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    TF Sea Dragon

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    Ronin201
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    TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:40 pm

    After talking about the rewrite a dozen times and stuff, it's here.

    Anyways this is the fic that a few people first found me through. I know Ace, Sho, and Garu did, at least. Originally titled "Operation Sea Dragon", this is the story of Eric's dad, Ryan Bradford, and his service in the Belkan War as an F-14 Tomcat pilot. The original was written well back in 2012, and None is Quiet's success has prompted me to rewrite this thing.

    As for my other pieces of writing, the long ones that span many chapters and stuff, you can find them here: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4996527/Ronin201

    Cause I dun feel like moving them now. >_>


    Last edited by Ronin201 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:41 pm

    Chp. 1: Warriors Without a War
    March 23, 1995
    Altaria Bay Region, Southwest Osea


            The couple picked through the thick brush towards what the young man claimed was a secluded spot.
             “Come on Harry, how much longer?” his red-haired girlfriend protested, concerned about how much longer until an errant branch snagged against her favorite blouse.
             “Not too much longer Louise, just be patient.” He smiled.
             The young man picked through a few more bushes despite the protests of his girlfriend and led her out into an open field. Compared to the words it was populated by soft green grass and gentle hills. She gasped with delight.
             “Oh Harry, it’s beautiful!” she gasped. He smiled and gently took one of her wrists.
             “Not as lovely as you.” He purred. She giggled.
             Neither had heard the low whine until it was practically on top of them. By that time, an accompanying gust of whirlwind swept up from behind. Louise screamed while Harry tried to spot what had just happened. As he looked up, shielding his eyes from the sun and grass tornado, he saw two triangular shapes flash by on a path towards the coast. He raised his fist to curse them, but they were already gone…


             Lt. Ryan Bradford hadn’t noticed the two kids for more than a second, and even then his only thought was acknowledging that he’d seen movement on the ground. His brain was focused on what was coming from his Radar Intercept Officer in the rear seat of their F-14B Tomcat.
             “What’s their position now, Razor?” He spoke up over the Internal Communications System (ICS).
             “Hummer just sent me a new data link; appears the group of bandits just got within 100 miles of the coast, Rocky.” Lt. Takeru Hinamoto replied, his head hunched towards his controls.
             “Okay, that’s far enough for a Phoenix, get me the angles for a shot here.” Ryan said as he reached down to engage the master arm switch.
             In the back Takeru switched on the AWG-15 and went to Track-While-Scan mode to fire one of their AIM-54s. Ryan looked at the other F-14 off his left side and gave him the signal to break off. Its pilot, Lt. (j.g.) Tom Kurt, nodded and banked his F-14 to the left. Ryan looked forward and pulled the stick up a bit to get his nose on the group of approaching aircraft.
             “Okay, I’ve got the lead bandit. Looks like a BM-335, standby…” Razor spoke up. Ryan waited as a Razor went through the final few motions. He did not have a clear indicator on his HUD, so he had to rely on the radar display for the big weapon.
             “He’s locked, shoot, shoot!” Razor ordered.
             “Firebird 105, Fox 3.” Ryan confirmed over the radio.
             Razor called out more targets locked, and Ryan punched off all four missiles in rapid succession. However, the weapons never left his plane, and in fact were not even aboard in the first place. Instead the radio came to life.
             “Referee counts four targets splashed by Firebird 105.” An airborne controller in the back of an E-2C Hawkeye reported among other calls of “kills”.
             The truth of the matter was this was an exercise, a simple flex of the muscles. Ryan’s squadron, The World Famous Fighting Typhoons (VF-115), was practicing against Osean Air Force B-52s pretending to be aircraft of the Belkan Air Force, given the country had been stirring trouble in the region, especially with Ustio. The OPFOR’s escort, probably one of F-15C Eagles playing it up as MiG-29s or Mirage 2000s, was next on the kill list.
             “Roger that Referee, requesting bandit dope on their escort.” Razor said, both Tomcat drivers knowing there HAD to be one.
             “Understood, we’ve got a bead on them. Count eight bandits on the same vector as the heavies, Angels 17. Looks like they’re about 70 miles out.”
             With his imaginary AIM-54s gone, Ryan switched to the equally made-up AIM-7s on his wing pylons. Razor switched to Single Target Track
             “Firebird 1 Lead to all Firebirds, engage the bandits at will.” The six-ship’s lead, LCDR. Chris Buckley, ordered.
    With the radio frequency being the same for both parties, Ryan signaled to Tom, telling him to draw the nearest bandits in while Ryan ambushed them from the side.
             Razor killed the radar and Ryan went to his fictional AIM-9s, though in reality he did have a single inert AIM-9M on his port Sidewinder rail, the ACM pod on the starboard.
             With the ECM keeping him updated, the blonde pilot craned his neck and searched for any specks in the scattered clouds and blue sky. He pulled back the throttles and slowed his F-14 enough to avoid missing something. Light gleamed off the black visor of his older HGU-33 helmet in an almost cinematic fashion as he disappeared into the glare of the afternoon sun for anyone to his left. Finally he saw a pair of specks below at ten o’ clock, around 17,000 feet as the E-2 had reported. He licked his lips and yanked the stick towards them, pulling back the throttles even more.
             “Fight’s on!” Ryan called as he came down from the sun.
             Ryan balanced the F-14’s energy carefully as its wings spread out at the slower speed. Osean F-15 pilots were the direct rivals of Osean F-14 pilots, and Ryan was not about to let these guys get him by the balls. He lagged behind them, hand ready to give the machine power the SECOND it looked like he might lose the advantage. They appeared to spot him as Tom entered Sparrow range.
             “I’ve got the lead guy.” The blonde declared.
             “Roger that, number two is mine.” Bull agreed.
             Ryan saw the lead F-15 in its two-tone gray snap upwards and pass over his wingman, prompting Ryan to roll his F-14 into a much steeper dive and adjust the throttles. He had Razor reactivate the radar with the jig up before his RIO turned around to check the tail area. Meanwhile Ryan pulled out of the dive as his adversary passed by his nose. The AIM-9’s aural tone began to perk up a bit as the Eagle’s tailpipes came into its general range of sight. The single-seat aircraft broke right, Ryan hot on his tail. All the meanwhile he was calculating the advantages the F-15 possessed. At this range, he had to avoid getting too close to the bastard with the F-15’s edge in maneuverability. Lag pursuit was his best friend.
             They seemed to be in a delicate freeze-frame as the two fighters began to go from turn to descent. On his HUD, the Sidewinder’s tracking was illustrated by a gun sight progressing towards the F-15 inside its TD box. The adversary released flares to delay the lock and pulled out just above the clouds. Ryan yanked back the throttles and brought the F-14’s nose up, keeping the AIM-9’s seeker pointed in the right direction. Razor wasn’t reporting much still, which was both fine by and mild unsettling by the blonde pilot.
             “Firebird 104, what’s your status?” He asked as the shapes on his HUD once again went for each other.
             “Engaged offensive with one bandit.” His friend assured.
             “Roger that.” Ryan said as he got closer to the F-15, which was now in a left turn as it slowed.
             The enemy aircraft deployed more flares to Ryan’s annoyance, but the inevitable conclusion of this fight was near. The Eagle driver had hoped too long to bring his Navy counterpart in close enough, and the shapes on Ryan’s HUD became one and the word “shoot” appeared in the corner. In his ears he heard a constant tone: missile lock.
             “Firebird 105, Fox 2. Splash one bandit. Kill on the Eagle in a left turn.” Ryan called. There was a brief pause.
             “Roger that, Harpoon 2-1, you’re dead.” The exercise’s commander aboard an Air Force E-3B Sentry.
             Ryan could hear the F-15 pilot grumble some unintelligible curse before breaking off the fight and confirming he was dead. Ryan broke off and looked around for another F-15 to take on. He keyed up the radio again.
             “Firebird 104, what’s your status?” He asked.
             “Uhh, Firebird 104 is dead…heh heh…” Tom admitted after a pause. Ryan frowned. Touché, Eagle drivers, touché…


