon increased the throttles. The whine leveled out as the rotor blades reached just below the speed for lift-off. He looked back down to check his gauges again before keying up the radio.
             “Buckley tower, this is Fang 07, request current conditions.” He asked. There was a brief pause before he got what he sought.
             “Fang 07, Buckley Tower, winds at 1 knot going east to west. Still no rainclouds to be found.” A voice replied. Jon nodded and slid down his visor as the sun moved out from behind an errant cloud.
             “Fang 07, requesting clearance for takeoff.” The man sounded.
             “Fang 07, you’re clear. Watch for Fang 03 on your right.” The makeshift tower atop one of the buildings replied.
             Jon gave a “Roger” and fed the engines even more power. Carefully, as the AH-1W rose from the ground, he eased the nose down and began forward. The other AH-1s were rising in near-perfect synchronicity as OMC helo pilots had been trained. Jon’s Cobra drifted over the edge of the concrete and began to move forward more as he influenced it so. The formation swung to the north and began to reform into the proper setup that’d been given in the briefing. He glanced back at the two Hueys to make sure they were still there once or twice.
             “Roadrunner, this is Fang 1, we’re inbound to your twenty as fragged.” Arnold spoke up.
             “Roger that Fang, this is Roadrunner 1-3, we’re moving towards the objective. Nothing to report yet.” A voice replied over the sound of a diesel engine.
             Ray took off his sunglasses and ran his hands across his controls to make sure they were still all reading correctly. Jon kept the AH-1 at a mere 300 feet above the ground as the formation skimmed along.
             “Okay Shorty, arm em.” Jon said as he cleared a small creek.
             “Roger that.” the co-pilot said as he flipped up the switch and selected the Hellfires. He pressed his eyes against the sights for the Cobra and peered out far ahead of their machine. He could see buildings on the horizon, along with clouds of tan dust from the recon vehicles.
             “Fang 14 and 10 are moving into holding pattern.”
             “Fang 16 and 12 are moving into holding pattern.”
             The Hueys dropped out of the formation and began to swing to the right as they cleared the advancing AH-1s. Jon glanced over at the other quad of Cobras as they began to drift into position to move around the town. He and the rest of Fang 1 moved to catch up with the recon marines. The pilot of Fang 07 looked ahead and began to spot flashes. The radio burst back to life.
             “Fang 1, this is Roadrunner 1-3, we’re in contact and need immediate assistance! Two vehicles down; heavy fire coming from our two o’ clock!” a voice barked over the airwaves.
             “Calm down Roadrunner, Cav’s inbound. Can you recover your wounded? We’ve got two Hueys ready for CASEVAC, just need a place to land and folks to save.” Captain Nicholas replied with cool moxie. His voice turned on the other helos.
             “Fang 1, break formation and engage at will. Remember the ROE.”
             Jon craned his neck to the right and tilted the Cobra the same way. It was safe to assume the Belkans had forces in the town. He spotted the billows of black smoke coming from the hit LAVs, and more dust as the survivors (including two HUMVEEs) maneuvered to avoid the same fate. Ray had his head pressed against his sights, trying to get a target for the M197. He spotted movement in a window and saw a rocket fly from it. He swiveled the heavy firearm towards it. When he spotted a figure he let loose.
             “Fang 07, guns, guns, guns.” Ray called as he fired a quick burst.
             Outside the cockpit the three-barreled Gatling made a sort of stuttering noise. The window was clouded by shattered concrete for a second, during which no rockets came out. Jon strained to keep a visual on the target and fly.
             “Somebody get eyes on that window!” He commanded.
             Jon took the AH-1W over the city, looking to draw any small arms fire. His wish was granted as he spotted a Wiesel in the streets below, its cannon’s barrel pointed skyward. The pilot broke into the weapon’s firing arc quick, trying to outrun the turret’s turn. He saw a flash out of the corner of his eye and managed to catch a Hellfire as it cruised below his helicopter. The small AFV was hit and seemed to roll back as it came apart.
             “Good hits on that Wiesel. Anyone checked that window?” Arnold called as he passed over his first kill of the day.
             “Good hits for Fang 07, good hits on that window!” the pilot of Fang 05 reported.
             Jon cleared the town and tilted the Cobra to the right, Ray swiveling the sights on the machine’s nose to search for more to shoot at. The other element of the recon marines, which were flanking the town from the northeast, had formed into a firing line and were exchanging rounds with the entrenched Belkans.
             “I’ve got another target, Guppy. Two o’ clock on the roof of the U-shaped structure.” He reported as they circled back towards the fighting.
             Jon glanced in the direction and spotted a darker spot compared to the rest of the building. He brought the Cobra over the second group of LAVs as they fired at their own targets and lined up the machine with its target. Ray adjusted and let off two of the rockets.
             “Fang 07, spear, spear!” He cried as the weapons went hissing towards the enemy position. The Cobra blew away the smoke from the explosion as it buzzed past.
             “Roadrunner 1-2 is advancing on the objective, taking small arms fire from various windows, but we should be good.” Another unnamed LAV crewman reported over the metallic thunder of his Bushmaster cannon.
             Jon looked over the town to get a better sense of where the Belkans were. They seemed to be concentrated along the edges of the town, and even then these had to be forward elements of the recon force. He saw another Wiesel pressing along a road, cannon flashing at him. With a call to his co-pilot, Jon swung the nose towards the machine and depressed it. Ray let off a quick salvo of Hydras at the tracked machine, easily breaking its light armor The AH-1 drew more ire as it swooped past, shrugging off the 7.62mm rounds of G3 rifles.
             “Get those Hueys to the wounded, ASAP! And get a secure LZ for em!” Arnold said, sounding increasingly frustrated by the lack of such a thing.
             “Roger, Fang 14 and 10 coming outta the holding pattern.” One of the UH-1 pilots spoke up.
             Jon gritted his teeth and carefully snaked his AH-1 to the left to get a better angle on the side of La Santia facing the beleaguered ground troops. He slowed the Cobra and rotated it so the remaining weapons were ready, strafing to the right to avoid being a target. Ray swiveled the sights each way and spotted an almost continuous muzzle flashing. He went to the Gatling and made quick work of the shooter. Fang 05 and Fang 08 joined them as Jon turned his nose away and moved to give the transport helicopters more room.
             The Hueys hit the ground near two of the knocked out LAVs, their escorting Cobras hovering above, for once taking a chance by hovering at a standstill. Ray spotted a third Wiesel making its presence known. It got another burst of 20mm as a reward.
             “Fang 14, what’s the status on the evac?” Jon asked.
             “Still in progress, gonna take some time.” the Huey’s pilot replied. Guppy’s face contorted in tension. Every second they sat here was increasing the risk…
             “Fang 03 here, I’ve glassed a formation of light vehicles approaching the objective from the north. Must be the main force. Fang 07, 05, and 09 follow me. The rest of you, escort those Hueys to the FARP!” Arnold spoke up.
             “Roger that Palmer, on our way.” Jon said as he started the AH-1 forward. He glanced at the back of Ray’s helmet.
             “Shorty, got the Hellfires ready?” He asked. The man flashed a thumbs up, too engrossed in the task at hand as they passed over the town.
             Jon flung his vision to each side, trying to spot any more Belkans before they could spot him. It seemed they’d become preoccupied with the LAVs and HUMVEEs busting in.
             “Okay Guppy, slow her down! We’ll overshoot at this rate!” Ray requested. Jon pulled back the throttles carefully.
             Ray spotted the Belkan Luchs as it crested the hill. He immediately centered the laser designator on it and waited for the AGM-114 to get a good sense of one of the reflected beams. Upon the proper indication, he depressed the fire button.
             “Fang 07, rifle!”
             The dark green missile went by just outside the windscreen and across the Sapin countryside. The Luchs had just zeroed in on them when it struck.
             “Good hits on a Belkan APC, looking for another.” Ray called, not even lifting his head from the sights for a minute.
             “Got another!” He called as two more came into view.
             The next two came roaring in, guns blazing. Jon moved the AH-1 and made a sort of strafe to the right, the aircraft’s nose rotated to the northwest. He saw Fang 05 pick off the first APC with a Hellfire, and theirs was next. But this one was getting wily as Ray called out “Rifle”. The APC fired back as it maneuvered, and Jon could feel his Cobra shudder violently as their attacker met its fate despite its best efforts. He drew the Cobra away from the burning Luchs and kept a firm hand on the controls.
             “Fang 07, are you okay? You’re trailing smoke from your left engine. I think I see a few scuffs in the tail, too.” the pilot of 05 asked.
             “I think so, I still have control.” Jon reported over the sounds of alarms and flash of red lights.
             “Guppy, get that thing to the FARP, right now.” Arnold ordered as he came around to escort him.
             The fellow captain didn’t argue as he took his machine back to the South. Every inch of the way he fought the controls and glared at the warnings. The Cobra didn’t make it very far before it began to gently sway without Jon’s doing, acting more like a beast about to fall. Finally Jon gave up trying to fight it. He saw a farm in the distance and ground his teeth together.
             “This is Fang 07, I’m losing control of this thing…rudders aren’t responding.” He said with a grunt as he was nearly kicking the pedals. He saw a new warning.
             “Left engine is starting to die on me…fuck, I’m gonna have to put her down.” he announced as the AH-1W made a particularly violent shake.
             “Roger that, 07, good luck.” Arnold radioed.
             Jon drew in a deep breath and ordered Ray to disarm and jettison the weapons for good measure. He felt them tumble away after a second and a weight come off the airframe. The farm would be the landing point, he’d decided.
             “Shorty, brace for impact.” He added as he began to descend the Cobra from 500 feet, keeping a vice-like grip on the yaw rate the wounded helicopter.
             “Fang 07 is going down. 07 going down.” He groaned with audible frustration.
             The ground came up with an increasingly fast pace as Jon pulled back the throttles. Sweat went under his flight suit and down his back and chest while Ray kept quiet, holding in a bracing position for the inevitable and unpredictable catastrophe ahead. Arnold slid to the right and then back to the left in anticipation, ready to take up an orbit. At this point Jon was muttering prayers and words of love in a mix of Spanish and English. Fang 07 barely missed the farm’s barbed wire fence, and its pilot knocked the head off a scarecrow.
             The chin of the Cobra, and consequentially its gun, slammed into the plowed field as gently as Jon could have orchestrated. The thick ground slowed the aircraft and caused it to start into a flip before falling on its side. The momentum wasn’t enough to carry on a flip, but as it landed the rotors dug into the dirt, shattering like chopsticks that’d been bent with enough force. The blade remnants flew in all kinds of directions away from the cockpit. Inside, the two crew were jerked around and rattled, each second desperately hoping the crash was done. Finally, with the machine’s gauges dead and its engine croaking mortally, the AH-1W rocked softly into a final spot of resting. Jon looked around frantically and sniffed hard for the smell of gas. He looked forward.
             “Ray! Ray?! Talk to me!” He demanded. There was a low moan as Ray cocked his view “upwards”.
             “Yah dead, Guppy?” He asked.
             “If I was dead, there’d be topless women dancing around me.” The pilot responded as he looked towards the latch for his cockpit’s windscreen.
             He then looked back around the cockpit for his MP5A3, which served as a addition of firepower to his M45. He pulled out the weapon and opened the windscreen a bit before redirecting his right hand to unbuckle himself. The pilot nearly fell out at the angle. He transferred the SMG to his shooting hand and crawled out of the Cobra. He rushed to the windscreen for Ray and banged on it, before turning around and adjusting his boom mike so it was out of his face. They were still alone as Ray struggled out of the crashed attack helicopter.
             “Can you walk?” Jon asked.
             “Get me on my feet and I can run.” The man snarled as he pulled back the stock of his own MP5, determined not to be captured.
             Jon looked up as Arnold’s AH-1 kept circling. He looked back down and saw a figure running across the field, pitchfork raised above his head. As the approaching stranger, the farmer both guessed, approached, Jon could pick up a loud stream of obscenities and angered exclamations, most directed at the fact a helicopter had been plowed into his source of income. Jon chuckled at the middle-aged man’s choice of words and waved, telling him they were Oseans. The man didn’t attempt to stab them, much to a wide-eyed Ray’s happiness, but as Arnold called over the survival radio, Jon was busy trying to say he was sorry to the angered farmer and explain why they’d gone down.
    avatar
    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:26 pm

    Platoon Leader
    April 25, 1995
    OFS Bana City

                    “Be seated, everyone.” 2nd Lieutenant Calvin Wisner said as he looked over his four squad leaders and platoon sergeant. The NCOs sat down as their CO approached the tactical map of one of the Futuro Canal’s oil refineries.
             “Good morning everyone, I hope you’ve gotten plenty of sleep because we’re going to be spending some serious time pouring over the details of this morning’s operation to retake the Canal.” He said, suppressing a yawn himself.
             As he rapped his knuckles against the chart, he couldn’t help but think about the overall situation. Throughout the ship, there had to be at least a dozen other rooms in this current state, filled with battle-ready marines whom were probably either still greener than the grass or veterans of past conflicts, though there’d been few fights before this.
             The plan he was to give centered around the ideas of heliborne assault making way for a landing. The spearhead force of Marines that Calvin’s platoon was with would arrive in Sea Knights under the support of OMC AV-8Bs and AH-1s, with further backup heaped on by F/A-18Cs from the Kestrel Carrier Battle Group. A landing force with the heavier equipment: Abrams, LAVs, and AAVs would land on two separate beachheads on either side of the canal. The Belkans had launched a small-scale counteroffensive by rushing in reinforcements to make things hard for the assault force. Bastards had done it in a real sly way too, Wisner thought, using civvie cargo ships to come from the northern part of the area and the oil facilities as shields. They’d have to be dislodged the old-fashioned way.
             “So first and second squads will maneuver to capture these buildings near the destroyed ECM antennas while third and fourth squads will move to capture the administrative buildings and one of the major pumping stations. First Platoon will be pressing towards the oil storage tanks here once we secure the pumping station and ensure oil isn’t flowing and thus the Belkans cannot use the refinery as any kind of weapon.” He went on, tracing a line towards a red, square-shaped building with a large pipe sticking from its side.
             “Most of the enemy forces we’ll encounter are mechanized infantrymen thanks to the airstrikes yesterday, but recent reinforcements appear to be of the heavy armored type. The higher ups cannot emphasize enough that we need to watch our fire to avoid damaging equipment to the point it can’t be used. The Belkans will most likely try to dig in near the equipment to protect themselves. It’s for this reason that supply will be dispersing tear gas grenades amongst squad leaders and grenadiers.” He added. The man looked at his platoon sergeant, a thin man with a face that was always slightly red known as Eugene Kucklin.
             “I’ll be riding with third and fourth while the Staff Sergeant goes with first and second. We’ll stay close to an RTO so we can keep comms open. We won’t be going in with full packs, due to the close proximity of resupply. Our landing zone, is LZ X-Ray, and part of the platoon will be tasked with keeping a perimeter around it. The other half of the company, including the heavy weapons platoon, will have LZ Yankee, which will serve as a secondary LZ for us. Vice versa goes for them and X-Ray.” He added. The man looked around for any uncertain looks.
             “There’s not much more for me to add, other than good luck. Trust your instincts and your training. Remember that the Belkan army is a formidable foe, but they can be beaten. We takeoff in a little over two hours, so get your squad fed, briefed, and readied.” He concluded. The room was brought to attention before the sergeants tidied up the room enough left. The only one who stayed behind was Staff Sergeant Kucklin.
             “We’ll be dropping into some pretty exposed terrain, sir.” He observed.
             “Can’t be helped in this part of the world, most of Sapin is flat. And the helicopters need flat terrain if they’re to deploy us as quickly.” He replied, not much more enthusiastic about the location of their LZ.
             “I still trust you’ll be okay with leading first and second squads?” He said, aware the assignment was somewhat last minute.
             “We’ll have those buildings under our thumb, no problem sir.” The senior NCO assured. Calvin nodded.
             “Okay Kucklin, go ready up. I’ll meet you in the mess.” He said. The man nodded and took off so the officer could take down the map. Calvin watched the man go and looked back at the map as he took it down. He frowned and knew that the plan, as sound as it felt, would not completely survive being thrown into the fire…


             The marine in charge of the armory handed Calvin his unloaded M16A2 assault rifle. The officer gave a thankful nod and moved on to get his ammunition. He was already loaded down with his Kevlar vest, helmet, goggles, water, a few MREs, various grenades, flares, medical supplies, his M9 sidearm and its ammo, maps, flashlight, compass, gloves and a gas mask with cartridges in case the Belkans got creative or the marines needed to employ their tear gas in close proximity. He received one 30-round magazine of 5.56mm bullets to put in his M16, and one for each of the four ammo pouches around his waist. His body took a brief time to adjust to the weight, but soon enough (specifically as he was in the hangar deck) he was carrying his gear with little conscious effort. He approached his Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), a bright-faced sergeant known as “Puldo”. The man greeted him with a “morning, sir.”
             “Morning, Sergeant. Remember to just stick close to me; we’ll need you and your radio.” He told his RTO as the young man made sure his brand new M4 carbine was ready.
             “You got it, El-Tee.” He said with a fired-up grin as he placed the weapon’s sling over his head and across his shoulders.
             The lieutenant slung his M16 and casually walked across the hangar deck the men were in the state of purgatory now as they readied their weapons. He glanced towards the nearest aircraft elevator and heard the rumble of aircraft engines, probably the ship’s AV-8B Harriers as they took off. He walked before the men of his platoon, broken down into its four 13-man squads. He glanced at his watch every few minutes between looks over his own gear. One particular place he kept an eye on was the inside of his helmet, where a picture of his wife, Tiffanie, and their baby daughter Hope resided. He set the Kevlar piece back on his dome and gave the watch another check. With a gulp he noted it was time.
             “Second Platoon, fall in!” He barked with a steely expression.
             The marine infantrymen stood up and scrambled to get final details on their equipment secured. He looked them over as they morphed into the picture of professional amphibious infantry.
             “Okay everyone, I won’t wipe your asses with all that gung-ho stuff, so just remember that I’m counting on you just as much as you are me. Let your training and infantryman’s instincts be your guide, and keep your head on your shoulders. Let’s show those bratwurst-sucking Belks why we’re Osea’s premier reaction force, Ooh-Rah?” He said.
             “Ooh-Rah!” The men chorused back.
             “First and second squads, follow the Platoon Sergeant in two single files. Third and fourth, you’re with me; same drill.” He added.
             The man turned around and called for the marines to follow him. They ran towards some stairs that ascended all the way to a hatch which in turn led to the open air. Calvin lead the men up the stairs, out the hatch and onto the flight deck. The salty breeze went up his face and into his nostrils, but he was too preoccupied with the bigger matter at hand as he pulled down his goggles. Eight battle-ready CH-46E Sea Knights sat on the deck. As he led his platoon forward, Calvin glanced a look into the sky. AH-1W Super Cobras were orbiting above, waiting to escort the bigger machines to their landing zones. He reached one of the transport helicopters and stopped short of the ramp while most of his subordinates piled in. He went in before a pair of light machine gunners who would be the first down the ramp.
             Both helos would be carrying over what they normally did in terms of marines. Calvin and Sergeant Weathers would be aboard one, while Staff Sergeant Kucklin and the Forward Air Controller assigned to their company would ride in the other. He hefted himself up the ramp and planted his rear in a seat, Puldo across from him. Outside, after the ramp closed, the engines increased in noise.
             The Lieutenant held onto the forward grip of his M16 as the helicopter left the deck of the Wasp-class vessel with a deep beating of its rotors, front end dropper slightly lower than the rest of it. He glanced at the two M249 gunners nearest the ramp, who’d be the first out to provide suppressing fire. His mind was playing the proposed sequence of things over and over and over. A great many things could go wrong as Murphy’s Law always fancied to say like the catchphrase of a small-town used car salesman on his public-access commercials.
             Oddly enough, the atmosphere inside the cabin was relatively lighthearted, if not to combat the impending stress. The helicopter’s crew had a boom box somewhere blasting Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” and he could see one of the gunners swaying and bobbing his head to the song as he kept his hands on his M2 machine gun. Beyond that the officer caught a glimpse of the dark blue ocean as it passed by below. The helicopter tilted to the left, prompting several marines to reach up and grab for something to hold onto. Calvin looked over his shoulder and out a nearby window. He got a glimpse of two Cobras in formation with the lumbering troop transports. He looked forward again.
             “You okay, sir?” the man next to him asked, M16/M203 in his possession. The infantry officer glanced at the Corporal.
             “As much as I love being in the Corps, I signed up to swim ashore in an AAV, not take a bumpy ride in a damn helicopter.” He replied with a smile.
             “Heard that, sir.” The grenadier consoled.
             The assault force flew to the desert west of the oil refinery before turning towards it. The orange-tinted water became orang-bathed sand as the morning sun began to rise higher, now over halfway above the horizon. The AH-1s were gone, now speeding ahead most likely. Calvin looked at the ramp again in anticipation. As he felt the CH-46 begin to dip down, he began uttering prayers. The gunners had their Brownings slewed all the way to their left in anticipation.
             “Two minutes!” one of the crew yelled.
             The helicopter slowed with the clack of charged weapons audible just under the engines. The ramp came down, revealing the sand below. It seemed almost eternal as the transport came towards the ground. The marines were on their feet, waiting until they got the signal. Each SAW gunner had his weapon’s bipod deployed. There was a soft thump as the aircraft landed.
             “Go go go!” one of the gunners ordered without pause.
             The LMG handlers rushed down the ramp, Calvin and his RTO in hot pursuit. Calvin and Puldo followed the left man as he came around the side of the machine and hit the dirt a dozen or so feet on the Sea Knight’s right flank. Calvin and Puldo then went to his right and nearly dove into the prone. More marines followed suit to form the firing line, trying to locate any form of incoming fire. But few could hear cracks; much less see any indication of near misses in the sand and wind.
             Calvin kept his face close to his M16 as the departing CH-46 whipped up a mini sandstorm. It rose above them and drifted to the left before turning tail. The first thing he spotted was a nearby building, which was being chipped at by tracers from the Sea Knight as it retreated. He recognized it as an administration building of Horizon Petrol Incorporated. A few others of the same role were leaking smoke as Cobras circled above them like vultures. He glanced back as the second two Sea Knights came in further behind them. A sudden crack returned his eyes forward.
             “Contact, eleven o’ clock!” one of the riflemen reported.
             The officer looked that way and saw several flashes from a three-story building. The M249 next to him cried out several rapid bursts. Calvin adjusted the barrel of his M16 to be pointed in the same direction as several other soldiers added to the firefight. Calvin looked for the nearest grenadier or squad leader.
             “Sergeant, get your squad moving towards that building the Cobras chewed up and secure it! We need cover!” He barked at a man with the appropriate chevrons on his uniform, ensuring his orders were clear using hand signals.
             The enlisted man nodded and began shouting, only to be drowned out as the second transport helicopters got airborne. The squad’s SAW gunner fired another burst before getting up last to follow the squad. Calvin signaled third to provide cover until fourth had a better position to cover their run. He then took off with the squad, running until the squad hit the ground again. He instinctively looked back to make sure fourth squad was also moving. What he was distracted by nearly froze him completely.
             One of the CH-46s had come under considerable fire as it took off, enough to which it seemed to be in mortal danger. The low bark of a machine gun, and MG3, created a flurry of sparks above the cockpit. He watched with horror as the CH-46 pitched away, oil-colored smoke coming from the base of its front rotor, and managed to limp only a few feet before falling into the terrain to the north of LZ X-Ray. As fourth squad hit the dirt again to provide cover for the last leg to the building, Calvin squeezed off a few rounds before following third again. He needed to report the incident. When they reached a few executive-type cars that sat before the building, the squad leader sent part inside and had the other stay with Calvin and Puldo to cover fourth as they came in. the lieutenant took the handset off Puldo’s PRC 25 as he lifted up his goggles.
             “Charlie 1-1 Actual, this is Charlie 2-1 Actual. We’ve got a Sea Knight down near LZ X-Ray, how copy?!” He shouted over the firing.
             “2-1 Actual this is 1-1 Actual, we know, we know. Just concentrate on those buildings.” The company commander, Captain Telly Krissel, assured.
             Calvin looked towards the building the MG3 was in and settled his M16 atop the hood of the car. He pulled the trigger a few times at muzzle flashes and looked towards the other squad as it advanced again. He looked back and fired several more times as he spotted a figure in a window. His ears then picked up the sound of a diesel engine. The reinforcements that’d come were now bringing in their heavier weapons.
             “Enemy light armor! Take cover!” He ordered as the trio of M113 APCs rolled into clear view, M2s atop them making quick bursts.
             One of third’s grenadiers launched an HE round from his M203. Calvin fired the last rounds in his magazine at the Belkan troops as they dismounted under the cover of their transports’ smoke grenades. Another grenade was launched with the hope of nailing one of the M2 gunners, accompanied by several bursts of small arms. Calvin saw the first elements of fourth squad were arriving to take the structure. Their sergeant was directing them when his shin seemed to suffer a violent rupture. He collapsed with a scream.
             The sergeant then huddled against the dirt, leg leaking red. The Lieutenant directed the M249 gunners to provide suppressing fire on their adversaries equipped with HK21s, then motioned to a man with a green tube on his back.
             “Corporal! Get that AT4 over here and get one of those APCs!” He shouted to a fellow marine.
             The man ran forward and dropped his M16 onto the ground, bringing the 84mm weapon to bear as Calvin ordered covering fire. He armed it and steadied the weapon on his shoulder for a second before squinting and aiming. With the APC on the far right centered up in the dissipating smoke, he fired, calling “rocket” as he did. The weapon burst forward and struck the M113. There was a quick flash and a burst of smoke from the M113.
             In near unison, two marines and a corpsman went to tend to the sergeant. They carried him behind a car. Calvin loaded in a fresh magazine and joined them, having Puldo stay with the marine and his spent AT4.
             “What’s his status?” the officer asked.
             “We can stabilize him sir, but we need to get him out as soon as we can!” the corpsman yelled as he exposed the wound.
             “I’ll get us a dust-off on the scene, just get him stabilized!” Calvin responded, taking off towards his RTO again, bullets snapping and whizzing all the while. The enlisted man handed him the phone.
             “1-1 Actual, this is 2-1 Actual, we are under fire and we have wounded, we needed MEDEVAC, how copy?” He said.
             “Roger that, 2-1 Actual, we’ve got dust-off inbound.” The captain replied quickly.
             Calvin hung up and looked back at the scene. The remainder of fourth had gone inside the building to take it, but had yet to leave the two-story structure. The Belkan reinforcements had taken up various positions, most joining their friends at the second building or near various pieces of ad-hoc cover. He spotted a man with an HK21 trying to set up near a small concrete sign. The lieutenant leveled his M16 and put two rounds into the man’s helmet, pausing only a second to let the first impact. The first round hit the man’s helmet and ricocheted, and the second hit flesh as the first rattled him enough to stumble back.
             Fourth squad had another wounded man as they exited the building, and third had also suffered a causality. Calvin positioned them just inside the structure and waited for the UH-1 to appear. He heard the beating of rotors and saw an AH-1 appear first. The Cobra came to a hover for a minute, Gatling buzzing away at the source of incoming fire. It then salvoed a few rockets at the two other M113s. The utility helo was right behind, sweeping in just a dozen or so yards from the building. Calvin directed troops to get the wounded aboard while the Cobra and another suppressed the incoming. He ran towards a rifleman as the Huey’s crew took over loading, pulling his goggles back down.
             “Corporal Stamper, you’re the next in line to Sergeant Galkon. You’ll get your stripes when this is over.” He said. The young man gave him wide eyes.
             “Sir, I’m not qualified for that!” He protested. Calvin didn’t even give patience a first thought as he grabbed the man’s Kevlar vest
             “Stamper, you’re the squad leader now! Get your men to the top of that second building to provide overwatch so we can take the pump station! I need you to do that!” He instructed very firmly over the departing UH-1N. He looked the corporal in the eye with a dead serious look, and then man gave a jerking nod.
             “Good, now we’re going to advance on that building and clear it! Once up top you’ll cover us as we take the pumping station. Make sure you keeps eyes on us and the refinery in case the Belkans try to launch more stuff our way. Understand?” He said.
             “Yes sir!” the man replied as he took cover on the ground. Calvin planted himself near third squad leader, a Yuktobanian Osean known as David Vukoliv.
             “Vukoliv, we’re gonna advance the same way as from the LZ. I’ll take the lead with fourth while you cover us! When we hit the dirt, bring your men parallel with us!” He said.
             “Understood, sir!” the man replied between shots at the remaining Belkan troops.
             Calvin joined Puldo and after a prologue of M203 shots, fourth squad began the sprint towards their second objective. They stopped near the burning M113s and mortally wounded enemy soldiers, allowing third to sweep forward. The second building’s fire had died down from the initial assault, making the run easier (in a sarcastic sense, Calvin felt) as they approached the doors. Calvin spotted a figure behind the glass and fired his weapon from the hip several times, joined for a second by an M249 handler before he had to reload. Fourth squad lined up like a SWAT team on either side of the building’s entrance. On command, a marine behind the lieutenant took out an M67 and left the line just far enough to toss it through the shattered glass. Calvin lowered his helmet’s top towards the explosion and concussion before ordering the squad in.
             “Half of you clear this floor and secure the lobby, the rest of you, with me!” He ordered, moving towards the stairs beyond the reception desk.
             Calvin slowed his pace and kept his M16 at hip level as he went up the intricate spiral towards the second floor, boots pounding against the steps. The lieutenant raised his weapon higher and picked a hallway to move down. He could hear shouting further down, prompting him to line up the squad outside it. He listened and heard shouting as footfalls approached them. The man signaled the others to but on their masks, yanking out his own and sliding it on. He requested a tear gas grenade and felt the canister slapped into his hand. Calvin set his M16 aside and grabbed the pin of the M7 grenade. With a yank he threw the ring aside and lobbed it down the hall.
             The canister bounded down the hall, releasing its contents with a soft hiss. There was a shout in the Belkans’ native tongue as the marines rounded the corner, coming upon the enemy soldiers. Calvin saw one raise his G3 and dropped the man without hesitation. After two or more men fell, the others began to drop their weapons and succumb to the non-lethal substance. Several attempted to throw their hands up in surrender despite the overwhelming sensation. The Oseans held their fire and formed a corridor for them to pass through.
             “Mach schnell! Mach schnell!” a private yelled, waving his M16’s barrel down the hall. The enemy soldiers, hands still above their heads, ran down the passage without word.
             “Tell em we’ve got prisoners coming down! Keep em in the lobby!” Calvin barked.
             As the last man went down the stairs and into the hands of those in the lobby, Calvin led the others down the hall. As they were about to pass a door it seemed to gasp out bullet holes. Calvin stopped his men and motioned the SAW gunner forward. The man blasted the handle a few times, then the hinges, and watched as the weakened object fell out of place. Calvin tossed an M67 in and waited until a blast went off. With the LMG gunner laying down fire as he came in, the squad entered. Across the space, a meeting room, Calvin spotted a silhouette in Belkan fatigues rising up. He fired a three-round burst and stopped the enemy soldier.
             “Clear!” one of the rifleman shouted. A few others echoed his sentiments.
             Fourth squad cleared the rest of the building before being regrouped and repositioned. Two fireteams were set up on the second floor, facing the pumping station, while a third held the first floor to keep watch on the prisoners. Calvin and the fourth fireteam took up position on the roof to provide overwatch. Through a pair of binoculars, he spotted four tan shapes to the left of the building. They were Belkan Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Now they’d rolled out the big guns…
             “Puldo, get on the horn and raise us some close air.” He ordered.
             “Yes sir.” The man nodded, bringing his radio’s mouthpiece to his face.
             “Any station, this is Charlie 2-1, requesting air support.” He said calmly. The man repeated the message again before going silent, then looking at his CO.
             “Sir, we’ve got two Hornets. They want to talk to you.” He said. Calvin reached back and knelt down to accept the radio. He hit the transmit button.
             “This is Charlie 2-1 Actual, go ahead.” He declared.
             “Charlie 2-1 Actual, this is Leviathan Lead, flight of two. We’ve got weapons for the area. Name your target.” A voice intoned.
             “Roger that Leviathan, we have spotted a platoon of enemy tanks to our front, near the pumping station. Can you assist?”
             “Roger that, FAC’s trying to get eyes on. Keep your head down and we’ll get back to you when we’ve got a good angle set up.”
             “Understood.” Calvin said before hanging up. He waited until the radio crackled again.
             “Okay 2-1 Actual, we’re coming in. mark your position with an IR strobe.” The pilot requested.
             “Roger that Leviathan, standby…Puldo, activate the beacon.” Calvin replied.
             Puldo grabbed a small device on his web gear and flipped it on. The lieutenant waited a second before keying up the radio again.
             “Leviathan, do you see us?”
             “Roger, we see you. Standby…”
             As the radio went silent, Calvin glanced back towards the tanks. They seemed in total ignorance of any potential threats…or maybe they were just trying to avoid drawing attention. Suddenly the tanks began to increase their volume.  The farthest began to move, making a hook to the left, and the other tanks following it. Calvin watched as it slewed its barrel towards their position and fired He felt the building shake below him. He pulled the radio to his face.
             “Leviathan, we’re under fire here!”
             “Roger, standby. Leviathan 303, bombs away.” a familiar voice reassured.
             The first F-18 passed over, a pair of Mk 83s falling from its pylons. The lead Leopard 2 was greeted by the first bomb and disappeared in orange and black. The guy to his left met the same fate. The same scene played out as the second Hornet swooped over. Calvin watched as the two fighter-bombers roared off into the blue sky, flares falling behind them.
             “Good hits on targets, Leviathan, thanks for the assist.” Calvin reported.
             “Roger that, Leviathan is bugging out, Winchester on externals.” The lead pilot replied as he and his wingman banked to the left, away from the action.
             With the enemy armor knocked out, Calvin ordered third squad into action to take the pumping station. As they moved forward under cover, he switched his attention to first and second.
             “Charlie 2-2, this is 2-1 Actual, what’s your status?” He asked as the unit made the final run for the moment.
             “2-1 Actual, we’ve secured our objective. We’re holding until given further orders or indication that the landing force is inbound.” Kucklin reported.
             “Any casualties?”
             “Two marines down and in critical condition. We sent em out on a Huey. Other than that a few minor injuries.”
             “Roger, maintain position.”
             As Calvin hung up the phone, he looked back towards the pumping station. His marines had closed in, and he spotted a man with an M203 put what he guessed was a CS round (hence the gas masks they wore) through a window, a fellow grenadier doing the same. Once again he went on the air.
             “Charlie 1-1 Actual, this is Charlie 2-1 Actual, we are assaulting the pumping station, standby.” He reported.
             “Roger that 2-1 Actual, do you require assistance?” the captain replied.
             “If we could get any Cobras, that’d be nice.”
             “I’ll see what I can do, most of our rotor-wing assets are carving a clear beachhead for the rest of the MEU.”
             Calvin signed off and looked back at the pumping station. The entirety of third had gone inside and out of sight. He bit his lower lip as the moments ticked on. Finally a lone marine emerged, and Calvin raised his binoculars. The man appeared to be waving, and then flashing three fingers; it was the victory sign. Calvin smiled and raised his company commander.
             “Charlie 1-1 Actual, the pump station is secure.” Calvin reported. There was a happy pause before he got any response.
             “Roger that 2-1 Actual, Bravo-Zulu.”
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:27 pm