             “Altaria Tower, Firebird 105 is on final approach.”
             “Roger that 105, bring her in.”
             Ryan eased the F-14 down towards the waiting runway of Naval Air Station Altaria Bay. Below, the inlets that lead to the Pacific Ocean flashed by without event. The pilot kept the fighter stable as he passed over the ILS and went below 100 feet. Ryan was no stranger to landing the Tomcat, but nonetheless he always took it carefully as he crossed the base’s outer fence and reached the point of no return. The F-14’s tires hit the pavement with a brief squeak, then adjusted to the rolling speed. Razor held on as his pilot pulled back the throttles and brought the F-14 down from 185 miles an hour to a near-crawl of 10. Ryan took the first right towards the ramp, where other F-14s were sitting in the spring sun. He pulled into place between two other VF-115 Tomcats and finally let the machine come to a stop.
             Ryan quickly took off his oxygen mask as he was guided into place. On signal from a ground crewman, he silenced the two GE-built turbofans and locked the brakes in place. The blonde reached down and lifted the canopy.
             “Nice ride today; three B-52s and a single F-15.” Razor commented.
             “Yeah, at the loss of our wingman. I’d like to know how the “Invincible Bull Kurt” fucked the pooch on that one.” Ryan said as he freed his dirty blonde hair from the helmet and stroked his left hand through the stuff a few times.
             “I’m sure if he doesn’t divulge the details, Samurai will or he will during the debrief. Gotta be brought to light sooner or later.” His RIO offered as he rose from his seat.
             Ryan maneuvered down the boarding steps and on to the ground, stuffing his helmet into his bag one his O2 mask was completely free from it and hooked to his gear. A young man, barely old enough to drink, came forward and greeted the pilot and RIO.
             “Good afternoon sirs, how was she?” Plane Captain Petty Officer Third Class Casey Washington asked.
             “You haven’t failed me before, and you haven’t failed me today, Wash.” Ryan smiled, patting the enlisted man on the shoulder. Washington’s dark-colored face contorted into a smile.
             “That’s what I’ve hoped to hear, sir.” He said.
             “Yeah, if this were an A, though, we’d be hard-pressed to have many flights where we didn’t feel at least a bit shaky.” Razor quipped.
             “I’d still make it fly, sir. I’ll make sure it’s ready by the next hop.” He promised.
             The two aviators left Washington to his trade and walked towards the buildings that were along the flight line while Washington ordered about the ground crew of Tomcat number 105. The two entered one of the larger buildings along the flight line where several of the squadrons based here had their flight gear stored and also did briefings and debriefings for daily flights. The first stop, however, was the locker room. Sweaty flight suits weren’t the most appropriate thing for even a simple debrief. It also felt nice to Ryan to rid his hair of the sweat that had accumulated from wearing his helmet for that long.
             The entire time he hadn’t said a word to Tom about his getting “morted”, as was the term. That was held until they were all in the locker room, donning their khaki work uniforms. Ryan looked at his friend as the man fixed his shirt.
             “Okay Bull, you owe me an explanation, how’d that Eagle get you?” Ryan said. The tall, muscular Tom seemed to freeze a moment before he turned towards his shorter friend and wave a dismissive hand.
             “He just got the advantage on me and morted me.” Tom insisted.
             “Dammit Bull, anyways I’m sure we’ll hear it when Buckshot or even Ranger asks.” Ryan said in an exasperated tone. Tom frowned.
             After making themselves look better, Ryan and his fellow aviators walked from the lockers and across the street to what was known as “Squadron Row”. Most of the units stationed at Altaria Bay had a building here that served as their “HQ”, and while most of their affairs did take place on the actual airfield, administrative matters were here. Each building was distinguished only by the sign out front and squadron logo on the same wall, maybe some additional individuality as well. VF-115’s gray cube Only individuality was a chipping mural on the side facing the runways depicting their jets since inception.
             With Buckley leading the group, they entered through the doors, acknowledging the duty officer, before walking to the left and down the hall to the two rooms the squadron used for briefing. They entered the first; inside were some desks, a whiteboard with markers, a podium, projector, and a TV up on the wall to play HUD tapes. The pilots all took their seats at the front, setting notes and such on the desks. Razor went to a mini fridge on the left side of the room and extracted water bottles from it, handing them out to the members of that day’s flight of six jets.
             Ryan was mostly concerned with how he’d handled the F-15 today. The B-52s had been shot down like any threat: target, lock, fire. Lumbering bombers were hardly able to defeat smaller, more nimble fighters over the water. F-15s, being one of the closer machines to a MiG-29 (frankly the F-16 was the best match), were a different story. Inevitably he’d been forced to play against the F-15 in its realm of the horizontal fight, whereas his F-14 was best in the vertical. Granted if you pushed hard enough and were smart, you could fight in the horizontal; hell F-14 pilots had too. Dogfights, although not all in the horizontal, often seemed to spend a good deal in that plane of space. Ryan noted how his Tomcat had handled today against the Eagle until Buckley, who’d gone to the front, stood up straight.
             “Attention on deck!” He called.
             The sound of spurs clanging announced the arrival of the man who lead VF-115. The pilots stayed still and ramrod straight as Commander Cody Walker, appropriately named “Ranger”, walked to the front. He turned around and returned a salute administered to him.
             “Take a seat, everyone.” The tall, lanky man drawled.
             Ryan sat down as Cody withdrew to the podium and set his notes on it. He looked at the stack of HUD tapes near the TV, then his subordinates.
            “Welcome back, everyone. Ah’ve been informed that today we get to send home a bunch of grumbling B-52 crews and a few F-15 drivers as well. The aircraft were intercepted, from what Ah was told, well before they reached the coast and even become a threat to their intended targets. Y’all then closed and defeated several more enemy fighters. As we usually do we’ll spend most of the time looking over what was done right and what could’ve been done better. Bull, Samurai.” He began.
             “Yes Skipper?” Bull asked.
             “It came to my attention that y’all were morted during a 1v1 with an Eagle today. If y’all and Samurai would be so kind as to come up and give some extra commentary while we watch your HUD tape?” He said.
             Despite his attitude earlier on, Tom was willing to stand up and talk (not that he had a choice). Keith said little as usual, joining his pilot up front. Cody took the VHS marked “Firebird 104 HUD Tape” and put it into the device underneath the screen, turning on the TV as he pulled away. He grabbed the remote and adjusted the volume before hitting pause.
             “Okay Bull or Samurai, whoever wants to start, mind telling us how you initially engaged the F-15?”
    Keith nodded and cleared his throat.
             “Rocky and Razor were our lead today, sir, and we had coordinated with them to attack a pair of bandits. The lead of the two had broken formation, going to the right towards them in order to get out of their forward quarter. Our target went left and climbed to get above us and close to where it could use its maneuverability. Bull if you would be so kind as to illustrate this.”
             Tom nodded and held out his hands, thinking for a second as he tried to translate the complex realm of air combat from his memory to his hands. In the meantime Cody had gotten the tape to the beginning of the dogfight. From there Tom didn’t have to do as much talking with his hands, and the picture was made clear.
             “Around here, as we were in a right turn, going into a rolling scissors, we had bled too much energy trying to turn tightly with the bandit. In order to avoid a stall, we had to increase speed and inevitably go on the defensive.” The RIO went on.
             The HUD tape showed this both with the speedometer, other sights, and the sounds. Ryan noted they were close to the F-14’s stall speed as they tried to turn back into the Eagle, and when they went into the scissors, said Eagle was very close. Tom, muttering an unintelligible curse under the Gs, had switched to his M61A1 cannon, but the adversary had flow out of his line of sight before it could be used.
             “After this I increased speed to avoid stalling. Consequentially this meant we had to shoot out in front of him.” Tom divulged, his hands still showing the mock duel.
             Again the HUD tape showed more. Airspeed went up and Tom reverted to his AIM-9s, but there wasn’t much to say after that. Ryan tuned in to the radio chatter for a moment.
             “Samurai, you still got him?”
             “Roger, he’s easing onto our six.”
             Tom broke to the left, into the attack he explained, and then began to climb in military power to get some distance and then get behind the F-15. As he was rising up, the room heard a single line.
             “Roger, kill on the F-14 in a climb…Firebird 104 is dead.” Tom admitted.
    Ranger stopped the tape and nodded.
             “Any final comments, boys?” he drawled. They shook their heads.
             “Well Ah think today we saw something that illustrates the need to embrace lag pursuit. The major mistake you both made was turning too tight and bleeding all or yer energy, which y’all can both agree to?” the CO said. Tom nodded.
             “Confident as I am in my abilities, sir, I can see what I did wrong.” He replied, not able to hold back a grin as he brushed aside the front curls of his blonde hair. The others chuckled.
             “Good. Remember that the F-14 is big; if y’all try and yank her like that, she won’t turn how y’all want. Hell son if you were in an A, your engines would’ve given up pretty quick. My advice in hindsight would be accelerate and get above him so y’all can come back down. Keep it in the vertical and if y’all do need to turn, have energy and lag behind him.” Cody said after the giggles had subsided.
    The two were allowed to sit down and Cody stood up to eject the tape.
             “Now we’ll go through the others and point out some other ups and downs. This is an equal-opportunity workplace, after all.” He commented.
             When Ryan and Razor’s turn came, they were chided mildly for actively going into a turning fight, but also commended for his use of lag pursuit and energy management. Ranger commented that they would be wise to think further on matters regarding turning fights. As Ryan had suspected, and when he’d asked, Cody did agree on his thoughts about how often turning fights happened. Ryan had flown and “played the game” of ACM many times, but it’d always been a matter that’d bugged him. Cody replied that it was something the Tomcat had to do, and could do well, it just took constant fine-tuning.
             Afterwards the pilots were eager to free themselves from the debrief as the workday was ending. Cody was willing to oblige after the formalities of dismissal. The pilots and RIOs again came to attention and waited while their CO had one last bit to say.
             “Well that ends business for today. Ah’ll see y’all all bright and early tomorrow for weekly squadron PT. After that we get our newer HGU-55s back from the paint shop. Dismissed.” Ranger smiled. The pilots filed out through the door. Ryan looked at Razor as they left.
             “Good job today, man. Know it was just some ACM training but still.” He said.
             “Thanks Rocky, same to you. So you and Mae gonna make it back here on Sunday?” the other man asked.
             “Yeah, that’s still the plan. My aunt’s gonna have the party on Saturday, then we come back Sunday morning.”
             At the same time, a large figure came up from behind them and wrapped its arms around them. No mistaking who it was; both gave their morted friend from that day’s events a look.
    “Hey, you two up for lunch tomorrow before the weekend?” Bull proposed.
    “Where at?” Ryan asked, looking up from his charts and notes.
             “I was thinking Walter O’Riley’s; I haven’t shortened my lifespan in about a month and I work out like a damned maniac at the gym to cover for it.” He said. He looked at Ryan.
             “Besides you could use the energy before you go off to ravish Miss Surf Queen.”
             “Depends, you paying?” the shorter blonde asked.
             “Hahaha, you’re a funny guy, Rock; maybe that’s why Mae loves you so much.” Tom replied sarcastically. Ryan smirked.
             “Among other reasons. Anyways sounds fun; I’ll see you guys then.” Ryan said before he went his own way. Tom shouted the time to him before he was too far off.


    Last edited by Ronin201 on Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:15 pm

    Chp. 2: The Curtain is Up
    March 24, 1995
    NAS Altaria Bay, Osea
     
              “Feels lighter, that’s a plus.” Razor commented.
              Ryan looked away from his helmet and at his RIO. The helmet, a newer HGU-55, lacked the total sheen of the older 33 that gave it a certain charm. At the same time, it still looked good enough. Ryan had kept his old livery, as everyone else had. Even in the modern day, Osean pilots sought a small personal tough where they could. Ryan had always kept his helmet midnight blue with red and white edges on the front. The wedges were now closer together, but otherwise everything was pretty much the same.
              “Yeah, it is lighter.” Ryan commented as he moved around his head.
              The pilots would retain their oxygen masks from the HGU-33 era, but now they could adapt their helmets to use Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). This would coincide with a planned trip to NAS Sapphire Valley’s Naval Air Strike Warfare Center (NASWC). The F-14, at the behest of the Osean government and the taxpayers, the Tomcat’s mission was being expanded to include the roles of strike and close air support. In late June the squadron was due to the center to learn how to work with the AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod and the Paveway bomb series, as well as how to deliver unguided weapons. That was if this situation in the east didn’t escalate alarmingly.
              “Welp, what’s say we go meet Bull?” Ryan asked, glancing at his watch as he set down the helmet so it could have the standard black-tinted visor attached.
              “Thought you’d never say anything, I’m starved.” Razor agreed.
              The two took Ryan’s car off base to meet their friend at Walter O’Riley’s was a diner in Altaria Bay, about ten minutes away from the main gate of the base. Tom was already there at one of the window-side booths. His friends took their seats across from him.
              “Already ordered, Tom?” Ryan asked. The man motioned to a half-empty cup of Coke.
              “Just that.” He said.
              The two sat down and ordered their drinks. Tom took out a cigarette and put it between his lips while his friends glanced at the menu.
              “So did you guys read this morning that talks broke down again over things in Ustio?” He asked, looking for some kind of conversation.
              “Yeah; Belka’s playing hardball.” Razor commented.
              “Yeah, I mean yesterday we launched an eight-ship, man. Something’s up.” Ryan said. Tom nodded and lit his stick.
              “My guess is they want the Pacific Fleet on standby as well just in case. The Belkan military has been building up; at least enough to have us running exercises. If they hadn’t, only Atlantic Fleet units would be learning to intercept incoming raids.” He commented, opening the window next to them so the smoke could filter out.
              “Yeah, though the Belkans probably wouldn’t be able to reach this far without some serious trouble.” Razor chimed in. He looked at his pilot.
              “If memory serve right the brief at the start of things said they have a small bomber force.” The Shimo-Osean added.
              “Yeah they center mostly on air defense. MiG-29SEs and Mirage 2000Cs; their domestic market hasn’t really produced anything, so they’ve imported. After that it’s tactical aircraft.” Ryan said, thanking the waitress as his Dr. Pepper was delivered.
              “You three gonna order anything to eat?” the waitress asked, producing her pad and paper.
              Ryan settled on a southwest-style patty melt and downed half of his soda before he said anything else.
              “The thing that bugs me about this standoff is just that: it’s a standoff. Can go good or bad. It can be just like the Leasathaian Embassy Siege in 63 or like the Futuro Crisis in 85.”
              “Yeah…on the bright side it might keep us away from Sapphire Valley.” Tom offered.
              “The lesser of two evils, my dear Bull. The Tomcat is a purebred fighter; it is not meant to deliver laser-guided bombs. Leave such silly forays to the members of the Intruder and Hornet communities!” Razor countered in a mildly theatric manner. The trio grinned at the break in tension.
              “During July, no less. Not the best time to go flying but eh.” Ryan said.
              “Heat doesn’t matter when you’re the high up. If you have to bail over the ranges then you’ll be in for a shit time.” Tom said, taking another drag from his cigarette. Their food arrived; Ryan lifted half of his melt and took a bite from it.
              “At least we’ll be back in time for Miss Razor to have her husband by her side when she pushes out a beautiful baby girl, eh?” the shorter blonde smiled, patting his RIO on the back.
              “Four months, man. Amika Hinamoto will be her name.” Razor said, unable to hide how proud he was to be a father. His squadmates were happy to oblige him.
              “What about you and Mae, Rocky? Got any plans?” Tom asked. Ryan’s head snapped towards him.
              “Who, me? Come on man, Me and Mae got married two months ago; let a guy settle into things before he start bugging him about offspring.” Ryan insisted.
              “I know gals like Mae, and they want a kid sooner or later. Might as well get it done while you’re young before it becomes a chore to even get you up.”
              “Yeah but by then we would’ve had a kid or two. Sides, when are YOU gonna settle down and find an actual girlfriend?”
              Tom stubbed his deteriorating cigarette into the ash tray and waved a hand dismissively as he lifted his burger from its basket.
              “Hey I’m still very much a young man, and the world is blossoming and brimming with bosomy beauties. I’m not ready to settle down JUST yet.” He protested with a light smile.
              “So who is the latest fling of Bull Kurt?” Razor inquired as they ate.
              “A lifeguard, he name’s Jamie. Saw Top Gun and thinks every Tomcat driver is better than doing Cruise himself.” Tom replied.
              “Hope she wasn’t too disappointed when you swaggered up.” Ryan chuckled.
              “Bite me, Rocky.” Tom retorted flatly. His friend just gave him a cheeky grin…
     
     
              Ryan rolled up his 68 Mustang’s windows as he left NAS Altaria Bay for the weekend. Behind him, the flightline sat mostly in silence. NAS Oured Bay, the East Coast force’s main hub, couldn’t say the same. That evening, according to the news, things were in deadlock between Ustio and Belka. Ryan was surprised they hadn’t stuck at least one carrier in the bay. Then again, President Banister was keeping Osea a neutral party, especially in the wake of the “Great Lakes Scandal”. All these exercises were defensive measures against the possibility Belka would attack them as well. Not even the National Guard, outside a few air units up north, was really worried. He reached down and decided to forget about things by flooding over current events with Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover”.
              He slowed at the first stoplight in the sleepy military town, thinking about the brunette waiting for him at home. Marine “Mae” Bridger, who’d recently become Marine Bradford, had been expressing her desire for a long weekend with him. He’d enjoyed over ten years of being with her with plenty of love. The only real challenge had been her dad had been a Marine, an F-4 pilot when the two had first met in 1982. He’d been a Major back then, and Ryan, though an upstand young man, was the son of a Navy Lieutenant Commander. Oh the scrutiny that’d been poured upon him by not only the Safety Officer of VMFA-52, but by several of its other members. Mae was like a daughter to many of them.
              He felt happy to be married to the spunky surf girl that currently made her living as a secretary. The pilot navigated his Mustang towards a few blocks of apartments nestled a few blocks from the freeway. Their abode was on the beachside side of the second floor, close to the center of the floor. Mae was picking at some leftovers at the kitchen table when he came in. Her head looked up, causing her to look up.
              “I’m home.” He announced.
              The brunette, dressed in tracks shorts and a maroon hoodie, left her seat and wrapped him in a hug as he entered the living room.
              “Welcome home, Flyboy.” She said.
              “Glad to be here.” He replied before kissing her.
              He went into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
              “So what leftovers are still free?” Ryan asked.
              “Not the Sapin, that’s what I’m eating…but the pizza’s still in there.” She said.
              He nodded and withdrew the cardboard box from the appliance, as well as a beer. He set a few pieces of the hardened food on a plate and put it in the microwave with a glass of water to soften the stuff.
              “So how was work?” He asked, leaning against the counter as he waited.
              “Quiet, nothing much more than department reports. The company wants to try an easy its way into The Great Lakes Region with the scandal blowing away. Figures it can have a leg up with never being involved in the whole thing.
              “WY Corp wants a piece of that, eh? I thought they were more interested in trying to build robots.”
              “Nope, they’re also interested in building a better world.”
              Ryan withdrew the pizza and joined his new wife at the table. They shared small talk about the upcoming weekend and their lives.  Mae didn’t say much about the current political situation; Ryan had no reason to push that front, and didn’t. Instead something else caught his attention as he considered a beer tonight before calling it early. Mae had taken her dishes to the sink, and innocent enough act, but she had made a show out of the movement of her hips. Ryan’s eyes lifted towards her face to try and catch any expressions. Sure enough a very predatory look reached him. Mae wasn’t frequently horny, but when she was she was. Oh if Nicholas Bridger ever saw that look on her face he’d have a heart attack. It was there long enough to be seen by him before she looked away and returned to normal.
              Ryan decided to tease back and pretend not to notice immediately, instead taking a piece of pepperoni off one slice and eating it solo. He looked towards the balcony.  The sun was setting, causing some light to spill in.  He stood up and walked towards the doors, staring out the clear doors. He looked towards Altaria Bay for a minute at the jets lined up on the ramp. He then looked back at Mae, who was still waiting. Deciding now it would be a good time to stop torturing the poor girl, he turned towards his wife and walked to the kitchen. His eyes ran up her figure before attacking. To say Mae was pretty, at least to Ryan, was an understatement. She might as well have been a fabled Aphrodite from the myths that’d come out of ancient Southwest Usea. Ryan had always been a boy attracted to balance in a girl’s body. Mae’s athletic nature, especially in her highschool days, had led to her figure having a nice balance. From top to bottom he found her perfect.
              “See something you like?” She cooed.
              “I do, and I’m more than happy to get it.” He replied, taking a few steps towards her.
              The pilot seized his wife around her waist and kissed her, pulling her hair scrunchie off. Her high ponytail fell down and her body became a bit limp, but she still managed to slid her arms across his back. She pulled away from the rough kiss and felt him easing up her hoodie.
              “I was hoping we’d get in some fun before we were within audio range of my dad…and this is only a warmup for before you run off to the desert and leave me alone and horny.” She growled, reaching south.
              “Oh you can bet I’m gonna give you that.” He uttered into her left ear.
              “You better, Ryan, or else you’ll be sorry.” She gasped.
              He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom, turning off the lights behind them as he went. She kissed his neck and tried to get his flightsuit off as much as she could before they got inside. Once she was on the bed, the brunette tossed aside her hoodie and revealed there was nothing under it. Her face became predatory as she sat up and reached out to him.
              “Come and get me, Flyboy~” Mae purred.
              He got his boots off and hurried to her side. She crashed her lips against his and furiously got to work getting off that flight suit of his…
     
     
              “Polaris 2, Polaris 2, this is Heirlark, we’ve got bogeys. One solo at Heading 079, 90 miles, Angels 9. Second is a group of two at 085, 140 miles, Angels 21. Standby for orders, how copy?”
              Captain Luis “Luchador” Royez glanced at the Master Arm switch in the cockpit of his F-15C Eagle, but held back on flipping it up.
              “Polaris 2-1 copies all, orders?” He asked.
              There was a pause while things were figured out at Heirlark Air Force Base. In the meantime Royez looked to his left as his wingman, Captain Everett Lanes, went up the “hot” leg of the Combat Air Patrol (CAP) station they were flying. He pulled the stick to the left and brought the Eagle to the left. As he went towards Belka, the radio came back to life.
              “Polaris 2, Heirlark, close with an ID the bogey if it enters our airspace, then escort it out.”
              “Roger that.” Royez nodded.
              With a call to “Pegasus”, the lead Eagle pilot made one more turn to the left so he could have more space to approach the bogey.
              “Heirlark, say weapons state.” He added.
              “Polaris 2, Warning Yellow, Weapons Hold…Warning Yellow, Weapons Hold.” Was his answer.
              On the ground, the base’s complement of MIM-104 Patriot were being brought to bear against the potential threat. A single bogey narrowed down what kind of threat it was, exactly; you didn’t make anything outside nuclear strikes and suicide attacks alone. Then again someone in Belka could be yanking their tail to get them to shoot or testing their system for future reference. After a minute they managed to identify it as a Mirage F1CR recon jet, and the two other aircraft as MiG-31B Foxhound interceptors. The Mirage was trying to get low and  out of sight, but the number of radars on the older airframe was preventing that. Chief among these were the two F-15’s pulse-doppler radars.
              Royez and Everett lowered their fighters towards the thick forests and hills of the countryside near their base, hoping to spot the Mirage somewhere in the darkness. Another check revealed they were 50 miles out. He had the guy on radar…but he wanted some kind of visual ID. At this rate the BAF intruder was inside Osea airspace, warranting an intercept and escort out. His prime concern wasn’t the Mirage, though, it was the Foxhounds. He was willing to bet they had AA-9 Amos long-range missiles, which could go farther than any air-to-air weapon on the Eagle. His ECM told him they were peeking over the border with their radars, too.
              “Polaris 2-2, go high and challenge those Foxhounds; I’ll get the F1.” He ordered.
              “Roger lead.” The other Eagle said.
              As he broke off, Royez again adjusted his path of travel to stay on the Mirage. He had it firmly on radar, in fact it was trying to deploy chaff to defend. Then the radio came to life again.
              “Polaris 2, you’re cleared to splash the bogey that’s crossed the border. Repeat, splash the bogey that’s crossed the border.”
              Luis’s actions were swift in response. He selected his AIM-120B Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and changed his F-15’s radar mode to Single Target Track. It took a matter of seconds for the APG-70 to properly lock the Mirage. He dropped his three external tanks as he was achieving full lock before maneuvering more aggressively to engage. The pilot rolled steadily into a dive towards the Mirage as it gave up hugging the ground and burst towards the sky like a rocket. He increased the throttles and brought the nose steadily up. With a quick breath, he achieved lock and fired one of his AMRAAMs.
              “Polaris 2-1, Fox 3.” He announced.
              The weapon was pushed off its station and sent towards the fleeing jet. The older Mirage was nimble, but still at a disadvantage against its adversary. Royez broke right as the Mirage tried to reverse its turn and avoid the missile, prompting him to shoot again. At the same time, the RWR told him the Foxhounds were coming to rescue the recon jet.
              “Heirlark, Polaris is requesting permission to engage the Foxhounds.” Royez declared.
              “Negative Polaris, do not engage unless they cross the border or fire upon you, we repeat, do not engage unless they cross the border or fire upon you.”
              He cursed the blockheads sitting all comfy in their control rooms and whatnot as he watched the two missiles converge on the Belkan aircraft. As the fireball started to erupt, the MiGs took their shots. Royez deployed chaff and began ascending to give himself more room.
              “Heirlark, we’ve been engaged by the Foxhounds; attempting to return fire.” He radioed.
              “Understood, Polaris, you’re cleared to engage.”
              The AA-9 was a fast missile, but the Eagle’s agility and power meant it could have a chance at evading the weapon. Royez deployed more chaff as he understood where the missiles were coming from exactly. The pilot put his fighter perpendicular to the weapon, and then moved towards the sky to its respective right. He checked in with Everett and found he was still up, countering the missiles on him. Royez could see them now, streaking towards where he’d been seconds before. They kept going until his RWR nodded off. He turned towards the threat to find the MiGs were heading to the east.
              “Heirlark, remaining bandits are bugging out.” He radioed.
              “Roger that Polaris, stay on station while we see if that Mirage pilot is still out there.” Their base radioed…
     