    The Flying Freight Train (Part 1)
    April 3, 1995
    Bullock AFB, Northwest Osea

                 Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rehl had gotten up early that morning; it wasn’t like he could sleep anyways. The commanding officer of the 332nd Bomber Squadron, the Vengeful Spirits, was about to take his men into combat for the first time today. On the other side of the country, war was raging as the Belkan military poured into Sapin, Ustio, and Eastern Osea. Surprisingly enough, however, the 332nd and its parent unit, the 13th Bomb Wing, were kept out of the action and instead kept on doing the usual of preparing for war that would never come with Yuktobania. But a few days ago it was decided that the time had come for the Osean bomber force to enter the fray. The Vengeful Sprits would be flying at sunset.
             Martin had spent those few days getting the squadron ready. He not only coordinated with department heads but also flight leads, crews (both aircraft and ground) and the intelligence folks. He’d even gone to several of these people to make sure they had what they needed. Despite giving the Osean Air Force 18 years of his life, he had never once actually led anyone into real combat, much less seen it. His father had fought in the Great World War of 1940-1946 aboard a B-17, and his older brother had taken a B-52D over the country of Songola. He’d earned his slot as a B-52 pilot in 1977, too late to see any major combat.
             He looked at himself in the mirror as he made sure all the shaving cream had been washed away by his shower and that there was no sign of facial hair left except his moustache. Despite the end of March, he’d been told by a few junior pilots that it gave him the look of a cowboy, so until the wing commander told him off with it, it would stay. He dried the moustache and left the bathroom to get dressed. He noted that the bed was now empty, something that made his brows furrow. As he expected and somewhat hoped against, Marceline Rehl was downstairs in the kitchen, two cups of coffee next to her on the counter.
             “Marcie, why are you up so early?” He asked nonetheless.
             “Martin, we've been married 15 years. Do you honestly expect me to just sleep in when you’re about to start flying combat missions?” The blonde woman said. He tried to reason, but she silenced him with a kiss.
             “Listen, Dear, I’m not going to drag this out. I’m used to the Air Force life and by now if it’d gotten to me I would’ve left you much sooner than right now. I made you some coffee to wake you up. I’d say eat something here, but I’m willing to guess you have a very full day ahead that begins soon.” The woman of 42 told him. He nodded gratefully and reached for the untouched mug.
             “Where’s Janice?” he asked after he took a long gulp.
             “Jan is outside. She wanted to tell her dad goodbye.” She said. Martin nodded and glanced towards the door. Through the window he saw Janice Rehl’s short tuft of blonde hair, not much unlike her mother’s follicle color.
             “As much as I shouldn’t, I was planning on stopping by one of the fast-food joints near the squadron building.” He added as he drank more of the dark liquid. He set the mug down and checked his pockets to make sure he had his wallet and keys. Marcie helped him adjust his peaked cap before she kissed him once more.
             “Good luck, Martin Rehl. I love you very much.” She said, grasping his hands.
             “And I love you just as much, Marceline.” He replied.
             They exchanged one last kiss goodbye before Martin walked outside to say goodbye to his daughter and only child.
             “Good morning, Jan.” he said, sitting in the chair next to her.
             “Morning Dad.” She smiled, surprisingly calm for a girl whose dad was about to fly into battle.
             Janice was now 14, and she’d long before began to understand more complex things about the world, which made things a bit tougher and easier at the same time. As much as Martin had wanted a boy before her birth, Janice had made him a proud, proud father. She was a tough girl through and through, able to keep up with the neighborhood boys. Probably the thing that made him proudest was her adamant want to become a bomber pilot like him. She always liked to try and hang around the pilots and crew under him when she could, learning their language and ways.
             “When do you and the others step, Dad?” she asked. He smiled.
             “I’m not sure; they’re supposed to give that to me today when they’re sure we have the right information and that the fighters can escort us in.”
             “Do you know who you’re going to fly with?” Jan went on.
             “I’m planning on having one of our junior pilots along in the co-pilot’s seat. You know Ozark, right?”
             “Big guy with strawberry blonde hair?”
             “That’s him.”
             Jan looked down at her feet, as if searching for something else to say.
             “I should be back in time for breakfast tomorrow.” Martin assured. He wanted to add how calm she seemed, but held back at first. No need to set off an emotional bomb.
             “Hey Dad, you won’t get shot down, right?” She said. He’d thought too soon…
             “I’ll give it all I’ve got, Sweetheart.” He almost choked out. She looked at him.
             “I love you, Dad. Good luck.” She said. He could tell her voice was cracking a little. He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a hug.
             “I love you too, Jan. Don’t worry, your Dad will be home soon and when he gets back, we’ll have a nice, big breakfast together. Sound good?” He proposed.
             “Promise?” She asked.
             “Spread my wings and hope to fly.” He said, using the incantation she’d used as a little girl.
             With goodbyes said, Martin’s family watched as he walked to the Mercedes in the driveway. He gave them one last smile before he backed out. Marceline smiled and waved, while Janice stood up straight and saluted the best she could.
    Martin returned her salute and turned around to pull out of the driveway…


             2nd Lieutenant Toby “Ozark” Dawmire felt down already as he left the gate of Bullock in his ageing Ford F-150. Before he started fighting the real war from the co-pilot seat of a B-52, he had some things to take care of. Toby had barely been in active duty a year at this point, grabbing a scholarship into Air Force ROTC and having to choose bombers over smaller jets when the time for pilot slots came. He didn’t hate it, not one bit; he could have worse jobs like transport or AWACS co-pilot. He’d also come to like the Stratofortress in all its big, ugly, long, ground-pounding glory. If nothing else, it was downright righteous when you took off with the engines roaring at full power.
             Of course there was also the very, very grim side to being aboard that plane. Even when he’d been growing up, Toby had never paid the concept of nuclear war much attention unless it was mentioned to him or in the news. He’d helped his dad dig a shelter at their house, but he’d never seen a nuke. That’d changed when he’d began training how to deliver the terrible weapon from the B-52, though much to his relief there was little to indicate that he’d be dropping nuclear weapons at any point in this war.
             The normally quiet but friendly young officer felt particularly gloomy today not because he was on the warpath. He was all-too-ready for that, and more than happy to bust a few Belkan heads. The gloom was the part of his personal life. In the nearby town of Sierra Forks, his hometown nonetheless, a certain woman was about to start her own job soon: teaching fourth grade. Her name was Violet Trevorson, and soon she might be his wife, considering about a month ago they’d made love in a drunken fervor, with the nearest protection sitting on a gas station condom rack a mile from her place.
             Toby had made a very powerful mistake, but he wasn’t about to run from it. Besides, his family would make sure of it, whether it took some advice and consolation or shotguns and coercion. His younger sister, Alicia, also wanted to see him off before he had to report in at nine that morning. She didn’t know about his little lovechild or even about him and Violet. As nosy and stubborn a girl as she could be, she respected her family’s personal lives. Consequently, he planned to bring it to light for her in the hopes she would help him. Heaven help him through whatever reaction she would have.
             The old truck grumbled across town towards the sole elementary school. At 6:50 in the morning, very few souls inhabited the place. Toby pulled into the one of the visitor parking spots and got out, putting on his peaked cap. He was in his flight suit and had his pager close at hands in case things got pushed up. In through the front doors the officer went.
             “May I help you, sir?” The woman at the front desk asked immediately. Toby looked towards her, almost forgetting that she was there, and cleared his throat.
             “Is Miss Trevorson here?” He asked, aware of her questioning look regarding why an OAF officer was here at this time.
             “I believe she is; may I see some ID?” She asked. He took out his wallet and surrendered his driver’s license in exchange for a visitor’s pass.
             Violet’s classroom, Room 23, lay in the hall to the right of the main office. Toby kneaded the top of his cap as he approached the door, glancing at the name plate on it, made all the more cheery by the smiling sun and butterflies around her handwritten name. It felt like centuries since he’d been around teachers who did THAT. He almost felt like he was going to scare her half to death if he just came in, so he knocked first.
             “Yes?” a voice asked hesitantly at the knocking.
             “Violet, it’s me, Toby.” He said.
             “Toby? Please, come in. I was actually hoping to talk to you soon.”
             A woman with short, auburn hair in what he’d coined the “teacher’s haircut”, was waiting inside. There was never any set style, but just by looking at the way it was done up you could tell they were a teacher, because you’d seen your teachers wear it. Her hair, not tied by anything, fell to her shoulders and framed her face and green eyes. Her figure was covered in a blouse and skirt that were the same color as her name. She was sitting at her desk, looking at him as he entered.
             “Why did you knock? It’s not like I’d be naked in my classroom or something.” She said. And it’s not like I’d mind you seeing me naked the dirty part of her mind added just to make things awkward.
             “Eh, manners.” He said quickly.
             “Would you like to sit down?” She asked, looking around for a seat that wasn’t made for younger children.
             “I’ll stand.” Toby said with a small smile. She did the same.
             “So, what brings you here?” Violet asked despite the fact they both knew.
             “Today we start combat operations, and I wanted to make sure you were okay before I went off. I know it’s been a little time since…you know…” He said, still not comfortable accurately describing what had happened. She bit her lower lip and sighed.
             “I’m going to have to start considering maternity leave, Toby. Sooner or later people will notice and I can’t deal with the problems of pregnancy while teaching.” She said quietly. He nodded.
             “At the very least I’ll be nearby between sorties. If you need anything please come right to me, or even my family. I’ll make sure they won’t hurt you.” He said with a flicker of a smile. The young pilot put an arm around her.
             “I won’t leave you alone on this, I’m not like that. I wanna take care of you.” He said, reaching for one of her hands.
             "Thank you, Toby…I know you will…” she said with a cracking voice.
             “We’re both idiots, aren’t we? Give us a little booze, and little flirting, and bam, now we’re probably going to end up as Mr. and Mrs. Dawmire with a child to boot.” She said, trying to find some dry humor in the grim reality.
             “I can’t ask for a more perfect bride, though.” Toby added.
             They stayed in silence for an unknown length of time. Oh how badly they wished they could stay like that, but Toby had other business and Violet had her job.
             “I’ll call you when I land.” He assured. She nodded and wrung her hands pensively, before wrapping him in a hug and burying her face in his chest.
             “Don’t you dare leave this child fatherless, Toby.” She said.
             “I won’t, I promise.” He whispered in consolation. He bit his lower lip in hesitation, and then relaxed.
             “I love you, Violet Trevorson.” He said.
             “I love you too, Toby Dawmire.” She said back.
             Toby begrudgingly left her to teach that morning, hoping he would be home by early tomorrow. He knew he was pushing the rules a little, going off base during a time of war, but he had nothing to hide. If the CIA or whoever wanted to piss away time and money to find out he was simply trying to deal with personal problems, they could be his guest. His sister, Alicia, had agreed to meet him at Star Burger for breakfast before he took off. Toby had decided that if he was gonna go down over Belka, he wanted to have some of his favorite drive-in’s food in him. As he pulled into the establishment's lot, he saw Alicia’s 1990 Isuzu Amigo parked in one of the farther spots and his lanky little sister sitting in the front passenger seat, windows down.
             “Order your food yet, Sis?” He asked as the truck went silent again.
             “Was waiting for you, Toby.” She replied with a smile.
             Toby got out and hugged her. The redheaded young woman of 21 squeezed him as tightly as usual and opened the door.
             “You’re late, Toby. What kept yah?” She asked.
             “I’ll tell you when the food’s arrived.” He said with a bit of a sad smile. It didn’t work for a minute.
             “Now Toby, I don’t lie to you; don’t you go lyin to me.” She said. He sighed.
             “Sis, I’d rather talk about it after I’ve eaten a little. I’ve got a big day about to start, I need food.” He insisted. She was about to say something else, but held back on her stubborn streak.
             The two ordered breakfast sandwiches and orange juice to eat, and Toby kept Alicia distracted by talking about her own life. But all the time she was carefully navigating towards the issue of why he was late.
             “Something’s on your mind, Toby. I know it and I know you’re just trying to steer away from the subject.” She said as she took her sandwich out of its bag. Toby sighed as he looked at his own, taking a healthy bite from it before he said anything.
             “Part of it’s because I’m about to go flying my first combat mission, but you know Violet Trevorson, right?” He said. She nodded.
             “She teaches at the elementary school, right?”
             “Yeah, her.”
             “Are you seeing her?” Alicia asked, looking at him like he was about to assume she wouldn’t approve. Toby leaned against his truck and took another bite of food.
             “Yeah…We uh, we uh…had sex without protection roughly a month ago. She’s pregnant…” He admitted.
             Alicia was in the process of biting into her sandwich when he said that, which caused her to drop the chunk back onto the wrapper.
             “Do mom or dad know about this?” She choked out. He shook his head.
             “What happened Toby?? I thought you were adamant on saving that til you were married!” She said, more shocked than angered. Another shrug on Toby’s end.
             “We were stupid, we were drunk, and when she brushed up against me we started feeling each other up and th-”
             “Don’t give me the details, Toby.” Alicia interrupted, pinching the bridge of her nose as she tried to block the images of her brother having sex. She put down her sandwich and looked at Toby.
             “Why did you not tell me? Or Mom or Dad? Or Grandma? Or anybody?” She asked. Toby bit his lower lip and sighed.
             “Because I was frightened, okay? What was I supposed to do if you all went and ran her out of my life because you jumped to conclusions, dammit.” He said angrily. The redhead’s mouth hung open before her eyes emanated pure fury.
             “I oughta slap you for saying that, Toby Harold Dawmire!” Alicia nearly roared. She even reared back a hand to do so, but stopped.
             “I’m your damned sister! You think I’d run her out of your life because you accidentally got her pregnant?!” She said harshly.
             “Not to sound like a dick, Alicia, but you do have a tendency to be very…stubborn, regarding the decisions your family members make.” He said honestly. She seemed ready to say something, but held back a moment.
             “Look that’s not important, what is, is that you gotta promise me that if I go dow-”
             Alicia punched his chest as hard as she could. For a skinny little small-town girl, she could pack a wallop. He grunted but did not move.
             “No, don’t you dare fucking say that! Don’t you ever say that, ever!” She cried, her voice cracking. She glared at him through teary eyes.
             “Never say that again! You’re coming back!” Alicia instructed as she teetered on the brink of sobs. Toby stood there, arms at his sides as she nearly squeezed the life out of him.
             “Don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure Violet’s safe, but you’re coming home and THAT’S FINAL.” She declared.
             Toby looked down at her for a long time, and then nodded quietly.
             “Okay Alicia, I’ve gotta go. I need to report for the day in less than an hour.” He said softly.
             “I love you, big brother.” Was all she sniffled out.
             “And I love you, little sister.” He replied with a smile.
             Toby left soon after to return to Bullock. He decided he’d finish his sandwich back on the base…


             “Room, attention!”
             The crews all stood up as Martin came walking into the squadron’s main briefing room. The 58 other crewmen waited for him to reach the XO, Major Carl Bullard, and take over.
             “Be seated, everyone.” He ordered as the Major left the stage. Martin waited until the room settled down and the lights dimmed.
             “Good afternoon everyone, glad to see you all look ready to fight. As you know, we’re finally being tasked to conduct raids against Belka. Our first raid is scheduled to be flown tonight against two separate targets; we step at dusk aka soon. Each target will be attacked by four BUFFs; the specifics of each flight’s sortie will be detailed in their own briefings. At the moment the lines have stabilized in all areas and the BAF has been prevented from going much further than the frontlines. This means we won’t run the risk of happening upon BAF patrols until we’re near the border. Now, you all know what they can hurl up at us. The biggest threat from the ground will be their SA-10s, but remember, just because we fly one of the biggest jets in the Osean Air Force, doesn’t mean we’re gonna roll over and die like some bunch of pansies!”
             Several cheers and hoots came from the small crowd of pilots. Toby himself let out a “BUFFs!” before Martin held up a hand.
             “General Norton B. Turgidson, the man who made the B-52 an integral part of Osea’s power projection, once said “no matter how advanced anything else, whether it be missiles or aircraft or systems, becomes, we will always need an aircraft that fits the description of bomber. We will always need an aircraft that is capable of delivering unmatched attack power and acting as one of the pieces in our nuclear deterrent. Nothing can ever beat a bomber’s abilities, NOTHING.” Well today we still prove that true, and the design General Turgidson pushed is still the tool of that idea.” He iterated. The room got a little more sober.
             “Good luck to you all. Trust your instincts, your training, your machine and your support elements. Remember were all going into this together. Your flight assignment has been provided with your maps. You’ll join your flight lead and follow them to the proper briefing room. Are there any questions before we break up for individual flight briefs?” He asked. No hands came up, either because no one had anything to say…or no one wanted to ask anything. He nodded.
             “Very well then…” Martin said.
             “Room, attention!” Bullard called.
             Toby stood up straight, towering above the others in his squadron. Beforehand he’d noted he was flying in the Lieutenant Colonel’s flight. He walked towards the man, and Martin nodded to the young co-pilot.
             “Hello Ozark, I’m changing my personal aircraft to yours and taking Captain Ebbard’s place; were you informed of that prior?” the CO of the 332nd asked. Toby’s eyes widened a little as he shook his head.
             “No sir, I was not.” He admitted.
             “Well now you are.” Martin said as he jerked his head towards a nearby door.
             Four sets of Stratofortress crewman gathered in a much smaller briefing room, where Martin once again took the helm. He cleared his throat and glanced at a recon picture blown up by the projector. The intel folks had already autographed it with a few notes and clarifications on objects and things of value.
             “Our flight of four is being tasked with attacking this rail yard at Stagvogel. It serves as a major supply depot for the Belkan invasion force, but its sheer size and our recent change to the offensive has meant that it has not been properly dealt with. Our objective is simple and obvious: to plow it into the dust. We’ll be carrying a full load of 51 M117 bombs each for this mission, and trust me when I say we’ll need every bomb to crush this place.” He began. The man glanced at some of the notes and switched slides.
             “The target is located 62 miles east of the Osea-Belka border, on the southern edge of the town it’s in. The trains arrive here before offloading supplies onto smaller units such as trucks and helicopters. Intel has confirmed that this is strictly a military facility and that no trains of civilian affiliation have been spotted here. Nonetheless, we will be making our bombing runs on a southwest-northwest axis ONLY to avoid any damage to the city itself. No other attack axis will be allowed unless cleared prior.” He went on, knowing there would be those with mixed feelings about the possibility of civilians being caught in the fight.
             “Our approach to the target will be a very lengthy one, but as I mentioned earlier the threats will not start to pop up until closer in. We will be penetrating Belkan airspace here…”
             Martin turned towards a map of Belka and pointed to the northern tip of the Ivera mountain range.
             “This is where the terrain is roughest, and thus ground-based air defenses will be lightest. Our IP will be here, 12 miles before the target. We’ll make our runs in twos with a three-mile diagonal separation between each aircraft pair, and a ten-mile separation between the two elements in the flight. The round trip will take roughly 8-9 hours, which means we’ll be taking on gas before we press.” He outlined, tracing the proposed path. He walked back to the podium.
             “In addition to our AWACS, call sign Clairvoyant, we’ll be provided two KC-135s to top off from before we cross the border, call sign Mason Jar. Our escort in will be two EF-111s to provide SEAD and eight F-15s on CAP, call signs Mongoose and Condor, respectively. Our biggest threat is looking to be the MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor, possibly the MiG-21 Fishbed too. Almost all of Belka’s Fulcrum, Phantom, and Mirage units are dedicated to the frontlines. Our F-15s have orders to stay as close to us as they can so we can breathe easier.” He assured. Nonetheless Toby raised a hand.
             “What about the defenses around the rail yard itself, sir?” He asked.
             “I’ve been told that before we go in, the defenses will be neutralized by Wild Weasel aircraft.” Martin answered. He looked at the rest of the crew.
             “If you are shot down, don’t forget what we’ve covered in the E and E briefs. Nothing has changed from those procedures.” The man added.
             “Any further questions?” He asked. More silence. Like it or not, they were ready.
             With their time to step nearly upon them, the members of Sprit 1 adjourned to the lockers to get their flight gear. They, like all Osean bomber pilots, carried less gear than the pilot of an F-15 or A-10, but still had some of the basics such as oxygen equipment, survival gear and handguns. Toby’s sidearm would be a black Smith and Wesson 4506, while Martin opted for a Model 15 revolver from the same manufacturer. Each member of the crews also had his own dark gray HGU-26P flight helmet, most with some little bit of personalization on them. Toby had taken the liberty of having the squadron logo and his call sign on the forehead of his helmet whereas most of the other crew had one or the other.
             “Okay Ozark, you ready?” Martin asked as they led the crew of Spirit 1-1 towards the building’s exit.
             “Fucking A sir, fucking A.” Toby blurted without thought. He caught himself in seconds.
             “Sorry sir, I’m just wound up tighter than the screws on a boat.” He said, admonished.
             “No need son, just don’t go cussing like a sailor on me.” Martin said as he pushed open the door.
             Outside the door were four Osean Air Force Ford Econoline vans, each capable of hauling ten guys. Sprit 1-1’s crew and that of Spirit 1-2 piled into one while Spirits 1-3 and 1-4 took the other. Toby flipped through a few of his maps as the dark blue van transported the two crews from the squadron building to the waiting B-52H Stratofortress bombers alongside two more of its kind. He was particularly interested in the terrain that they would be navigating over, and how kind it would be to him if he needed to get low or put the big jet down, pending he had to be given control. Most of the area surrounding their target was valleys punctuated by foothills, with the exception of the Gelb Forest to the further east. The woods were also heavy around their entry point into Belka.
             The van slowed down and came to a halt in front of their bomber. Martin slid open the door and hoped out into the evening air, looking at the B-52 as the rest of his crew got out. He approached the crew chief, Staff Sergeant Houser, and cleared his throat.
             “Is she doing okay?” He asked. The ginger-haired man nodded.
             “Yes sir, we haven’t had a single problem with her.” He assured.
             Martin nodded and walked towards the nearest bomb rack. As briefed, it was loaded with dark green M117 bombs of a 750 pound weight. He carefully examined the weapons to make sure they were properly attached and fused for the mission. Because of the sheer size of the B-52, he would not be able to look over every nook and cranny, and instead have to rely on the mechanics for the minute details while he made sure the machine was ready overall. The engines on his side were ready, and he couldn’t see any signs of serious fatigue on the 1962-vintage machine. He turned around and began walking back towards the front.
             Toby took the responsibility of inspecting the right side. The first thing he noted was that the ground crew had given “Spirit 1-1” the addition of some nose art on his side of the cockpit. A powerful-looking train engine in colors similar to the Osean flag came plowing onwards from a thick blanket of smoke, the words “Flying Freight Train” inscribed in red letters at the bottom. The whole piece had a very glossy tone. Toby cracked a smile as he observed it.
             “Hey Staff Sergeant, who painted this up?” he asked as the crew chief approached him.
             “Airman Davis, sir. He thought it’d boost your guys’ confidence.” The man said with the same expression.
             “I like it, I like it.” Toby said with a chuckle.
             Toby’s side essentially looked the same as his pilot's, and after their inspection he walked towards the entrance hatch on the underside of the aircraft. He hunkered down, almost on his hands and knees because of his size, and maneuvered inside the bomber. He picked up the pace as he reached the ladder that would take him to the proper deck, grunting as he hoisted his big frame upwards. Colonel Rehl was already strapping in as he arrived and slid on his helmet, running up the B-52 so it could work on its own power. Toby went through his switches and displays as he tightened the straps. He looked at Martin, who gave his co-pilot a nod.
             “Okay, start this honey up.” He said. Toby nodded and started bringing the aircraft to life. On either side the engines began to whir as they were awoken and harnessed
             “Roger, we’re on our own power now.” Toby said. His blood was pumping as the displays and instruments also came to life.
             “Okay everyone, let’s get these preliminary checks done. Hustle!” Martin said. He waited to hear their confirmations, carefully sticking a photo of his family in the lip of the left eyebrow window. He looked at Toby, who returned his gaze expectantly.
             “Co-pilot ready.” He added.
             “Navigator ready.” Captain Terrance Miller said.
             “Bombardier ready.” 1Lt. Bruce Lewicki reported.
             “EW Officer ready.” 1Lt. Sampson Burns assured. Martin fired up the radio.
             “Bullock Tower, this is Spirit 1-1, requesting taxi instructions, how copy?” Martin asked as he checked his oxygen mask.
             “Spirit 1-1, Bullock Tower, cleared to taxi to Runway 1-A; hold at the end until further instructions are given.”  A voice replied.
             Martin released the brakes and followed an aircraft director as she beckoned the B-52 from its place and into a turn to go down the ramp towards the entrance to the runway. He glanced at the other B-52s as they waited to taxi; it made him feel like a general reviewing his troops before battle. He looked forward again and carefully maneuvered the B-52 to the right. The machine came to a halt as it faced down the runway, engines humming at low power.
             “Bullock Tower, requesting conditions and clearance.” Martin said as he lowered his visor to shield his eyes from the setting sun. There was a pause as the tower checked the weather.
             “Spirit 1-1, wind's blowing from east to west at around 8 knots, looks like we may have a storm come through later so be ready for slick runways.” The tower reported.
             “Roger that, request takeoff instructions.” Martin replied.
             “You’re clear 1-1, good luck and Godspeed.”
             With a breath Martin shoved the throttles on his side up, Toby doing the same on his. The B-52 lurched forward, it’s wings appearing to have the rigidness of paper as they bounced a little. Toby felt a smile curling across his face as the forces of acceleration worked their magic on them. The speedometer crawled upwards. The younger pilot constantly took glances at his pilot’s stick so they could work in a coordinated matter.
             “You know the drill, Ozark.” Martin reminded him quickly. Toby’s head snapped forward.
             “Yes sir.” He said.
             Toby really got his head on his shoulders and kept his eyes forward as the bomber was rolling up past 100 miles an hour. As the runway end came closer, the two pilots pulled back on their control sticks. Toby felt the ground become separated from him as they cleared the runway and began their climb to 20,000 feet.
             “Spirit 1-1 is airborne.” Martin said…
           

             Violet heard the low rumble of jet engines. She took up her cup of coffee and walked towards the balcony door of her condo. Once outside she looked around until she spotted a large shape as it climbed into the evening sky. The woman sighed and took a long drink from the mug, savoring the fancy decaf. The teacher ran a hand through her short head of hair and watched the large aircraft as it slowly rose above the trees and buildings.
             Somewhere behind her the phone rang. She ignored it, of course, figuring that the caller would leave a message for her to hear if it was important. Sure enough the ring stopped and her voice pleasantly apologized for missing the call and asked a message be left.
             “Hello, Miss Violet? This is Alicia Dawmire, Toby’s brother…” A voice said. She cast a glance towards the sound.
             “I’m sorry to be bothering you at this hour, but I…I wanted to say something to you…Toby told me about what happened…”
             Violet felt the veins in her neck tighten as she waited for Toby’s sister to say more. She took a step inside and listened, wondering if she should pick up the phone. Instead she listened more.
             “…I’m not calling to tell you I’m out to get you or that I’m angry. I want to help, because I know that despite the fact my brother and you made a mistake, it doesn’t mean you have to deal with more crap because of it. So if you need to come to us for help, we’ll welcome you with open arms when Toby can’t be there to help. Anyways Toby didn’t put me up to this; I just wanted to say it. Have a good night.”
             The line went silent, and Violet let herself smile a little. She took another drink and felt her stomach, feeling just a little less scared.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:29 pm

    The Flying Freight Train (Part 2)
    April 4, 1995
    20,000 feet above Osea (closest city: Sarafield)

             Toby eyed his watch as midnight passed without event. They’d been aloft for a handful of hours by now, and the border was getting close, close enough that now the crew had the ECM suite in their craft ready to work. He looked over the switches again before returning to giving his map another round of attention.
             “How you holding up there, Ozark?” Martin asked.
             “Pretty good sir, can’t even bother to be tired.” He replied, glancing up.
             “You can call me by my tag: TBG.” Martin nodded.
             “How’d you get that name, sir?” Toby asked, mildly amused.
             “It stands for “That Bomber Guy”. Some ANG F-106 pilot called me that after I blew past him during their annual missile exercise, Longbow, and everyone loved it.” Martin replied with a wide grin.
             “Way better story than how I got mine; it’s just a play on my slight drawl.” Toby admitted.
             “Aww come on Ozark, we still love yah!” Burns insisted from his position further back.
             “Haha, I appreciate it, Crispy.” Toby said.
             “Navigation, how far are we from the refueling point?” He added as he glanced at his map.
             “About 90 miles or so.” Miller reported.
             Toby tried to find something to occupy his time with while Martin controlled the monumental aircraft. He was staving off thoughts about Violet and fatherhood as long as he could. He did not want them clouding his judgment or ability to react to an adverse situation. He glanced out the window by the Colonel to see if he could spot Spirit 1-2, then his own to try and spot 1-3 and 1-4. Finally he succumbed to the nagging thought and decided he’d let himself think about what was gonna happen. It was a broken record at this point, minus the details. Violet still had her own life and job, so he had to plan with her about that. He’d given damage control the bird now after telling his sister. The OAF couldn’t be bothered to care since Violet wasn’t a member of them, either.
             “Hey, you still awake over there, Lieutenant?”
             The co-pilot jolted up straight and looked over towards Rehl.
             “Yes sir, you were saying?” He replied in a respectful tone.
             “Wanna take the stick for a while, Ozark?” Martin asked. Toby nodded pretty quickly. It would be a good way to get his mind off things.
             “Sure thing, TBG.” He said, relaxing a little. The call sign sill came out a little awkwardly. He quickly decided to drop it.
             The young man put his hands on the control yoke and waited until he was told he had the aircraft. He looked out the cockpit at the landscape of Osea. He could see the lights of towns and cities below. In the cloudless night, he had an almost unlimited view of the skies, at least for now. That storm still had him a little aware about their return to Bullock. For now though, the big event was hitting the rail yard, and before that getting into Belka. There was also the matter of their escort he thought as he keyed up the radio.
             “Clairvoyant this is Spirit 1-1, what’s the status of our refueling aircraft and escort?” He asked.
             “Condor and Moose Flights are enroute, and Mason Jar is in holding pattern, awaiting your arrival.” A controller aboard a single E-3B Sentry spoke up.
             “Understood Clairvoyant, we’ll give Mason Jar a ring in a few minutes.” Toby replied.
             With 70 miles to the border, they arrived at the proper refueling point. The crew heard the chatter as other jets topped off with one tanker before it left, and its relief rolled in without skipping a beat. Toby kept the stick as the radio came to life again.
             “Spirit 1-1, this is Mason Jar 3-1, pull into refueling pattern, how copy?”
             “Roger that, 3-1, Spirit 1-1 is pulling into refueling pattern.” Martin confirmed.
             He looked out the window and saw another aircraft’s light in the distance. His eyes adjusted to make out the shape of a KC-135R Stratotanker. The pilot set his hands on the control stick as the junior pilot guided the B-52 towards the other aircraft. For Toby, this was nothing to sweat about; he’d refueled in mid-air before in both night and day, and it was nothing compared to what might lay ahead. He adjusted his speed and movement to fall in line behind the tanker aircraft.
             “Okay 1-1; bring her down to 18,000 feet.” The KC-135 instructed.
             Toby carefully pushed the yolk forward and eyed the altimeter as they descended. Almost as quickly as he’d begun to he pulled back into level flight, leveling out at the proper altitude in mere seconds. He carefully adjusted the throttles to make a safe approach to the KC-135’s refueling boom, turning on the FLIR camera mounted on the B-52’s chin to give himself some additional assistance.
             “Open the refueling door.” He said.
             Martin reached out and hit the proper switch. Above and behind them the Stratofortress’s refueling door was exposed to the open air. The Stratotanker became bigger and bigger as the distance closed.
             “Steady…steady…” the boom operator in the back of the flying gas pump intoned.
             Toby went back to his eyes as he got to close to use the FLIR. He watched as the tanker made its own maneuvers to come down and ease the boom and receptacle together. It was a performance as calculated as a ballet, the two jets easing towards each other and matching moves.
             “Okay 1-1, hold her there.” The boom operator instructed.
             Martin joined in controlling the bomber as they balanced it on every aspect of its travel from heading to speed to the stability of its level flight. The KC-135 closed the space and its rainbow-colored probe extended.
             “Hold…Hooooold.” The boom operator stressed.
             Toby bit his lower lip and waited. He glanced down at the control panel, waiting for the green light to flick on. His eyes then snapped back towards the sky in front of them and keeping the B-52 stable. In the corner of his vision he saw the awaited signal.
             “Fuel’s flowing, green light.” Martin spoke up.
             “Roger that, green light’s on for us, too.” The boom operator replied.
             The two aircraft held in position as they completed the transfer, precious fuel gushing into the tanks of the heavy bomber. Martin watched as the fuel gauge climbed back up towards max capacity. They were scheduled for a total fill-up, but they would get enough to maneuver and hit their target.
             “Okay 1-1, you’re cleared to pull away. Spirit 1-2, your turn.” The Stratotanker announced as the green light went off and the boom pulled out of the receptacle.
             “Co-pilot still has the plane.” Toby said as he maneuvered the B-52 away from the machine. As Spirit 1-2 maneuvered into place for its fuel, the radio came to life again.
             “Clairvoyant here. Spirit 1-3, Spirit 1-4, you’re being rerouted to a new target. Condor 1 will escort you while Condor 2 stays with 1-3 and 1-4. Mongoose will stay with Spirit 1-1 and 1-2, how copy?” their AWACS informed them. Martin’s face scrunched up in annoyance.
             “Clairvoyant, can you please specify why 1-3 and 1-4 are being retasked?” He demanded.
             “J-STARS just informed us of a new target of opportunity and Spirit 1-3 and 1-4 have what they need. You and Spirit 1-2 are to proceed with original mission immediately while they refuel.” The controller said, getting a little more blunt. Martin ground his teeth together for a second, then grudgingly nodded.
             “Roger that, Spirit 1-1 and 1-2 are proceeding with original mission.”
             “We’ve still got 102 bombs between us and 1-2, sir. I think we can level em still.” Toby consoled.
             “For everyone’s sake I hope you’re right.” Martin said as they left the two other bombers and tanker behind.
             “Okay, 68 miles to the border.” Miller updated. Martin grunted in confirmation.
             “Spirit 1, this is Mongoose 1. We are moving into position to clear you a corridor, how copy?” a female voice said.
             “Roger that Mongoose, we are roughly 60 miles from the border, standby.” Martin shot back.
             “Roger that. Be advised Condor’s hit a bit of a delay so they’ll be a minute or two late, how copy?”
             “What kind of delay?”
             “Minor accident on the runway at Heirlark from what I hear.”
             Martin wasn’t impressed. First he’d been stripped of two of his bombers and now the much-needed F-15s were going to be late. These were things he’d given thought but nonetheless hoped would never happen. For the moment he and is compatriots were relatively safe, but that would be just a piece of the past when they got close enough to be reached by the BAF’s air defense network. He’d gotten little to no word regarding the Wild Weasels that were supposed to be making the path even clearer.
             Toby, meanwhile, was feeling he was even further away from Bullock and Violet than he already was. He had no desire to try and take on whatever fighters or missiles the Belkans had set along their path alone. For a second he’d been granted a slot for F-15s or F-16s, then he’d feel much safer. He began muttering Hail Mary prayers repeatedly as he searched for some solace. Out ahead the city lights were mostly gone, and he could even see a trail of smoke or two. He checked all his gauges and displays again to make sure they were still working, even giving one or two a tap. The ECM had begun to make a less friendly sound as he was told that out in the vast expanse, unfriendly radars were watching. He wondered about Violet a little more to calm himself, hoping she was still able to sleep without him by her side…