     
              Ryan Bradford had always been weary of phone calls at unholy hours of the night. As a combat pilot he expected them to come sometimes when a crisis arose, but he never welcomed them. The dirty blonde sat up as the device rang and took in his surroundings as he gained awareness.They were both still naked, smelling of lustful actions and bodily fluids. Their clothes were still scattered about near the room’s entrance. When he picked up the phone, it wasn’t that bad an hour, though: 4:30 AM. Mae and He were due to wake up to go to Penn Hills in about two hours.
              “Bradford Residence.” He said, trying not to sound too tired.
              “This is the VF-115 Duty Officer, the squadron is being recalled, sir. Do you acknowledge the order?” A voice said. It was most likely an enlisted man; he would’ve recognized one of the pilots.
              “What’s up?” Ryan asked without thinking.
              “I cannot share that at this time, sir. Do you acknowledge the order?” the other side pressed. Ryan rubbed his forehead.
              “Right, sorry. The order is acknowledged, I’ll be heading there as soon as I’ve showered and dressed.” He said.
              As the line went dead, he felt Mae’s fingers pressing across his left leg.
              “Who was that?” She asked, also trying to become alert.
              “The squadron, we’re being recalled for something.” He said, reaching for her hand.
              “…Come again, Ryan?”
              Ryan decided to take a few minutes to hold her hand and repeat what had happened when she was a bit more alert. The woman shook her head repeatedly.
              “No, no no no no no…you can’t leave, not now.” She declared.
              “I’m sorry Mae, but I have my orders.” He said as he stood up to go to the bathroom.
              His wife frowned as he left and closed the door behind him. She hurried to get some clean clothes on, not bothering with her messy hair, and went into the living room to check the TV, seeing if it would provide answers. She was satisfied immediately. Images, labeled as being from the capital of Ustio (Directus), showed that half the city seemed to be on fire.
              “Okay Gerald, are you back with us?” a female voice asked.
              “Yes, yes I am Kathy. It appears that last attack had quite the shockwave…I think it hit the National Treasury.” A male voice replied. Mae guessed the dark-skinned man in the corner was “Gerald”.
              The camerawork was dampened by the fact that it was still dark outside and that very few lights seemed to be on. It was clear that there was shooting going on over the city, and according to the commentary from Gerald, the Belkans had raided the capital. Kathy chimed in that they had reports several other places had been hit across Ustio, as well as Osea. Mae, who’d been curled up, leaned towards the TV at the mention of Osea’s state. At that time Ryan came out, turning on the kitchen light from the end of the short hall. Mae only had the fan light over the table on; she jumped when another came on.
              “What’s wrong, Mae?” He asked.
              “Dammit Ryan, you scared me!” She scolded, tossing a pillow at him. The soft object bounced off as he came over to her.
              “Come on Mae, what’s wrong?” He asked, pulling her close.
              “Ryan, Belka attacked Ustio…and us, Osea I mean.” She whispered. He looked at the TV screen and frowned. Immediately a number of questions came into his mind, but he also understood what was tugging him back to Altaria Bay.
              He stood up and headed back to the kitchen. Checking to make sure he had everything on him, the man decided he would get food at the Burger Royale as much as he hated fast food. Mae was near the door before he left.
              “Ryan…” She said. He pulled her close.
              “It’s okay, Mae. It’ll be okay.” He consoled. She pulled him close, squeezing her husband tightly.
              “I love you.” She said.
              “I love you, too.” He replied.
              She wanted to tell him not to go, but Mae knew better. Ryan left the apartment and went straight to Altaria Bay. The first sign things were really bad were the Marines that guarded the gate. Generally they carried handguns, but nothing more. This time as he came through, he found they were in full combat gear and being a bit more thorough with their searches. The second was that he caught an orbiting pair of F-14s off the coast. He could guess they were armed, too. After getting something to eat, he arrived at the squadron building, which seemed to be losing its head. The Duty Officer directed him to one of the briefing rooms. The TV was on, with the same thing at his home being told. The first person he found was the XO, LCDR. Joseph “Wolfy” Varell.
              “Good to see you, Lieutenant. We’ll brief as soon as the Skipper gets here.” He replied after the formalities. Ryan nodded and took himself and his brown paper bag over to Razor, who was also with Keith and Tom.
              “Morning ladies.” He commented casually, setting the bag on the table.
              “Going on a fast-food binge?” Tom asked with a cocked eyebrow.
              “Hey I ordered the healthy stuff today, sides I got called in on short notice.” Ryan commented as he took out the food.
              “So anyone know what’s going on? Directus has been hit, I know that. Mae also mentioned we’ve been attacked to some degree.” He added.
              “From what I know, two F-15s up near Heirlark got into a tangle with a Mirage and some Foxhounds, and the same thing happened southwards with a pair of ANG F-16s, except they got splashed.” Razor said.
              “So I guess the Belkans got tired of negotiating?” Ryan asked.
              “Fucking Belkans.” Tom frowned.
              “But how does that warrant our deployment? Have we been invaded? Isn’t this why we have Fighter Wing Atlantic?” Razor commented.
              “From what I’ve heard they got hit very hard. The Belkans know we have military power, so naturally they’ll want to suppress it.” Keith replied.
              “So I guess that leaves us…” Tom pointed out.
              “And that means we’re going to be going in to hit Belka back.” Ryan pointed out.
              “At the very least we’ll be performing punitive strikes against the Belkan military in retaliation for whatever damage they did to the Atlantic Fleet. Most likely we’ll secure Oured Bay as well.” Keith went on, picking up a Styrofoam cup full of coffee.
              “Give us a couple of months and we’d be doing strike, too.” Ryan added.
              The group discussed the situation further, occasionally referring to the TV. Apparently the Osean military had swung into action already. Reports surfaced of actions along the eastern border, mostly in the air. Very limited things, and much of it was very vague. As more thought was being given to what was going on, the second in command stood up straight, his eyes widening.
              “Attention on deck!” Wolfy called.
              The squadron, now all assembled, stood up straight as Ranger entered, looking rather stern-faced.
              “Be seated.” He said, letting a thick folder rest on the podium. The man sighed and looked at his pilots.
              “Well…Ah never thought Ah’d be in this kind of situation…mostly because Ah foresaw it as involving Yuktobania, and back then Ah wasn’t a squadron CO. Most of us know but Ah’ll repeat it: Belka has begun offensive air operations against both us and the Republic of Ustio.” He started off. The man withdrew a pack of cigarettes from his flightsuit and stuck one in his mouth as the projector was brought to life.
              “We’ve had the OAF and OMC cutting bridges and hitting Belkan ground formations since the first strikes, and containing what they can. One of these strikes dealt our naval forces a major blow, which is why we’re here. An attack the likes hasn’t been seen since the Eruseans jumped the Nords in 1938. All carriers in port at the time were damaged to the point it will take several weeks, if not months, for repairs.” He began. Intelligence Officers Lt. Robert “Professor” Yulet and Lt. Ashlynn “Ash” Litgathe were motioned up to help.
              Images were shown of the damage. The three carriers were all billowing black smoke and even fire as they sat in Oured Bay. It wasn’t a pretty scene to those whose aircraft was the first line of defense for the ship.
              “Three carriers from the Pacific are being sent to the area to secure the bay. The rest of the Atlantic Fleet has to keep up their responsibilities, and with us being rested and ready, the choice was obvious. We will be making a rapid deployment aboard OFS Stinger in 24 hours alongside OFS Hawk and the new OFS Kestrel. Until then we’ll be on standby to repel any raids as well as planning for this deployment.” He went on. VF-115 was part of Carrier Air Wing Five, which since 1983 had flown from the deck of the Hubert-class carrier Stinger.
              “We’ll be changing over to wartime ROE, and as such we will be receiving permission to engage any and all Belkan military forces. We will receive further mission details and specifics as times goes on. For now we plan and prepare.” Cody added. He looked at the others.
              “Ah’m also going to arrange what Ah can for y’all to see yer families before we leave. Don’t worry, you’ll get to tell them all yah love em before yah leave.” He reassured. The man turned a page in the folder.
              “Next, our intel department will tell us what they know about the current Belkan military threat, primarily fighters, AAA, and their ASM capabilities.” He announced, looking at the two lieutenants.


    _________________

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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:32 am

    Chp. 3: Bon Voyage
    March 25, 1995
    Altaria Bay, Osea
     
              Ryan was given two hours to go home and see Mae around 1 PM that afternoon. He had a brief conversation with her prior, like many, to tell her what was going on, but otherwise he had to stay on base. Most of his time was spent doing work as the Junior Operations Officer. The Operations Officer, Buck, and he had spent much of their time prioritizing the most dangerous targets and the ones that were the most vital to the Belkan military. These were incorporated into the overall plan against Belka. One of the major plans brewing was that to secure Oured Bay. The large body of water, though snug for three carrier groups, would be a major supply route and more direct avenue of attack against Belka from the south. Furthermore, the attacks against the Atlantic carriers in port meant it needed to be secured. There was reason to believe Belkan ships were heading south, moving around near the coast of Nordlands, to reach the bay. Intel suggested the carrier Njord was possibly with them.
              The F-14’s role in the war was going to be somewhat specialized. Since very few F-14 units, VF-115 included, had properly gone through the training to employ even unguided bombs, the machine would most likely play the role of fighter until the end. As a secondary mission, they would employ their TARPS (Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System). Coincidentally, Ryan flew one of the two TARPS birds in the squadron. Buck had imagined they might drop bombs if the need was urgent, but the general expectation was that the wing’s two F/A-18 squadrons, VFA-215 and VFA-28, and its single A-6 squadron, VA-67, would do most of the ground pounding. Ryan and him had set up in the office they shared, a map of Belka pinned to the wall. By the time his Mustang was pulling into the apartment complex’s parking lot again, Ryan’s mind was filled with the names of the BAF’s primary fighter and interceptor bases as well as the details of its bomber fleet.
              He noted the presence of a familiar 1983 Dodge Diplomat in one of the guest parking spots. The window sticker for VMFA-52 told all. He hurried up to his home to find that Nick Bridger, as well as his sister Angela, her husband Will, and their daughter Carrie had come while he was away planning war.
              “You look beat, Ryan.” The ex-Marine said as he approached the pilot who’d just walked in.
              “You can probably imagine, sir.” Ryan replied, accepting the handshake he was offered. The pilot looked around at the others. Will and Angela were on the couch, and Carrie was getting up from her seat to come and hug her uncle, or at least one of his legs.
              “Uncle Ry!” She exclaimed as she embraced him. The blonde managed a smile and knelt down so the redheaded four year-old and him could talk.
              “Yo Short Stuff, how’s it going?” He asked.
              “I didn’t think I’d get to see you this weekend, but now we get to come visit you!” She replied.
              “Yeah, glad you came.” He smiled sadly, standing back up.
              “So how long ago did you all hear about things?” He asked his father-in-law.
              “Around 0800; news said the Air Force and National Guard butted heads first with em, and then they jumped Ustio before launching against us.” Nick replied.
              “Yeah, apparently NAS Oured Bay and Fighter Wing Atlantic got some of the worst of it. That’s why I’m being called up; otherwise this would be handled by the East Coast guys.” Ryan explained.
              “How soon do you leave?” Angela asked from the couch, standing up as Ryan walked into the kitchen.
              “Tomorrow morning; they have to get the carrier and her escorts ready. I’d also assume we aren’t the only carrier leaving; most of Altaria Bay is running around trying to get its act in order.” Her brother said.
              “So where’s Mae?” He asked. His wife had been on his mind for some time.
              “She’s on the balcony…she’s talked with us off and on. I think she’s trying to figure out what to say to you.” Angela replied, lowering her voice.
              “We can leave if you need.” Will added. Ryan looked at the man.
              “Yeah, if you don’t mind…I think I need to talk to her alone. I’ll call you up from the lobby when we’re done.” He said.
              The visitors nodded, and despite Carrie’s protests retreated from the abode. Ryan walked to the balcony and found Mae sitting on the single lawn chain they kept out there, dressed in shorts and a tank top. She looked up at him as he came into view.
              “Hey there.” He said, offering a smile. Mae pushed herself from the chair and seized him.
              “Welcome home.” She replied.
              He immediately kissed her and sat down with her on the lawn chair. Mae curled up against him and he held her close.
              “I have to leave tomorrow morning, very early…” He said. She looked up at him like he’d just announced he was going to die.
              “No…no no no no no.” She repeated.
              “Mae…” He replied softly. She shook her head.
              “You can’t be going, no! I’m not agreeing to this! I’m your wife, dammit! You can’t just go off and fight and expect me to wait at home quietly, sending my love!” The woman scowled.
              “I don’t expect you to be quiet, but I expect you to understand. You married a sailor, and you have to accept the whole package.” Ryan told her.
              Mae didn’t say anything for several long minutes. Eventually she poked him so he’d look at her. The blonde looked down at the brunette as she pushed some of his hair back. She gave him a long kiss before she said anything.
              “I’m not accepting that you’re leaving, but I still love you and recognize I can’t stop you…just be careful, please.” Mae whispered. He nodded.
              “I will.” He assured.
              The two spent a few more minutes together before the rest of the family was summoned back up. It was decided Mae, for her own safety, would leave with them and go further west. His sister agreed, and Mae decided it was best. Ryan would be gone either way; she would be best being in a safer place, too. Ryan found himself summoned back onto the balcony to talk to his father-in-law.
              “Well sir, I’m not sure what to say.” Ryan confessed.
              “Are you scared, Ryan?” Nick asked. The skinnier man looked at his older counterpart. Even in his older years, the ex-Marine still kept a barrel-chested appearance to himself.
              “Uncertain, sir. I can’t tell exactly how this can play out in any way. I’d never thought Belka would be the country I’d fight, either.” Ryan replied, straightening up. Even in the wake of the Cold War, Yuktobania or one of its proxies were considered the primaries threat.
              “Good, that’s close enough. I can’t think of anything else to tell you, son. I wish your old man could be here to tell you something else, but the truth is you’ll just be hearing the same thing over and over again: trust your training and your warrior instinct. Embrace that fear; it makes you human. Every single guy going aboard that boat is scared like you.” He said.
              Ryan nodded and stood up. How long had it been since a person from his family had gone to war? His dad had been the last in 1972, and he’s gotten to go down with his F-4 near the Leasath border. Nick had never fought a war, only prepared to against Yuktobania.
              “Good luck Ryan, and come back home in one piece.” The older man finished, facing him. Ryan faced his mentor and nodded. From one warrior to another, the two embraced…
             