             Violet was jolted awake by the deep rumble. Her mind instantly recognized that it wasn’t a jet or bomb, though; it was just thunder. Further evidence was heaped on when she saw a flash outside her balcony door. The TV was on some late-night infomercial, talking about something or another. She groped for the remote and turned off the device before slumping back on the couch. She suddenly felt very depressed and alone as she turned on a light and listened to the storm come upon Sierra Forks.
             The woman curled up and hugged her legs, sniffles and shuddering breaths the only noise. She was sure this was more likely just feeling alone and still suffering from pangs of guilt, but the signs of pregnancy were bound to come rolling along soon. Morning sickness, mood swings, odd cravings. Poor Toby was probably gonna be seven different kinds of confused when she woke him up at some unholy hour to ask him to go but her some chocolate or something. She wondered if she could live on the base with him or if she’d find herself sharing her little hovel. Waking up next to him had become a wonderful thing, and a small oasis from any stress she’d ever felt.
             She had known Toby for a much longer time than she’d been intimate with him. He’d been a running back for the Sierra Fork Bobcats, but he rarely said anything other than what he had to. His closest friends were his sister, whom she’d never really gotten to know, and one of the “nerds” who like him was quiet, Neil Hullen. He was a handsome guy, and Violet had always been the kind of person who liked to extend her kindness, especially to those who didn’t have many friends. It was because of her he’d become a bit more talkative. They didn’t really have any romance in high school with exception of a goodbye kiss before they’d gone separate ways.
             From there it was a story of resurfacing attraction. Both had returned to Sierra Forks in their own ways. Violet had earned her degree and had become a teacher while much to her surprise Toby had joined the Osean Air Force. She’d never thought him the type, and his family had almost no family history (his grandfather had been a medic during the Great World War she’d learned, but nothing else). It had been chance she’d stumbled across him during a field trip to the base, and a few dates lead to what was now history.
             Violet laid out on the couch again, too tired to go to her bedroom. Oh how she wished it could’ve been that sweet, puppy-love kind of thing a bit longer. Unfortunately things were now different, and the consequences were only just starting. She felt stupid more than anything; they both knew better! Toby had been firmly raised in a traditional Christian family that had probably told him a billion times over to save his virginity for marriage. She’d gotten the same lecture and had been able to stick to that rule through college and high school, especially when several other girls had to trade whatever career they wanted for the job of mother because some cute boy got them alone in the back of a car.
             The auburn-haired woman heard the punctual splat of raindrops meeting the window and door. She cast a glance at the VCR’s clock. It’d been close to five hours since she’d heard the bombers taking off. They had to be close to Belka by now…


             They weren’t even 40 miles from the border when the hits came onto the screen and the ECM got suspicious. It was already bad enough that their fighter escort had been delayed, but now it was even worse that they had visitors. “Slick” Lewicki frowned and secured his oxygen mask back over his face. Now came the really interesting part of this flight.
             “Pilot, Bombardier, we’ve got two bogeys on radar. They don’t look to friendly to me.” He piped up.
             Toby and Martin’s eyes instantaneously went to their own radar display. Toby decided not to take any chances despite the IFF’s lack of squawk and the ECM’s warnings.
             “Clairvoyant this is Spirit 1-1, we’ve got radar contacts at heading 090, 230 miles. Can you verify as bandits?” He asked.
             “Roger that 1-1, we see em. Targets confirmed as bandits. Radar sig looks like Foxhounds.” Their friend from faraway said after a minute. Toby looked at his pilot.
             “MiG-31s, sir. Fast suckers, can hit about….Mach 2.8 in the right conditions. AA-9 Amos can fire 100 miles out, like the AIM-54 Phoenix. They’ve probably got close-range AA-8s and they’ve got their cannon.” He said, recalling what Jane’s latest edition of their aircraft guide had recorded.
             “Alright then, EW dump out some chaff! Make it look like there’s a whole fucking bunch of us!” Martin ordered.
             “Clairvoyant, we’re gonna need some help here, any friendlies in the area?” He added.
             “Hang on, Condor 1 is inbound.” The Sentry assured.
             “Roger that. EW, is our tail jammer working good?” Martin asked.
             “Yes sir, all systems are nominal.” Burns assured.
             Martin grumbled and cursed his superiors as the threats approached. Just a few years ago they would’ve had a M61 cannon in the back to defend themselves (four M3 fifty calibers if this was a G model), but now they just had some extra electronics to jam the incoming bandits.
             “Pilot has the stick.” Toby announced as he returned control to the senior pilot.
             “We’ll both have it; we’re gonna need it.” Martin interjected. Toby nodded and rotated the stiffness from his neck.
             “Keep talking to me Ozark, how do we beat these things until those Eagles arrive?” Martin said.
             “Foxhounds are designed to intercept low-flying birds like the Bone. Practically the whole reason they exist. Won’t be as bad as dealing with a Navy Tomcat, but that ain’t saying much.” Ozark said, feeling sweat in his hair.
             “Chaff is going out like a motherfucker.” Burns said, keeping cool. Outside the B-52, chaff came like a blizzard from the bomber’s rear section.
             “Looks like one of em’s going for lock, we might have to get low regardless of design or else we’re a big bull’s-eye waiting to be hit.” Martin said as they got warnings.
             “Roger that sir.” Toby agreed.
             They had few options at this point, and the mountains might give them a little bit of an advantage. They couldn’t push the big bird too hard or else it’d stall, break its wings, etc. The lieutenant’s mind was race and calculating, as was his commander’s. The former may not have given the impression but he was a sharp one.
             “Missiles in the air; two of em at twelve o’ clock!”
             Burns’s call sent a shock through Toby’s spine.
             “Spirit 1-2, break formation and evade! Everyone else, hang on!” Martin said. The time for debate was now gone; they were going low regardless.
             Toby pressed his control yolk forward in unison with the Colonel. He quickly realized that the mountains wouldn’t be far enough apart to provide effective cover, and they’d just be skimming the top while the Foxhounds took more shots. It caused the sweat to pick up just a little as it slid down his face and under his mask. He felt himself beginning to breathe a little faster. But there had to be a way out of this…his mind tried to connect the dots, but they were too scared of drifting from the matter at hand to try, even if it would help them.
             “Toby…” A soft voice said.
             In his mind, the image of Violet came to him. She was lying beneath him, the morning after that night a month ago, when the chain of events that’s lead to now had just started rolling. She was still clothed in only the sheets, with her arms above her head as she looked back at him.
             “Please…Come back to me…” She whispered (though that line hadn’t been uttered that particular morning). It made a confident grin spread across Toby’s face. He hated to disappoint people. Her image also served th console his mind.
             The two AA-9s fell for the blizzard of chaff and passed by the B-52 without so much as a thought, but the ECM told them that they weren’t out of the woods yet. Martin made the disturbing observation that his co-pilot was grinning as they readied themselves for the next volley.
             “You gonna say something Ozark or just sit there with a dopey-ass grin on your mug?” He demanded. Ozark cast him a confident glance.
             “There’s a pass, sir, near our entry point into Belka, might be big enough for us to use.” He said as the altimeter spun downwards, his brain calmed by the quick vision.
             “Well shit, son, why didn’t you say so? Where?” the Colonel asked.
             “It should be directly ahead if my map is correct, sir. I suggest we use the FLIR and Miller to check.” Toby replied.
             Martin reached down and activated the camera. His co-pilot took the burden of evading while he searched for the gap. He found it pretty quickly and slaved the camera to it.
             “Okay, let’s get low and fast. Spirit 1-2, follow us!” Martin said.
             “Spirit 1-2, roger.”
             The two pilots brought the B-52 to the left and began to descend, more AA-9s on their way. Burns kept steady as he worked the ECM, watching the missile tracks as they came towards the two bombers. He deployed more chaff to deflect the radar-guided weapons as he felt the bomber rocketing down towards the earth. The others not in control of the Boeing product held on tight and monitored their systems.
             “Miller, we on course to that pass?” Martin asked. The Bombardier glared at his displays.
             “Roger that, we are approaching a pass; high terrain on both sides.” He reported.
             “Condor, what’s your status?” Martin asked as the Foxhounds came into visual range, displaying their large intakes and pointed noses for a second before descending at the bomber. The ECM told the Oseans the threat had changed to heatseekers.
             “Two minutes, we’re in afterburner.” The lead F-15 promised.
             “We’re at 8000 feet.” Toby reported almost immediately after.
             “Roger that, get through the pass before those MiGs get on our ass.” Martin said.
             Toby bit his lower lip again as the walls of the terrain came up, almost in unison with the announcement they were in Belkan airspace. Outside he could see details of the terrain flashing by. He relied on the ECM for the time, listening as the tone changed. Ahead he saw the triangular shape of a mountain appear. His CO was on it.
             “Bring her up, bring her up.” Martin said rapidly.
             They both pulled back the yolks and screamed towards 19,000 feet again, almost parallel with the slope towards the top and eased the angle as energy bled off.
             “Burns, were are those MiGs?” Martin asked.
             “They passed over Spirit 1-2; they’re turning around now.”
             Martin wished even more that they had the M61. Hell if they got close enough he could whip out his sidearm and take a shot or two! But his demands for defense were soon met by two calls.
             “Condor 1-1, Fox 3!”
             “Condor 1-2, Fox 3!”
             The ECM became less worried, causing Martin to dare a look out his window. He saw one of the MiG’s afterburners as it raced ahead of the B-52 and to the North. In the distance he saw the small twinkles and smoke trails of AIM-120 AMRAAMs. The man chuckled.
             “Go get em, Little Friends.” He said.
             “Spirit 1, bug out towards your target. Condor 1-3 and 1-4 will escort while we bag these guys.” Condor 1-1’s pilot urged.
             “Don’t have to tell us twice.” Toby agreed.
             They turned the B-52 onto the right vector and waited until Spirit 1-2 was on their wing before getting down to business.
             “Bombardier, distance to target?” Martin asked.
             “Target is 50 miles out.”
             Martin gave a snappy “roger that” and adjusted the throttles on his side, Toby following suit quickly. They leveled the B-52 out at 18,000 feet and formed a standard left-sided echelon with Spirit 1-2. Condor 1, now reformed, moved above and forward of the bombers.
             “There.” Toby pointed out, lifting a hand and pointing almost directly north.
             Out in the distance, the two pilots could see a few dots, lights. It was no surprise the city would be blacked out to make things easier for the gunners defending it. Martin was still waiting on some word regarding the SEAD they’d been promised.
             “Clairvoyant, this is Spirit 1-1, any word on enemy AAA in the target vicinity?” He radioed, under toning his words with “just give me a yes or no, dammit”.
             “We’ve been told that they came through a few hours ago; did what they could. Expect there to still be resistance, though.”
             Martin gave a satisfied “roger that” and steadied himself. They crossed the 40 mile mark and the ECM came back to life. The Sentry gave some clarification.
             “Condor 1, Clairvoyant, we’ve got four more bandits on our scopes. Heading 035 at 70 miles, Angels 15. Looks like MiG-21s.” The E-3 spoke up.
             “Roger that. Spirit, we’ll draw them off you while you make your bomb runs. Good luck.” The lead F-15 said as his flight broke off.
             “Roger that. Spirit 1-2, what’s your status?” Martin said.
             “Still in position and ready to drop.”
             “Roger, release your internal payload first in case you get hit; can’t jettison your bomb bay, yah know.” The Colonel said.
             “Roger that, 1-1.”
             The rail yard was in the FLIR’s view now. Toby felt his heart beat a little faster as they closed within 35 miles. He glanced at his pilot, who was busy keeping the jet steady like him. The ECM panel was telling them both ground-based radars were present. SAMs.
             “Looks like an SA-6.” Burns reported.
             “Das Vaterland troops?” Toby suggested. As fearsome as the name “Fatherland Division” sounded, it was the title given to B-Class reservists whom took the jobs the actual Belkan Army couldn’t cover while it fought. One of these was air defense inside Belka.
             “Probably.” Martin offered.
             Burns dumped more chaff at the scattered SAMs sitting below while Lewicki began setting up the proper prerequisites for the run. He furiously flipped switches and checked numbers. In his mind he had no regrets. The Belkans had wanted war, and now the 332nd was about to deliver 40,500 pounds worth to them. Payback really was a bitch.
             “Bombardier, open the bay doors and arm the bombs. Set for ripple release, front-to-back.” Martin radioed.
             “Roger that, sir.”
             Toby began getting tense again. He blinked and reminded himself again of Violet, of Alicia. His mind simplified and rationalized his job so he could focus. He reached down and rested a hand on the throttles so they could get moving out of the area.
             “Twenty miles; Opening bomb bay doors.” Lewicki reported.
             Toby began sending out his love to all those important to him, as did everyone. Not out of fear, but of self-assurance. When they hit 13 miles, the co-pilot saw a bright flash outside. It was only present for a second before only a black cloud remained. The same process began to happen across the sky.
             “Flak.” He called out, wondering if he should slide down his visor.
             “We’ve got three missiles airborne at two o’ clock! Dumping more chaff!”
             Toby and Martin pushed their yolks and the throttles forward as the Gainfuls clambered up towards them. The CO of the squadron called for Spirit 1-2 to break formation to defend itself.
             “Sir, we’re almost on top of the target!” Lewicki called.
             “Roger that, drop em! Bombs away!” Martin ordered.
             “Spirit 1-1, bombs away.” Toby said as the second missile lost its track.
             After hours of sitting still, the clips of 750-pound bombs began their ride with gravity. They fell in a near-perfect line, fish-tailing a little as they hit the open air before continuing their fall.
             “Should I switch to the pylons, sir?” Lewicki asked.
             “Standby, we’ve got one last SAM to outsmart. Let’s hope the jamming is doing plenty.” Martin said.
             The two pilots banked the B-52 to the left with care, their wingman following them. Toby looked out his windows for the SA-6, waiting for the shockwave or the ECM to calm down. The former came in a two-fold punch. First he felt his frame rattled as two flak bursts got a little close, then a real shake came as the final Gainful exploded nearby. Immediately assuming the worse, his eyes frantically danced over the panels for red lights. His eyes locked onto the engine panel as he heard the warning alarm. Their number three and number four engines had taken the brunt of the damage. Toby cursed.
             “Number three and four are damaged! Possible damage to the flaps!” He said, letting himself get a little loud.
             “Keep her in the turn, Ozark! Tell me if anything feels wonky!” Martin ordered.
             “I’m not getting anything like that on my end, sir!” Toby reported.
             The B-52 screeched over the city itself, two of its engines shut down to prevent further damage. Toby was practically crushing his yolk in his hands as they struggled to get things under control. Toby looked at the airspeed indicator as it seemed to be dropping. They were turning too tight for the number of engines still operational. The two pilots eased up the turn, but the speed was still going down, enough to seriously anger Toby. He hit the throttles to make sure they were all the way forward.
             “Come on, yah big, gray bitch! Fly!” He snarled.
             Finally the B-52’s speed stopped going down and it settled into normal flight, flak bursts still dotting the sky around it as it left the vicinity. The alarms calmed down with the three and four engines out of commission. The ECM seemed to be indicating that the Das Vaterland troops below had shot their load as far as missile were concerned. Toby sucked in a long breath of oxygen before he spoke.
             “Everyone alive?!” He said, still a little heavy on the volume.
             “I’m kicking! Looks like one of the flak bursts got the left-side countermeasures dispenser; expect there to be additional damage to that section.” Burns piped up.
             “Still okay!” Lewicki assured.
             “What they said.” Miller reported almost immediately after the Bombardier.
             “Good, everyone’s alive. Congrats boys, we just flew our first bombing run against Belka and lived.” Martin observed. He looked at Toby.
             “You all done good by my book.” He said. Toby nodded and glanced down at the controls. 62 miles to the border, he thought.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:31 pm

    The Flying Freight Train (Part 3)
    April 4, 1995
    18,000 feet above Belka (closest city: Stagvogel)

             “Yeah Spirit 1-1, you’ve got some hits there on the left. Looks like the engines are the worst damage. I think they’re leaking fluid; might be smoke, though.”
             “Spirit 1-2 it seems you’ve taken even more dings. Your tail section looks pretty chewed up.”
             Martin sighed and rubbed his forehead.
             “Thanks Condor 1-3, 1-1. We’ll try and make it to the border and go from there.” He said.
             “Roger, we’ll stay with you until Heirlark or our fuel state gets too low.” The fighter pilot said.
             Toby looked up from the panels and lights again. They’d taken down all the problems and dealt with them the best they could. The rest would be handled by the mechanics back on the ground. How long until the B-52 was airworthy again was not his department; until then he’d fly in other squadron jets.
             “Okay Ozark, nothing to worry about. The Eagles will escort us out and we’ll just have to be careful on the landing.” Martin said.
             “Let’s hope it’s that way, sir.” Toby replied as he kept his grip on the yolk.
             The co-pilot wished he could get a proper look to the rear and see what they’d done. At the very least he could know before they got shot down, IF they got shot down. The fire from the ground was dying off as they disappeared from the sight of Stagvogel’s defenders and once again awoke the countryside with their tumultuous roar. Things seemed to have settled down as they were well clear of the ground-based defenses; they weren’t any in this part of the country, apparently. No skin off his nose, he had enough problems at the moment.
             “Will we need to divert if that bad weather is still over Bullock?” Toby asked his pilot.
             “Probably; this plane would not fare very well trying to land on a slick runway in its current state. We’ll check about 200 miles out.” Martin assured.
             The B-52 was now 32 miles from the border, but the fact that they were still inside Belk was enough to warrant attention. The E-3 watching the skies spoke up again.
             “Spirit 1, Condor 1, this is Clairvoyant; we’ve got more bandits on radar. Looks like MiG-31s, again. Heading 080, 210 miles, Angels 21. We count four.” Their friend aboard the Sentry piped up.
             “Ah shit, now ain’t the time!” Toby snarled.
             “Stow it, Ozark! Condor?”
             “We’re on em, but we can’t hold them for long! Burned enough gas as it is!”
             “Roger that, can you stay close to us until they get close?”
             “Yeah, we can try.”
             Toby looked at the RWR panel. The enemy radars were only present and aware of the two bombers. The MiGs were too far out to get missile off, but that would change soon. Mach 2.83, Toby reminded himself.
             “Clairvoyant, how far are they now?” Martin asked.
             “They’re at 180 miles. Guys must be on afterburners.” The controller updated.
             “Roger that, Spirit 1-2, eject the rest of your payload and get low; we should be near the mountains soon enough. Try to keep Condor between you and the MiGs.” Martin replied.
             “Spirit 1-2, roger that. We’re counting on you, Condor.” The other Stratofortress confirmed.
             “Radar, Pilot, jettison the bombs on the wing pylons.” Martin went on without skipping a beat.
             “Roger that, sir.” Lewicki agreed.
             The crew barely felt anything as the rest of the M117s were left to fall to the earth. There was no worry about them being captured; the M117 was as old and as unsophisticated as bombs got. In fact Toby wished they could be armed to explode when some curious Belkans tried to tamper with them. That’d be a surprise, he grinned. The man looked down as the RWR continued to beep.
             “Okay, they’re going for lock.” He reported.
             “Chaff is going out from the right dispenser.” Burns reported.
             “We’re nearing the mountains.” Miller added.
             Toby and Martin handled the B-52 with care. In its state, it could sustain even fewer Gs or violent maneuvers. They began taking her down after the bombs were clear, keeping the throttles in an acceptable state. The MiGs fanned out and turned to they were directly behind the formation of egressing Osean jets. The range closed to near 100 miles, but came no closer. The RWR told the crew of Spirit 1-1 that they were being locked on to. The flow of things was pretty obvious from that point on.
             “Missiles in the air, four of em!” Lewicki determined.
             “How many are inbound for us?” The Colonel requested.
             “Looks like we’ve got one aimed at us!” He reported.
             “More Chaff, Lewicki!” Martin swiftly ordered.
             Two of the F-15s, Condor 1-1 and 1-4, reported that they had been fired on, while Spirit 1-2 reported an AA-9 was after it. Spirit 1-1 kept up its descent, carefully jinking from side to side to spread the chaff. Toby felt a looming sense of fear as he listened in on the conversation between the escorts.
             “Visual! Your six o’ clock!”
             “Evade, Rhino, evade!”
             “I’m trying, I’m trying!”
             In the meantime Toby watched as the Amos inbound for them passed by and went off towards a cluster of chaff. He took in a quick breath before waiting for another missile to come. Mayday calls flooded in.
             “This is Spirit 1-2, we’ve been hit! We’re still up but badly damaged!” Their fellow B-52 called. The escort was faring worse.
             “Lead is down! Condor 1-1 and 1-4 are down! I don’t see any chute from 1-1!” one of the fighter pilots confirmed.
             Two of the Eagles went down in flames as the others tried desperately to counter more AA-9s with what fuel they had. Toby cursed several people as things descended into a quagmire. The idiots who hadn’t given him a chance at a jet like an F-16, the Belkans, the dolts who’d deprived this B-52 of its gun, and the idiots who hadn’t given the F-15 better gas mileage. He was every kind of angry for a very good reason. These Foxhound pilots were about to get easy prey by basically sniping them. The Second Lieutenant at least wanted the honor of dying with the enemy in his face. At least the chance to ram him if this was it! Martin, however, was still clinging to the chance for survival.
             “Any station, this is Spirit 1-1! We are under attack by bandits near the Ivera mountains, near the border. Can anyone assist?” He called out again.
             Even as they crossed the border, the MiGs would not relent. They had no reason to, Martin thought with a frown, there were free kills to be had. By now the B-52 was past the mountains and close to 8,000 feet. It bought them some breathing room for a minute. The MiGs crossed the border, now even closer, and went back to their shooting gallery. Martin repeated his call, and the radio came to life.
             “Spirit 1-1, this is Buckshot 3 Actual. We are a battery of Patriot SAMs near your current position. We can assist, standby.” A voice assured. Martin gulped, but nodded nonetheless.
             “Roger that, be advised we’re flying with another B-52 and two F-15s near us. Bandits are farther out.” He added.
             Martin only felt marginal comfort, however; the MIM-104 had unfortunately not been as good as first thought in this conflict. Among other “minor” incidents, the missiles had downed two Osean Marine F/A-18s. Martin didn’t want him or his crew to be the next victims. One of the MiGs had turned back towards them in a do or die attempt to score a kill, closing the rest of the distance even as somewhere below Patriot air defense batteries sent off their payloads into the sky. No one saw the flashes, but the ECM changed to tell them that all but one of the Foxhounds had stopped actively targeting the Osean aircraft. Spirit 1-1 dumped off more chaff and flares as their “admirer” began firing rounds from its cannon. The tracers passed by in a swarm before Toby heard thumps nearby. They quickly stopped as the Patriot battery called out its kills.
             “Spirit, Buckshot, your flight is cleared west; we’ve got these sons of bitches.” The Army missile personnel radioed.
             “Roger that Buckshot, we send our thanks.” Martin replied.
             “Spirit 1-1, this is Condor 1-2, we’re returning to base. Good luck.” One of the Eagle drivers announced.
             “Okay Condor, we appreciate the help.” Martin said.
             “Thanks guys, we owe you all. Same to your pals in 1-1 and 1-4.” Toby added.
             The two F-15s went north to reach Heirlark again, while the two B-52s aimed themselves for the long trip back to Bullock and began to ascend again. Toby looked down at the panels to see if the cannon rounds had hit anything. There were no new lights, though the encounter had made the damage to the engine a little worse.
             “Spirit 1-2, what’s your status after that hit?” He asked.
             “Ah, not good 1-1. I’m feeling some vibration in the yolk and pedals here. We may need to eject.” Came a nervous call.
             “Roger that 1-2, pull up ahead of us so we can get a look at you. We’ll be coming in just a little closer than usual.” Martin said. He looked at Toby.
             “Tell me if you see anything; I have control.” He nodded.
             Toby returned the gesture and looked out the side, reaching for his white flashlight. He took it out and peered through the dark for the shape of Spirit 1-2. He found the jet as it trailed smoke and occasional snippets of debris. He examined the body of the jet as they got close. The B-52 looked horribly beaten; more like a scrapyard wreck that was being used for parts than a frontline machine. The beam of his light came towards the tail, which as the pilot from Condor had said bore the worst damage.
             “Spirit 1-2, you are chewed up good; think you should divert?” Toby asked.
             “We’re looking for a proper runway now, 1-1.” The other jet replied, the owner’s voice preoccupied with something.
             Toby shone his light on the tail again. He noted it seemed to be moving in an unusual way.
             “Sir, I’d suggest we get away from Spirit 1-2; his tail looks unstable.” Toby suggested. Martin looked his way.
             “Are you sure?” He asked.
             “Yes sir, don’t want the both of us being taken out.” Toby affirmed.
             Martin quickly guided the B-52 away from its damaged friend while Toby kept an eye on it. The tail seemed to be moving more. Suddenly, it fell away from Toby. He saw the shape of the tailfin, along with a sizable chunk of the right vertical stabilizer, go tumbling back and downwards.
             “We just lost the tail and the right stabilizer!” Spirit 1-2’s pilot called. The B-52 began to shudder and descend.
             “Can you get her under control?!” Toby asked, panic edging his voice.
             “Negative, the controls ain’t doing jack shit! We’re ejecting!” Was the answer.
             Toby watched as quick bursts of light went off towards the front, rocketing small objects away from the doomed bomber. Spirit 1-2, began to roll uncontrollably, smoke tracing its path to its grave. Toby tried to see what lie below, if there were any homes down there. He could get a good view, even when the machine plowed into the dirt with a cascade of fire.
             “Spirit 1-2 is down, 1-2 is down! Did anyone see a chute?” Martin radioed.
             “I saw a few flashes around the cockpit; probably the ejection seats.” Ozark said as he looked forward again.
             “We’ll have to let SAR find that out. Clairvoyant, this is Spirit 1-1, Spirit 1-2 has gone down near us. Do you have a fix of their location?” Martin radioed.
             “Roger, we’re seeing a few beacons. We’ll have SAR inbound as soon as we can.” AWACS promised.
             Spirit 1-1 accepted the situation and moved on alone, now in the near-absolute safety of Osean airspace. The painful realization that they’d only just entered Osean airspace sunk its teeth into Toby again. He sucked it up and wondered about Spirit 1-2. At the very least they would be in friendly territory; the point they’d gone over wasn’t occupied by Belkan forces, at least not anymore. The only remote possibility was that of the locals mistaking them for Belkans. It got a scowl out of Toby. Unfortunately, he’d been well aware of those overly-paranoid idiots who shot someone who so much as looked at their property. If any of his squadmates went out like that, he’d hunt down the bastards who did it and make sure they got a surprise visit from an M117, or he’d just beat the life from them himself. Yeah, that’d be more satisfying.
             The flight became as mundane as the approach to Belka had been. The damage to their jet did not increase as they kept the B-52 in a gentle path of travel, making any movements with the most delicate of touches. Toby and Martin certainly didn’t want to gamble with ripping off part of their own aircraft. Every move was slower with fewer engines at their command as well.
             “Do we still have enough fuel to make it back to Bullock?” Martin asked. Toby checked.
             “Yeah, and then some; I was afraid we might be leaking fuel, but all the tanks are fine.
             “Good.”
             Hours passed by in agonizingly slow segments sometime, so slow Toby found himself singing bits of various songs. He was humming “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prime when Martin got his attention.
             “Let’s start descent early, just to be safe.” He instructed.
             Toby nodded and matched his commander’s movements of the yolk. The bomber began to come down from its cruise altitude.
             “Bullock Tower, this is Spirit 1-1, requesting weather and runway conditions.” The Colonel spoke up. There was little pause.
             “1-1, this is Bullock Tower, weather is clear, runway is open. Bring her in.” A voice said.
             “Roger, be advised we’re coming in damaged; have fire crews on standby.” Martin informed.
             “Understood, you aren’t the first.”
             The crews’ eyes collectively widened.
             “Who’s made it back?” Martin asked. There was a longer pause before the answer.
             “Three jets from Spirit 2 all made it back with various stages of damage, but Spirit 2-3 was shot down. 1-3 and 1-4 have yet to return.”
             Martin grimaced, trying not to worry too much. Getting shot down didn’t necessarily mean the end. Besides, he had more pressing matters to deal with.
             “Okay Ozark, ready?” He asked.
             “Ready and able.” Toby replied as he tightened his shoulder straps.
             “Bullock Tower, we’re gonna enter the landing pattern early, we’ve got engines out and I don’t know what kind of landing gear damage we might have. Gotta take it slow.” Martin said.
             “Roger that, you’re cleared for Runway 3-B, no traffic in your approach.”
             The B-52 crossed miles upon miles of terrain as it approached the ground. Toby and Martin ran through the procedures, the most important parts of which were adjusting the throttles, flaps, and lowering the gear. Toby squinted his eyes in search of the runway lights, and spotted faint dots in the distance. Dawn had yet to come.
             “Got a visual on the runway, near 12 o’ clock.” He said.
             “Roger that.” Martin replied.
             The Stratofortress carefully lowered itself towards the ground. Despite the relative calm, Toby was kept on edge.
             “Spirit 1-1 is on final approach.” Martin said.
             The ground was close enough to see details now. Trees and roads rushed by. They reached the ILS and the B-52’s wheels went the last few feet to the runway. The landing felt rather rough, and the B-52 almost bounced. Toby’s heart leapt into his throat for a minute. He heard the entire B-52 moan painfully as they hit the ground again. He grabbed the throttles right after Martin did, pulling them the rest of the way back to reign in the B-52’s charge. The bomber slowed and they gently applied the brakes. Toby’s mouth was firmly closed the entire time, and he realized as the B-52 came to a crawl, he’d been holding his breath. He opened his mouth and sucked in air, grabbing for the oxygen mask.
             “Everyone still alive?” Martin exhaled as he took off his own mask and began to guide the B-52 off the runway.
             “We’re all here.” Lewicki assured.
             The B-52, emergency vehicles with it, rolled to a parking spot on the flight line. The familiar sight of ground crew equipped with light sticks to guide them. With a long, exhausted breath, Martin brought the B-52 to a final rest. He began unbuckling himself from the seat. His body felt sore, but he was too eager to get outside the Stratofortress. The rest of the crew shared his sentiments, and quickly exited the bomber. The ground crew was waiting around the exit hatch. Houser was the first to greet them, bottles of ice cold water in his arms. Toby took one and pried off his helmet, chugging half the bottle before pouring the rest on his head.
             “Did you get to drop all of em, sir?” One of the airmen asked.
             “I wish, we had to dump the ones of the wings to escape some Foxhounds.” Burns said.
             “Speaking of that…” Martin commented, looking towards the back of the B-52.
             The entire crew walked towards the area where Condor had reported the damage. Even in the low light, they could see parts of the jet had been ripped away and slashed at. Chunks of shrapnel protruded from the skin of the plane. Martin walked up to a piece and gently touched it. It had been long cooled by the high altitude, but it was still jagged.
             “How long would it take to get this removed and patched up?” He asked one of the approaching mechanics. The man made a quick first inspection before saying anything.
             “It could take a few days sir; that engine fiasco could take even longer.” He guessed.
             “Get on it as soon as you can; we need every bird available.” Martin said. The younger man nodded.
             In the meantime, Toby had rushed to the other side to check the status of the art that Davis had made for the B-52. It was still there, though he could tell the image had been dirtied a little. He looked around, and found the young man approaching to make sure his work was okay as well. Toby aimed a finger at the piece.
             “Make sure it’s in pristine condition, Davis. I like it.” Toby said. The man nodded and smiled.
             “I’ll have it done yesterday, Sir.” He promised.
             The men of Spirit 1-1 gathered alongside other returning crews, many of whom were either exhausted or injured. Major Bullard stuck out a hand when the Lieutenant Colonel approached him.
             “Glad to see you made it back, TBG.” He said.
             “Hey, I couldn’t let you take over my squadron just yet.” Martin replied. He looked at the pilots as they sat down.
             “I was informed that Spirit 1-3 and 1-4 had to divert, sir. They got ambushed by an SA-6 battery. We should be getting BDA photos on the runs a few hours from now from what I was told. Colonel Yullen says there’s a debrief with him in two hours. For now we debrief within our flights.” He explained. Martin nodded and looked at the other squadmates.
             “Think I should give em a speech?” He asked. The Major shrugged.
             “It would probably help.” He said.
             Martin nodded and walked to the stage, climbing up onto it. He came to the podium and cleared his throat and called the room to order.
             “Well, I’m glad to see some of us made it back; despite any fears, I know you would all prevail. I’m told that the targets we’d been fragged have all been hit, and that our losses are minimal. Spirits 1-3 and 1-4 had to divert, but are okay. The photos of what we did should be arriving soon…” He began.
             “You all made me proud, today. You took your big birds into the fight and you faced the odds so you could get back here again. You should all know that; I don’t need to give some big speech for that.” Martin said.
             “For now, all present members of each flight will debrief on other details.  Check the board for the next briefing time.” He added before dismissing the members of the squadron.
             Martin finally got home around seven in the morning. He had until one before he had to be back to help with the preparation for the next mission. For now, he wanted his people to rest and regain their strength. He found his family was waiting for him as he came into the driveway. In fact Janice was sitting in the same spot she’d been in. The teen stood up and waved to him from the porch.
             “Dad!” She called. He smiled back.
             “Did you stay there the entire time, Jan?” he teased.
             “Yeah, even when it was night.” She laughed. She ran down to give him a hug.
             “I knew you’d come home.” She said.
             “Of course, I promised I would. Spread my wings, remember?” He reminded her. She nodded.
             It was at that moment he felt a severe split inside. He realized that though he’d returned to his family, he’d returned to them having killed men. And until this war ended, that’s what would happen. Every day Jan or Marcie asked him how his day was, he would have to smile and lie. He could never tell them he’d killed others, even if they knew that all too well. For a moment he envied pilots he never had to deal with this, like those aboard aircraft carriers, or those who lived away from their homes. He did exactly what he had too, and smiled. Martin then escaped into the comfort of his family. He could bury the pain through them, at least for now. He looked up as Marcie came down to hug him and opened his arms to receive her embrace. No one said anything else…