     
              The OFS Stinger (CVN-45), home ported in St. Hewlett, sailed through the mid-morning waters off the coast of southwest Osea. For the time being her escorts, one Ticonderoga cruiser, two Spruance-class destroyers, three Perry-class Frigates and a single San Marina-class attack submarine were positioned in a circle around her to maintain a solid defensive line. One of the Perrys was close to the carrier, acting as a “Plane Guard” in case anyone went down. One of the carrier’s HH-60Hs was also aloft. The ship already had the majority of its crew aboard, now it just needed its primary means of waging war.
              Lieutenant Commander Rick Bluto, one of CVW-5’s Landing Signal Officers (LSO), had been brought aboard early to help get the rest of the wing onboard. He stood on the LSO platform, staring into the blue sky. The next aircraft was approaching his realm of control; he raised his handset and depressed the button on its spine.
              “Tomcat on approach, Mothership, call the ball.” He said.
              Ryan looked towards the LSO platform, actually beyond it. His eyes spotted a series of red and green lights, coined the “Meatball”, that would guide him onto the deck.
              “Tomcat 105 ball. State four-point-two.” Ryan nodded, conveying his fuel state. He looked down one last time to make sure his tailhook, landing gear, and flaps were in the right position.
              “Roger that…okay 105 ease up on the power, you’re coming in a bit fast…” Bluto said as the F-14 approached.
              Ryan grunted and pulled back the throttle for his jet, aiming to balance the F-14’s speed. Below, the deck of the massive combat ship was still coming slowly, even though he’d be aboard in a few minutes.
              “Keep the wings steady…steaaaady…” Bluto urged in his best “sugar talk”.
              Ryan breathed and did as he was told, again referencing the Meatball. In the back, Razor said nothing; right now he was just along for the ride. The deck got bigger and was coming up faster…ironic that the term “bigger” applied. He was aiming for a space only a handful of yards in size.
              “In the groove…”
              The LSO’s call was what he wanted to hear. That was it; he was gonna make it…
              “Looks good!”
              Ryan braced and went to full power as the F-14 slammed onto the deck of the Stinger. If his tailhook missed, he needed to get back into the air. Much to his relief, the F-14 stopped, held back by the steel cables set down to caught it. He eased back on the power and looked to his right for the plane director to guide him out of the way. A man in camouflaged pants, “Mickey Mouse” helmet, and a heavy yellow shirt motioned him towards the bow of the ship. Ryan eased the F-14 across the deck and with some help was positioned near one of the elevators forward the carrier’s island. Washington and his crew were waiting for them as they shut down the jet, lifted the canopy and unmasked.
              “Welcome aboard, sirs.” He said.
              “Good to be aboard.” Razor commented as he unstrapped from the machine.
              Ryan dropped to the deck and handed the aircraft over to Washington before he and his RIO walked to the rear of the aircraft. Ryan glanced at the F-14’s tail, which had been bathed in a glossy black and then emblazed with the unit’s blue and white hurricane symbol and the wing’s tailcode. It gave him some pride every time he saw that, and hopefully that pride would do him some good with whatever was coming. He wondered for a second if this would be a “one-strike war” as many talked about. Conflicts or situations where those involved flew into battle one time and then peace was back in effect. This seemed bigger, but anything was possible. The Futuro Crisis had been several days and rather big, with plenty of action.
              The two descended some steps, first down onto a catwalk, and then into the ship itself. They made their way down to the hangar deck, where other jets were being parked, and walked across the way to reach the area where the ready rooms were. Ryan weaved around the nose on an F/A-18 as it sat with its wings folded, soon moving under the tail of an A-6. So much firepower, he thought. Every time he thought about how much it could do, a small shiver rode his spine. The pilot cast one last glance towards the assortment of jets in the hangar deck before he went through a hatch and into the space he’d been heading for. More hatches, with unit badges and their full titles stenciled on the doors lined the left side. He stopped at one with the same patch as the one on his left breast. He opened it and led Razor into the space.
              Inside, several of the crews had gathered while others were still landing. The ready room was notably smaller than the meeting rooms ashore, due to the need to save space on a carrier, but otherwise structured the same. At the far left corner was the exit to the lockers for gear, and there was a desk towards the white board for the duty officer. Ryan walked down the center aisle to reach the lockers to store his flight gear before he returned to the main space.
              “So you snag a three-wire?” Tom asked as his friend approached.
              “Yeah, from what I hear CAG’s watching everyone land. No one trapped before him. You?” Ryan explained.
              “You bet; I’m not screwing up again after that Eagle got me and especially not when CAG’s watching that closely.” Tom nodded vigorously.
              The TV mounted up in the corner of the room showed the jets as they came in one at a time. For now it was VF-115, as the VFAs and VA had come aboard long before. He waited quietly for Ranger to trap aboard the carrier; he couldn’t tell exactly which one was the Commander’s from the small TV and speed with which the jets hit the deck. He only knew when the usual formalities of a superior officer were run through. The man in charge made haste for the front; they had a lot to cover.
    “Welcome aboard, all. Ah’ll keep the debrief short; anyone who got a bad grade gets to have a special talk with the Wing LSOs.” Cody began. He pointed to the map.
              “In order to reach Oured Bay, we’ll have to make a rapid transit around the very southern part of the continent, which will take a few days. In that time we’ll be refining our battle plan and our general skills. Despite the easing of tensions, we can expect the Yuktobanians to watch us in some capacity. We’ll get the specifics when we get closer to Oured Bay, but as the situation stands the Belkan Navy is gonna get in largely unopposed thanks to raids against our ships in port. The remaining forces will do what they can to slow the Belkans, but don’t expect it to be much given their current conditions.”
              For now that was the meat of the debrief. Until they got closer to the actual fighting, the first priority was to keep the carrier and her escorts safe. It was mentioned that the battlegroup would be one of three, which along with the helicopter landing ship (plus flotilla) OFS Kirwin Islands and the command ship OFS Eratosthenes would make up “Task Force Sea Dragon”. The other two carriers were the older Gulford-class OFS Hawk (CV-44) and the fellow Hubert-class OFS Kestrel (CVN-30). The task force commander would be aboard Kestrel. Cody dismissed his pilots and RIOs to get settled into their bunks and staterooms. Ryan would be sharing his stateroom with Tom this cruise. The junior pilot being the bigger man meant he got the bottom. He seemed rather wired as Ryan entered, setting up the space for the long haul.
              “Bring any good tapes or CDs?” the spiky-haired blonde asked.
              “I brought part of my collection; couldn’t grab much in the rush to get back to Altaria Bay.” His friend replied.
              “Either way I’m gonna get what sleep I can; this is the best time to grab all the Z’s possible.” Ryan added. He let his bag fall next to the bunks and climbed to the top with the hope of getting maybe an hour of sleep…
     
             
              Mae had decided to take her own car since her dad’s Dodge would be full. The 92 Camry hummed steadily along Highway 18, the Pacific Road, two bags in the back. She’d packed the things she’d need, and had also decided to clean out the fridge. Her father and in-laws, who’d stayed at a hotel overnight, helped her by having an impromptu family meal before Ryan left that morning. This way they wouldn’t come back to a decrepit fridge and get dinged by the complex for it. She shook her head; it was just reminding her that there was no set time on how long Ryan would be away. Normal deployments, even with the risk of the world turning upside down, were often easier to go through. Ryan would leave and she would worry, but she could push herself on with the thoughts of him returning on a generally set date. He could be away for much, much longer with this, maybe so long she…
              Mae shivered visibly. That was one of the things she feared the most: forgetting what Ryan looked like. Looking at him the day he came home and feeling like she was embracing a stranger. She’d taken the time to keep about half a dozen photos with herself of the blonde pilot. While her father may not have particularly understood why she was behaving this way (She loved him but he’d always been rather abrasive about this kind of thing). She’d taken mostly ones from the walls and dresser, save for one. Both of them carried a special picture of the other in a more intimate setting. Taken with one of those cameras that spat out the photo instantly, she’d actually cheated and coaxed two out of him. One was both of them in bed on their honeymoon, Ryan cradling her while she held the camera above them. The next was in the same setting, but just of her husband giving her bedroom eyes.
              Her eyes caught ships out off the coast; their bright colors identifying them as Coastal Patrol Flotilla ships. It was further evidence the war was exploding across the region, Mae thought. On the Highway, life was normal as traffic from the morning rush to work petered out. Her job, though displeased with her, had accepted that she had to leave town longer than her original request due to a “family emergency”. Mae didn’t plan to be gone for long; just until she could safely return. It was going to be…tricky, to say the least. The company understood war was descending even on Osean territory, but they would still want to run things best they could. She would have to be back in Altaria Bay in a few days
              The brunette exited the road and entered the town of Hope Creek. Unlike Altaria Bay, the town was bigger thanks to a few major companies of various flavors that’d planted themselves here. Mae looked at the taller buildings as she furthered herself from the highway. Her own destination was in one of the residential areas on the far side of town. The woman navigated the morning traffic to a neighborhood called Gullman Heights, a series of houses that had first been built in the 50s. She passed the single-story homes, most of them bathed in shades of white, until she came to one she’d lived at when she’d been younger. She stopped in front of the place and got out. About a dozen memories of her teen days here jumped at her, half them including Ryan. Mae trembled; this really was far too much despite all the talk of being ready. Her brain had become enamored with him as he sailed off into danger.
              The woman shut the car door behind her and walked around to retrieve things from the right side of the vehicle. Her sister in-law exited the house and approached her. The two hugged.
              “Be strong, Mae.” Angela managed.
    Truthfully she was breaking down herself. The only one that seemed to be devoid of tears was the retired Marine who’d fathered her. Or was he? Mae knew he’d never let people see him cry, ever. Bags with her, the brunette sighed and followed Angela; sleep was the only thing she could think of…
     
     
              At 1130 local, the final piece of the armada that was to retake Oured Bay was in place. Fleets this size hadn’t been seen since the 1940s. Even at the height of the Songolian Civil War in 1968, it’d been nowhere this big. The entire world quietly admitted as the five capital ships and their entourage of escorts and helpers sailed south that the Belkans would have to dig in and hit at every turn. Already the Oseans were more numerous of the two navies, and despite the fact that the Belkans did have submarines, they had precious few Type 206s to use. Their largest ships, besides the supposed Njord, were three Kirov-class cruisers. Each one of them possessed what the world had deemed the ultimate “carrier killer”: the cruise missile.
              Due to the threat, each group of ships was separated by roughly ninety miles, resulting in most of the Eastern Pacific being put under temporary Osean control. The Yuktobanians, generally eager to spy on carriers as they left port, remained silent. As a show of good faith, Prime Minister Grigori Ultov had held back. It was one less thing Vice Admiral Stanley Harris, the man chosen to lead the mass fleet into battle, had to worry about. From his command space aboard OFS Kestrel, the man stared at the plot chart for the entire southern part of the continent. The Marines and command ship would be at the rear, the carriers up front. OFS Stinger’s battlegroup would be the leading formation.


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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:23 am

    Chp. 4: The Searchers
    March 28, 1995
    OFS Stinger (CVN-45)
     
              Ryan quietly studied the position of the symbols on the slide as it was set on the projector. The battlegroup was going wide of the bay entrance, as logic would dictate. His eyes noted that NAS Granite Point was also in play. The place was a P-3 base…what did they have to offer? Ranger offered the answer.
              “Before we can destroy the Belkan fleet, we have to get its exact location and map out proper avenues of attack against its behaviors. Now, the good news is we’ve determined that the Njord is not with this fleet; intel suspects the Belkan Navy is holding her in reserve well up north.” Cody began. He took a dry erase marker and circled Granite Point.
              “In the meantime we’ll be working with P-3s from Granite and our own S-3s to track the southern fleet. Over the next few days, until the higher ups get a good handle on where the bad guys are, we’ll be flying CAP for our snooper friends. It’s a fair bet the Belkans will be looking for us too, especially our carriers. We’re going to be keeping the boat as far from Belka as we can to make them really stretch it, since the Belkans have precious few tankers to play with.” He added. The slide was changed to a smaller scale diagram of the group’s disposition and the majority of Oured Bay, including the Futuro Canal.
              “The basic setup is this: we’re going to deploy four dedicated patrol aircraft for each hop: two S-3s from our own wing and two P-3s from Granite. Our E-2 for the hop will also multitask and detect what it can. Getting to us, we’ll have two jets with each aircraft working with a pair of F-18s from one of our two strike squadrons. VA-67 will be the go-to guys for gas, what with VS-37 doing searching. Anything Ah’m missing, Buck?” The CO explained, looking over towards the Ops O.
              “I was told last minute we may get some backup from VAQ-327, but no promises.” He replied.
              “Right, so that just leaves us with our potential enemies and moving on to flight-level briefs, pending who didn’t get the short end of the stick.” Cody remarked, noting the flight schedule. Ryan had checked it first thing upon arriving for the brief; he was flying today with Bull. One of the perks of being the Ops JO was he got to fly often. The slide changed to two photos of airfields in the desert.
              “According to the intel we’ve been passed, the BAF snatched a pair of air bases around Futuro. Ah’ll tell y’all from my days during the 85 crisis, they can support modern jets that the BAF have. These images are fairly recent, too, thanks to an SR-71. Images show they’ve deployed MiG-29s and MiG-31s to these bases to defend their main patrol bird, the Tu-142 Bear. Most of y’all should be familiar with this machine. The best things about it are despite its range and detection abilities, it’s big, slow, and defenseless when its escorts are gone. Our best strategy is to therefore use our F-18 brethren to tangle up any bandits and get a Phoenix off its way. Our priority targets are the Bears, but the MiGs are just as important if they try to intercept our own snooper aircraft. Ah must reiterate how we’ll fight their more nimble birds: lag pursuit and vertical fights.”
              Bull seemed to shrink a little as the Commander’s eyes passed over him. Ryan gulped down a snicker as the briefing reached its end. The individual flights split up to plot. Ryan and Razor, along with Bull and Samurai, would be protecting an Orion and Viking in the eastern part of the patrol sector for the sortie. They’d be joined by four F/A-18Cs from VFA-28, the Warlords, and Firebirds 102 and 110.
              “Bull, Rocky, you’ll be with the Viking since we’ll have you on the outer CAP station. We wanna keep the Orions as far from any BAF fighters that come in as possible, understood?” Wolfy asked.
              “Understood, sir.” Ryan nodded.
              An examination of the XO’s flight charts showed the search aircraft would push directly north for much of their run before making a turn to the left towards the mouth of the bay. The Tomcats would screen forward while the Hornets were further back, defending the flanks and rear.
              “Hornets know where they’ll be?” Razor asked.
              “Yes, they have the same charts as us. Now as the Skipper implied, we’ll be packing Phoenixes, along with a full gun, three Sparrows and two Winders. Our AWACS for today will be under the callsign “Roadster”. Two Intruders will also be aloft to give us gas along the newest track we established yesterday.”
              “And the Prowlers?”
              “Unfortunately they won’t be with us today.”
              Then where would they be? Oh well, it wasn’t Ryan’s place to wonder; he had more important things. The flight was organized, Ryan and Razor getting the label “Firebird 2-3”, and then the duty officer, Martin Bradley, relayed they were cleared to head to the flight deck via a red phone on his desk.
              “I’m counting on you, Razor…” Ryan told his RIO.
              “Makes two of us.” The RIO replied. Neither dared remind the other of doing their jobs; that much was obvious.
              Outside it was still early morning, not even the sun had risen more than a quarter over the horizon. The jets, still dark shapes until your eyes adjusted to the dark, arranged on the deck looked less like machines and more like odd combinations of angles. Fighter pilots didn’t usually fly with night vision goggles so they could move their heads quickly; bulky NVGs made that hard. Ryan had also chosen his usual dark-tinted visor in anticipation of the rising sun. He greeted Washington after carefully navigating the dim flight deck to his plane, who reported over the din of the launching E-2 that the F-14 was in top shape. Razor immediately clambered into the back of the cockpit while Ryan walked along the left to do the mandatory pre-flight inspection. He really rusted Washington’s word, but for a few reasons, both personal and professional, a pilot always inspected his aircraft. The affair looked more like a professional photographer getting all gushy over their subject, though Ryan was very calm. He crawled and knelt, felt things and knocked against them. Ryan carefully ran his hand along the AIM-7M Sparrow that was one of his weapons and shook it. The missile stayed in its proper place, and the AIM-9M above it was also secure. His journey took him around to the back, where he had to apply some extra skill not to go falling off the carrier’s side as some unlucky sailors had in the past.
              When all was to his liking, the blonde went back to where he’d started and found Washington there. The man offered him a hand again.
              “Sir…make us proud…and keep us from sinking. I can swim but I hate the thought of it out here.” He said, lowering his voice to the point he was just barely audible.
              Ryan could tell he was scared. Though Wash was a rear-echelon guy, he was on a frontline ship. He shook the hand firmly.
              “If I don’t, piss on my grave for failing.” He said.
              Wash nodded at the odd phrase and let the man go. Ryan went up the boarding steps and into his seat. He strapped in with a purpose today, more deliberately checking his instruments than usual. He looked back at Razor, who nodded as the big fighter powered up. The canopy was lowered, sealing the warriors’ armor around them. Ryan looked forward at the plane director in front him as he stopped and raised the lighted sticks to signal him. Ryan left his parking spot just rear the waist catapults and began rolling towards Catapult #2. Tonight the masters of the space were playing a juggling act as they moved Hornets from just behind the island to Cats Three and Four and Tomcats to One and Two. Even in the scant light, Ryan could now see the white steam escaping the track in a perfect line.
              Another director motioned him forward into place so he could be properly “hooked up”. Young deckhands in green jerseys, the catapult crew, ran forward, conscious of the two engines, and tended to the protrusion from the front of the F-14’s front landing gear. They saw it had a union with the shuttle of the catapult and was secure before relaying the total weight of the Tomcat to the man controlling the catapult. The shooter gave a thumbs up from his bubble and relayed the number to the settings of the device. Properly secure, Ryan was given the signal to move his control surfaces while Razor braced himself for the inevitable. Everything that made the F-14 move was worked and a positive sign from the cat officer told Ryan he was good. The final moment then kicked into motion as the path down to the bow was deemed safe and clear, his weapons ready, and the Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) was raised to contain the push to military power. Ryan watched the cat officer and waited to be acknowledged again. The man smile seemed to be radiating as he gave the pilot the signal he was cleared to launch. Ryan gave him a salute in return and snapped his head forward. The pilot braced himself in the precious one or two seconds he had to. Outside the cat officer was already dropping to one knee and touching the deck. When he pointed forward, the catapult was fired.
    Ryan tensed further as the Tomcat was accelerated to flying speed in the short time. G-forces piled on, more than in a dogfight, causing his whole body to feel like it was being sucked into the seat. It ended in seconds as he felt the release from the catapult. Ryan finally had control again as the Tomcat began to drift up and away. He saw everything was still green.
              “Firebird 105 is airborne, good shot.” He radioed, indicating his F-14 would be airworthy, at least for now.
    Immediately the young man got to work stowing the flaps and landing gear. He settled the F-14 out at around 4,000 feet for about two miles before he banked to the left and began to climb. He glanced to his side and found Firebird 104 sailing up to meet him. The other Tomcat sailed behind him and settled into the proper position off his left wing. The two acknowledged one another while they turned onto the appropriate vector.
              “Firebird 2-1, this is Axe 2-1, we’re airborne and settling off your three o’ clock.”
              “Roger that Axe 2-1, chop two of your birds to follow me and 2-2, and the others to be with 2-3 and 2-4.”
              Ryan looked off to the south and saw the slime strips and position lights of two Hornets. The strike fighters swung behind the F-14s and into the typical wingman position on their left. They pushed well east, out beyond the perimeter of surface ships, before slowing into their first “racetrack pattern” CAPs. Each pair broke up and flew in the title’s shape, going in opposite directions. Behind them on the carrier, the second and third cats had been occupied by two S-3B Vikings. The two-engined sub-hunters were far less glamorous than there pointy-nosed escorts, but one of the more central pieces of fighting submerged threats against the carrier.
              “Privateer 803 is airborne, good shot.” The pilot relayed as his machine ascended from its base.
              Ryan adjusted in his seat as he banked the F-14 towards what was considered hostile skies, settling into what was going to be a very slow and methodical push east…
     