             As soon as he was freed from his obligations as a co-pilot, Toby was once again in the cab of his F-150 heading to Sierra Forks. He’d made sure to leave his sweat-soaked flightsuit behind and opted for jeans and a red t-shirt. Contrary to what most would think, he wasn’t tired; not a bit. He was too grateful to have survived his first combat mission and too determined to see Violet again to be tired. If exhaustion did catch up with him, he was sure she’d be happy to have him over longer.
    His sister had been adamant in making sure the first person he saw was Violet. It was far from what he’d expected her to do, but he didn’t complain. If she wanted him to be with his girlfriend more, it was what would happen. He pulled into the parking lot of her apartment and waited for a minute. He wondered if she would bring forth any objections to what he’d done last night. If she hadn’t before, though, why would she now? Because he’s actually done it? Nah, he was just nervous.
    The truth of the matter was that he was still not fully able to understand what he’d just done. He hadn’t even dropped the bombs or really seen the damage; that’d be viewed when photos from whatever recon jets, probably Navy F-14s, arrived at Bullock. The patriot part of him also thumped its chest and reiterated that the Belkans had found it good to attack first, and invite war to come. They would, or should, have known the consequences. He closed the door and walked towards a flight of stairs between the lower-two units. He looked up, wondering if she was awake. She was off today, after all…
    Violet was, in fact, awake. She’d been spending a good part of the morning prettying herself up for Toby. Light makeup was the order of the day, nothing too heavy, alongside a nice dress that sat between conservative and showy (and still fitting despite her growing stomach, which made her realize she’d need to invest in maternity clothing soon). He deserved to come home to a beautiful girl, especially after what he’d probably gone through. The fact that he was coming to see her fairly quickly relieved her of the worry he’d been hurt. Now he needed comfort, love, and rest, maybe a nice meal, too.
    She adjusted the bun one last time to make sure it was in place, then gave herself a look-over. Confident her knight in shining armor would like what he saw, she left the bathroom and listened as the familiar grumble of that old pickup he drove came to a rest somewhere outside. The sound died and Toby left the machine to reach her. Violet watched the door intently until she heard a knock. The woman stood to it and opened the entrance to see Toby standing there. A smile went across her face like wildfire.
    “Welcome home.” She said, taking his hands.
    To say she looked gorgeous was an understatement. Toby stared at the angel before him. He’d expected a welcome, but not like this. He took her in his arms and kissed her. Violet laughed and slithered her arms around his neck. She then placed kiss after ravenous kiss on his lips, just to remind herself that they were the real lips of Toby. Her hands felt the sides of his head, messed with his hair, felt his broad shoulders. She pressed herself against him more so she could feel his body against hers, and vice versa.
             “Well now, has someone forgotten we’ve already got one kid on the way, or is she looking for twins?” He teased, pulling away for the briefest of pauses.
             “Don’t tempt me, you hunky bastard.” She chuckled between kisses.
             He carried her inside, closed the door, and gently sat down on the couch, only pulling away every so often to make sure he was going in the right direction. They stopped kissing and stared at each other for a moment.
             “You know that won’t be the only mission I fly.” He finally said.
             “I know.” She replied with a slow nod.
             “And you know if you marry me, you have to adapt to the life of an Air Force wife.”
             “I know that, too, but I don’t care if you’re mine.”
             He smiled and shook his head a little.
             “You sound mighty okay about that; most women wouldn’t be too happy.” The officer observed. She stroked his cheek, bringing their lips close together again.
             “Because Toby Dawmire, you may not be a man from a high-class background who’s gonna inherit a large fortune, or a man who has a job that won’t put him in danger. But you know one thing very, VERY, well, and that’s how to properly treat a lady.” She said before kissing him again.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:33 pm

    The Gunfighters
    June 29, 1984
    Crescent Beach, Osea

             The only lights on where the ones going up the stairs, letting Cody know pretty quickly what Anne had in mind for him tonight. The only surprise was what she was dressed in tonight. He straightened his hair and set most of his things near the coat rack, hoping he didn’t smell too much like NAS Oured Bay. Anne Walker hadn’t married him because he was the highest of society, though. This little setup was not new, either; she’d enjoyed welcoming him home this way about once or twice a month. Other times she’d taken her time, but tonight patience was not on her agenda. After all, it was their wedding anniversary, and their daughter was at a friend’s house, meaning they were alone.
             He walked up the stairs, flight boots dashing any attempts to be stealthy, a smile on his face. Cody noted a flickering light coming from an open door, their bedroom. He walked inside and saw Anne waiting for him, sitting at the foot of their bed. Her figure was clad in a low-cut nightgown with a red color to it. She’d styled her long chocolate-colored hair like one of those pin-ups from the 1940s and applied a nice layer of lipstick, bathing her lips in a crimson tint. Anne’s eyes locked onto his before she poke.
             “Long cruise, sailor?” She said, giving him a toothy smile. She strutted across the room, swaying those wonderfully full hips of hers and slid her hands up his torso. Her fingers kneaded the dirty flight suit, causing her to become temporarily distracted from him.
             “Well someone decided to seduce me without thinkin’ what I’d be comin’ home in.” He replied with a big grin. She looked up at him. He wasn’t a beef cake, hell he was pretty lanky, but she could feel the firmness of his skin underneath. She grabbed his head and crashed their lips together, grabbing the zipper on his suit and yanked it down. Anne pulled away only to give him a single command.
             “Shut up and get in that bed, you stallion.” She purred. Cody obliged, sweeping her off her feet and carrying her to the piece of furniture.
    “Oy, wake up Ranger.”
             Anne’s chocolate-smooth voice was replaced by a low, gravely male’s that had about as much sex appeal as a dead fish. The wonderfully elegant and beautiful woman disappeared from the view of 27 year-old Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Cody Walker, and as he opened his eyes, in its place was fellow junior grade Roy Hunter with his scruffy blonde hair and chiseled jaw.
             “What is it, Baron?” Cody drawled, sitting up a little.
             “Have you eaten yet? We should before the brief for today’s strike.” His friend suggested.
             “Too much food in yer gut and y’all will puke durin’ any fights.” Cody intoned, scratching the side of his head.
             “Too little and you won’t have the energy to fight.” The other pilot retorted.
             Cody got up nonetheless and let himself be dragged back to the present of 1985 and reality, where Anne was hundreds of miles away, probably about to get up for work. He was about to do the same, but this was going to be a little different than filing papers for the city of Crescent Beach. They walked down the empty corridor to the nearest dirty-shirt wardroom. About half a dozen other officers from Carrier Air Wing Eight and the OFS Vulture (CVN-34) populated the space. Cody glanced up at one of the two TV screens bolted to the ceiling. The camera feed from the flight deck was concentrated on the waist catapults since the bow ones were occupied by a pair of F-14 Tomcats sitting alert. An E-2C Hawkeye and a KA-6D Intruder were being guided into place, replacements for the ones airborne no doubt.
             Cody adjusted the zipper on his flight suit so it was a bit closer to the top of his stomach, making the olive garment feel even looser on his lanky frame. He pulled a mug from a shelf and filled it with black coffee. If he was going to stay alert for today, he needed to down the stuff with only a little creamer. He also slapped some cheesy eggs and bacon on a plate to give him some energy. They took a seat next to a pair of A-7 pilots from VA-116, neither of whom paid the F-14 pilots heed, at least until Cody spoke up towards Roy.
             “I think I got too much sleep.” Cody commented.
             “You got two much sleep?” One of the Corsair pilots said with a doubtful look. Cody glanced at the man.
             “I have a “bad” rep of falling asleep even when the whole damned world is rioting around me.” He said with a flash of a smile.
             “I envy you, Turkey driver.” He replied.
             “I can vouch for him, he’s louder than the catapult.” Roy chimed in. Cody chuckled and took a bite of his eggs.
             After their quick meal, the two left and drifted to the hangar deck to get to the ready room quicker. The space was somewhat empty, with mainly spares or aircraft under maintenance placed here; any aircraft that were being armed for the upcoming launch were being gathered on the deck. The Carrier Battle Group was cruising in the bay alongside the Emmerian carrier Gracemeria and her escorts. The coalition was added to by Sapin government forces poised to contain the spread of the rebels. It would’ve remained a Sapin-only affair, but the members of “The Revolutionary Army of Futuro” had invited them by destroying an Osean freighter and an Emmerian yacht.
             Cody took in a long pull of sea air as he passed by an SH-3. The sky outside one of the Nimitz-class boat’s elevators was dotted with large clouds, casting shadows over the deep blue seawater. Towards the horizon he spotted the outline of a Perry-class frigate as it kept in formation with the larger ship. He grabbed the sides of some steps and followed Roy up them to the ready rooms. The one for their squadron, The Gunfighters of VF-135, sat next to the wing’s other squadron, VF-78. Someone had Blue Oyster Cult’s “ME 262” blasting from inside the space, and the din grew even louder as Roy pulled open the hatch.
             To a casual or uninformed observer, the scene inside was almost different from a college fraternity party. Half the men in the room were drinking coffee emblazoned with the squadron’s patch and eating from a thing of donuts. Compared to Cody’s haircut, which mildly resembled the Marine Corps’ High
    -And-Tight, they all had hair that was way too long for soldiers.
             “Heya Baron, Ranger, coffee?” Lt. Gerry Santiga offered, holding out their respective mugs.
             “Had some in the wardroom.” Cody grunted. Roy quickly nodded to confirm the same for him.
             “They pushing back the brief?” Cody asked.
    Gerry shook his head as the trio pressed through the small crowd to the rows of padded seats in the colors of the squadron. Cody shuffled to his and sat down, pulling out its small desk top. He was the tallest in the squadron at 6’1’’, with everyone else averaging out at 5’10’’ or 5’11’’, which meant he had to slump into his seat a little when at briefings. He clasped one of the pocket zippers between two fingers and opened the compartment to make sure the picture of his wife and her daughter (she’d had her in a previous and short-lived marriage, so Mirabelle Stepheson-Walker was more Anne’s than hers).
             “Attention on deck!” the XO, LCDR. Telly Forrest barked. The squadron came to the proper stance as Commander Llyod “Pinkerton” Pullock, the man in charge of VF-135, marched down the center aisle. Despite being short and stocky, he walked like a giant and looked like he could easily pop of anyone’s head. He came to the front and turned around.
             “Gentlemen, it appears that orders have finally come down to do what we’ve been waiting for. The President has issued an executive order to commence Operation Good Neighbor. The Vulture, along with the Gracemeria, will conduct air strikes against Sapin rebels in order to assist the Sapin government in retaking the Futuro Canal. MAG Three will be enroute to the area tomorrow, but for now we are involved strictly from the air.” He began as a projector was fired up.
             “Our target, or rather our escort’s, for this morning’s strike will be Escorpión Air Base, where most of the rebel force’s air power resides. They’ve been using it to stave off most of the initial assaults by government forces, and will continue to pose a threat unless properly dealt with. Six Intruders will be the primary strike force, and we’ll be providing eight of our own F-14s to escort them as well as a pair of EA-6Bs tasked with providing ECM cover. Who’s flying and who’s on spare duty is posted on the schedule. Each aircraft will be armed with a mix of Sparrows and Sidewinders; those above us have deemed the Phoenix too valuable to use in a little war like this. In addition, the Emmerians will also launch a small strike force to assist in destroying the base due to its sheer size, meaning we will have additional help from their F-8s.” The commander explained.
    An image was put into the projector from a TARPS pod that showed the base in question from directly above. It had two wide runways that stretched the length of the establishment, plus another two that were in a diagonal slant. The faintest outlines of hardened bunkers could be seen, along with the shapes of aircraft near the buildings and along the runways. Pullock clarified due to the absence of marks on the film.
             “As you can see, the base is quite large. As covered in the threat briefs, the primary SAM in this area is the MIM-23 HAWK, with Rolands and Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannons backing them up at low level. We’ve also received hints that the rebels may have some older flak guns as a last resort. While these threats can engage us, they will be dealt with by four A-7s from VA-244 and the Prowlers. OUR primary concern will be the Mirage F.1CE and Mirage IIIEE fighters operating from this base. There are confirmed to be 36 aircraft there: two squadrons of Mirage F.1s and one of Mirage IIIs, and they have roughly 8 of them airborne at any time with others on the runway. The plan will be to draw any airborne ones away from the base and destroy them while the A-6s and Super Etendards attack the ones of the ground. We’ll try and get em from afar and work with the F-8s if they get in close.”
             The final details of the plan were the positions of the assets for the strike, primarily the divert bases and tanker positions, as well as certain frequencies for SAR and other strikes going in (It was revealed that the Osean Air Force, not one to miss out on the glory, had shoehorned its way into the operation) and the weather which was forecast as being small scattered clouds at 12,000 feet. Six of the Tomcats would create a wall around the front of the Intruders far ahead, the SEAD-armed A-7s a little below to attack SAMs, while the remaining two would both cover the Prowlers and guard the rear of the package. Additional eyes would be provided by a single E-2C Hawkeye orbiting near the Vulture’s outer perimeter, call sign “T-Bone”. Cody would have Roy as his wingman, escorting the Intruders from the left-hand position.
             The squadron was dismissed to don their gear for the impending launch. Each pilot carried, besides his helmet, a couple dozen pounds of equipment to ensure he would survive a flight in a supersonic fighter jet. The literal crown upon it all was the HGU-33 flight helmet. Every pilot in the squadron decorated theirs, Cody’s was a glossy black with two yellow stripes going lengthwise across the top, and a revolver on the back above his call sign: Ranger. He holstered his sidearm, a Coly Python, and approached his Radar Intercept Officer.
             “Ready, Power?” Cody asked his RIO, LCDR. Jean Ullis. The man nodded in return, more used to his own tag that “sir”.
             “You bet, Ranger.” He replied.
             The two F-14 crewmen walked down a corridor towards the exit to the flight deck, where a crescendo of noise was already playing away. The summer heat clashed with the breeze created by the ship’s movement, though they had yet to turn into the wind. Cody and Jean’s F-14A Tomcat was just aft of the carrier’s island amongst several other of the escorting fighters. He walked to the nearest AIM-7M Sparrow and gave it a shake while Jean talked to the plane captain. Despite the relatively short distance to the canal, the F-14 had been equipped with two fuel tanks. He had six Sparrows to use and two Sidewinders (though he’d be happier with four of them, not two). He gave the F-14 a good inspection, and made sure to inquire about the engines. The F-14’s TF30s had a well-deserved rep for being troublesome little bastards, and the newer F-14A+ was only just now entering service after some minor hiccups.
             Cody maneuvered himself to the left side of the cockpit and grabbed the bottom boarding ladder before scaling upwards with relative ease. Into the front cockpit he settled, the shorter Jean behind him, hunched down towards his own panels and controls. Cody looked over at some of the ground crew as they made sure the F-14 was hooked up to the Huffer, so its engine would start. He let the TF30s, which the mechanics had painstakingly whipped into obedience. When the engines were finally running under their own power, Cody lowered the cockpit and inspected all his displays and gauges. He had a minute or two until he was really supposed to start taxing, though, allowing him to gaze over the other aircraft on deck.
             A foursome of A-7E Corsairs across the deck were carrying the brand-new AGM-88A HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) in addition to their Mk.20s, fuel tanks and AIM-9s. Heavy load for this strike, Cody thought as he pulled down his visor to block the early morning sun.  He peered out through the front windscreen at a member of the deck crew, a plane director as his yellow jersey indicated. The man was waiting as the plane’s ground crew finally got out of the way, and then gave the Lieutenant his attention. He signaled Cody to release the brakes and bring the F-14 out of its parking spot. The pilot taxied forward gently, trying not to bump the other jets with his own.
             The TARCAP F-14s were the second to launch, right behind the mission’s E-2. Meanwhile the attack aircraft pilots waited and watched. Cody was directed towards Catapult #1 with Roy following behind him. There were already two F-14s ready to launch on Cats One and Two, while the A-7s were being corralled around Three and Four. Cody stopped behind the JBD and watched “Magnum 103” as its wings spread. Even with all the protection for his ears, he could still hear the engines spooling up to full power, then afterburner. He then noted that the left engine made a sudden burst of flame before the engine seemed to whine. He quickly realized, alongside the pilot of the jet.
             “Ah fuck! Peacemaker 103 is down; engine problems.” Lt. Stephen Weeker cursed over the radio.
             “Roger that, get it off the cat, 103.” The Air Boss radioed.
             Cody watched as the F-14’s wings were swept back and its engine spooled down, while the JBD lowered at the catapult was put on a leash.
             “Cat two is temporarily down, all aircraft are to be redirected to Cat One. Get one of the spares up!” the Boss ordered over both the radio and deck loudspeaker.
             Weeker’s F-14 was stuck on the catapult while ordnance handlers came to make sure the weapons on the F-14 were safe. In the meantime Cody was brought forward as Starship Jefferson and Crowbar Dennis’s F-14 was launched. Another plane director beckoned him forward onto the catapult. As he slowed into place, the pilot brought the wings forward from their swept-back state and watched the director got out of the way. He felt a slight drop as the Tomcat’s front depressed a little so the wind would be going at the wings in the right way. Before he forgot or had to be reminded, he adjusted the flaps. He couldn’t help but glance at the positions of the catapult crew as they scurried around the big jet. He reached down and again opened his pocket and felt the picture.
             Now came the signal to get the F-14 into afterburner. He carefully yanked the throttles all the way up, weary of a fate similar to “Strongman” Weeker. But for now the TF30s worked, and he said nothing more.
             “Nice n’ comfy, Power?” He asked as he adjusted himself in the ejection seat.
             “You’re still too tall, Ranger.” He replied.
             Cody waited until the Cat officer was ready. The yellow-shirted sailor had just whipped towards him after checking everything one last time, and waited for Cody to salute. The pilot raised his hand and provided the gesture before looking down the line of wispy steam. Behind him Jean grabbed the handle above the radar display and closed his eyes. He always hated cat shots, especially since he was a RIO. Cody’s eyes were wide open as he saw and felt the F-14 shake before screaming down the track. He was nearly thrown forward as it left the track and went skywards, but quickly gained control and set the Tomcat into a stable flight. Cody came by the Vulture one more time as Roy’s F-14 was down the track in near unison with his pass. He slowed down and waited until Roy was clear of the launch pattern, watching as his wingman slid into place.
             Sapin’s desert region was perhaps the smallest piece of land in its boundaries, measuring only 4000 miles square, but it was as barren as the Yuktobanian tundra. Only oil and the Futuro Canal gave mankind any reason to be here. Today there was another reason as the strike force sailed over the coastline unopposed. In his cockpit Cody heard the RWR become alert, however, as the rebels detected them and had begun to actively track them (rather than when they were simply watching them conduct flight ops off the coast. To the far right, off in the distance, Cody could spot the dots that were the Emmerian strike force escorts, and too his front he could see the short hills of the desert. The Canal itself was off to the left, 30 miles away.
             “Falcon 01, this is Scream 500, are you feet dry at this time?” CAG radioed from the VA-89 A-6 he was in.
             “Scream 500, this is Falcon 01, we are crossing the coast at this time.” An Emmerian-accented voice replied.
             “Lion 302, this is Peacemaker 101, we’re going to move ahead and draw fire, how copy?” Pullock chimed in.
             “Roger that, Peacemaker.” The lead A-7 replied.
             The F-14s left the subsonic Corsairs behind and charged towards their target. Cody’s RWR hadn’t changed as they closed within thirty miles of the target; they were still well out of range of the HAWK batteries, but the HARMs were in range. Radio calls began to clash as the A-7s started firing.
             “Peacemaker, radar contact! Two bogeys at 008, 200 miles at Angels 21! They appear to be descending.” the E-2 reported. Bandits, Cody quietly corrected the E-2 controller.
             “Ribeye, Peacemaker 101, are there any other friendly strikes in the immediate area?” Commander Pullock replied.
             “We’re looking into that now. Alpha Bravo says your status is Warning Yellow, Weapons Hold.” The Hawkeye reported back.
             The threat had been acknowledged, but the F-14s could not engage. Instead, they watched as the anti-radar missiles streaked off into the beyond without sound.
    “Peacemaker, Ribeye, we have another group of boegys. Count four at 355, 170 miles at Angels 17.” The E-2 said.
    Cody looked towards his eleven o’ clock
             “Roger that, can we get an ID on any of these guys?” Pinkerton demanded.
             “Alpha Bravo has determined that no friendly aircraft should be north of you at this time, but has still required you obtain visual ID at this time.”
    Cody nearly said something that time, but held his tongue.
             “Roger that. Peacemaker 110 and 106, approach the group of four with 105 and 104. The rest of us will stay back and greet the group of two, how copy?” The CO of VF-135 instructed.
             “Peacemaker 110 copies.” Cody said in conjunction with the other three F-14s.
    He looked at Roy and signaled him to drop his external tanks as he would. The two F-14s tilted to the left and changed their heading to 355. If they’d had clearance and some AIM-54s, Cody thought sourly, those Mirages might be black dots in the sky now. But now they had to wait until they were in range for their Sparrows, which meant 30 miles away. Neither the Mirage F.1 nor the Mirage III could carry anything that reached that far. Visual ID would plague them until the shooting started, though. Cody leaned forward and squinted his eyes as two dots appeared on the horizon, then two more. The F-14s stayed in their own pairs, but Cody quickly signaled Roy to spread out into a “loose-deuce” formation
             “Power, anyone saying anything about radio contact?” Cody asked.
             “Negative Ranger, asked twice.” Power said.
             “Ribeye, Peacemaker 110, we ain’t getting jack shit from the group of four; request permission to engage.” Cody spoke up. There was a few seconds of dead air, by which time the distance had closed to nearly forty miles.
             “Peacemaker, you are cleared to engage.” He was told in a notably more excited voice.
    Now that they were cleared to fire, Jean switched his F-14 to Single Target Track. The senior pilot, LCDR. Franklin Saint, began handing out targets. Cody and Jean were to take the guy directly ahead of them. Cody waited for the que to fire, watching as the dot he was facing grew wings and a tailfin. They’d hit 22 miles by the time he got a good angle. Cody gulped but did not hesitate.
             “Peacemaker 110, Fox 1! Fox 1!” He declared as he ripple-fired two Sparrows.
             The weapons on the rear two belly stations fell free for mere seconds before flame jettisoned from their exhausts, almost like a flameout. However the missiles pressed on well ahead of the F-14. Cody started waiting until the Mirages got in range to fire any radar-guided weapons they might’ve had. He squinted his eyes but saw no such shapes on the wings. The Lieutenant knew the Mirage F.1 could carry older radar-guided missiles, but he couldn’t spot them; these guys were just packing short-ranged weapons. He opened his mouth to utter the battle cry ‘Fight’s on!”, but he was interrupted by the twinkle of the Mirage F.1’s DEFA cannons.
             The Mirage managed to force him to dive below to avoid the fire. He went into afterburner for a brief moment to escape the twin thirty millimeters before slowly down and yanking the F-14 upwards, extending its wings like a majestic bird. Jean stared out the top of the windscreen at the Mirage as it continued on and began to break left, climbing to meet the Oseans.
             “Baron, break off and engage at will.” Cody snapped as he selected his Sidewinders.
             Cody pulled over towards the F.1 in the hopes that his Sidewinders would pinpoint one of the heat sources on the enemy fighter.  The Mirage edged upwards more, but it was bleeding airspeed. Cody waited until it made a move to escape a stall, and gave the Osean an opening. The Mirage tried to complete its move, but could not make it. He zoomed under the jet as it began to fall from the sky and swung back around. The Mirage’s wiggled as it descended, completely helpless against the Tomcat above it. Cody balanced the F-14’s nose at the rear end of the F.1, waiting for his weapons to get a proper sense of things. He rolled and followed the stalled Mirage down as its pilot tried to recover. The TD box around the target on his HUD met with the Sidewinders.
             “Peacemaker 110, Fox 2!” He reported in unison with the jamming down of his thumb.
             The port-side AIM-9 went forward with a distinct “fwhoosh” as it left and wobbled a little as it hit the resistance of the air. He stayed with the Mirage, forcing his F-14 to slow down for a few seconds. He gritted his teeth and began to accelerate as the F.1’s flame sputtered back into existence. It gave the AIM-9 an even better view of things. Jean confirmed the fireball
             “Peacemaker 110 has splashed one bandit.” He said, trying to contain his excitement.
    The pilot pulled back on his stick and passed over the wreckage as it spilt apart, no parachute in sight. Cody looked around, waiting for anything from his RIO. He turned towards the base, catching a glimpse of the A-6 force as it tried to rush through the fight.
             “Where are those other bandits?” He called as the jet entered level flight at 10,000 feet. Jean had his face nearly buried in his radar screen as they screamed forward in parallel with the stubby Intruders. A sudden burst of black smoke redirected his attention. They apparently had those old guns…
             “Scream 505 has been hit! Cool and Morg’s bird has been hit!” someone shouted. In near unison a Super Etendard passed by above and behind, trailing smoke. The strike felt like it was falling apart; Cody keyed up his mike.
             “Baron, you still alive?” He said.
             “Yeah, Peacemaker 106 is still here; engaged offensive with two bandits alongside Peacemaker 105.” Roy said, his voice under considerable strain
             Cody was about to reply, but instinctively ducked as another one of the flak bursts popped up closer. He jammed the throttles back into afterburner to get over the base. Each time he did, he gambled with both his loiter time and his engines. The PW products were making him too damned weary. He swept his eyes towards the direction that the Etendard had come from and snapped the F-14 in the same direction as soon as he passed the control tower. He spotted the shape of one of the Intruders and a far sleeker shape, a Mirage III his eyes told him. He turned towards the helpless attack plane, again drawing fire from what remained on the ground. He immediately noted a problem regarding the Mirage: he wasn’t firing. Cody at first pushed aside the idea as he readied his other Sidewinder, but his RIO found out why very quickly.
             “Another bandit at six o’ clock!” Jean called as cannon shells flashed by. Cody broke off his pursuit, allowing the Mirage III he’d been following to come after him alongside another.
             Cody immediately put his F-14 to work to outmaneuver the two delta-winged jets. The aircraft were already going for Magic lock, pulling back to negate his violent twists. Each aircraft fired one of its missiles, forcing Cody to dump off flares to save themselves. He dove towards the ground in a roll, the forces of gravity landing blows upon blows on his body. The rebel jets were forced to pass by to the outside, but he couldn’t bring the F-14 back to the right at his current speed as fast as he wanted. As he looked up, he spotted two new aircraft, long with stubby noses.
             “Lion 08, Fox 2!” A voice cried as it fired a missile.
             The Emmerian F-8 Crusaders had broken the formation but only pursued one of the Mirages and the missile that’d been fired, leaving the other to Cody and Jean.  Cody wasn’t surprised the interceptors had lost the advantage so quickly; they were old jets that were not made for this kind of thing. He gave no complaints, however, and targeted the other Mirage as it descended towards the desert floor in afterburner. Cody followed, making sure he controlled how high up he was to avoid sucking in dust. As he got close to the floor, he found the heat was beginning to overwhelm the AIM-9’s seeker head. Cody frowned and selected his M61A1 Gatling gun. So be it...
             The two fighters had settled out at roughly 700 feet as the screeched to the south. The enemy fighter was right there, but Cody needed to lead his target at this speed. At this altitude and speed he would have to walk the tightrope one step at a time. His training set off a series of reactions and thoughts, leading to him gripping the throttles and placing his altitude in his mind.
    “Hang on, Power.” He called. The man grabbed the bar above his radar and forced himself against the seat, as if it were a carrier shot.
    Cody gritted his teeth and ripped the throttles back. He almost wanted to let out a battle cry, but neglected to as he jammed back the trigger with his right index finger. The 20mm weapon let out its distinctive sound, a tongue of bullets crossing the distance to the Mirage III. The pilot watched as flashes of mental winked at him from the back of the Mirage. Cody pulled up as debris flew back, trying to save his jet and its whiny engines. He slowed down and rolled inverted to watch the enemy aircraft as it was sent to its grave. He waited to see an ejection, but nothing happened. He bit his lower lip and began to get anxious. But his hope was never fulfilled, and the Osean felt a subtle upsetting of his stomach as the Mirage simply glided down into the sand, live rebel pilot in the seat. Cody gulped down the disturbing feeling and pulled back towards a higher altitude, checking his fuel gauge and hoping a KA-6 might be close if he needed gas…


             Anne Walker peeked her head inside her husband’s study. Her husband was asleep in his chair, his memoirs and notes for them all over his desk along with a half-empty bottle of beer. The rest of the room was spotless, coincidentally. She smiled and carefully opened the door. Mark, there grandson, had gone off to be with his friends and their daughter was at work still, allowing them to be alone. Though now they were too old to get it on like they’d used to. She came up behind the chair and rested her hands on his shoulders. He snorted and opened his eyes, but was not surprised. She delivered a kiss to his lips.
             “Good afternoon, Stallion.” She said with a smile. He returned it and swung his left arm around, playfully batting at her skirt. She gave him a look.
    “Oh stop it, you dirty old man.” She scolded, batting away his hand.
              “Hey, yer the one who called me a stallion. And besides, you’ve still got those nice hips.” He replied. She rolled her eyes and looked at the writings he had.
             “Make some progress today?” She asked.
             “Two chapters, including my first combat deployment.”
             “Ah yes, when we’re still young in our marriage.”
             “Yup, back when me and Roy were young studs with smokes in our teeth and energy in our eyes.”
             Cody stared up at her a moment before he stood up and turned towards her, fixing his sweater. He carefully took her hands and held her close; beginning to move as if they were slow dancing. The woman’s eyebrows arched at him.
             “Cody, may I ask what you’re doing?” Anne said, playing along.
    He didn’t answer, and there was no music, neither stopped to start some, but nonetheless they acted like it. Anne smiled and gave her husband a gentle kiss.
             “I love you with every inch of my heart, Cody.” She said as they swayed in a small circle. He smiled and rested his forehead against hers.
             “And I love you just as much, Anne.” He replied.
    Even as he was here in 2011, He could still remember the raid, the losses they’d incurred (two A-6s, a Super Etendard and a pair of F-8s), and that Mirage pilot that’d gone into the ground with his jet. He’d mentioned it out of the sheer need to add to his hate of war. But he also knew that no matter what crap he’d been forced to wade through, From Futuro to Belka and every single shot he’d fired and enemy jet he’d trashed, he always had Anne.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:35 pm