     
              By the time the sun was painting the sky orange, the force had pressed a tangible amount from the edge of Stinger’s perimeter. Before they went any further the Air Boss had tasked a quad of KA-6D tankers to support the escorts. The fighters and their escortees then began the long push outside the safe range of support. Their E-2 had actually gone north over Osean land to give them a better view of the skies ahead, placing itself within the protection of Osean Army SAMs and land-based fighters. It was around Six AM when anything of note happened. The radio came to life, drawing Ryan’s eyes to his Horizontal Situation Display for a moment.
              “Firebird 2-1, Roadster, we’ve got radar contacts…Heading 075, Angels 26, 200 miles out. We count two so far; profile matches a pair of Foxhounds.” The Hawkeye radioed.
              “Roadster, Firebird 2-1, roger that. Keep us updated on any new bandits.” Wolfy replied. He switched his attention to the F-14s and F-18s in his flight.
              “Firebirds, go to wall. Axe, maintain cover of Privateer 5-2 and Skyliner 6-2.”
              Ryan immediately looked towards Tom, whom he could now see in the morning light, and touched his mask with his left hand. He then spread his fingers as he pulled the hand up and away; Tom nodded and broke the formation. Ryan looked forward again and made sure his visor was all the way down before selecting his AIM-54s. No doubt those MiGs were carrying the best missiles they had available to them, the pilot bargained as he fine-tuned the F-14’s path to point directly at the Foxhounds. The Amos could reach about 75 miles; the F-14s would be able to shoot at them first. Even better was the fact that big bricks like the MiG-31 were good targets for the high-speed missile.
              “Razor?” He asked.
              “Firebird 102, say your targeted bandit.” Razor radioed to Firebird 102’s RIO instead of replying.
              “We’ve got the lead guy, trailer is yours.” Lieutenant “Loopy” DeWells radioed from behind the squadron XO.
              “Roger, okay Rocky get ready to take it up so the Phoenix can get a good angle.” Razor told his pilot.
              “Gotcha.” The blonde confirmed.
              The ECM panel was telling them the MiG-31s were transmitting, but they hadn’t gotten into range to track any of the F-14s yet. Ryan listened briefly as Firebirds 2-2 and 2-4 were ordered to go lower to search for contacts that might try to sneak in. Axe Flight was spreading itself to cover even more ground close to the patrol birds.
              “Okay, I’ve got him locked…hang on man.” Razor assured as he singled out the further Foxhound.
              Ryan pulled the F-14 into a steady climb after dropping the external tanks, increasing speed as he went. The wings eased back as he climbed. In the rear seat, Razor waited as the telemetry being established by the radar was relayed to the missile for proper guidance. Both crewmen could see the process as they closed the distance; Ryan had a Target Display (TD) Box over a patch of the sky.
    “More contacts on Heading 088, Angels 20, 190 Miles. Count seven. Looks like one of em is pretty big; expect it to be a Bear.”
    Ryan heard the radio transmission but had to store it in the back of his head as the MiG-31s hit their own radar range. They were still far from AA-9 range, but both parties knew who was in the sky.
              “Bandit’s attempting to maneuver.” Razor updated.
              “I see it.” Ryan affirmed.
              Ryan moved the stick so the F-14 tilted to the right, keeping its nose aimed at the MiG. He watched as the diamond and TD Box closed. The thing was teasing him, drawing it out until the last possible second. He almost forgot to call out when the two merged, but he caught himself and swallowed before speaking.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 3!” He called over the radio.
              The weapon, heavy as it was, didn’t make much of an exit. Ryan felt the weight gone as he maneuvered again, looking to get behind the Foxhound. He kept a tight leash on the second AIM-54; that Bear was alive and well. The radio was livening up as the Belkan fighters broke their formation further back to engage. To the north, four more fighters, matching the profile (MiG-29) of the fighters near the Tu-142, had appeared to try and threaten the other patrollers and the E-2. There was also apparently another Bear out there. The VF-115 flight to the north, Firebird 1, would take those contacts. For now Ryan and his closest allies were committed to the southern group. The odds were seven to four, with the Hornets in reserve for the moment. Wolfy quickly changed his mind and ordered two forward in rapid succession to even it out. Ryan looked up after checking the timer on his HUD for the Phoenix. He saw the dying embers of a fireball and flashed a grin under his mask. Splash one Foxhound.
              “Good shooting 105, saw the impact. Okay Firebirds, engage the Fulcrums at long range, then close in pairs. Axe, get in and knife em. Anyone who can get that Bear is more than welcome.” Wolfy ordered.
              With scattered “roger that” calls, the “Fighting Typhoon” Tomcats began to go head-to-head with the Belkan MiGs. Razor went straight for the Bear, charged by the adrenaline of their first kill. Ryan was happy to have the second Phoenix away, even if it meant they’d have to use Sparrows against the Fulcrums. The AIM-7 had the range advantage on the AA-10 Alamo, but that didn’t mean a whole lot when you had to keep your nose pointed at the target the entire time. It was also possible the MiGs would blow past BVR and go straight for the throat. Ryan could bet the prideful BAF flyers would want to further soil the perceived (and well-backed) reputation of the Osean military. He looked down at the timer for his second AIM-54, and saw it’d run down.
              “Did we get him?” Ryan asked his RIO as he slowed for the fight with the MiGs.
              “Can’t confirm, got a bunch of radar reflections when it was getting closer. Firebird 105 here, did anyone see the Bear go down?” Razor spoke up.
              The Tu-142, now far from its escorts and the fight, had released a storm of chaff to defend itself, causing a collective flinch on the Oseans’ part. The standard Yuke models didn’t carry that kind of defense. It pressed the F-14s still packing Phoenixes to forget the MiGs for a moment and overwhelm the large aircraft. In the meantime the others had come into Sparrow range. Tom was close to Ryan again, back off his left wing. Razor was trying to deal with the chaff when its source went offline.
              “Someone got the Bear!” He exclaimed in poorly masked disbelief.
              “I think Bull got him!” Bluebird McLevvin, Firebird 110’s pilot, declared.
              Tom would’ve bragged, but the RWR was telling them that at least half MiGs were trying to lock them up. Razor scrambled to get a lock and managed a minute or so past maximum range. Ryan was notably tense now as he saw dots out in the morning sky. His friend had gotten the one inside his steering circle locked, and now came round two. Now came the really nitty gritty.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 1.” He radioed in tune with his shot.
              The Sparrow behind the Phoenix pallets fell and pushed forward against the air. Ryan felt himself getting antsy as it raced out ahead, especially as the ECM panel issued him visual and audial warnings he was being locked onto. Sweat began to form at the top of his forehead, and his eyes darted to Mae’s picture. As his eyes raced back to the timer, the warning tone went steady. Fuck the Sparrow, the Belkan had shot at him. He broke to the right and deployed chaff, rolling into a dive before turning. In the back there was the sound of someone being thrown around a bit.
              “Hey man, warn me next time!” Razor snapped.
              “Where is it?” Ryan replied, ignoring his protests.
              Razor did as he was supposed to and turned around to watch their tails. He couldn’t see anything now as he looked for the weapon. On his advice Ryan streamed more chaff and snapped left to get his nose back towards the Fulcrum he’d targeted. He adjusted the throttles to get up on the MiG’s level fast.
              “Fight’s on, fight’s on.” Someone called, echoing the exercise call.
              The next choice was the AIM-9; Ryan went to the weapons and tried to spot the MiG he was after as the RWR dropped off from the AA-10 fired at him. It wasn’t that long before he could finally see that bastards. Good, he’d felt alien in BVR that far with fighters. He saw the top profile of the MiG-29 as it banked to engage him head-on. Its nose was stark white and it was wrapped in a mix of various greens. None of that camo would save it now, though. Ryan tore after him, easing back the throttles as quickly and smoothly as he could. Lag pursuit, Commander Walker reminded him inside his head, lag pursuit. A real furball had erupted, and the MiGs had charged in hard against their Osean adversaries, using the Fulcrum’s brute power to lead the way. It worked, too.
              “Axe 409’s going down…I’ve got a chute! Dozer’s out!” One of the Hornet pilots called.
              “How many are up? Did we get any besides the Bear and two Hounds?” Tom asked. He got no answer.
              “Firebird 110...I’ve been hit…gotta bug out on this one. Will radio if…need the SAR…” Bluebird declared through his now malfunctioning radio.
              Razor watched the MiG as Ryan came around; now respectively bellow the Mikoyan product.  He had sacrificed some energy from his defensive maneuvers, but he had some left to spare. His main goal was to keep the MiG in front of him; Razor would watch their back.
              “Firebird 104, what’s your status?” Ryan asked.
              “Engaged offensive at your eight o’ clock, 105.” Tom replied quickly.
              The MiG went into a quick ascent and begin to roll. Ryan followed him into what was the F-14’s domain, only to find the Fulcrum had quickly led him into a spiraling descent where the Osean would eventually lose in the game of turn radiuses. Ryan’s conscious reprimanded his AIM-9’s seeker head, ordering it to get a lock faster. The Belkan pilot had no way of knowing he was being tracked by the heatseeker, but he could probably guess. Ryan wanted to beat any flare releases. The MiG left the spiral and began to bank right sharply, adamantly looking for a way to turn the tables. Ryan saw him accelerating away; they both needed speed and energy. Ryan gave his jet some gas and kept the F-14 in a climb that would let him gain back the precious advantage he needed to win the fight.
              The MiG, after racing away for no more than a few seconds, changed course again. With more energy, the MiG had a chance at throwing off the Osean tearing after it. Ryan had to push the fight to a close now or lose the advantage. The Fulcrum was going into a sharp left turn, towards another fight between an F-18 and another MiG-29. More and more of the Belkan jet filled his HUD; Ryan’s mind frantically ordered the AIM-9 to get lock. The symbology seemed to take eons to get together, almost too late to get the weapon off at a good angle. Finally his ears were filled with the electronic shrill of the Sidewinder’s lock. Knowing it could be his only chance, he fired on the MiG from its five o’ clock.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 2!” He barked.
              The dogfight-oriented weapon had a much more rapid departure from its rail, sliding directly off instead of dropping first like a Sparrow or Phoenix. Its motor exhaust whipped some smoke over the cockpit as it accelerated away. The MiG deployed flares to counteract. The M-model Sidewinder possessed better resistance to countermeasures; Ryan could be confident in his shot. With a few seconds to breathe, Ryan broke the chase and went past the MiG as it turned to make a high yo-yo. As he nosed over to hit the MiG again from above, he caught the weapon strike the bandit in the spine. Half of the jet sailed forward, while the back half flew apart in all directions. After a tense second, a shape left the front half and a white, circular chute blossomed.
              “That’s two down; Firebird 105 has splashed a second bandit.” Ryan reported as he passed the descending Belkan.
              Ryan pulled up and glared out the top of his canopy, looking for more targets. Tom called he was still committed in an offensive fight, leading him to look for Bull so as to support him. In the meantime his mind processed what had happened. Okay…he’d survived…that was good, that was very good. For a second he almost wanted to call it easy, but maybe that’s because he hadn’t had to defend against more than a single AA-10. Or maybe that’s just because he’d assumed the Belkans were going to come in and wipe them out.


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:12 pm

    Chp. 5: The Battle of Oured Bay
    March 30, 1995
    Battlecrusier Prince Bierwirth (C112)
     
              Flottillenadmiral Trost Hinkel looked very much the part of an old sea captain. He had a beard peppered with gray and white, ageing features and in his dark blue Belkan Navy (Marine) uniform the commander of the 3rd Belkan Surface Combat Group was probably more fit to be in a 1950s seafaring movie than at the helm of one of the world’s most advanced combat ships. Ironically the large vessel wasn’t even fully Belkan; it was one of two early-model Kirovs that the Yuktobanians had sold to the Belkans after extensive refit and localization. A dishonoring fact to carry, the admiral thought. Long gone were the days of battleships like the Kaiser Von Frautz and Tennizer, and now the main weapon of navies were aircraft carriers. It seemed everyone had them but the Belkans. The Oseans had at least three coming to destroy his own fleet.
              One enlarged battlegroup against three…the odds were stacked and the results fairly plausible. If it hadn’t been for the insistent promises of the Belkan Air Force (Luftwaffe) that the Oseans’ entrance into Oured Bay would be met by a storm of missiles, Hinkel would’ve considered this suicide. He looked down from the bridge windows at young sailors walking along near the forward cruise missile bays. Their national pride, and their pride about the Belkan Navy, the underdog of the service branches, was evident in every step they took.
              “Herr Admiral.”
              The man turned to see his aide, Schafer, standing nearby. Hinkel accepted a printed message from the fellow officer and read it. The Oseans were last reported to be outside the mouth to the bay, and intelligence expected them to strike west anytime in the next 48 hours. They were expected to hold against the Osean fleet and deal a deceive blow. It was believed if they could do this, the Belkan Army (Heer) would be able to crush the final pocket of Ustian resistance and make a strong position around the Futuro Canal. From their, he knew, they wished to also secure and exploit the Great Lakes. Negotiations for a favorable ceasefire would soon follow. Rald himself had relayed the Admiral’s mission was “the very move our success hinges on”. Ironically the Oseans were still getting forces to Sapin simply by maneuvering around them and steering wide of Oured Bay by air.
              “Thank you, Herr Kapitän.” He replied, handing the piece back to the man.
              Schafer nodded and returned back to the interior of the bridge, among the radar and sonar operators. Hinkel opted to follow him to the primary chart. Younger officers and senior enlisted personnel were nearby to provide him all the assistance he needed, as was the Prince Bierwirth’s commander, Kapitän Scpiëtzi. They were currently 400 kilometers west of the entrance to the bay, oriented towards the threat. The admiral expected them to launch heavy attacks with their aircraft against the fleet and its assets initially and then close and attack with cruisers, destroyers, submarines and frigates. The Air Force would be the primary defense against the air assault, and is submarines and the heavy cruiser would lead the attack against any surface ships. They would ensnare the attacking Osean ships in the bay, and then pick off the Osean carriers and what escorts remained with them afterwards. Though carriers alone were tempting targets, he couldn’t attack outright when they were the most heavily defended. His alternate plan, or rather a slight addendum he’d implement should it be needed, was to trap the attacking ships in the mouth of the bay. Especially with their Kirov’s missile range, they could reach the Oseans.
              His eyes narrowed at the mouth of the bay with that thought. He knew where the ships would come from, but where would the aircraft attack from? Every angle felt both obvious and uncertain at the same time. One avenue looked as good as the other. Multiple groups could and most likely would attack; each carrier had its own complement of aircraft. His best and only option was to disperse his fighters and concentrate them as needed. His ships would remain in place and act to provide multiple SAM launches to break up and whittle down attacking aircraft, ideally the A-6 Intruders and F-18 Hornets that would carry anti-ship missiles. The Oseans’ F-14 Tomcat fighters would be engaged by his MiGs and Mirages. Once the threat of air attack was out of the way, he foresaw the battle would be easy for Belka to win. It wasn’t well-advised for a sailor to rely on a pilot, though…
     