    The Hunters of Belka
    March 27, 1995
    Hoienstalt Air Base, Northern Belka

             The small group of Transall C-160 cargo planes sat on the tarmac, their engines humming steadily as the pilots waited for the clearance to take off. The nationwide priority for aircraft launch were still the fighters, strike fighters and bombers, though as the Ustians to the south collapsed under the Belkan war machine, newer elements joined the fray. Tonight, Oberstabsgefreiter (Corporal) Micheal Horst would be among them. He sat in one of the transports packed with riflemen of the elite 3rd Fallschirmjäger Battalion. Despite his anxiousness, he tried his best to sit still, keeping his gear in place. He had what many could consider way more than the human body should carry, but the training had made him tough.
             The atmosphere was brimming with patriotism, Michael had proudly observed. Every soldier had his maroon beret on him, and Fallschirmjägerlied had been played as the men and their gear had been loaded onto the planes. Each man had also been issued a fresh patch for his unit. Their patch seemed to be an odd little paradox; it was a single Edelweiss flower. But that flower was the mark of a true soldier. The young man of 19 glanced at the standard on his left shoulder and felt the Transall turn onto the runway. The engines’ noise swelled, and then the plane lurched forward.
             Michael had joined the Belkan military as the Workers Party was saving the country from economic ruin, when young men and even women everywhere were being called to join. He had joined due to that swell of pride, and also to impress a girl; the daughter of his town’s mayor. The chestnut-haired Doreen Vorenhaust had become absolutely enthralled when Michael confidently told her he would become a Fallschirmjäger. With her promise to elope with him when he returned, he was now off to fight.
             As the plane settled into a stable mode of flight, he reflected on his job and the mission instead of mulling over patriotism repeatedly. Their target was a crossroads in the village of Sellier, which the soon to be advancing ground forces would use. It was a simple matter of clearing and holding, setting up positions from which to throw back any Ustian forces that would try to counterattack. They expected to face mechanized infantry of the Ustian Army, and possibly elements of an Ustian Armored battalion in the area equipped with the country’s only Challenger 1 MBTs. Though there were only 36 examples of such a machine in the country, the intel officer who’d briefed them said, they were still a very powerful threat, especially to lightly-equipped paras. They would be supported by Wiesel AWCs of their own unit as well as BAF aircraft.
             “Hey Horst, do you think these Ustians will actually fight? They’ve barely been a country for ten years! We’ve been around for centuries!” Hauptgefreiter (Specailist) Hans Steiner asked next from next to him. Hans was the squad’s MG3 gunner, and the man whom Michael carried ammo for.
             “I cannot be sure, Hans; they may be desperate.” He replied over the engine noise.
             “But they must surely be broken! We have been bombing them for days!” His friend insisted.
             Michael nodded slowly after a minute. Before he opened his mouth, he felt the plane jolt a little. At first he assumed anti-aircraft weapons, but word quickly got around that it was nothing more than turbulence. Things again settled down, and Michael impatiently waited for something to happen. There were no signs of anything resembling enemy resistance, and the darkness obscured any views outside. Michael could not check his rifle, for it was in its pouch, and in due time he would make sure it was all ready. Out of boredom, and a growing amount of pent-up energy, he entertained himself with thoughts of Doreen. He’d become almost completely lost in them when the thump of boots went down the left aisle of the C-160
             “Ten minutes to drop, stand up!” One of the Transall’s crew, known as the “Jump Master”, shouted as he reached the cargo bay door. Michael threw his body weight forward and brought himself to his feet.        
    “Hook up, then check your gear!” The Jump Master ordered.
             The young man grabbed his night vision goggles and brought them down over his eyes, bathing the cargo bay in a fuzzy green. The paratrooper hooked his parachute to the line and ran his fingers over it to make sure it was properly secured. The thought of his parachute failing to open upon exiting the craft got more disdain than fear from him. To be killed that close to combat, what an embarrassment! The hands of Stabsgefreiter (Lance Corporal) Otto Jahn then helped Michael check his equipment. Michael did the same for his squad mate before he turned forward. After a few minutes, the Transall made a sudden and displeasing jolt to the right.
             Unbeknownst to the paras of the 3rd Fallschirmjägers, the consolidation of things north of Directus meant that the once scattered forces of the Ustian military were now lumped together and despite the odds, starved of blood to draw. In addition, every noncombatant had been taken south; the Ustians were basically free to go trigger happy. Below, gunners chattered away with their M163 Vulcan Air-Defenses systems at the planes hitting the forward parts of the defense line. Their SAMs had been either destroyed by raids only minutes before or taken to the capital though, freeing the vulnerable transports from the worry of being attacked by MIM-23 HAWKs.
             A red light came on, though Michael only knew it was red from training. The Jump Master, joined by another one of his kind, both opened the rear doors and made sure the line was still okay. The one of Michael’s side gave the briefest glance outside, then said something via his headset to the pilots. The blonde fidgeted and waited for the light to change. The plane moved again to avoid the fire below.
             “Sound off for your equipment check! Left side!” One of the Jump Masters shouted.
             Michael gulped down and heard the shouts come up the line from behind him, starting at thirty. He waited, each shout spiking his adrenaline. He felt Jahn slap a hand down onto his right shoulder and declare “Thirteen okay”. He did the same to Steiner.
             “Twelve, okay!” He bellowed. The Jump Master seemed to smile as the head of the line confirmed he was okay.
             “Left side is okay!” He confirmed.
             As the right side did the same, Michael found himself quietly praying and sending his love to those waiting his return. He secretly desired to return instead of accepting that idea of death for one’s country. In a way, he hypothesized, everyone wanted that. He was not alone, he told himself.
             “Green light! Go, go, go!”
             The Corporal’s head jolted up as the line began to move forward. He moved his legs a little and waited until Hans started moving. He pushed himself forward as fast as his squad mate.
             “For the Fatherland!” They chanted as they shuffled briskly.
    The young rifle man gripped both sides of the door and with the Jump Master screaming in his ears, went forward. Michael forced his eyes to remain open as he leapt from the doorway into the open air. The cool burst of wing hit his face as he fell for a few brief seconds; and his body natural screamed at him how this was a bad idea. But after a second or two of freefall his parachute yanked open. The young Corporal struggled to gain some sort of situational awareness as he drifted down. He got his eyes on flashes as the chute blossomed and jolted him into a slow descent. It felt much slower than training.
             Very quickly he felt fear at the realization he was nothing more than a floating target to the forces down there. He strained his eyes, trying to pick out AA guns or sources of fire. No doubt the fire was from everything from rifles to large-caliber weapons. He looked straight down and saw a field approaching his feet; the rifleman braced himself and waited. The ground almost made a sound as it rushed up. Michael hit feet first and collapsed onto the ground with a snarl. He struggled to his feet quickly and pushed the parachute away from him. His first instinct was to detach himself from the gear. As soon as the harness fell onto the grass, he scrambled to get his G3A4 ready. He raised the weapon and swung his head in all directions, looking for his comrades. He saw figures moving to the left.
             “For the Fatherland?!” He shouted, issuing the proper challenge.
             “For the people.” Hans replied, finishing the BVAP’s motto.
             Michael spotted more parachutes landing in the dark and ran towards them, shouting the challenge to each man as he approached them. The paratroopers began to gather at their LZ a few miles north of the actual objective. The battalion command had established a post at a barn nearby, and already they were trying to coordinate fire support and see if the Wiesel mortar carriers had landed safely. The two infantry companies were being put back together for the assault southwards, while the Wiesel company was landing. Michael and his platoon began a steady push towards the objective at the Ustians’ right flank. The Corporal looked up at the sky; the tracers were dying down as the C-160s left for home. He dared a look behind as they marched and saw a few large trails of smoke. More Transalls, he guessed.
             The road towards the town was surrounded by farmland. The only people out though were the paras themselves; there weren’t even more than a few cows in the fields that’d been left by their owners. They were vulnerable without any kind of armored transport, but so far they weren’t receiving any kind of challenge from the Ustians. It was, for a minute, like the old days during the Border War of the 1940s when despite the coming mechanization of armies, marching was still a popular form of transit. The platoon stopped short of a thick tree line and was set on either side of the road. Michael craned his neck and looked beyond to spot a few boxy shapes in the near distance.
             Word got passed down the line. Four MG teams were positioned in the tree line, with a sharpshooter between each team. Michael and Hans would be among one of the MG teams moving into the town. One of the radio operators with the platoon commander radioed back to the Battalion CP in order to see if the mortars had arrived yet. From what the young rifleman noticed, only a few had. The rest were still unaccounted for to his displeasure. The company leader, a Hauptmann (Captain), summoned both the platoon commanders again and gave them final instructions. Again word was passed down: move forward in three minutes. Michael slid the magazine from his G3 and checked it before he slapped it back in and looked forward. To his left, he heard the clean, mechanical whine of Wiesels as they took up positions.
             “First Platoon, move forward and secure the buildings to the right.” The company commander ordered. Michael looked forward and got up to follow his fellow soldiers.
             “Come on! Move fast!” Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) Ulrich Lant ordered, motioning purposefully towards the structures in the distance.
             The platoon spilled out onto a field that’d been recently cleared of trees. Michael and Hans aimed their path of movement towards a backyard fence. Suddenly a loud sound erupted from one of the windows: an M60 machine gun. Michael and his friend took cover near a stump as the Ustian LMG chattered away at the incoming attack, cutting down several infantrymen. One of the Wiesels responded with its 25mm cannon. Michael fired twice at the window as well before he got up and maneuvered around the stump to clear a path for his friend. He could hear movement in the stone buildings around him. Michael looked down the alley and tried to spot an entrance into the building. He was joined by Hans and a few other soldiers. One, a Stabsunteroffizier (Sergeant) who lead another squad, motioned to a side door.
             “Put a grenade through that door’s window so we can breech it.” He ordered, pointing at the entrance, then Michael.
             The Corporal pulled a DM51 fragmentation grenade from his web gear and set his rifle against the wall. He pulled the pin, counted to three, and threw it inside, shattering a window on the door.
             “Grenade!” An accent not too unlike the Belkans’ own cried.
             Michael branched himself, turning his back towards the door. After a few seconds there was a muffled explosion, followed by the window exploding outwards. Michael turned around as a Gefreiter (Private) kicked in the weakened door and went inside, G3 raised. Michael followed him inside to observe the damage. It was pretty gruesome, as evidenced by the trio of now mutilated Ustian infantry men and broken FN FAL 50.61s across the room. It was an unnerving sight, but the young Horst was far too on edge to give it serious attention. The house had yet to be cleared.
             Michael heard footsteps thundering down to his right and spotted an Ustian soldier in older Osean combat gear appear from around a corner. He jammed back the trigger and raised his weapon, planting two rounds in the Ustian’s stomach and a third in his chest. The man stopped and dropped his rifle as he collapsed backwards in mortal agony.
             “Get that MG up to the second floor, now!” The Stabsunteroffizier barked.
             Michael led his friend up the stairs, shooting another Ustian as they went to the second floor. As he reached the top, the thunderous crack of an FN FAL broke a lamp that he’d just passed. The rifleman whipped to the side and fired at the doorway that had a barrel. He kept doing so until his enemy had fallen. Michael burst into the room and checked it; it was empty. The rest of the Ustian occupiers had apparently been below as he heard rifle cracks. The sergeant barked at the men upstairs to set up their MG3 as another man with a Panzerfaust 3. Came up Michael looked out a window and spotted multiple muzzle flashes across the street. Another M60 had been placed inside a narrow store, but that was the heaviest weapon he saw thus far. No armor.
             Hans set the MG3 on the dresser and peered down the weapon’s sights. He spotted a store across the way housing Ustian infantry and let the LMG do its job. The weapon made its distinct chatter as it chewed up the enemy position. Hans made controlled bursts after a brief phalanx of rounds. The Ustians disappeared in the dust from the chewed up walls and makeshift cover that were a few shelves. Michael was already getting another round of bullets ready, setting it up for Hans before he went to another window to his left and pulled it up. He leveled his rifle and waited for a target. Before anything else, the order came through to advance into the town and secure the road junction itself one more block in and to the right.
             Michael and Hans brought up the rear as they retreated downstairs and back into the street advancing into town this time. The sergeant poked his G3 around the corner before he ordered forward the rest of the makeshift squad to the other side of the street. They then moved parallel with the roadway to the next intersection. The sergeant checked around the corner, and was greeted by another Ustian position at the end of the road, in the center of the traffic circle that was their objective. The sound was more in line with the M2 heavy machine gun, a little slower than an MG3 but far deeper. The emplacement separated its fire between the two corners of the street before it. Michael held fast and then heard the familiar sound of a Wiesel.
             Across the street one of the AWCs appeared, 25mm cannon chuffing away at the MG nest. The M2 responded before it was destroyed, denting up the frontal armor, but failed to do any disabling damage to the machine. The Wiesel rolled forward, firing a few more rounds to fully suppress the Ustian emplacement, and the two squads fell in behind the Wiesel as it advanced down the street, another armed with a MILAN launcher, took up the advance behind them. Far away on both sides, Michael heard the sounds of battle as the battalion’s parent division fell upon the line. The temporary squad leader gave the command for the others to let the light AFV pass.
             The squads fell into a pair of lines and advanced behind the Wiesel briefly before fanning out once in the square. To the left were a church and some damaged houses, while an open market sat to the right. The MILAN carrier went to the left while the 25mm took the right. Michal and his squad took up position among some tipped over café tables. The sergeant motioned to a nearby alley and an abandoned hatchback, ordering the MG team to set up using it. Hans deployed the weapon on the hood of the car while Michael put himself on the left of his friend. Across the street, another bunch of Ustian soldiers popped off rounds at the Belkan paratroopers now coming into the square in force. There were now roughly four squads clearing out their side of the area.
             Michael emptied what remained of his magazine into one of the infantry positions. As he crouched down to reload, Hans got the MG3 chattering away until the other members of the squad could join in with their own weapons. Michael nailed an Ustian on a roof across the square, a sniper he guessed as he saw the M21 rifle tumble down from the top of the structure. The Wiesel with a 25mm provided suppressing fire while the ATGM carrier reserved its weapon for more worthwhile targets. As the latter vehicle got to the other side of the junction, a rocket emerged from one of the windows and struck it. The Wiesel stopped cold and began to burn. One man, in the process of batting out a small fire on his sleeve, was shot as he tried to dismount, though he was spared being burned when he fell on the flame. Michael saw he was only wounded, and requested that he be allowed to rescue the man. The sergeant would go with him under the cover of Hans and the others.
             With Hans still blasting away, the two men pressed towards the burning AWC; the sole survivor was trailing blood from his back. Michael took a knee next to him and fired several rounds at the Ustians. The AFV crewman was spitting and coughing insults to the enemy soldiers, from simple ones to particularly obscene ones. The sergeant helped him up while Michael covered their retreat back to the café. The man was taken inside, where another squad with a medic was. The sergeant then ordered the rest of the squad to prepare and clear out a building closer to the other end of the street. As Hans was lifting the MG, a deep rumbling filled the space. It was distinctly mechanical from what Michael could tell. He heard the sound of crumbling walls.
             “Enemy armor, get to hidden positions!” the sergeant ordered.
             Michael and Hans were inside the café and away from windows, then up the stairs to the second floor. At the top there was a small window; Michael approached it with caution and looked outside. He nearly gasped when he saw what was making the noise. The Challenger 1 appeared like a lumbering behemoth from the wreckage of the house, the barrel of its 120mm gun leveled at the other Wiesel as it tried in vain to escape. With a pronounced bang it obliterated the small AWC with a High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) round. About a dozen painful things happened in rapid succession to the small vehicle, and what was left was a scattered heap of everything from fragments of cooked-off ammo to human remains that were no different in appearance than the charred metal.
             In an almost instant response, someone across the street fired a Panzerfaust 3. It struck the track of the Challenger and disabled it, but did not kill it. As the Ustian tank pivoted its turret, the sergeant ordered the squad’s own AT man upstairs to shoot at the machine while it was down. The man rushed behind Michael and onto a balcony. The tank fire once more, this time at the origin of the rocket that’d stopped it, and blew out the entire first floor of that building. The AT man fired his rocket; Michael dared a look out into the square and saw the rocket bounce off the tank. His jaw opened just a little as all that was left was a smudge on the enemy tank. The Challenger again swiveled its gun, this time towards them.
             “Get out of the way, you damned moron!” Horst shouted to the AT man.
             His comrade didn’t need to be told twice; the man was going down the stairs in a matter of seconds. Not soon after the entire house was rocked as  part of it fell away and crashed onto the street in a symphony of crumbling stone and other building materials. Dust flooded down the stairwell and washed over Hans and Michael. They two began to cough violently.
             “Hans, Hans are you okay?” Michael shouted through the clouded darkness.
             “I am fine, are you?” the MG gunner replied.
             “Yes!” Michael assured.
             Michael felt his ears ringing from the shell impact. He wiped the dust off his face and hacked some more He wiped the dust off his night vision goggles with his sleeve. As his ears started to calm down, he could hear the squad leader shouting.
             “Valkyrie 6, Valkyrie 6, this is Valkyrie 3-2, we have reached the square but an enemy tank has us under fire and pinned down! Our ATGM carrier has been knocked out, and it’s firing on us!”
             Back at the battalion’s CP, the staff was coordinating with the Belkan Air Force in order to get their now stalled soldiers some support. The Ustian Challenger 1 battalion they’d feared had come in full force, and was presenting the Wiesels and infantry with a very staunch obstacle. Luckily their friends in the Belkan Air Force were willing to help. The few remnants of the UAF that hadn’t fled Ustio were too busy guarding Directus; the only air defense along this line had been ground-based. Flights of strike fighters and light attack aircraft were practically lined up to help. The sergeant with Valkyrie 3-2 was given his support.
             High above, a pair of Mirage 2000D strike aircraft cruised at 12,000 feet as they were called in. Each carried two BGL-400 laser-guided bombs on their inner-wing pylons. The 2000D was an interdictor more than anything; Belkan didn’t value specialized support aircraft like the Osean A-10, Usean Harrier, or Yuktobanian Su-25. But it got the job done when coupled with weapons such as the 400. The flight lead of “Meteor 3” checked in with both his AWACS back over Belka and the MiG-29 escort before he reached down and punched away his centerline fuel tank.
             The Mirage was brought into a slow, shallow dive as it came in on the site of the Challenger 1. In the rear cockpit, the Weapon Systems Officer carefully centered the laser designation pod underneath him on the tank. He waited until the crosshairs were centered before he fired the invisible laser down and onto the piece of armor. There was a few seconds as the bomb on the port wing caught one of the reflected beams. When he got the cue from his systems, the co-pilot passed the word and the pilot released the weapon. Down below, Michael only heard the Mirage as it pulled out of its attack. He then only heard the bomb when it impacted. It sounded kind of like the Challenger’s gun, albeit not as sharp.
             Michael was ordered back downstairs so the far side of the square could be taken. There were still a number of soldiers in the immediate area, and they were only made more stubborn by the growing desperation of the situation. Hans replied in kind as he and Michael made a beeline for the center of the junction.
             “Retribution, Ustian pigs!” The rifleman cried as he watched the tank burning.
             Michael took a knee near a fallen pillar and fired on one of the buildings that Ustian troopers were inside. Hans chattered away just a few feet away at the position. Several other infantry came across under their cover and took up positions. The sound of a Wiesel once again filled the ears of the paras, and fresh reinforcements came into the area. Another 25mm Wiesel suppressed the Ustians until the shooting died down. Then, Michael spotted something: a soldier trying to escape down an alley. He could tell the man was trying to be discrete despite an injury. The Belkan rifleman didn’t think twice; he shot the man without remorse, and watched him fall. In a way it was karmic retribution for what had happened earlier.
             The fire finally died down completely, at least in the near area. The AWCs took up fighting positions on the flanks of the square while more infantry flooded into houses and into the various floors to cover the area. Michael couldn’t help but feel another swell of national pride at the way the men moved swiftly and with coordination. He was one of them, too. The Ustians were just sheep to be slaughtered at this point. He still felt no guilt at killing the wounded man. It had seemed both insignificant and justified. Little did young Michael Horst know what path the war would take, and how the nationalist image would crumble with nuclear fire. Little did he know that in his older years, when he became a man of peace, when he became a doctor working for the UN, it would end up being the single greatest regret in his life.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:36 pm

    A Very Ace Combat Christmas

    Twas the night before Christmas,

    And all through Sand Island Base,

    It was very very quiet,

    That wasn't usually the case,

    The nuggets were all asleep in their beds,

    The visions of golden wings danced in their heads,

    Nagase in her flight suit and me in my blue cap,

    Had just settled down for a long winter nap,

    When out on the tarmac arose such a clatter,

    I sprang from my bunk to see what was the matter,

    I was out on the ramp in a flash,

    Wondering if it was a drunk Chopper or Slash,

    When to what my curious eyes should appear,

    But a sled with one red wing and eight reindeer,

    With an Eagle driver whose step had quite a spring

    I knew right then it was Galm 2: Solo-Wing,

    More rapid than Arkbird his team came

    And he shouted and whistled and called their names

    On Yellow, on Mobius, Strigon and Garuda,

    On Scarface, on Ofnir, on Gryphus and Wardog,

    He said not a word, and got straight to work

    Moving like a true ace with his trademark smirk,

    All the SP weapons were bought, all his credits spent,

    Then out the hanagar and to his bird he went,

    He sprang into his cockpit, and charged into the sky,

    "Merry Christmas to all!" He proclaimed,

    "And yo Buddy, you still alive?"
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    Ronin201
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    Join date : 2015-06-19
    Age : 23
    Location : Colorado

    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:37 pm

    The Queen’s Tridents
    January 19, 2005
    HMS Queen Algashire
    Atlantic Ocean

            LCDR. Colin Hothawin, known as “Mako” to his squadronmates, walked purposefully down the hall towards the briefing room of 272 Naval Air Squadron, The Red Tridents. His face looked a bit more lively than it had in recent days with the ramped-up tempo of air operations against the mainland. Since New Year’s Day and that massive battle that had happened, the war had taken a shift. The Eruseans seemed to be acting differently. They seemed a bit more cautious, as if they were now starting to realize they’d lost the initiative. Colin saw it, and it gave him hope. Back in his homeland, the Kingdom of Axion, several of his family, including his wife and two children, were in occupied territory.
             He opened the hatch with “272 Squadron Briefing Room” and went through. Inside the dimly-lit room there were few inhabitants; in fact the only one he saw was the duty officer for tonight, Lieutenant Munrough. He was pecking away at the keys of a laptop when he noticed the superior officer enter.
             “Good morning, Leftenant Commander!” He saluted, standing up. Colin quickly returned the salute.
             “You can be seated, Leftenant Munrough.” He said in a professional manner, his Hydemark () accent clear in his words.
             Colin went down the center aisle towards the sea chart at the front and sat down in the front row to study it. Currently, Queen Algashire was one of three carriers in the area heading a “super flotilla” of warships. The Clemenceau-class Southwest Territories Ship Beauregard was the farthest to the north, while the Kitty Hawk-class Northwest Territories Ship Fort Grace sat at the center of the armada. Queen Algashire was the furthest to the west, and the main defensive screen against any Erusean raiders. The Fort Grace provided some protection for the other carriers with her F-14B Tomcats and F/A-18C Hornets, but this flank fell mostly to eight Harrier FA2s, eight Harrier GR7s, and half a dozen surface ships with SAMs. The Beauregard, equipped with heavily upgraded A-4 Skyhawks and Super Etendards, couldn’t provide much help.
             Colin bit his lower lip at that fact. The Harrier was no pushover, but she was not in the same class as several of the FEAF’s fighters like the MiG-29 Fulcrum or Su-27 Flanker. He’d fought both before and found that close in he could very well defeat them; it was getting close that was the problem. He looked back at the map as more people entered the room; Lieutenant Ellis “Elly” Carmichael and Sub-Lieutenant Mary Hotchkiss. The later exchanged salutes with Mako when she approached.
    “It appears I’m your wingman today, Leftenant Commander.” She said. Colin nodded as she sat down.
             “It appears that it is, Poppins.” He agreed.
             Mary was one of the newer pilots in the squadron, but she had proven herself capable; her jet carried three kill markings. Two of them were FEAF MiG-29s. She sat down while Colin, aware of a few basic details of the mission today, told her how things would be done. According to the board, they’d have their cannon pods, two fuel tanks, and two AIM-120C AMRAAMs. Colin wasn’t very happy about having no AIM-9M Sidewinders, but those were reserved for escort missions. She nodded as things were explained, but had no questions as of yet. She hadn’t been informed on the threats that might be after them. Colin went back to looking forward when he heard a chair being pushed back.
             “Officer on deck!” Munrough announced.
             The pilots in the room stood up at attention as a stout man with thinning hair marched up to the front in his blue work uniform and a brown jacket with the insignia of the squadron and the wings for a Royal Navy pilot on each breast area. The aviators facing him salute him, and after he returned it they were seated once again.
             “Good morning gents, today will be another standard combat air patrol to protect the fleet from any attacks by the Rusies.” Commander Roger Ramsey said. He took a wooden pointer stick and tapped the image of the area behind him.
             “Our primary concern is the FEAF presence here, at Wiola Air Base. Our latest reports indicate that the Rusies have moved a squadron of Tornadoes with Sea Eagle ASMs. These weapons pose less of a threat to us and more of a threat to the troop transports that are gathering for Operation Bunker Shot. It is very possible that they will attempt to attack us first to make an opening, so you are defending both the Queen Algashire and the amphibious force.” He said. The man circled a few symbols that represented ships.
             “The Frigates HMS Glory and HMS Dachshund will be your surface support in the sector you’re to patrol. A single Sea King AEW.5, call sign “Guardian”, will provide you with early warning. Any questions so far?” Ramsey said. Colin raised a hand.
             “Will we be close enough to any Tomcat patrols from the Fort Grace?” He asked. Ramsey shook his head.
             “Not close enough for them to help immediately, but I have been told they will help in the case of a dire emergency.” He replied. Another hand, Carmichael’s, rose.
             “Can we expect any fighter escort different from F-16s for these Tornadoes?” He asked. His wingman, Lieutenant Adrian “Granite” Peters nodded in agreement.
             “Intelligence has given me no updates. As far as I’m concerned expect to face F-16s, though I trust you chaps are adaptable.” Ramsey said, smiling at the end. A few others in the room returned the expression.
    Ramsey the handed out the call signs of the rest of the aircraft in the area. The patrolling Harriers would be using their usual radio tag: Neptune. Ellis and Adrian would be Neptune 1-1 and 1-2, while Colin and Mary would be Neptune 1-3 and 1-4.
             “Right, now any further questions?” Ramsey asked.
             No one had anything to add, and thus the squadron was dismissed to put on their gear and man their planes. Colin went into the locker room with the rest of the male members of the flight, where his combat gear was. Over his olive-green flight suit Colin wore special fittings to protect him from G forces in flight, and then a survival vest. Due to the frigid temperatures of the seas at this time of year, he was wearing wool clothing under the suit and had made sure suit was sealed and water-proofed to keep the inside dry if he had to eject over the water. His dark-gray helmet was the second-to-last piece of gear, and finally he slid a FN Five-Seven handgun into a holster and joined the others out in a hall leading to the hangar deck.
             “Ready to add a few kill notches to the Harrier, Mako?” Adrian asked.
             “Let’s see if I can’t bring that tally to fifteen today, eh?” Colin said with a small smirk as he sealed his maps in clear pockets. The group let out a collective chuckle.
             The pilots walked down the hall and into the hangar deck of their ship. Colin always found himself drawing comparisons between the hangar deck of the Queen Algashire and that of ships such as the Fort Grace. The Oseans believed in big carriers for force projection, so they built ships that carried four times the aircraft of this little Invincible-class carrier. The walk across the hangar deck of a Kitty Hawk-class could take a few minutes, while the walk time was a minute at most on the Algashire. He approached his Harrier as the machine’s crew was finishing their part of checking the aircraft’s wellbeing. He consulted with the head mechanic for a minute before he inspected the aircraft himself.
             Though Colin liked the Harrier very much, he hated its handicaps. The Harrier was not able to carry the same payload as many of its contemporaries and did not have the ability to go into afterburner. These kinds of things meant the FA2 could not get to an area very fast and could also not stay around very long before needing more weapons. In fact if they had intruders most of them would have to be dealt with using the gun pods; the missiles would be fired on by AMRAAMs and surface combatants. The last few days they’d been able to carry more missiles and just use aircraft from the Fort Grace to refuel, but they’d been stepping up air operations in anticipation of Bunker Shot.
    Colin climbed up the red boarding ladder towards the open cockpit of Harrier 09 and slid in. He tucked away his helmet bag and strapped into the ejection seat of the light fighter. His ears tuned to the radio the hangar deck crewmen were listening to as he went through checks. The song was “Without Me” by Osean rapper Eminem, though he only found that out when he asked. Rap wasn’t particularly his kind of music; he preferred folk. Getting back to the matter at hand, he found that his Harrier was in working order. He signaled a deck crewman and looked forward as an aircraft tug pulled his machine forward onto one of the elevators. The fighter was disconnected from the tug and then lifted up to the deck, where the Sea King AEW was just taking off. Granite and Elly’s Harriers were also about to launch.
             The lieutenant commander secured his maps and made sure everything was in order while the primary flight launched to protect the group. Colin’s primary occupation at the moment was to do occasional systems checks; he hadn’t brought anything like a book or newspaper to entertain himself with. He had mixed feelings about leaving the canopy open as the cold, salty air bit at his exposed skin. The deck crew had little better as they ran about in their blue jackets and white balaclavas. He had become so engrossed in small tasks that he almost missed when the radio came to life.
             “Neptune 1-3 and 1-4, start up your engines and prepare for takeoff.” A voice radioed from the control tower.
             “Understood, is there any SITREP available for what’s going on?” Colin asked.
             “AEW has detected contacts approaching form the mainland; probably a raid on the fleet.” The voice replied.
             Mako acknowledged the situation and went to work. He flipped a few switches and brought the Rolls-Royce turbofan to life. The pilot looked over at Hotchkiss and nodded as he reached up to pull down the canopy. Once he was completely enclosed, the pilot brought his major systems to life, but kept the Blue Vixen radar off for the moment. A deck crewman with directing sticks waited for him to give the signal the aircraft was ready, then once the aircraft’s wheel chocks were removed, he brought the light fighter forward. Colin was directed onto the primary launch area of the Queen Algashire, and then stopped. Crewmen came forward to check his weapons and the Harrier one last time. Colin watched another director as he waited for the FA.2 to be clear, after which he raised a small green flag. With his nozzles pointed back, Colin went to full power, keeping the brakes on. Once the machine was at full throttle, he saluted the director. The deckhand snapped the hand with flag forward, and Colin released the brakes. The Sea Harrier lurched a little as it screeched forward towards the ramp at the end of the deck. Colin rolled smoothly off the ski ramp and into the sky.
             “Harrier 09 is airborne.” He radioed as he brought up his landing gear and adjusted his flaps.
             The pilot moved out of the way of the launch corridor and ascended well above the carrier until Hotchkiss was airborne. He came around on the starboard side of the ship. The two fighters joined in formation and pressed north towards the mainland of Usea.
             “Guardian, Neptune 1-3 and 1-4 are airborne, requesting vector on the enemy raid.” Mako radioed as he adjusted his radar range so he could fire his AMRAAMs from a good distance away.
              Near the northern quadrant of the fleet, a single Sea King helicopter cruised at low altitude. It coordinated with the Type 42 Destroyers and Type 23s Frigates that circled the outer perimeter of the fleet, but as Ramsey had said only two of the latter were on station to help the Harriers.
             “Neptune, this is Guardian. I have a force of approximately ten aircraft. Vector is 053, roughly 190 kilometers way. One group, count six, appears to be 5,500 meters above sea level, while the others are 610 meters above sea level.” One of the controllers inside radioed.
             “Are they attacking the fleet?” Colin asked.
             “The targets appear to be attempting to maneuver between our fleet and Fort Grace’s. They must be going for the troop transports. We will direct the surface assets to assist.” The Sea King reported.
             “Understood Guardian. Neptune 1-1, 1-2, what’s your current status and position?” Mako radioed.
             “We are roughly 112 kilometers to your northwest turning our noses towards the attackers to intercept them.” Carmichael announced.
             Colin looked at Poppins and signaled for her to loosen up the formation into “loose deuce” as the Oseans had dubbed it. He reckoned the lower-flying aircraft were the attackers, so he placed the priority on them. The surface combatants targeted the higher-flying aircraft while the fighters aimed their efforts at the attackers, believed to be Tornadoes armed with ASMs. He would need to close in to roughly 55 kilometers to effectively use his AMRAAMs, but for now he had a solid track on them. The escorting fighters, F-16C Falcons they’d concluded, had apparently also been alerted to this development and were splitting their formation to engage the Harriers. The Type 23s were well out of range; Colin thought fast.
             “Elly, Granite, draw those Rusie F-16s towards the Glory and Dachshund once you’ve fired on those strike aircraft; we’ll close in and kill them if we miss.” He ordered.
             “Neptune 1-1 confirms.”
             “Neptune 1-2 confirms.”
             Colin glanced at his radar display again and the enemy strike aircraft. He banked the Sea Harrier to keep his nose pointed at them and made a shallow dive. On his Heads Up Display (HUD), four green boxes appeared as the Tornados came into range. He had 92 kilometers and counting; Colin clenched his teeth and cursed the Harrier’s speed. The Tornados were booking it, and the transonic FA2s were not equipped with afterburners. Either way he kept going at full throttle, intending to suck the wing tanks dry. He kept adjusting the nose to keep on the attackers as he closed in to 70 kilometers away, still to far, but a new voice over the radio changed his mood. HMS Stalwart, a Type 23 Destroyer patrolling the Eastern area of the flotilla, had spotted the intruders and responded with a salvo of four Sea Dart anti-aircraft missiles. The unpleasant surprise forced the enemy aircraft to split their formation, rapidly chopping down their speed and giving the Sea Harriers a plentiful breath of relief. In a minute Mako was within 55 kilometers. He selected the closest two Tornados and depressed the fire button twice upon a lock.
            “Neptune 1-3, Fox 3, Fox 3.” He announced.
             The two radar-guided missiles dropped from their pylons and pressed ahead of their launch platform. Immediately after the weapons were clear of his aircraft, Colin banked away from the Tornados, leaving them to the Type 23, and brought his nose towards the FEAF escorts. Three had pursued Neptunes 1-1 and 1-2 while the other three had stayed with the Tornados. Those same jets were now above Neptunes 1-3 and 1-4 with a full load of missiles.
             “Be advised Mako, those Falcons are diving at us!” Poppins called.
             “Roger that Poppins split formation and engage one of them; I’ll take the other two.” Colin ordered calmly as he switched to his guns.
             His wingwoman broke right and drew one of the F-16s. A second was about to join, but Mako turned into that one and pulled back his trigger. The ADEN on the left beneath him thumped away as it fired 30mm rounds at the camouflaged F-16. The fighter rolled into the attack with a few scratches, now on Colin’s right side. The ISAF pilot adjusted the throttles and set out to use the Harrier’s VTOL to his advantage by making as tight a turn as he could manage in his current position. The F-16 was now oriented above him, and the third Falcon had entered the fight, alerting Colin’s RWR equipment. He came from his turn into a dive, deploying chaff from his fighter. The Erusean shot past him and rolled inverted to dive after the enemy fighter. Mako dared pull back the throttles as far as he dared to get the Erusean in front of him, though he had to be mindful of stall speed.
             The altimeter on his HUD dropped in near-freefall as they went down and down. Mako was forced into a defensive position as again he was painted by an F-16’s radar and pulled back on the stick, adjusting his throttles in precision conjunction. The FA2’s nose pitched upwards steadily as its nozzles swiveled to change the aircraft’s direction of movement. Colin leveled out near 7000 feet and immediately looked for his enemies. He spotted the one he’d dove with moving out ahead of him, while the other he spotted as it fired an AIM-120C AMRAAM at him from his high six o’ clock. Colin snapped up and into the direction of the attack, deploying chaff to hide his movements. He pulled his Harrier up and brought himself out of the engagement envelope of the incoming missile. The F-16 adjusted its dive so that its nose was kept on Colin.
             The fight slipped into a rolling scissors as they passed by one another and then turned to attack each other. The Harrier had its lower speed on its side, but the F-16 was still plenty agile and able to be quick enough to prevent Colin from getting a clear shot. After a few passes and dodging the Falcon’s M61 20mm cannon, the ISAF pilot had formulated a plan on how he could beat the enemy fighter. He gulped down some air and kept a close on on the F-16 as it went above him. As it dove, so did he. The F-16 seemed like it was going to slip behind him, but that was what Colin both had hoped for and needed to get the advantage.
             The “Viffing Technique” was something that had been studied, practiced, and talked about since the dawn of the Harrier’s time. Colin aimed the nozzles of the Harrier perpendicular to the fuselage of his craft, causing it to go inside the turn of the F-16 as it rapidly decelerated. The Erusean fighter undershot and went out before him, handing the advantage over to Colin. He returned the nozzles to their position for normal flight and followed the F-16 as it moved to reverse and turn back into the ISAF fighter. Colin was above and behind him by the time he’d turned around, and the pilot brought back his right trigger finger once his gunsight was aimed at the space just before the F-16.
    The left ADEN thumped away again; the Erusean had no place to run from the bullets. Colin watched flashes run the length of the fuselage in a matter of seconds and the F-16 began to trail smoke as it’d taken hits to some vital systems from a large bullet. The camouflaged fighter fell away and Colin pulled out of his attack run as the Erusean ejected.
             “Neptune 1-3 has splashed one bandit. What is the status of the attackers with ASMs?” He radioed.
             “This is Guardian, Stalwart confirms that two of the bandits are down and that two of their ASMs are destroyed. No further reports at this time.” The AEW radioed as it kept its position fluid.
             “Poppins, are you still with me?” Colin asked as he climbed and banked to try and spot the second F-16.
             “Yes Mako, I’m still up.” A female voice assured.
             Colin was coming around so that he could see the smoke trail that marked the F-16’s fall to the water, he was alerted to the launch of two AMRAAMs at him. He checked his ECM and noted it was from his five o’ clock. He kept up his turn into the attacking FEAF fighter and deployed more chaff. Then two more missiles came off the enemy aircraft; it appeared the Erusean had a sadistic streak in them. Colin was now in dire straits; for all the faith he’d put in the small fighter for the last two years and the years before that, four AMRAAMs was something he had little hope of dodging. Nonetheless, he stubbornly fought the worsening odds. He burnt through all the chaff he had in what soon became desperation.
             The first missile left him alone, then the second. Colin groaned and grunted as he threw the FA2 all over the sky. He didn’t see em, but the second and third missiles went past him. He gasped for breath as the fourth finally hit this Harrier in the left wing. Colin was thrown against the right side of the cockpit from the impact. He pulled himself back up as the nose began to dip down and the Harrier began to roll. There was no trying to fight it now.
             “Neptune 1-3 has been hit and is going down, I repeat, I’m going down.” Colin radioed.
    He reached between his legs with a grunt and curled his fingers around the handle for the ejection seat. With a grunt he pulled up the ejection handle.
             “Mako ejecting!” He called out.
             The lieutenant commander felt a force beneath him as the ejection seat rumbled from the doomed jet. As Colin felt himself separate from the seat, the Harrier exploded Colin couldn’t see the event, but soon he felt the effects of it. He felt searing heat tear across his back as pieces of the destroyed aircraft came into contact with him. They burned as he floated down, but he couldn’t do anything about it. It got worse as he landed and the water and he waited for his flotation device to inflate. Colin screamed in agony as salt water washed over the wound. He couldn’t tell how serious it was, but the effects it began to have sent his heart further and further towards his feet. His vision began to get fuzzy as he lay there, waiting for a SAR helo to reach him, and eventually his head became light.
             When he finally realized what was happening, he hastily began to make sure that when it was done, he wouldn’t be having any regrets. The salt water had ceased to sting after it had lapped at his wounds so many times. It felt numb at this point and he couldn’t care. When the end was near, he simply tilted his head back and took a deep breath. The body of LCDR. Colin “Mako” Hothawin were recovered by a Sea Lynx Helicopter from the HMS Stalwart at sunset of that day. His body was mostly intact with the exception of the large gash that had caused the mortal blood loss. When he was cleaned up for his burial, that injury had been cleaned up.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:23 pm

    McCluff’s Marauders
    May 3, 1995
    Rural Ustio
     
              Second Lieutenant Melina Rodriguez looked up as the truck stop passed by, still a mostly smoldering wreck. The remains of a Leopard 2 had been left to hang a sign, she remembered, that stated the boxy MBT was now property of 3-12 Infantry. The other Leopard that’d been at the place was also gone; Rodriguez remembered how relived everyone had been they hadn’t hit the fuel tanks during the brief battle.
              “You know, did anyone ever stop to check if there were Twinkies in there?” the man next to the driver asked in a serious voice.
              “No sir.” The driver replied with a chuckle.
              Melina frowned; why did people think he was funny? At all? He just pointed out nonsensical things and whatnot and used it to get a cheap giggle.
              “No laugh out of you, Rodriguez?” McCluff asked, glancing back.
              “I don’t like Twinkies.” She simply replied.
              Second Lieutenant Alexander McCluff was the commander of the infantry platoon her Bradley IFVs carried. In the new Osean Army Joint Mechanized Warfare Command System (OAJMWCS or JMWCS), the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) platoon had a lieutenant, and the infantry platoon with it had a lieutenant. Apparently it was supposed to make them more potent, giving such a unit an officer who knew how to lead armored vehicles and one that knew how to lead infantry. Neither cared either way, but Melina had a certain distaste for slim, always-smiling McCluff. He was like that horny jock in highschool, charming women at his pleasure, except he was also a smart one and a good enough infantryman to avoid discharge.
              Alex had always thought of the short, cat-eyed Melina as something of a rose. Pretty and to be admired, but surrounded by thorns and untouchable. She drove hard and made it clear she was the academic type of soldier, beating you by playing the book and adjusting as needed. He looked out the window towards the hills that flanked both sides of Route 171. He’d been stuck between those hills since the last days of April. The guys in the Abrams had been especially vocal about how it confined them. As a straight-leg, he was all too happy to be still running wild and free.
              The Corporal driving the light truck turned left off the frontage road towards the command post of Bravo Company, placed near some trees and thickets They exited the vehicle, both slinging their M16A2s as they stood up straight. Alex gave his thanks to the driver and looked at Melina.
              “Seriously Rodriguez, I don’t get what you’ve got against me. I hit on you once, my men like me, and I’ve never gotten in trouble.” He said. She glared at him.
              “That’s something you don’t get to know.” She said firmly. He frowned at the unclear answer, put didn’t press the subject.
              “Welp, just hope it doesn’t bite us in the ass someday.” He shrugged.
              The two walked into the Company commander’s tent around the same time as the other two Bradley platoon leaders. Captain Audrey Vash, a tall woman with a tough-sounding country accent and short brunette hair that was always in a ponytail. She was standing in front of a map, collecting her thoughts. The officers stood at attention when she turned and saluted.
              “Okay, take a seat everyone.” She ordered.
              The map was centered on a town called Semitis, with various symbols representing elements of the 12th Infantry Division, and what was determined to be the Belkan 41st Panzergrenadiers. To the far north, Ustio’s sole heliborne division, the 89th Mobile Assault Division, had an objective north of them.
              “We’ll be taking this vital crossroads at Semitis and destroying or pushing the enemy forces in it north into the clutches of the 89th. Our Company will make up the primary infantry element for the attack, and we’ll have heavy air and artillery support. Our attack will be two pronged, moving around this hill that splits the two directions for the highway. Scouts have been prepping the area for us since our last clash two days ago. They’ve be calling in strikes, but he Belkans have recently moved in more AA and the air remains contested at times.” She began. One of her aides handed out information packets.
              Melina looked through what she’d been provided. Her eyes caught their air support: F-16s under the callsign Screech 3. The artillery was the usual callsign: Musketman. A glance at the map showed she was to position herself in some trees along the southwest edge, between third and fourth platoons. They would have the advantage of high ground to support the infantry pressing through the town, and a favorable and concealed position from which to direct fire support. The only problem was that they could be force against the slopes of the surrounding hills.
              “The company will hit the village’s with a left hook. Look for the ZSUs positioned near this school and destroy them if you can; we want to have clear skies for our F-16s providing air support. If y’all can spot them, we’ll get the battery of Paladins supporting us to knock em out. Other than that, expect to be met by mechanized infantry supported by whatever Leos retreated from the truck stop.”
              “Understood ma’am. Will we have any of our Abrams from the battalion rolling in?” Alex asked.
              “To a certain degree; they don’t want to risk ambush in the city.” She replied.
              What recon images that could be provided in the short time before this battle were given out for review. The town was centered on a large Gothic-style church, where the two major roads met in a traffic circle. The rest of the places, mostly homes, were almost completely identical. The school was near the western series of hills. What Leopards they did know about were watching both roads equally, but the ZSUs were nowhere to be seen. Melina had to question why the ZSUs hadn’t been spotted and destroyed, but she didn’t bring up the issue once it was determined that it could be a risk to the civvies. The infantry leaders had the more extensive job of sweep through the buildings to make it safe for the AFVs. They would proceed as far as they could, then bring up the Bradleys. It all seemed very simple, and it was not too different from the villages they’d cleared in the vast plains on northwest Sapin. The difference was the surrounding terrain.
              The briefing that morning was shorter than usual, with things being on the smaller scale today. The platoon leaders were carried back to their positions in HUMVEEs again. Most of the company had made its home on the side of the road opposite the HQ, where they could space out more. The four M2A2 Bradleys of 2nd Platoon sat near the road in an arc, facing north towards the Belkan lines. The soldiers had broken down any of the tarps or hasty defensive positions and were holding a temporary perimeter until their commanders arrived. As he got out of the back of the HUMVEE, Alex whistled loudly to the enlisted men doing their thing.
              “All Rover 2 Squad leaders, on me!” He shouted…
     
     
              “Retriever 6 to all victors, your signal is Climax. I repeat, signal is Climax.”
              Melina looked at her station and keyed her CVC helmet mike.
              “Understood Retriever 6, Retriever 2 is on the move.” She replied. The woman switched to the internal channel.
              “Choplin, move em out.”
              Then back to her platoon’s frequency.
              “Retriever 2 Actual to all Victors, move forward in echelon left. Watch your sectors.” She ordered.
              In the back of her Platoon Sergeant’s track, Alex felt the machine lurch forward. The Bradleys moved up, keeping the pace with their platoon lead. Fourth platoon was on the other side of the highway, smacking away and crushing the foliage. Melina watched as her machines overtook a low, shallow drainage ditch, throwing up brown water and mud from a recent rain shower over the front of her IFV. In the back, the troops chattered sporadically to pass the time. She paid little attention to anything they said as the road bent to the right, turret aimed at the highway in case anything came at them. Their true target was the line of trees to the left, where they would disgorge their infantry. Branches snapped out of the way and small trees and brush were pushed over. Alex checked the magazine in his M16A2 again and made sure the weapon was properly charged. He looked back at the men in the track as they sat ready to exit. The plan was the same as always, and the thick wooding would help cover the men as the exited. He’d been tempted to have his men camouflage their faces, but they would be in the town so quickly it wouldn’t matter. As the man tried to think of what else he needed, he felt the M2 lurch to a stop.
              “Go go go! Infantry lead the way!” He shouted.
              The troops charged down the back ramp, the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner and AT4 infantryman first. The SAW gunner covered the troops as the deployed to the right of the IFV in the tall grass. Alex’s Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), Corporal Robert Schultz, took cover behind a bush next to him. The man immediately withdrew some binoculars from his gear and observed the town’s outskirts. The Bradleys had placed them before a steep slope that led to a construction materials store yard. It was sandwiched between a vacant lot on the left and a small officer building on the right. They had to have been heard approaching, Alex thought; the M2 was not a quiet machine.
              The men had their orders. Two of his squads would move down the slope through the lot and two more would move through the yard. He gave the order and led his men out of the woods and down towards the latter and establish positions to cover those moving across the open space. The brown-haired man consciously kept his balance as he descended down the unwelcoming terrain. As he was near the bottom, he heard a crack of a sniper rifle. The bullet landed somewhere away from him.
              “Sniper!” One of the riflemen shouted.
              Alex, Robert in tow, ran to a pile of gravel and took cover behind it as more cracks broke the air. He switched his M16 to three-round burst and raised the weapon to fire in the direction of the sharpshooter. From his position the low-rise office of the yard let them see the buildings further inside. One building, a TV studio, would be pretty good to spot those ZSUs. He decided to concentrate his efforts on that structure and take it. He motioned for his RTO to request they find the sniper when a Bradley back behind them fired its M242 Bushmaster. He looked forward and saw gray smoke blooming up.
              “Retriever says were clear, sir.” The corporal said.
              The lieutenant nodded and looked back towards the smoke. He left the gravel behind and ran to the office, joining a grenadier and two riflemen.
              “Private, what kind of grenade to have in the 203?” He asked.
              “Standard HE, sir.” He reported
              “Good, we’re gonna take the TV station, so get ready to put it in a window in case the place is occupied.” He said.
              The men with him nodded and followed the lieutenant as he rounded the corner. The building stretched several dozen feet down and opened to a parking lot. The infantry spilled out near some delivery trucks without serious resistance. Alex heard a G3 respond to their appearance, only to be met by an M249’s chatter a mailbox across the way was punctured and a body collapsed behind hit. Another figure stood up to retreat to a store’s entrance, only to be hit by the squads as they established firing positions. Alex threw a look across the street as the fire temporarily died down. He pulled back behind cover and checked his maps.
              “Sergeant Pelot!” He shouted, beckoning the man.
              Sure enough the short trooper with dark skin and an intense look came o his position. He pointed to his map.
              “Take your squad and secure this building’s rooftop; we’re gonna use it to assault into the TV station. Grab Sergeant Manson and tell him to go with you to strongpoint it. I’ll take the rest of the platoon and attack from the front.” He ordered.
              Pelot nodded and ran off. Alex got in contact with Sergeants Hizuki and Crayford and got their squads moving down the street. As they moved, fire came from the TV station as expected, and more from down the street. Alex ducked into an alley with some men. He checked his magazine and looked at his men with him. Again his mind went into action. Similar to the fighting during the Aslani Civil War, they used the alley as their fighting position, popping out to fire at the Belkans, albeit in a more professional manner. He used the SAW gunner he had with him to keep suppressive fire up until a very ominous sound reached his ears. He looked down the street to see a Leopard 2 rolling in. The man ordered his subordinates into cover, yelling for the others to do the same across the street. At roughly the same time, a 120mm shell flew down the street and impacted against one of the shops not too far behind McCluff. He motioned for his RTO and nearly tore the telephone piece off the device.
              “Retriever 2 Actual, this is Rover 2 Actual, we’re under fire from a single Leo 2 here, need some kind of support! Can you nail em with your TOWs or have you managed to knock out the Zeuses for our Fast Air yet?” He shouted as another round blew away the second story of a building across the street.
              “Standby Rover 2, we’re doing what we can.” Melina replied coolly.
              For once Alex was tempted to call her a bitch for that tone. He got she didn’t like him, but standby for what? They were supposed to be supporting the infantry as they advanced. He backed against the wall as the Leopard stopped and settled into its place down the street, content with its superior position he guessed. The lieutenant looked up and saw there were fire escapes to the roofs, but none of the men with him carried AT4 anti-tank rockets. However from her position, Melina wasn’t leaving her infantry leader out to dry. In fact she was helping 4th platoon’s leader verify the location of the other two ZSUs. Two had been spotted near the school, and another two near the northern edge of town.
              Several miles back from the action, a battery of six M109A5 howitzers sat, weapons poised. Upon getting the coordinates from their command vehicles, the guns were properly adjusted and aimed so the rounds would land where they were intended. The rounds fired would be standard HE shells, more than enough to penetrate the think skin of the AA guns. With a deep shout from the battery commander, the six guns, three for each target, boomed in rapid succession. The Bradley commander known as “Retriever 2 Actual” heard the rounds, but was too busy to watch them impact their targets. Another Bradley would take care of the Leopard pinning down Alex’s men while the F-16s were cleared to press north. In the meantime Melina spotted said determined resistance approaching from further in the town. The Belkans had apparently kept much of their heavy equipment back towards the center of town, no doubt to draw the Oseans in. She spotted the shape of a Leopard 2A4 as it rolled out from under an overpass and began to move towards the action. The other that’d fired on the infantry was also in plenty plain sight.
              “Gunner identify, Leo 2 at 1 o’ clock! Gunner, engage with TOW!” she called.
              Next to her, Sgt. Kasper Hue steadied the sights of the BGM-171 Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missiles on the Leopard rolling down the highway, trying to get a bead on them.
              “On the way!” Hue declared.
              The left side of the Bradley lit up as one of the TOWs left the launcher. The Leopard 2 stopped and traversed its turret towards 2nd Platoon’s tracks, raising its gun barrel just in time to get struck atop the back of turret by the TOW. The machine stopped as its ammo storage was hit; she saw the blow-off panels going into action. Her Platoon sergeant’s track fired one of his TOWs, and struck the Leopard on the side of the turret. That seemed to do the tank in. She turned her attention back to the main battle for the TV station.
              “Gunner, move your turret towards the station, and prepare to provide fire support to Rover 2.” She noted.
              Alex silently thanked whoever had bagged the burning Leo 2 down the street and looked around. He motioned for his RTO and again took to the airwaves.
              “Rover 2 actual to Rover 2-3 and Rover 2-4, gimmie a SITREP.” He transmitted.
              “We’ve secured the position with no resistance, Actual, just waiting on you.” Pelot informed him.
              Alex acknowledged the capture of the building adjacent to the TV station and got to work on his end. He placed one squad as a block force to absorb further attacks coming from down the street, and split the other into two six-man fireteams to breach. He slapped in a fresh magazine for the attack and coordinated with Pelot, who would send his squad in one fireteam at a time through a window. They had no breaching weapons,not even CS gas. Those were pieces of equipment meant for Rangers, Green Berets, and other Special Forces. Instead they’d use regular smoke, followed by frags, and have the SAW gunners press in first. Alex gave the signal and waited while two M18 smoke grenades were tossed in, followed by two M67s. As they exploded the squads two SAW gunners rushed in, weapons ready. Alex followed several infantrymen in as the fire picked up. Figured they’d want to hold this place.
              The reception lobby had been cleared by the grenades, and the gunners had hurried past a door into the main chamber of the place. One was pinned behind an already mostly shattered piece of cubicle wall, not able to get accurate fire out. The other gunner lay on the floor, dead. Alex noted that for a later self-berating. Alex yelled for the teams to disperse to each side, recognizing that the fire was mostly coming from above and forward. He himself ducked into a cubicle and recognized a Belkan trooper standing well in the open. He rolled so his M16 could be brought to bear and fired a burst. The man stumbled back and collapsed.
              “Get to cover! Fire upwards!” He shouted.
              Alex rolled again so he wasn’t lying so awkwardly and targeted other Belkan soldiers above. Then he heard an explosion above.  The Belkan fire shifted away from the men down below and up to the level the Belkan s were on, but only briefly. Alex looked up to see the appearance of Osean soldiers; Polet’s squad had given them the pincer they needed to seize the building! Again the fire died down and Schultz tapped Alex on the shoulder.
              “Captain’s on the horn, sir.” He said. Alex accepted the phone and heard a few more shots as smaller rooms were cleared.
              “Rover 2 Actual, SITREP.” His Captain said.
              “So far we’ve met light resistance. My platoon is clearing up the TV station as we speak. I do have casualties, at least one dead.” He replied.
              “Understood, the tracks will be in the town soon to reinforce. Thunderbolt 3 is moving up from the southeast towards town to try and draw the enemy armor. I’ll also see what I can do about your casualties. Good luck.” Vash replied.
              Alex handed his RTO the phone piece and wiped some of the dust from the cubical walls off his face. He ordered Polet’s squad to dig into positions facing north towards the crossroads, and to keep AT4s close at hand. He ordered the rest of his platoon to capture other buildings and fortify them for temporary blocking positions. After the M2s were in place, he would select certain squads to come with him and escort the Bradleys to the crossroads. He stopped at the entrance to the TV station as fight was picking back up; he threw a glance down the street to find that a Belkan M113 had apparently run headlong into them, thinking the Leopard was still working, only to get hit by an AT4. He stayed in position and looked down the street towards the Bradleys. The bigger machines had to take it slow, but they had little trouble getting down the slope, using the vacant lot and other wide spaces to enter the town. Melina’s track came rolling up first and stopped just past the entrance and the lieutenant. Alex’s counterpart opened the back door on the ramp.
              “What’s the plan?” She asked.
              “We’ll escort the tracks down to the crossroads with two squads dismounted and keep the other two here as fallbacks in case we get repelled. Captain Vash has an ambulance coming up to get my casualties.” He said. She nodded.
              “I’ll deploy two of my tracks on the far sides of these two buildings until the ambulance arrives, then we’ll move.” She replied. He nodded.
              The settled in for a few minutes and waited while the Belkans down the street were driven out, one of the F-16s even made a pass on some building in the town, the another attack some other target. Alex stuck close to the TV station, where the casualties were brought to the lobby. It was confirmed that a total of eight men had died at this point, with a further three wounded to the point they needed to be taken back. It was a tough call, but the two hardest hit squads would serve as their fallback. At the very least they were dug in, allowing them a better chance to survive any attacks. Melina, in the meantime, was busier making sure her tracks were in good shape. She planned with Alex that if things got bad enough, the infantry would retreat into the M2s and retreat. Alex reluctantly agreed, but also mentioned that they would only do so if they could. Otherwise the infantry would take cover and use air support to clear out their adversaries.
              An Osean M113 with a red cross on it arrived to get the losses, letting the line infantry get a move on down the street. Melina’s Bradley took the lead, with Alex and one squad behind her. She moved at a slow pace to give them quick cover. Alex himself kept his rifle lowered, but watched the upper stories; the rearward infantry covered upwards with their weapons. They slowed again as the approached the destroyed Leopard 2; Alex started dispersing his men.
              “Okay Retriever 2 Actual, we’ll need a way around em. I suggest moving to the right, towards 4th Platoon. He radioed via Schultz.
              “Understood Rover 2 Actual, moving right.”
              Alex motioned for part of the squad with him to use the destroyed armor as cover. He moved towards a mailbox on the corner, Schultz in tow As Melina started down the street, there was a sharp whoosh from up the corridor. It became apparent just as the Panzerfaust 3 struck the front of the Bradley, and the second struck near that. Flames arced above the turret of the IFV, forcing him to run to the right towards a parked car that had been half-flattened by Melina’s track about thirty seconds ago. With the shout of “ambush!”, the firefight got as fierce as it could in seconds as SAWs started the return fire. Their shooting was unrelenting, blasting into the buildings and only pausing to deal with recoil. Alex dropped to a knee every few yards and fired a third of his magazine at the source of enemy fire. He saw a trooper lying on his back, alive but disoriented, and pulled him towards a grenadier as he sent a 40mm round across the street to cover them before switching to his rifle. Inside what was revealed was a bank he set the man near a turned over trash can and shouted for a medic as he reloaded.
              Spotting Hizuki, he hailed the man and gave his orders. They would try and get to the upper stories and return fire on the Belkans with part of the squad as they received parts of the other squad. He deployed the other part near the windows, shouting for them to prioritize RPGs above anything else. He also moved with them to get a handle on things. The fire was too heavy to go out there; They had to knock it down and better yet see how many buildings had hostiles in them. The lieutenant kicked over a desk in a window-side office and knelt behind it, aiming out a destroyed window. Across the way he spotted muzzle flashes and bursts of smoke from weapons. He aimed at one of the windows he believed was housing a shooter and switched to single-shot and fired several times. He eased back and looked for another target as the shooting from that window stopped. Upon finding another threat, he promptly fired several more rounds.
    Bringing up Schultz, he was able to ascertain that the other track and a good chunk of the squad behind it had retreated back. Okay, at least they were safe. Now came rescuing Melina and her crew. He decided first he would level that building, and he had the means to. Again his RTO was at his side; the platoon leader ordered that he raise the F-16s orbiting above the fight. The young enlisted man nodded and worked the radio’s frequency to the correct one.
    “Screech 3, Screech 3, this is Rover 2 Actual, requesting air support! Repeat, we need air support!”  Schultz called. The pause before a response was almost nonexistent.
              “This is Screech 3-1, flight of four armed with four Paveways and 500 rounds apiece. Be advised we have expended two of the Paveways, however.” A voice announced.
              “Roger that Screech 3, this is Rover 2, we’re requesting air support, we’ve got a building that’s knocked out one of our tracks and has us pinned, over.” He radioed.
              “Roger that, will you be lasing?”
              Schultz looked out at the fighting; the dust was heavy, but they could try.
              “We’ll try Screech, but we suggest you also laze the target. We are near the TV station…look for the burning M2.” Schultz radioed.
              “Okay Rover…give us a minute here. Laze if you can.” The voice requested.
              Inside the turret of her Bradley, Melina was coming to. She’d been knocked unconscious by the blast; the woman tried her CVC radio; the circuits had been damaged too much by the blast. She began checking herself for injuries, and felt something hot tough her hand as she moved it along her stomach. She drew it away with a shout and saw she had a large tear in her tanker coveralls. Whatever was in there, hot and burning, was still in. She began to move about uncomfortable until a piece of shrapnel stuck out. Melina stared until she forced herself to think of something else. Her stomach churned in pain as she tried to ease herself from her seat. Her legs felt like toothpicks holding up a cinderblock, but she managed to get to the floor near the troop compartment before she had to sit down again. She looked over at her gunner, who’d fallen out of his seat. Hue’s legs had been badly burned, too. He’d been saved, as had she, by the fire suppression system.
              Melina heard a thunderous sound outside, an explosion. She hoped it was close air support backing them up. The firing was very clear outside, far too clear. Melina wanted to sleep, but she was too afraid she wouldn’t wake up again. Then, she heard sounds near the back of her IFV. Someone was trying to get in, but one of the crew’s M321 Firing Port Weapons was nearby. She tried to hold the M16 variant up to shoot when whoever came in, but failed to raise it properly. Her fear was short-lived, however, when a familiar voice shouted her last name, along with those of her crew.
              “Rodriguez! Hue! Anybody?” Alex shouted.
              The infantryman swept his eyes about the darkened space and saw her in the light coming in from the open door. He rushed to her side and eased the M321 from her hands.
              “Okay Melina, take it easy, We’re gonna get you out of here. Someone get that ramp down!” Alex said. She managed part of a nod.
              “Alex…my stomach.” She managed. He looked down at the shrapnel and tensed, but kept his cool.
              “We’re not gonna try, alright? Let the medics remove it.” He said. She partially nodded again.
              One of the troopers who’d followed him called for the ramp to be cleared as he used emergency procedures to lower it. By now the fighting had died down, and the rest of the formation Alex had ordered to advance with him had moved up again, occupying defensive positions to defend the destroyed Bradley. Another M113 ambulance was brought forward as quickly as it could be while Melina and hue were taken out of the Bradley by stretchers carried on the vehicle. Alex felt things got a bit surreal as the scene became more like an accident than the middle of a battle, with the Belkans having backed off again. While Melina’s wounds were treated initially, he learned that the spearhead launched by the M1s had gained more attention from the Leopard 2s in the locale. In addition, the other Bradley platoons were pushing in close proximity to them. He stayed in cover near her and her Bradley crew as they were taken out. The driver, Choplin, had sadly been killed by the rockets fired at the vehicle. Alex looked back at Melian as Hue was brought out next to her. Whether she hated his guts or not, she was still the Bradley platoon leader that’d gotten him this far. He hoped she’d make it despite the grim aura surrounding the medics carrying her to the M113 as it arrived.


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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:48 pm

    The Iron Bear
    January 22, 1987
    Near the Romny-Yuktobania Border
     
              Captain Gavriil Tatravich came to attention with the other officers of the 8th Guards Regiment’s 511th Tank Battalion as Lieutenant Colonel Borodine walked to the front. The man with a sunken face and moustache that seemed too wide for his head returned the salutes of his men.
              “Be seated, Comrades, we have much to discuss this morning.”
              The boyish-faced Captain sat down and watched his commanding officer as he raised a polished stick. Gavriil raised his hands to rub them together as he began.
              “Good morning everyone, today in the face of failed negotiations with the Democratic Republic of Romny, we have been ordered to take the disputed region of Dola by force. We will be moving in close conjunction with the launch of the air campaign, which started earlier this night, and I have been authorized by our KGB informants to announce that Spetsnaz teams have been quietly active in the region, preparing the way for us and our Frontal Aviation Comrades. Specifically, they have assured me we will be given air support and that the heaviest Romn air defenses will be down. Expect MiG-27 and Su-25 aircraft to be readily available and attacking consistently as well as Mi-24s …however expect that the enemy will also have aircraft aloft. The Romny Air Force is not well equipped, but very large. Our ground-based defenses will do what they can to defeat what we expect to mostly be MiG-21s and Su-7s.”
              Attention was shifted to their specific enemies on the ground. Tanks couldn’t destroy fighters except if they caught them on the ground.
              “Our opponent is two battalions, one of motorized infantry, and one of armored forces. We expect to destroy their numerical superiority via shock effect and then a combination of maneuvering and training. A massive saturation bombardment will occur at dawn by our supporting Grad and Akatsiya batteries, followed by a number of smoke rounds. We will push into the smoke to cross the Noboli River, and then attack the nearest enemy position, which is about a mile beyond that along a low slope. We can expect to have our first support here, as the motorized infantry, border guards really, are believed to have concrete emplacements housing anti-tank missiles.” The Colonel pointed out.
    His pointer went to a field beyond, then up to the fork that marked the beginning of the Noboli and Gretvich rivers. A projector next to the map showed some aerial recon photos with annotations on a screen to highlight details.
              “The infantry’s main objective will be the bridges over the Gretivich, since the banks in the area are much steeper. We will push across the bridges with some of our infantry to establish forward positions across the area. We hope to meet the heaviest part of the armored forces near the tree groves here and hold them so they cannot get across the bridges or attack them directly. Expect to face a full battalion of T-64B main battle tanks with crews who know how to use the machine. These won’t be the T-62Ms the majority of their army has.” He iterated.
              Gavriil noted the terrain for the positions where they would fan out. More fields, meaning the Yuktobanians would be the ones exposed to attacks from the Romns, though many of the groves were depleted with winter well in control.  The low profile of the T-80 might also help…He noted it all and kept in mind he would want to have his tanks spread out enough to avoid enemy fire claiming multiple tanks in one shot.
              “From these positions we will hold until we can strengthen the line and push on towards the car factories at Furabontesk. We can expect to be relieved in a few hours by more forces from the regiment. At that time we can properly evacuate casualties when engineer and medevac units come forward. The seriously injured can be taken away on Mi-8s. Are there any questions as to our overall mission?” He went on.
              With a few small inquires to cover, there was some time for Gavriil to study his maps before they got to the specifics of the companies’ jobs. Gavrill and his company would be moving down the left bridge towards the line, dubbed “Phase Line Zvezda”. It was a precarious position in which they had the steep banks of the Gretivich to their backs and the enemy before them. He planned to be as far forward as he could so that they would have some room to retreat, and also began formulating possible retreat options. Contrary to the ideas and propaganda of Osea and its puppets, the Yuktobanians knew retreat; they just did not embrace it. Should he have to Gavriil would pull back so that men could be saved and used effectively in the future, but he had to be smart. The dismounted infantry and BMPs would help, as would the promise of constant air support. With his specific mission laid out, the young man and the rest of his peers were let go.
              Outside the heated tent the cold didn’t hesitate to stab at the men. Gavriil could at least take some comfort in the fact that he would be given a ride aboard a jeep back to his tanks. Said vehicle was waiting already; the brown-haired man was expected to brief his platoon commanders, and then ensure he was fit as a commander to take them into battle. All he really needed was some food, and maybe to write a letter or two home. With several other men in it, the UAZ bounded off to take them to their vehicles. Gavriil looked towards Captain Nikolai Sarov.
              “I cannot believe we have to invade a country that’s our ally. Disrespectful and ungrateful, don’t they remember we help build their country?” Sarov asked aloud.
              “Even best friends can have arguments, Toravish Nikolai.” Gavriil reasoned.
              “The Romns shouldn’t be so sure of themselves. We will reach their capital in days.” The redhead replied. His fellow soldier was always interested how he was so able to talk in a way that would cause political officers to both tense and smile.
              “Those T-64s may make them feel sure of themselves. I sure hope your tanks and Toravisch Grigori’s can hold them.” Nikolai added.
              “Our Frontal Aviation Comrades will be in our debt after today.” Grigori added.
              Gavriil tried to rest the back of his head against the window, but it was too cold. He pulled away and adjusted his winter cap. The Yuktobanians seemed to enjoy fighting wars when the world was getting colder, and it had become a joke (whenever political officers weren’t nearby) that the winter made them stronger. This impending war was no different; he longed for Taisia’s warmth instead…
     
     
              Photographers from TAYS, the state news agency, was going through the platoons for photos, both of the soldiers at work and for smiling soldiers to show the people at home they were full of youth and morale. Gavriil had his three platoons of T-80Us placed in a semi-circle along the riverbank, with his T-80UK and company command in the trees towards the back. The 3rd and 4th Companies flanked him, with three companies of Motorized Riflemen in BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. One of the journalists had come across his tank as he was sitting near its exhaust, using the residual heat from the last crank-up to warm himself some more.  He looked up as the man photographed him looking at maps with a flashlight, wanting to save his the batteries of his PNV-57s for when they began the attack.
              “Pardon me, Comrade Captain, but your current state seemed fitting to convey how our brave armed forces can deal with even this weather.” The man said, hard to see in the dark.
              “Save your film for the battle, Comrade.” He grunted back.
              The Captain looked up again as he heard the sounds of jets overhead. Earlier in the night, just after the platoon leaders had started to get their briefs, there’d been an air raid. Garviil’s position had been lightly attacked, but no major damage had been dealt outside of some scratched vehicles and irritated troops. They were still plenty able to carry out their mission. The Captain looked up as the snowfall seemed to be steadying out. It was visible, but far from a storm or blizzard. He turned to get back onto the top of his T-80, and then inside it. He kept low in the event the Romns had snipers watching from across the river. Inside the tank it wasn’t very warm, but it was better than being snowed on. His driver was on watch at the moment, meaning his gunner was asleep. Gavriil keyed his microphone.
              “Kedlavich.” He said.
              “Yes, Comrade Captain?” The Efreitor replied quickly.
              “I am going to sleep so I can be alert as possible when my shift comes. Wake me if anything important comes up.” He instructed.
              “Understood, Comrade Captain!” the excitable young man said. Gavriil smiled to himself and then slipped into the best slumber one could get in the commander’s seat of a T-80.
              The hours passed, and the front remained mostly quiet. The major war right now was that between the Yuktobanian Military Air Forces (VVS) and the Romny Peoples Air Defense (RALD). Situated behind the tanks and IFVs, 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) batteries backed up by ZSU-23-4 AA guns waited and occasionally picked off enemy jets that wanted to come and attack the waiting assault force. Around four that morning, Gavriil was finally awoken in preparation for the attack. He adjusted himself in the seat and peered out his cupola’s periscopes before opening the hatch. The snow had long stopped, leaving the already white ground with a fresh thin layer of powder. The T-80’s green and white camo was now whiter. He affixed his night vision goggles to his helmet and stared across the river; nothing to see at first, and nothing after watching for a moment.
              The Captain slid back into his tank and closed the hatch. He checked his watch, noting the time. It was three fifty seven; the artillery bombardment was due to start in a few moments. Coincidentally, several miles away from the forward positions, several batteries of BM-21B rocket launchers and SO-152M self-propelled howitzers had finished zeroing their targets. Each battery was under the thumb of a single man with a red flag, who was keeping an eye on a watch. Artillerymen, by nature, relied on precision in all forms. Timing, coordinates, and the like made for the best results. When four AM came, the men threw down red flags and shouted “fire” in Yuktobanian. The 152s made brief reports as they fired their shells at the Romns’ forward positions. The guns, as per planning, would fire four rounds each of High Explosives (HE), and then switch to their secondary coordinates and fire smoke. The rockets made a far louder sound, erupting from their tubes like thunder. The combined noise of entire batteries launching brought the crescendo to deafening levels, but even the older men in the units were hard pressed not to join their young compatriots in enjoying the beauty of rocket artillery.
              Kedlavich pointed out the sounds of shelling as they started. He looked in the direction which the young sergeant sat and then listened. Sure enough he heard the distinct whistle of shells and the hiss of rockets. For a second he felt sorrow for the Romns at the incoming terrors. In the meantime he switched his microphone to the company channel.
              “Gordost 2 Actual to all elements, report in.” He radioed.
              “Lev 1 reporting.” 1st platoon’s commander replied.
              “Pantera 1, reporting in.” 2nd platoon’s leader radioed.
              “Tigr 1 is reporting in.” 3rd platoon’s head said.
              “All Gordost elements, start tanks and prepare to advance on Romny defensive positions, understand?” Gavriil said. They all replied obediently.
              “For the glory of our motherland.” Gavriil added, know well the political officer would be listening to everything they said. He switched to internal communications.
              “Comrade Kedlavich! Start the engine! Comrade Daskal, ready the main gun and image intensifier!” The man barked.
              The tank’s gas turbine engine rumbled to life and Gavriil checked his station’s features, namely his feed for the image intensifier, the navigation equipment, and the radios. His ears listened closely as the platoons readied for the attack, particularly to see if anyone had aby problems with their tanks. He waited until the clock struck 4:10 AM. A switch to the battalion net revealed the message he’d been awaiting.
              “All battalion elements, Zvezda, Zvezda. For our great motherland.” Borodine radioed.
              “Gordost 2 Actual to all elements, advance! Wedge formation! Engage any enemies you encounter! Keep a line open to the fire support net, we must not hesitate to use our airborne Comrades!” Gavriil radioed after switching channels again.
              The large, squat main battle tank rolled forward from its position on the Captain’s command, moving at a speed chosen to allow for the gunner to hit targets accurately and for the beast to remain a hard target. Gavriil felt the front drop as they went down the slope to cross the shallow part of the river. The T-80 rolled through the shallow, icy water without trouble and onto the far bank. The terrain’s slope upwards was very gradual; through the smoke Gavriil could see smoke from the impacts of the shells and rockets. He searched for any of the bunkers that they’d been told about as his company’s tanks rolled out ahead of him. Towards the top he noted the flashes of guns.
              “Gordost 2 Actual here, I need a report. Have we made contact?” He asked.
              “This is Tigr 1-3; we have made contact with enemy positions. Scattered resistance; they appear to have been broken by the artillery.” Third Platoon reported.
              Gavriil acknowledged the report and kept a lookout for anything of interest as the tank went up a steep piece of terrain. Dasakal kept the gun depressed as far down as he could towards the inevitable threats. Finally a man-made structure was spotted on the image intensifier, and Daskal identified it was a small bunker.
              “Engage!”
              “Firing!”
              The 125mm smoothbore cannon recoiled as it sent a High Explosive, Fragmentation (HE-F) round into the position. Kedlavich kept moving on towards the position, intent on crushing it with one of the treads should someone survive the explosion.
              “Another bunker, fifteen degrees to our right!” Gavriil shouted as they rolled on.
              The gunner rotated the turret and fired a second round at the position. Thanks to the optics in the T-80, the men watched as the 9K115 Metis launcher was tossed up in the ball of dust. Otherwise resistance was light thanks to the one-two punch of artillery and heavy armor. The tanks reached the top of the hill, fanning out to make themselves harder targets to artillery or inevitable air attack.
              “Contact front! Infantry fighting vehicles!” Kedlavich called.
              Further back from the crest were several BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, which Gavriil guessed were to try and slow the T-80s. They’d do little, if anything.
              “BMP, two degrees to our left!” Daskal sounded.
              “Engage with HE-F!” The Captain replied.
              The T-80’s turret moved slightly left, and seconds later the gun again rocked back. The BMP-1’s poor armor stood no chance against the 125mm gun, and a brilliant flash lit up the night. It was only as it illuminated the other T-80s moving through the field that Gavriil realized that the Romns were INSIDE their formation. The BMP’s bad armor had been made up for in part by its low profile, which in the tall, snow-covered grass, made it even harder to see.
              “Gordost 2 Actual to all elements! Slow down! We’re among Romn IFVs. I repeat, enemy IFVs in our formation!” He shouted.
              The man could feel sweat on his brow and his jaw tightening. After a minute he calmed himself and remembered his armor training in the Jilachi Desert. Their 9M14 anti-tank missiles were too close to the Yuktobanians MBTs to be effective, which left them with their 76mm cannons and machine guns. Again, they were of little effect. Another BMP fired at his tank twice, the small cannon able to put out several rounds a minute. It took the last HE round in the autoloader in the front; flames spilled out the back. Now it was on to armor-piercing to deal with the T-64s.
              “Gordost 2 Actual to Rys 3 Actual, we’re preparing to attack by fire across the bridge.” He radioed.
              “Understood Gordost, we shall remain behind.” The leader of the Motor Rifle Company they were escorting replied.
              The bridge would be a very vulnerable place, so Gavriil had decided to keep spacing wide for its crossing. He ordered One of his platoons to the left of the structure, so they could support the other two platoons that would cross. Mines were always a problem, he remembered; the man keyed his microphone.
              “This is Gordost, does anyone see any signs of traps on the bridge?” He asked.
              “Negative, Comrade Captain, I can’t see anything.” One of the tanks radioed back. Gavriil frowned, and then looked at the bridge again. It was clear from what he could see.
              “I shall lead us across, then. Lev, follow me quickly; a single tank would be hard-pressed to hold the other side.” He decided.
              “Uhm, Comrade Captain…” The political officer, one Senior Lieutenant Popov, began to interject.
              “I would be a coward to send my men ahead, Comrade Popov. The Red Army does not accept cowards.” Gavriil snapped.
              Kedlavich aimed the T-80 for the entrance, moving a bit faster. For its size, the tank could really roll when it was given the power to. Gavriil felt the treads hit paved road as they got onto the bridge and moved forward. At the Captain’s orders, the smoke grenades on either side of the tank were fired to give them some more cover.
              “Enemy armor, front! I count two!” Kedlavich shouted as the machine got onto the open ground on the other side. He sounded like a boy about to see a naked female for the first time.
              “Calm, Comrade Kedlavich! Daskal!” Gavriil shouted.
              “Keep her steady…firing!” The gunner replied.
              The T-80 moved to the left as its gun rocked. Gavriil felt his body tingling until the round impacted against the T-64. The gunner chambered a new round and fired again to secure the enemy tank’s death. Its partner felt the wrath of the T-80s following their company commander. The first platoon across sped up and began to fan out. To his front, Gavriil saw woods well in the distance, towards the maximum range of their guns. He gave the order to move closer and decided the treeline would be bombed. As he started to make a call back for something to do the job, he heard the sound of someone firing their machine gun. As he was about to ask, the sound of impacts redirected his attention.
              “Enemy aircraft!” Lev 1 called.
              The tank vibrated as Romn aircraft, Su-7BMKs, made runs. Further back, however, they were already gaining the unwanted attention of frontline Kub batteries. The missiles’ 1S91 radar painted the Su-7s as they ascended to try and come around for more attacks. Closer to the tanks, ZSU-23-4MZ Shilka mobile AA guns were already demonstrating why Kaluga forces had come to call the things “Sewing Machines” and why Osea and her allies hated the thing. The Romn pilots would quickly regret trying to attack, as they were fired on by guns and missiles. Either way they were out of Gavriil’s hair, and he was able to call in some air support. Four Su-25 Grach strike aircraft were ordered in, each armed with FAB-500 bombs and S-24 rockets.
              “Gordost 2 Actual, this is Gadyuka Leader, we will make two runs, one with each weapon. Please specify your target.” A voice radioed.
              “Gadyuka, we need you to attack the treeline o our front in order to deny the enemy proper cover.” Gavriil replied.
              “Understood, send back the information.” The pilot replied.
              As per the Yuktobanian system, the specific target was sent back to rear-echelon posts, who coordinated with ground-based radar systems to make sure the weapons would arrive right on target. Once the info was passed along, the Sukhois could attack. From his position, Gavriil saw shapes on the image intensifier. As he’d feared, they were T-64s of the Romny Peoples Land Forces (RPNS).
              “Contact, enemy armor to our front. Engage immediately…Rys 3 Actual be advised, we’ve come into contact with enemy T-64s. Wait until we can establish a tighter perimeter for you to disembark.”
              As the BMP commander relayed they would support by using their own 9M113 Konkurs anti-tank missiles, Gavriil moved forward with two of his platoons flanking him. The last was deployed near the bridge to hold it. Gavriil got to work, ordering they fire on the first tank they saw while the Su-25s came to help. He and his own crew went to work as well as they slowed and began picking targets.
              “Enemy tank sighted Daskal, five degrees right!”
              “I have him, sir!”
              “Fire!”
              “Firing!”
              Another round exited the barrel and struck and advancing T-64 in the left tread. Daskal worked the autoloader and gave the enemy tank a second. Gavriil ordered the platoons to start flanking the Romn tankers so as to quickly defeat them. Kedlavich moved left with several other T-80s while the commander and gunner kept the turret’s front rotated at the formation of T-64s advancing from the woods. There was at least a company of the older tanks. The radio came to life, and the VVS pilots announced they were dropping their weapons. Two of the Graches shot over several hundred feet above, bombs in their wake. Gavriil ignored whatever affects they would have; he was too focused on the battle.
              “Gadyuka, be advised, we are getting close to the enemy armored formation. Don’t make any more runs unless cleared by us.” Gavriil replied as he saw several Romn MBTs burning.
              “Roger that Gordost, good luck.”
              As the Graches flew off, trying to avoid an Osa battery that’d managed to slip in at some point, Daskal zeroed and destroyed another T-64. How many was it so far? The Captain had lost count of their number of kills. Suddenly he felt an impact, directly against the tank, and then another. The tank stopped with a mechanical crunch of sorts. Gavriil threw up a hand to stop his face from connecting with his station’s screens and the like, but it was just a little late. His nose began to ache immensely as he pulled back, and after a second he felt the flow of blood coming out of his nostrils.
              “Report!” He shouted.
              “Enemy tanks, two of them!” Daskal barked as he tried to get the gun on one of the targets.
              Fortunately the T-80’s situation was far from hopeless. The other platoons were still at near-full strength. Only one of the MBTs had to see Gavriil’s plight to move into action. The sergeant commanding it beckoned another T-80 to his side to help. Gavriil keyed his mike.
              “Kedlavich! Can we move?” He demanded. Nothing.
              “Kedlavich, answer me!” The Captain bellowed.
              “Comrade Captain, the Romns!” Daskal pointed out.
              His image intensifier offline, the officer used one of his periscopes to see what exactly the gunner was on about. His saw, the inky dark, tanks reversing. They’d routed the bastards! He watched as his company kept up the fire, and Rys 3 advanced part of itself across the bridge as the radio indicated. As the fire died down, Gavriil pushed open his hatch and looked out as the other tanks pushed against the retreating Romns. He drew in a breath, tasting blood, and looked back as Yuktobanian Motor Riflemen were rushing across the bridge. He rested back and grabbed his NSV machine gun and began to move it towards the retreating Romns. They could come again at any moment …his mind told him this might be a ruse.
              “Comrade, are you okay?!”
              He looked down to see an infantryman, his squad moving around the tank. The man who’d called to Gavriil started to climb up to help him. He took out a field dressing.
              “For your nose, Comrade Captain.” He grunted.


              Gavriil looked towards his tanks again, lit by the scant light of the early morning and the burning fires of the destroyed tanks. The squad took up positions near some fallen trees a little forward of the T-80 and helped the men in the turret out. After a few minutes of sitting next to his tank, Gavriil saw several MT-LBs coming forward. He guessed the Romn SAMs were still close. The man staggered up as one pulled up near his tank. Yuktobanian medics emerged to help better treat any wounded. Gavriil insisted he stay here, but he was told he would have to go back to get a new tank, which would be along in due time. Kedlavich and Daskal would go back with him, as would wounded from the four tanks the company lost. The redheaded Captain looked at Kedlavich as the young man lay in the back of the tracked carrier with his crew, almost completely burnt alive. The driver’s mouth was still hanging open, evidence of his screams as he’d tried to combat the flames. From what Gavriil understood, one of the rounds that’d hit had filled the driver’s compartment with flames. Soon his parents would be told how brave their young son had been, and how much the state was in debt to them for that. He hoped they wouldn’t openly view his body before it was buried.


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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:17 pm

    Wings of the Yellow Stag
    January 20, 1987
    Near Zoly Nomvia Air Base, Southern Yuktobania
     
              The young man shouted joyously and clapped in rhythm as he and his fellow military officers watched their squadron executive officer threw up his legs in a traditional Northwestern Yuktobanian folk dance. The small band accompanying them with music was doing pretty well, and there was good reason to be in such high spirits. The men, members of the Yuktobanian Military Air Forces (VVS) were preparing to strike and take back what was theirs soon. Though the plans of exactly what was going to happen were wrapped tightly in secrecy, it was heavily believed war was imminent. The local people had decided they would send their brave young men off with affection and well-wishing. Pavel had honestly only thought the Veruseans capable of this kind of enthusiasm, the suicidal bastards. Ironic, considering he was a quarter Verusean.
              Senior Lieutenant Pavel Cherborsk of the VVS 418th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 4th Guards Fighter Regiment, shouted again as Major Bychkov did the same. Such merry-making, an act usually associated with the Osean and the perception of them as uncouth “cowboys”, was a recent liberty the men had been able to take. They had been able to celebrate in the past, but not as often. The reforms brought about by Premier Mekhantyev had made their way into the armed forces very adamantly, and though the men could not drink tonight, especially not with war on the horizon, they had been pressed to feel less like puppets of the party and more like free men who served Yuktobania because they loved their home country. The dark-haired Pavel welcomed the change as a young bar maiden twirled by.
              She held out a hand and beckoned the exuberant Pavel to dance with her as some of the other officers also chose partners to dance with. He gladly accepted it and followed in step with her as they extended their arms and twirled around, still keeping up the circle as it went around the high-stepping Major. Tonight he would feel like a happy human being, and tomorrow he would make himself useful…
     
             
              “Wake up Tovarishch Cherborsk, we have work to do.”
              Pavel coughed and lifted his head towards the voice.
              “They haven’t even called us up for calisthenics, Tovarishch Lapin, go back to sleep and show patience.” He said. He wanted to make himself useful but sleep was important.
              “The call should be coming any minute…” Senior Lieutenant Andrei Lapin replied in a “mind you” tone of voice.
              Pavel let out a long breath as a speaker outside the barrack room door crackled softly and the sound of patriotic music surged.
              “Good morning comrades, good morning! Awake and greet another purposeful day! Today’s exercises shall be carried out in the gymnasium due to the cold weather conditions! All information regarding meals for today and flight assignments prior to this evening’s events shall be available at the gymnasium for you to view! Morning review shall be held in its usual location, as weather conditions will be clear today! That is all comrades, glory to our motherland!” A young voice boomed, music still present in the background.
              Deciding today a swim would be nice, Pavel collected his trunks, goggles and cap before exiting his room. Other officers filtered into the warm hallway, standing tall even as they yawned and awoke themselves. Pavel followed several men from his squadron down the stairs and to the doors facing the gymnasium for the officers’ barracks. As was often the case, the men started running as they were met by the cold air. It woke any drowsy individuals immediately, and the sound of a collective surge forward told them all it was time to make the “Polar Run”. It was only 40 feet to the desired building, but in the cold of January at Zoly Nomvia Air Base it could be numbing. The first to the doors didn’t so much push them open as they rammed them with the front of their bodies and stumbled back to their feet.
              After that the gaggle slowed and formed into their groups of friends and companions. Andrei and Pavel’s normal wingman, Sub-Lieutenant Ognjen Slevba, walked together to the lockers for their morning exercise.
              “Tonight we destroy the bastard Romns. The bastards have been clinging to use so long and now they spit in our faces? Disgraceful.” The balding Ognjen scowled. He’d always been known for his far-spaced, but notable, boughs of venom-spitting.
              “They won’t last long, I imagine. We know the makeup, doctrine, and morale of their air force. We did teach them tactics from our past, after all!” Pavel couldn’t help but laugh.
              “They won’t, we’ll crush their force in hours.” Ognjen declared.
              The dark-haired Pavel let his friend be angry; the man could control it. He made his swim quick that morning, only twenty laps, before he emerged from the water to check the information board in the pool area. The meals were of little importance to him that morning; the real question was the exact time of the briefing and any other flights that day. The base had been keeping up a defensive screen in conjunction with other facilities in the area to meet the potential of a Romn strike on them before the Yuktobanians could act first. It appeared that the 222nd Fighter-Bomber squadron would be the ones to fulfill the role of air defense today, and his squadron would be the ones to go into Romny first. Pavel smiled a little. Though he wasn’t enthusiastic about the concept of killing, he was honored to be at the front of what was about to happen.
              From there the men filtered back in groups to change into their uniforms for the day. Over their dark green flight suits they put on clothes suitable for heavy weather, to include fur caps, giving them the appearance that most associated with the typical Yuktobanian soldier. On his way to morning formation, Pavel let himself think about the girl he’d danced with last night, Jasna. She’d been a university student until her mother had fallen ill and she’d come home to help. A very smart girl; Pavel had told her to return to her studies when the time was right. The Union needed intellectual strength as much as it needed military and industrial strength. He smiled; Jasna and him would have to meet again. He reached the formation grounds: a wide courtyard facing a stage with the seals of the Union, the Armed Forces, and the VVS on its back wall. Photos of Lenin and the current premier, Mekhantyev, looked on triumphantly above those standing at attention. Colonel Ayhal Milkovar marched onto the stage with his adjutant and the Fighter Regiment’s Political officer in tow. Those gathered paid their respects to their country before the commander began.
              “Good morning, Comrades!” He boomed from a wooden podium. Their respectful silence was the reply.
              “I’m glad to see you all in good spirits today; we need them to conquer the challenge ahead. Our people need them to feel safe knowing we’ll stride into battle and uphold what is dear to them.”
              From his position, Pavel wasn’t sure what the Colonel was basing that assumption off of. Yes it was true, but no one was smiling or showing any emotion.
              “I cannot think of anything to say outside of what you all are well aware of, and what the VVS has firmly taught you. We’ve trained to fight the Oseans and their underlings for years! The Romn’s air force will be nothing! If we can build the plan to beat the imperialists, we can beat our own allies when they rebel against us!” He went on. The man looked down at the podium.
              “The premier and the party wish us the best of luck and commend us for our willingness to go! They believe that our spirit will give us all the more advantage to win!”
              Pavel saw through the message. In reality training and weapons were the determining factors. Some foolish concept like divine grace or luck had no part in it. With little more to say, the Colonel dismissed his men to begin the working day proper. Pavel worked in the maintenance section of his squadron, helping to ensure the engines and other systems of the squadron’s 12 MiG-29 “Fulcrum” (he liked the Osean name for it) fighters were in the best condition they could get. Part of Pavel’s love for the Fulcrum, especially the new S models the unit had gotten a few months ago, was its rugged design. It could take off from simple roads in almost any environment, and still match the sophisticated systems found on its contemporaries in the west, such as the much-lauded F-16. Pavel scoffed; the F-16 was a poor comparison with its one engine and lack of apparent long-range weapon. The F-18 Hornet seemed a more appropriate rival.
              From the squadron’s headquarters, Pavel walked close to the buildings until he reached a large, reinforced hangar with “VVS 418th Maintenance Hangar” written on a door. Pavel held up his free hand and pushed it aside, striding in and welcoming the warmer air. Maintenance hangars were the top priority due to the value of aircraft parts. He took a right and headed for an officer where Senior Sergeant of Aviation Sergei Logov, the squadron’s senior enlisted maintenance man, had his desk. Pavel also had his desk for the department inside.
              “Comrade Sergeant, please open up.” He announced loudly after knocking. There was only a brief pause before the locked door was opened (the new nature of the MiG-29S relegated some security for the time being).
              “Welcome, Comrade Lieutenant.” The rotund mechanic nodded.
              “What’s the status of our aircraft? Regiment command needs all twelve on standby for the escort tonight.” Pavel immediately said, tossing his hat onto the desk.
              “The aircraft are all in fine shape, Comrade Lieutenant. The only matter is that we will need to replenish our stocks of cold-weather lubricants soon. As you very well know, the change to combat posture means we use more than usual, especially in winter.” Logov reported, standing at parade rest.
              “Understood, I will approve the order as soon as I can.” He said. He looked at the man.
              “Are there any new matters? I know this winter in particular had been causing some problems for our aircraft.” Pavel asked.
              “We’ve been working as hard as we can, Comrade Lieutenant. I know the state won’t be particularly happy about any kind of failures at the start, where we’re entrusted to have almost total control.” Logov assured. He allowed himself a smile.
              “Of course a work camp wouldn’t be much different from this place.”
              “No, Comrade Sergeant, it wouldn’t.” Pavel agreed, still thawing a little from the outside.
              “And the wiring for the weapons?” He went on?
              “The best it’s ever been, Comrade Lieutenant. The ordnance department has kept the R-73s and R-27s in climate-controlled storage, as well.”

              “Good, very good. We’ll all appreciate it tonight, Comrade.” Pavel nodded…
     
     
              The twelve MiG-29S Fulcrums of the 418th Fighter-Bomber Squadron sat on the cold tarmac, bathing in a thin layer of anti-ice mixture while they waited for their pilots. Snow was expected over Northern Romny tonight at 4000 meters and below; the fighters and the Tu-22M bombers they’d be protecting intended to be well above that. Inside the building where the unit went about its administrative and personnel level business, the 12 men of the squadron that flew had been gathered to get the detailed information they needed on their duties for tonight.
              “Comrades, tonight we will be tasked with escorting a strike by Tu-22 bombers on the military base at Klapva. The Tupolevs, callsign “Obratnyy”, will be six in number; two will be turning back at a certain point if the four primary aircraft are in good shape to press the attack. The base itself is home to the Romns’ 378th Motorized Rifle Regiment, which command believes serves as the protector of the city of Slena.” Major Leonid Cheposk, the squadron’s intelligence officer, said. He quietly eyed the political officer in the room before continuing, looking for any bad signs. Seeing none, he continued.
              “We will screen ahead of them well in advance with part of the escort defending the bombers themselves. Despite training from us, we can expect the Romns to also have developed their own tactics, and with their older aircraft they may attempt to use large numbers to attack us. Don’t fight alone; you have allies, support one another. We will have the support of an A-50, which will be known on the radio as “Glubina”. IL-78 tanker aircraft will be waiting in Yuktobanian airspace to support you on your return trips, if you so desire. Check your notes for specific radio callsigns and locations.”
              Pavel checked his role in the flight. He would be part of the screening force with Andrei on his wing, flying under the moniker “Kvant 1-5”. It was also made clear, for the purposes of avoiding friendly fire, the positions of Su-27S “Flanker” fighter-interceptors guarding the border and MiG-25BM “Foxbat” defense suppression aircraft attacking in advance to further clear the way for the bombers and strike aircraft following them. They were expected to be challenged by Su-7, MiG-21, and MiG-23 fighters of the Romny Peoples’ Air Defense (RALD). Below, the threat of S-125 and S-200 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) batteries represented the foremost threat even after attacks by the MiG-25s. Anti-aircraft guns were expected to either be out of range or hampered by the weather.
              The final matter of business was, inevitably, the Oseans. Though not directly involved, their expeditionary tendencies meant Yuktobanian forces wanted to keep them in mind at all times. It was report that the two closest concerns, the visible ones, were a pair of Osean carrier battle groups. One, led by OFS Evergreen was in the Southwest Pacific, while the other, centered on OFS Eagle, was sailing in the Persian Sea. Neither was expected to come to the aid of the Romns, but the pilots about to strike south were well-advised to be aware. They were dismissed to get their equipment.
              Pavel carried quite a bit of gear. He wore extra layers to protect against the cold, especially at high altitude, as well as special fittings to defeat the force set by maneuvers he’d be carrying out in flight. Known commonly as a ‘G-suit”, the harness also allowed him to carry his survival equipment and oxygen system. Among the newer pieces of equipment he had was the Shchel-3UM, a helmet-mounted sight meant to increase the abilities of his R-73 missiles. The South Africans were the only other country to have such a device; it was an almost unreal development. Pavel could now fire his weapons much farther off boresight. Despite that much gear, he was still able to walk to get the final component of his things. He carried Makarov PM handgun in case they were shot down. The young man had never actually fired the weapon in anger, but he didn’t intend to put himself in that situation.
              The pilots for the mission walked down a long hall flanked by portraits of distinguished members of the squadron, as well as its former commanders. From there they exited into the frigid evening air and walked towards their MiGs. Avel put on his helmet as he walked out to help keep warm. Already he could feel the temperature surging for any inch of exposed skin. He wanted to move faster, but the small risk that there would be an errant patch of ice somewhere held him. He stopped in front of a MiG, side number 803, and approached the crew chief. In the florescent lights of the airfield, the enlisted man looked almost ghostly.
              “Is the aircraft ready, Toravisch?” Pavel breathed out.
              “Yes, it is.” The man replied, as eager as his Lieutenant to retreat to warmth.
              Pavel still had the matter of a personal inspection. Unlike far more complex aircraft of Osea and Usea, Yuktobanian jets were rugged and easy to determine the readiness of. Pavel fought the chattering his teeth desired as he gave the fighter his meticulous attention. He would be carrying four R-73s on the outer pylons and two R-27s on the inner pylons; he also had his GSh-301 cannon. The pilot hurried up the ladder into the cockpit…which was not much warmer than the rest of the world around. No matter, he could warm up using the heater and soon be perfectly fine. For now preparations were set forth to ensure the fighter was running smoothly. Pavel squinted as the gauges and displays in his cockpit lit up. The engines settled into a healthy screech as he closed the canopy and made sure he was secure.
              With his fighter in a combat-ready state, Pavel followed the other jets taxiing out towards the runway. The combat frequency was filled with quick, punctual bursts
              “ZN Aerodrome Control, this is Kvant 1-5…Requesting permission to taxi to Runway 1-R.”
              “Kvant 1-5, ZN Aerodrome Control, you are cleared to taxi to Runway 1-R. Hold at the entrance point.” A young voice from the control tower radioed swiftly.
              Pavel guided his MiG to the runway he’d been allowed to use and held as another pair of camouflaged fighters in his flight took off. Upon another blessing from the control tower, Pavel and Andrei rolled onto the runway and checked the conditions. Armed with knowledge of the wind speed and direction, the two were then cleared to fly. Pavel led the charge, bringing his two Klimov engines to maximum power. Andrei followed him closely, demonstrating the level of coordination between even two pilots. Pavel constantly checked his speed on his Head’s Up Display (HUD) as well as how much runway he had left. When he reach 290 kmh, the pilot pulled back swiftly on the stick. In a fluid, but almost violent, motion the MiG-29 pushed off the runway.
              Pavel made his climb immediately after his gear and flaps were in a position for actual flight, almost completely vertical. The raw, brutish force of the Fulcrum put a smile on the young pilot’s face. He and his wingman eased their rapid ascent so they would level out at 6700 meters above the land and adjusted their heading to the west of the base, where the flight was forming and sorting itself. The bombers, flying from Kabutska Air Base, were to remain north of them until the escort was formed proper. The sky that night was, as to be expected, full. The Yuktobanians had multiple layers of their overall strategy to defeat the Romny People’s Air Defense (RALD) and preserve their own dominance. Close to the border, Su-27s and MiG-31s flew patrols to keep any Romn aircraft out. Su-25s, MiG-27s, and Su-24s interdicted objectives close to the front line. MiG-29s and more Su-27s filtered southwest through holes MiG-25s had already cleared in the border’s airspace. Behind the fighters were Tu-22 bombers, and several types of support craft. Pavel’s group organized within their set timetable.
              “Obratnyy 2-1, this is Kvant 1-1, we are formed and ready to move to target.” Colonel Milkovar reported.
              “Kvant 1-1, this is Obratnyy 2-1, roger that. We are in formation and following your lead.” An unfamiliar voice replied.
              The MiGs formed out in a defensive arc around the bombers, some maintaining 6700 meters while others went to 4500 meters to preempt attacks by low-level attackers. Pavel was placed on the right flank at 6700. Outside the dark sky became clearer and clearer as his eyes adjusted. The RWR kept his attention reigned in for now, telling him the status of the Romn anti-aircraft weapons below. For now he used his Phazotron radar; the IRST (InfraRed Search and Tracking) lens just forward of his cockpit remained off. Below and ahead, he could see the scant bursts of AAA guns, but for the most part the missiles had been saturated by attacks. Suddenly his RWR began to increase its panic. Well, perhaps not all of them.
              “We have a Vega battery at vector 065.” Kvant 1-3 reported.
              “Roger that, all aircraft deploy countermeasures and break into pairs. Obratnyy, action to the left.” The colonel radioed.
              The formation broke apart quickly, flares and chaff leaving the aircraft as they moved from their stable flight paths. The Tu-22s deployed clouds of the measure, aluminum strips designed to confuse radar, as it was confirmed the long-range S-200s had fired on them. The older S-200s, known as the SA-5 “Gammon” to Osea and her allies, were fooled by the sheer amount that was dispensed. Pavel noted that none in particular had been fired at him; he wasn’t surprised. The Romns desired both easy kills and the more valuable targets. Nonetheless he kept his aircrafts energy and speed high, allowing him to be nimble against any missiles.
              The terrain below began to show signs of cities in the form of clusters of lights on the horizon. The flight of bombers began to increase their speed, using their computer systems to ensure their bomb loads would be delivered accurately. They started forming from their “V” formation into pairs so they could attack fast and avoid being a group target. The target was roughly 240 km away, very close at these speed, actually. But they were in for the next challenge; their A-50 warned them of contacts on its scopes.
              “Kvant 1-1, this is Glubina, we are monitoring aircraft taking off from the RALD base at Korpolisk. Vector is 207, 200 km away. We have spotted four so far, more will likely scramble.”
              “Roger Glubina, do you have any idea their type?” the Colonel asked.
              “We believe them to be MiG-23MS fighter-interceptors based on reports. Protect Obratnyy, Kvant.”
              “Understood…Kvant 1-3, take Kvants 1- to 1-6 and meet the attackers. Kvant 1-2 and I will defend the bombers.”
              “Roger that, Kvant 1-1.” Major Logonov replied firmly.
              Beckoning on his fellow men of the VVS, Logonov took the rest of the flight, Pavel included, and streaked ahead of the pack to meet the incoming threat. The MiG-23, the Flogger as the world knew it, was designed to intercept aircraft like the Tu-22. The MiG-29 would be able to overpower the machines in rapid succession. Pavel and Andrei were ordered to lower their altitude and execute and attack against the MiG-23s from the left flank of the RALD aircraft. Pavel armed his R-27s and tuned his Phazotron to target one of the MiG-23s. As the young officer had boasted earlier, the Romns were using older tactics that they had been taught by the VVS. The Yuktobanians countered immediately, and effectively. Andrei and Pvel moved further apart and began to ascend at the attacking aircraft.  Pavel listened to the electronic warbling of his weapons’ system as it reached across the sky and targeted one of the Floggers maneuvering against him. One, the wingman of the twoship they’d selected, turned into him to defend his leader while said leader went high and then into their charge’s direction. The aircraft tried to lock onto him as well, but Pavel and Andrei had over twice the range advantage on them. At 77 kilometers to merge, Pavel depressed the weapons release button under his thumb.
              “Kvant 1-5, Radar Launch.” Pavel reported calmly.
              In a brilliant flash of light, his left R-27 accelerated off the rail and towards the RALD fighter. The YAF pilot kept the enemy fighter, whose position was represented on his HUD by a green box, inside the “steering circle” that relayed to him the radar was guiding the missile. Distance was closing rapidly.
              “Kvant 1-6, dispose of your external tank.” Kvant 1-5 ordered.
              “Understood, Yezh.” Andrei said, applying his friend’s nickname.
              Pavel dropped the external fuel tank hanging between his engine nacelles and listened as his RWR told him he was being targeted. It was only a minute or two until the older MiG-23 got a lock with his own R-23 missiles. Pavel watched and began to pucker his lips in anticipation. Finally he saw an explosion in the distance and a streak of fire.
              “Look at them, they’re so confused and scared those few Vega sites didn’t even try to track us properly.” Ognjen jeered.
              Pavel looked around as he pulled above the burning wreckage of what had once been a MiG-23 and saw plumes rising vertically. Upon further examination he realized that the half a dozen or so “missiles” were aircraft. MiG-21bis fighters, commonly (and ignorantly) called Fishbed by western air forces, were rising up from low level to try and challenge the Yuktobanians.
              “Be advised Kvant Leader, we have multiple MiG-21s attack from low-level.” Pavel spoke up, switching to his R-73s. They were too close to allow his other R-27 time.
              “Energiya, maintain your distance from me, we’re going right.” Pavel ordered.
              The two MiG-29s left their ascent and turned to the right to engage a pair of MiG-21s that had come screaming up from below. Pavel felt himself grinning as his helmeted-mounted sight worked faster at acquiring his target, which shot above him He ordered that Andrei break from his lead and pulled back on the stick, screaming up and pulling his nose over into a upwards Split-S. The pilot snarled and grunted under the G-forces, piling up and varying as he entered into the classic realm of the dogfight, an art that had spread its ways across almost every corner of the globe since 1914. Pavel rolled so he was upright and kept the other MiG in his sights, which was now ascending to get even higher.
              “Glubina, Glubina, we have encountered heavy resistance.” Kvant 1-1 reported angrily.
              “Roger Kvant, we have additional waves coming in to help.” The A-50 replied calmly.
              Far away, Su-27s that had been guarding the border were pushed through the gaps to help. The long-range fighter interceptors carried more R-27s than R-73s, but they were highly debated as the world most agile fighters. The AEW craft coordinating the opening waves factored them into the waves of traffic moving in and out and handed four a vector to the MiG-29s of the 418th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.
              In the meantime Pavel could only keep himself and maybe Andrei protected. As the MiG-21 appeared in his forward area again, the pilot waited until one of his R-73s had a solid lock. As he had with the R-27, Pavel depressed the button beneath his thumb and made sure not to watch the flash.
              “Kvant 1-5, Infrared Launch.” He announced with a more strained voice.
              The nimble missile make a rapid departure after the MiG-21 as it rolled and then broke hard right. The missile followed the maneuver with some ease and Pavel and kept far enough behind to negate the issue. The back of the MiG-21 exploded. Pavel passed by and saw a flash from almost behind him. Another Fishbed had charged in to try and attack with what the VVS pilot could assume was an R-60 (he heard no radar warnings). The only modern AAM the MiG-21bis could shoulder…what a shame, what a shame. Pavel deployed flares from his more modern aircraft and turned into the attack, craning his neck so he could see the Romn. They passed by and Pavel leveled out and went higher. The radio was alive with line after line, call after call.
              Pavel listened with a growing from as he and Andrei ascended towards a fourship of RALD Floggers streaking overhead. They were dropping away rapidly, one after the other…but how many were there? Every one he’d shot down seemed to have been replaced by another. How many had he destroyed so far? Two, yes two. He rolled over and tilted the nose back, firing another R-73 with the help of his Shchel. The pilot rolled hard at the top of his ascent, feeling the air buffet the fighter as he struggled now to get into a good position behind the MiG-23s as they scattered.
              “Kvant 1-1, this is Molniya 3-1, we are approaching to help. What is the current priority?” an unfamiliar voice asked.
              “Concentrate on the MiG-23s if you can, Molniya. They intend to destroy our bombers. The MiG-21s are just distractions!” the Major called.
              “Where are the bombers?” Kvant 1-3 asked.
              “Obrantnyy is at IP for bombing run.” The lead Tu-22 promised.
              In the meantime another hapless MiG-23 fell to Pavel, largely in part to their predictable tactics. Maybe he had overreacted; this was getting easier by the minute. Suddenly his systems alerted him to a missile after him. Pavel reacted defensively, as did Andrei. Kvant 1-5 looked all around for the threat as he moved up and into the attack. As he reversed, flares in his wake, he saw a flash of motion. His eyes identified a MiG-21 as it streaked by, on a course to attack Andrei. Pavel made a hard left and put his helmet sight to use as he brought his aircraft to the angle need for a clean launch.
              “Energiya, watch out, you’ve got a MiG-21, six o’clock.” He reported.
              The RALD MiG fired two more R-60s, both at Andrei. The pilot turned into the attack, but the Romn had timed his two shots so that the second would go off at the Yuke as he was defending. Pavel moved fast, but he wasn’t fast enough to stop the enemy fighter, all he could do was retaliate with an R-73. The MiG-21 turned right and went hard to defeat the missile. In the meantime Pavel dared look at his wingman and friend one last time before he turned to follow. Kvant 1-6’s front end was covered in a blossom of flame. The pilot of Kvant 1-5 barred his teeth; revenge would be had. He kept after the damned Fishbed that had done this.
              The MiG-21 reversed and climbed. Pavel caught himself and used his training and better judgement. He only had one of each of his missiles left and his full cannon. The GSh would suit him far better for this. He switched to it and closed the gap between them as they climbed. The Romn used what advantages his simpler aircraft had against the more advanced fighter. The tactics seemed very proficient; this pilot was neither an amateur nor an average RALD servicemen. Either way, though, Pavel would have his prey. The man in the Fulcrum pulled back his nose and applied the MiG-29’s superior Angel of Attack abilities to get himself some lead for the gun. The MiG-21 rolled over and began to dive, denying Pavel an immediate shot. The YAF pilot kept himself a little slower to allow time to react and time to pull away.

              He still moved fast enough to catch the Fishbed as it tried to pull up again and make a hard left. The pilot of the MiG-29 snapped the gunsight into the path of the enemy fighter. With calm breath he pulled his index finger against the gun’s trigger. Pavel came at the MiG from directly above it and fired, running shells along the length of the fuselage. As sparks and tracers lit the craft for a brief minute, he caught sight of the pilot starting up at him. The Lieutenant could feel his glare for just a second. Defiant, but he put the defiance down. The man eased his MiG-29 up and passed the defeated jet. He checked his fuel, already aware of his weapons. It would be best if he started for home. Immediately though he felt a little angrier than usual. He couldn’t shake that stare…bastard Romn. Or whoever they’d been.


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    Ronin201
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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

    Post by Ronin201 on Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:11 pm

    Revised version of story


    Charge of the Treadheads
    May 17, 1995
    Schayne Plains, Southern Belka
     
              “Hey El-tee.”
              Second Lieutenant Christopher Harlen opened his eyes a little before he rolled either way to avoid falling off the turret of his tank. PFC Sandy Curtis, his loader, waited a few seconds before using the man’s unofficial title again.
              “El-Tee, you told me to wake you up about ten minutes before 0420.” He added on the third time.
              “That time already?” Chris asked, rolling onto his back. He raised his wristwatch and pressed the light for the screen. It was indeed that aforementioned time.
              The auburn-haired tank commander carefully unzipped his sleeping bag and eased out of it, staying low on the turret of the M1A1 Abrams until he was able to get to a box on the left side of the turret. From it he pulled his “Fritz Hat”, which he secured to his head. He then maneuvered to the back of the tank and eased down to the rear on the hull, armored vest in his possession. Once he was behind the tank, he slid on the vest and stood up. He then went back up the tank and retrieved his crossdraw holster which had his M9 handgun in it from atop all the gear stuffed in the bustle rack.
              From the hull-down position the M1s had to the left of the trees he sprinted behind the heavier woods and took a knee behind a bush. A soft-top HUMVEE came up towards the man, lights on low. Chris turned the flashlight on his vest off and on slowly until the vehicle stopped. He ran forward and got in the back of the machine. The Corporal at the wheel quickly turned around and bounded across the grasslands towards the command post for Charlie Company, 2nd Armored Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Osean 12th Infantry Division. Inside the machine, 2Lt. Seth Uller, 1st Platoon’s commander, turned around to greet his friend proper.
              “Morning Chrissy, ready to actually move into Belkan territory that’s worth a damn?” He asked.
              “Finally, I swear after Ustio I’ll just be glad to be on some open terrain again instead of clinging to highways.” Chris complained.
              The slog through Ustio, so far the biggest part of the 12th Infantry’s push north, had been shit packed into roughly half a month. The terrain of the country, save for some places (namely around the capital) didn’t favor the tactics of divisions that relied on IFVs and tanks. The Osean Airborne and Marines had a field day, though. Now it was once again time to move in large formations of armored vehicles, Chris reckoned.
              “Still no artillery?” Jean Horsaw, 3rd platoon’s commander, questioned as they passed through some trees.
              “I’ve heard jet noises all night between fits of sleep, so the airdales must be pounding em.” Chris offered.
              Their destination was hidden in a cleared pocket in the trees they were passing through. An M577 command vehicle, tents and more HUMVEEs of various roles where were Captain Norman LaBelle planned his fights. He was a good CO, a bit of a stiff but at least the squat redheaded had some experience. His tank was also present, nestled to cover against attacks from the direction of Belka. The four platoon commanders under him exited the HUMVEE as it stopped and hurried over to the tent near the M557 and a vanilla M113. Inside the Captain and a few of his aides were gathered around a map of the sector of the plains they were responsible for. The Lieutenants exchanged salutes with the man and took their seats.
              “Good morning everyone, I don’t have much to say Colonel Serling’s sent down orders from battalion; we’ll be moving into the attack by 0600. Our objective is to move north and break the first lines of defense that the 33rd Panzers have set up in conjunction with the 41st Panzergrenadiers. It’s a simple phase line smash, and we can expect the defenders to be mostly mobile. No bunkers, no concrete fortifications or anything like that. Expect dug-in tanks supported by infantry and in communication with their own fast air and arty.” He began.
              Chris, notebook and map in hand, multitasked while his CO went over the specifics. The village of Schroeder was to fall into the path of two mechanized infantry platoons they had with them. The battalion’s tanks would flank the M2 Bradleys and the riflemen inside and then after escorting them to the village close the gap and form their next line a few miles north. Chris’s platoon would be moving out in the open after some more groves of trees; the Belkans had situated the line so that attackers would, at some point, have to move through open farm fields. Fields that could be mined, which Seth seemed to be thinking about too.
              “What about mines, sir?” He asked.
              “We’re going to have artillery prep the area and chew up any mines, and battalion S2 is assuring me the Belkans wouldn’t even have enough time to adequately establish minefields. Especially not in farm fields, not unless they want to make that land uninhabitable. We’ll have the engineers on standby if we do encounter any hitches, though.” LaBelle answered.
              The platoons would move in two Echelon Left formations; in Chris’s (and 2nd Platoon’s) case he’d be just a little ahead of Seth’s tanks and on their right. The platoon’s themselves would be in Wall Formation so the field of fire in front was even. No one would risk hitting a friend in their platoon.
              “So what kind of hardware can we expect the Belkans to use, sir?” 4th platoon’s Jodie Wells asked.
              “Our scouts report Leopard 2A4s with a few Milan-equipped M113s in support. Further back they said they’ve noted SA-13s and ZSU-23-4s, which our COLTs will be lasing for a few special fires. Infantry will be expected to be carrying small arms and Panzerfaust 3s.” The Captain explained. Chris was glad that the Combat Observation and Lasing Teams would be present. The more accuracy the better.
              “Do we know if they have any Hinds out there, sir?” Chris had to ask. The lumbering Yuktobanian-built attack helicopter was the most hated thing a tanker could face. Chris dreaded any time there was a chance he’d see even one.
              “Intel passed onto us from the aviation brigade via division S2 confirms they have six operational aircraft. Rest have been hit by helos and fast air. This isn’t to say they may not have reinforced.” LaBelle informed him. Chris decided to assume the worst and hope their Chaparrals and Vulcans would be able to do something. LaBelle went on.
              “On that note, we will have close air support in the form of A-10s and F-16s. One fourship of F-16s, callsign Wyvern 1, will be making a preparatory run against the first enemy line while Wyvern 2 will be on call with Paveways and Mavericks. Four A-10s, callsign Mandrake 3, will be with Wyvern 2 to help. Two FACs, Wildman 7-1 and 7-2, will coordinate with you and the COLTs as targets are spotted. We’ll also have a Kiowa hiding in the trees, callsign Foxtrot 5-1. It’s gonna stay back until the AAA is out so don’t rely too much on it.”
              In total they’d have eight aircraft, four of which would be the Osean soldier’s best friend. The division’s Apache helicopters, when inquired about, were going to be hitting Belka further to the west, near the city of Gollënhelm. Questions were asked and answered: where would the COLTs be? Would the scouts be coming back through the lines anytime soon? How soon after stopping or taking the phase line would the tanks be resupplied? A few of the questions had to be given short answers or “I’ll inform you all when I get an answer”. The push against Belka was imminent.
              “Okay then, report back to your platoons and brief them. Sign for our advance after the arty drops will be “Dynamo”. Good luck everyone.” LaBelle finished.
              The lieutenants saluted their superior officer and left the command post. The same HUMVEE was waiting for them to return the soldiers to their tanks. As he was driven back, Chris heard the low screech of jets overhead.
              “Those sound like ours?” He asked the others.
              “I couldn’t tell you.” Jean shrugged.
              “If they weren’t we’d be hearing bombs drop, so I’ll assume in the face of no evidence that they are ours.” Jodie said.
              An explosion as they pulled up to where Chris had been dropped off suggested what might be going on. The commander of Wildman 2 hurried out.
              “Kick ass out there, Chrissy!” Sean yelled as the machine hurried off. Chris didn’t get to wish the same. He looked towards where his tanks were and began sprinting for his own track…
     
             
              It turned out the attack had been in the rear, the brigade headquarters. Chris had no way of knowing what kind of damage had been dealt or what had actually happened, but that didn’t matter for better or worse. The artillery was due to start hammering away in about eleven minutes. He’d taken the last watch shift for his tank, Heavy Honey, out of the desire to be ready in case anything went wrong at the last minute.
              “Okay everyone, up and at em. On your feet!” He barked through his CVC (Combat Vehicle Crewman) helmet’s boom mike.
              In the front of the tank driver Private First Class Jeff Saburo jolted into consciousness and blurted out a “yes sir” as he started to crank up the massive tank. Chris looked down at the gunner, Corporal Hue Jonesy, who was sitting at his station with a mostly-eaten MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) in his lap. The man almost knocked it over, barely catching the container before setting it at his feet, out of the way. The man took the meal’s dessert before he completely forgot the rest of the item.
              “Arm the gun, El-Tee?” He asked. Chris had just finished ordering the other tanks to crank up.
              “Yes.” Chris asked as he turned his screen to thermal. Curtis already had a Sabot anti-tank round loaded in the 120mm gun. He looked back down as Jonesy’s chewing bled onto the comms net a little.
              “I swear Jonesy, you get all gassy on us and I’ll have Curtis play gunner for a day.” The tank commander joked. He turned his head, half a chunk of turkey still protruding from his mouth.
              “Eww dons haffua wirri, Bell-C!” He said.
              “Didn’t your momma ever teach you not to talk with your mouth full?” Sandy retorted as he settled into his seat.
              “Didn’t you ever learn not to listen all the time?” the smart-assy native of Oured replied.
              With his own station full functional, the tank commander stood up in his cupola and checked his M2HB machine gun one last time to make sure it was locked forward for now. He didn’t want it moving around while they were on the move. He also checked Sandy’s M240 for the same reason, and found both weapons were loaded and ready to be brought to bear in seconds. He dropped back down, closing the hatch behind him completely.
              “Okay I’m going to platoon comms, signal me if something happens.” Chris announced. He was on the other channel again before the others could acknowledge.
              “Wildman 2-1 Actual to All Wildman 2 Victors, report in.” Chris demanded. He checked his watch again; artillery started raining in four minutes.
              “Wildman 2-2, status green.” Staff Sergeant Ethane Qualex reported from his tank, Steam Roller.
              “Wildman 2-3, status green.” Sergeant Anthony DeLitte spoke up.
              “Wildman 2-3, status green.” Sergeant Corey Jules said.
              Acknowledging their calls, the Lieutenant took the last few minutes he had to observe what was ahead of them. The scouts were now well behind the armored spearhead for their own safety, save for the OH-58 somewhere in the equation. Chris couldn’t see much in the way of anything; just dark farmhouses, uninhabited collections of trees, and a few craters from bombs and shells that hadn’t found their targets. He slid back down into his tank and buttoned up the hatch. The Lieutenant kept his displays set to thermal even as the dawn was crawling across the world. He checked his watch again before the brigade’s artillery swung into action. Two full batteries of M109A5 Paladins and a single battery of M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) laid out their punishment onto the Belkan 33rd Panzers and 41st Panzergrenadiers.
              So began the duel of artillery. The Belkans had their own systems, mostly SO-152s and FH70s, interspersed with Mercedes trucks carrying rockets. Chris kept his head as rounds landed near and far. Beyond his attention, grey-colored F-16s from Hampton Air Force Base were racing in from the east, moving across the line. Each of the four jets carried four CBU-87 cluster bombs with a mix of anti-personnel and anti-armor bomblets within. With their single pass came the main event of the day.
              “All Wildman Victors, “Dynamo”. I repeat, “Dynamo”; cleared to advance.” The Captain radioed.
              “All Wildman 2 Victors, advance in Wall Formation.” Chris radioed.
              The other tanks acknowledged and Saburo pushed the tank forward on command. They pressed at a speed that would allow them time to react properly but also kept them from being so slow they were a target. Chris scanned the outside by use of watching what Jonesy saw via a screen at his commander’s station and his own periscopes. The artillery died off, it seemed, as the tanks started to pass through the trees forward their last positions. Behind them, HUMVEEs with the COLTs aboard moved along steadily, destined to set up in two groves of trees just short of the open plains. The heavily armored tanks and IFVs pushed on ahead, looking for a fight. Everyone was anxious to get a visual on the Belkans first; the Leopard 2A4 and the M1A1 Abrams were about as close a matchup as you could get. They even used the same main gun, save for some local differences. Chris listened to the radio as he kept watching; it was still quiet. His eyes then spotted a silhouette, boxy in shape.
              “Gunner, identify! Leo at our twelve!” Jonesy called. He’d already ranged the Belkan MBT to ensure they could effectively hit it
              “Fire!” Chris shouted when he saw the digital number: 3800 meters.
              “On the way!” Jonesy punctually replied.
              With a squeeze of his right pointer finger, the gunner aboard Heavy Honey sent an armor-piercing round, commonly called “Sabot”, at the machine.  He’d aimed for the mantle around the gun barrel, one of the weaker points in the Leo 2’s armor. Chris ordered them to maneuver as soon as the shot was out, anticipating a shot from the Belkan. The Oseans were spaced out enough that they could maneuver while rolling and not collide. The Leopard 2 suffered a serious hit from the well-aimed shot, mortal Chris assumed when the gun didn’t fire a second, corrected shot.
              “Good kill, Jonesy.” Chris said over the internal comms. Curtis worked the chamber of the gun and loaded a fresh Sabot.
              The M1 bounded along like mad for the defensive line; Chris held his breath and waited for something to go wrong…but no mines. He didn’t question it and instead kept an eye on his part of the fight. They’d broken their little part in the first line of Leopards…he spotted a flash to his left. Out of habit Jonesy rotated the turret that way so the gun was ready. The Lieutenant bit his lower lip in anticipation.
              “…2-3’s hit, 2-3’s hit, down but non-catastrophic!” DeLitte reported after a burst of static, voice conveying he was dazed.
              “Kill that Leo, Jonesy! Fire!” Chris shouted.
              “On the way!” Jonesy replied, almost as if he were cursing the Belkan.
              As the gun rocked, Chris radioed back that an M88 would be needed on scene soon to help the stranded Abrams. The gun rocked again, revealed to be because Chris’s gunner had needed to send a second round out to finish off the tank.
              “All Wildman Actuals, this is Foxtrot 5-1, we’re settling into position to provide observation, how copy?” a new, unfamiliar voice said. Scattered calls off confirmation echoed back to the pilot over the fighting.
              Chris’s tanks reached the edge of the field, weaving through the burning hulks of Leopard 2s and a few surrendering Belkans who’d escaped their machines. Several of the tanks and APCs had been caught in an attempt to retreat, burning or now motionless with their back ends to the sky.
              “Uh Wildman 6, what should we do about these guys trying to surrender?” Sean asked.
              “…Move them on, I’ll push forward the engineers to round them up.” the Captain replied.
              “Wildman 6, should we slow advance to ensure they don’t try anything? Please advise.” Chris asked.
              “Negative, negative; continue advance.” LaSalle emphasized.
              Chris bit his lip again but didn’t protest. Instead he started searching for targets again and spotted several silhouettes in the distances.
              “Jonesy, I’ve got enemy Victors out ahead, can yah see em?” He asked.
              “Yes sir, looks like more Leo 2s.”
              “Okay, engage at will…”
              Chris noted there was quite a few, and the remaining M1s in 2nd Platoon wasted no time in firing and maneuvering. The Leos on the move did the same, turning it into a game of chicken. Who could hold their gun on whom the longest before they had to fire; first one to shoot won. It was the consequence of having two so evenly matched tanks, one could conclude. The terrain was so open there was almost no way to hide from anything. Chris watched from his console like it was a videogame of sorts, directing Jonesy where he could onto targets. To his right he spotted the village through the smoke drifting about in the breeze. A ball of flame blossomed up as someone shot an M113 trying to speed out of the village.
              The tanks started to slow as they passed the buildings while the M2s stopped just south of it and started responding to muzzle flashes in windows with their 25mm cannons and coaxial machine guns. Chris heard a few faint ricochets as his tank received small arms fire. His concern remained the Leopard 2s; they’d been effectively sent reeling in ten minutes of fighting, but the bastards had bloodied the Oseans’ nose well enough. Just about every platoon in the company was down one tank, total loss or no. Chris guided Jonesy onto a Leopard as it backed through a barn, collapsing the structure around it. Several of its brethren had apparently rallied around the facility, hoping to use what little value the buildings had.
              “Wildman 2 Actual to Wildman 1, I’ve spotted several enemy Victors positioning themselves around that farm. I’ll flank from the left.” He announced.
              “Roger that 2 Actual, I’ve got the right.” Seth radioed as Jonesy laid another Sabot into the Leopard that’d collapsed the barn.
              Under Chris’s orders, the three tanks in his platoon reoriented their fields of fire on the farm, searching for further Leopards. Chris watched as his tank sent two rounds into one of the long, squat buildings, which Jonesy pointed out as having muzzle flashes and a few Panzerfaust rounds coming from it. He switched to High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, talking closely with Curtis to make sure rounds weren’t wasted on overkill.
              “Driver…take us around that building just before the one the gunner hit.” Chris ordered.
              “Gotcha, sir!” Saburao said, moving the cruising M1 with ease.
              “Wildman 2-2, 2-4, flank far of it…put a round each into the structure.” The officer went on.
              “Wildman 2-2 roger.”
              “Wildman 2-4 roger.”
              “Wildman 1 Actual be advised, we’re moving to enter the farm from the left, how copy?” Chris added.
              “Wildman 1 Actual copies all. I’m chopping one of my tanks to enter from its southeast, 2 Actual.” Seth advised back.
              The Abrams that led 2nd Platoon  turned left, staying close to a steel garage that housed a few tractors. Chris eyed the burning hulk of a Leopard 2 as he spotted more tattered Belkan crewmen fleeing their machines.
              “Wildman 1 Actual, tell the tank you sent in with us we’ve got more POWs.” He radioed. Seth replied with a quick “Roger”, followed by a report that they’d spotted several Leos in a patch of trees a mile or so north of the farm. Chris decided it was about time CAS started rolling in and kicking some tail.
              “Wildman 7, this is Wildman 2 Actual, is Mandrake 4 available to make some runs north of us?” He radioed. There was a brief pause.
              “This is 7-1, 2 Actual, what do you need?”
              “We’ve got at least one group of Leo 2s north of Wildman 1 Actual’s position.”
              “Roger, ah, we’ll consult with 1 Actual. Anything else?”
              “Standby, 7-1.”
              Chris switched to his internal comms and was interrupted before he could ask.
              “Gunner identify! Troops near that fence, our twelve! Possible ATGM teams!” Jonesy shouted.
              “Driver, back us up! Gunner, Coax!” Chris ordered.
              Jonesy switched to the M240 mounted next to the main gun to spray the troops while Chris deployed smoke to cover them from the Milan teams. They were deployed along what almost seemed like s ort of grape vine, mixed in with shrubs and trees. As they moved into the relative safety towards the center of the farm, he got the range from the gunner and decided a single gun run from an A-10 would do the job. The tanks would be too vulnerable to the missiles until they were gone. That 30mm cannon on the Warthog would chew them up good.
              “All Wildman 1 and 2 Victors, avoid the northern farm field! Possible ATGM teams! Wildman 7-1, this Wildman 2 Actual, I have a target for Mandrake 4! Got a lot of infantry north of the farm, possibly with ATGMs! Need a gun run on em!” Chris called, feeling like he was talking to every part of the company at once.
              “Roger that, 2 Actual.” The FAC he’d been talking to simply replied.
              Through several coordination calls, both with the A-10s, the other FAC, and Foxtrot 5-1, Wildman 7-1 stacked up two runs. In the first, Mandrake 4-1 and 4-2 would attack the Leopards with two Maverick runs (one each), and then Mandrake 4-3 would make a single gun run on the troops. Jonesy kept the turret aimed towards the corner of the building they were hiding behind; Chris contemplated going out and manning his M2. He looked through his periscopes and spotted nothing.
              “All Wildman 2 Victors, I’m going out to man my Fifty. Watch for shooters.” He announced.
              “I’ll do the same, Actual, give you some cover.” Qualax announced.
              Chris cautiously opened the hatch and started moving his machine gun to the right, pulling down his goggles as he did so. Part of his reasoning was the possibility that infantrymen with Panzerfaust 3s would try to sneak by in the close-range confusion and hit the tanks in the universal weak spot: the rear. He looked around for places snipers might be, too. He couldn’t spot anything, and the higher places, places where snipers would have an advantage, were either exposed or destroyed. Nonetheless he kept his weapon swiveling and watched. His eyes caught something near a flatbed truck and saw a man with a G3A4 trying to take a shot at him.
              “Troops in the open, Caliber Fifty!” Chris called.
              The M2 made a deep, machine-like thundering as he tore up the front of the BMW and put a handful of holes in the front of the Belkan rifleman. He spotted another man turn a corner with a Panzerfaust. Chris engaged him, too.
              “Top, watch it. They’re trying to sneak Panzerfausts in close.” He radioed. He heard another M2 open up.
              “Understood, Actual.” The Staff Sergeant replied.
              After what seemed like an hour, the Warthogs were making their runs. He watched as the first A-10 eased in, an AGM-65 Maverick separating from its right wing, then another. The A-10 pulled up and two the left, flares arcing down as a precautionary measure. The event repeated itself as the second A-10 screamed in and launched its own Mavericks, the weapons flying down onto the Leopard 2s hidden in the trees. Then the third A-10, “his” airstrike, swooped in and made a quick run with its GAU-8 cannon. Chris heard the unique sound and craned his head to try and see the results. There was even more smoke, now.
              “Wildman 2 Actual, Mandrake 4-3 reports good effect on target. Good effect on target.” The FAC Chris’d been talking with radioed.
              “Thanks Wildman 7-1, same to Mandrake.” The Lieutenant replied.
              He slapped down on the turret enthusiastically twice and ordered Saburo to move forward slowly. The other tanks in his platoon were also pushed forward to reach the predetermined line they would form. He avoided examining the vineyard closely as they pressed through it, though he muttered an apology to the owners of the place. Seth’s platoon was moving to see if they could make use of the trees the Leopard 2s had hidden in. As the tank rolled slowly on, Chris heard something. A fast beating, low in volume put the pitch was high, almost like when a subway or bullet train went through a station.
              “Gunner identify! Hinds at our twelve!” Jonesy called.
              Chris reacted by swinging his M2 up and waiting for a target. He centered on a shadow as soon as he saw it and started shooting. The whooshes of what he could only assume were anti-tank missiles reached his ears.
              “Driver, maneuver!” He demanded.
              Chris kept up his fire as they narrowly avoided an AT-6 Spiral, hoping to damage something on the lumbering killer as it came into clear view. He saw it maybe a hundred feet off the ground, pushing confidentially against the Oseans’ armored thrust. As soon as he did, the Yuktobanian-built Gatling gun leveled at him and he dropped below, into the turret. The helicopter got off a sporadic burst onto the tank, doing nothing more than shaking up its crew.
              “Wildman 1-3 is down, catastrophic hit, catastrophic hit.’ Someone radioed. Chris gulped and pulled down the hatch.
              “All Wildman 2 Victors, stay buttoned up! Maneuver until we can get help!” Chris ordered.
              Chris’s platoon was in a bad situation, on open ground near a major enemy force and at the mercy of an unknown number of Hinds. The sound of dirt impacting the machine became almost as constant as rain as the helicopters made another quick run, though it didn’t seem like they’d concentrated all the helos against the company. Comfort could be taken in that, at least. Chris waited until he heard the vengeful roar of a GAU-8. He looked up at his hatch and drummed his fingers near its lever impatiently.
              “All Wildman Victors, this is Wildman 6, Mandrake Flight is dealing with those Hinds. Proceed to the phase line.” LaSalle ordered.

              Chris looked forward and ordered his tanks to form into a line and find some good ground to dig into. Just to the north their seemed to be an irrigation canal that offered some cover. Chris chose that for now and started thinking about how to go about defending their position. They were only a few miles into Belka, after all.


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    Re: Ronin's Oneshot Corner

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      Current date/time is Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:11 pm