     
              Ryan and Buck stared at the profile of the Prince Bierwirth as a recon photo of when it was once the Yuktobanian Navy cruiser Pieter Kroktuvi. The cruiser had been commissioned in 1978, and in 1992 sold to the Belkan Navy alongside the cruiser Admiral Larkanov, which now served as the Wilhelm. Neither pilot would face it directly, nor would a single one of their squadmates, but it’s seemingly unlimited supply of the naval variant of the SA-8, SA-10, and SA-16 made it any pilot’s nightmare. It was generally confided by attack pilots that the only way to fight one was to smother it with missiles.
              “Thank the powers that be I didn’t become an Intruder pilot.” Ryan commented.
              “Well, CAG and his staff should have a plan either way.” Buck assured, turning to his desk and collective his things for the air wing meeting.
              Ryan followed his superior out of VF-115’s operations department and down the corridor. Through the maze of passageways they arrived at the space labelled the Air Wing Meeting Space. Inside, much like the plan for the initial sweeps, tonight they’d brief for the attack on the Belkan fleet. Inside CAG and the wing’s intelligence officer, a skittish-looking commander ironically known as “Peter Gunn” were up front waiting for everyone to arrive from pairs like Ryan and Buck to designated strike leaders. Captain Earl Hamill, known generally as Hammer, was a pale man with reddish-brown hair and a face that seemed to always be sinking to the floor.
              “Okay boys n girls, listen up!” He hollered, commanding everyone’s attention in a matter of seconds.
              The screen changed to a battle chart showing the two fleets. TF Sea Dragon was about 400 miles from the mouth of the bay.
              “Our initial raid will be directed at the outer perimeter of ships. Each wing will be attacking in closely-timed waves to keep the Belkan defenses off balance. We expect them to try and raid us either in retaliation or in an attempt to get us first. As this circle shows, we’re well within the range of their Bm-335 Lindwurms and Tu-22M Backfires, which can carry AS-4 “Kitchen” anti-ship missiles.” Peter Gunn began. Immediately “Swede” Swatzinski, commander of VFA-215 (The Steel Fists) raised a hand.
              “How sure can we be they won’t try to attack us WHILE we’re raiding their boats?” He pressed in a gravely tone.
              “Because we don’t expect they know our exact location. Our efforts to defeat their probes have thus far been very successful.” Morse replied, somewhat defensively. He felt CAG’s eyes bore into him and stopped himself.
              “Anyways our primary targets will be these Hamblien-class destroyers and
    Bremener-class frigates screening ahead of their flagship, the Prince Bierwirth. We’ve been informed that the Bierwirth itself will be attacked by a combination of Marina-class attack subs and aircraft. We can expect the ships to be backed heavily by MiG-29SEs, Mirage 2000Cs, MiG-31Bs. Our Hawkeyes have also observed at least one A-50 Midas operating out of the territory they’ve nabbed around Futuro. We can also be fairly certain this is where the Fulcrums are staging out of.”
              Ryan noted the supposed pattern of the jet in relation to the Osean fleet. It stayed outside of the defense perimeter, but it was fairly certain it could see inside the space Stinger and her battlegroup occupied.
              “We’ll be attacking the ships from the east and southeast. Strike leaders, your routes should be on your briefs. We intended to get the Intruders out of their as soon as we can, but Hornets should be prepared to back up the Tomcats on TARCAP. We’ll position our Prowler units close to the Osean coast to keep you safe. Your protection will come from both the TARCAP and shore-based Patriots.”
              Ryan felt the urge to raise a hand regarding the threat of bombers, but Peter Gunn was on a roll now. Two images came up of the ships they’d be attacking.
              “We can confirm that the frigates and destroyers have received only limited upgrades, namely in the form of SA-N-4 missiles and modernized 35mm Oerklion CIWS mounts. They can fire Exocets to engage other ships, too, and track about a dozen targets at a time.”
              “Will we be getting any support from our own ships? Tomahawks or the like?” Ranger spoke up, nearly interrupting the intel man as he ended his outline of the Belkan ships. Peter Gunn’s face flashed the briefest expression of disdain for the aviator, but he again held back.
              “We expect them to be saving their Tomahawks for ground targets and their Harpoons for if they have to close with the Belkan ships.” He relayed stoically.
              The last matter was weather. The March to June period in the area was indicative of scattered but heavy rains in the area, and a storm system was coming up from the direction of the Southern Osean continent. It was expected to arrive sometime around April 7th and sweep up along the Great Lakes and into Southern Belka. For now CVW-5’s pilots could only expect the very northern tip of it.
              “Are there any further questions?” Peter Gunn asked, for the first time letting other voices speak.
              A few questions came up about the behavior of the fighters and any new weapons they might’ve been carrying. Nothing new was reported; the fighters still had the same weapons they’d been using since March 25th. It was also noted that the fighters took similar patrol patterns to the Osean Navy, though they kept a larger number on station with the Njord not down here. Ryan had to wonder by now if the ship really even existed; not a single report of its existence had been confirmed.
              With Peter Gunn’s chance to hear himself talk done, CAG took the stage. It’d been confirmed he’d be flying with VF-34, the Daredevils, on TARCAP (TARget Combat Air Partol) tonight. VF-115, though in the briefing, had the “misfortune” of protecting the fleet via BARCAP (BARrier Combat Air Patrol). CAG made a few closing remarks, referencing the speech for to the declaration of war the President, David Banister, had given. When he was done, his drooping face flashed a smile of determination.
              “My fellow pilots they got our East Coast brethren…but they won’t get us. We’ve been trained to take on the Yukes, so we can squash the Belks.” He beamed. The crowd gave a quick cheer back and was called to attention afterwards.
              “Okay then, report to your squadron spaces. Briefing times for tonight should be on your flight schedules.” CAG said…
     
     
              The Grumman E-2C Hawkeye was about as important to the carrier as the offensive aircraft it possessed. Though the concept of a plane that had no defenses and was nothing more than a flying radar station had angered about a dozen National Councilmen, it could spot, track, and identify any object in range of the AN/APS-145 radar atop its main body and command anything from Tomcats to cruisers to attack said targets. Tonight the Stinger had two up from VAW-23, one to coordinate the strike on the Belkan fleet and one to provide radar coverage for the fleet.
              “…So Kip’s trying to get the damn radios cleaned off even though they’re shorted and we’re trying to figure a way to contact the boat and get aboard.” The Combat Information Center Officer (CICO) aboard the latter said, recalling a rough flight over the Sea of Shimoji in his younger days.
              “How bad did it smell?” The Air Control Officer (ACO) asked.
              “He’d eaten spaghetti that night; you take a guess.” The CICO winked.
              “Anyone get hit?” The Radar Officer chuckled.
              “Jimbo got some splash damage on his back. He didn’t wear that flight suit for like two weeks.”
              The Lieutenant smirked and looked back at her radar display as the sweep passed by the northern quadrant. As it was just about to leave the Northwest, she noted something. A second pass confirmed new symbols; V’s with dots between the two legs
              “Well shit, here comes trouble.” The RO said, adjusting her boom mike. She looked at the CICO to make sure he was paying attention.
              “I’ve got bandits inbound, count four so far. Heading 315, 440 miles. Fast movers, looks like fighters. Designate “Raid One”, say we get the BARCAP some help.” She called out.
              “Probably the escort for a raid…Mothership, Mothership, this is Firewatch. We’ve got multiple bandits Heading 315, 440 miles and closing. Designated Raid One, scramble intercept.” The CICO relayed.
              “Roger that Firewatch.” Their go-between inside the Combat Information Center (CIC) replied.
              From CIC two orders went out. The first was to the protective screen of ships and aircraft around the Stinger: raid inbound, engage at will. The Tico-class cruiser and three Perrys began tracking the incoming Belkans while Stinger sounded the alarm on her own decks.
              “General Quarters, General Quarters! All hands man battle stations!”
              Ryan jolted up from his seat and looked towards the Duty Officer’s desk. Lt. Christopher “Archie” Maxwell grabbed the red phone as its button flashed not a minute later. The conversation was the briefest in anyone’s life.
              “We’ve been ordered to launch, sir.” Maxwell said, looking at Ranger. He nodded and stood up, driving his cigarette into a nearby ash tray.
              “Anyone who was due to relieve the Alerts, follow me. Rest of y’all get yer sorry asses suited up and get topside as soon as y’all are equipped.” He snarled.
              Ryan and Razor, both already in their things, hurried out the door with three other crews and down the hallway. Upstairs in the open air, VF-115’s Alert Five was already being sent up while the fourship he would be in was set near the island of the ship. The aircraft tagged to fly the strike that night were hurriedly being rushed off the deck to make room. Tonight Ryan and Razor had one small but important change in their armament configuration: they carried four Phoenixes instead of two. Ironically it was just for this situation. Everything was different, more frantic despite the strict retaining of safety procedures. The F-14s launching were slapped together in adhoc fourships and pairs to form a proper response to the attack (Ryan became a part of Firebird 3). In the back of Firebird 105, Takeru watched the radar as it painted the sky. They wouldn’t be able to see anything until at least 100 miles out; Ryan was going at just shy of afterburner to get them into the fight as soon as possible.
              “This is Skull 202…all aircraft be heads up; escorts are Fulcrums.”
              No surprise there...but what were the bombers. Ryan glanced in his mirrors.
              “Got the heavies, yet?” He asked as they slipped ever closer to the battle.
              “Looks like Backfires to me.” Razor noted.
              “Understood. You know the drill, man.” Ryan nodded.
              Razor knew it very well; the Tu-22Ms were top priority. While he started giving the AIM-54s something to shoot at, the rest of the F-14s Ryan was with began to spread into a wall formation to fire as well. At the very bottom of his field of vision, the blonde saw missile trails from the water as the frigate Clayton Melvis and the destroyer Baleburn fired several RIM-67B Standards each. The airwaves were becoming peppered with calls of “Vampire”, the call for an anti-ship missile launch. Razor generally ignored them; it would take too much time to lock the ASMs instead, time they didn’t have. The Backfires could still be killed and their future use negated. He worked fast to give each Phoenix a target before they were jumped by the MiGs.
              “Shoot!” Razor prompted the instant he had the right angles.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 3!”
              Ryan repeated the call breathlessly as he shot every AIM-54 he had.  He almost looked away, but after a second he realized that he was wearing his orange-tinted visor. He’d been so used to having his visor up at night he’d nearly forgotten. For the first time he felt able to watch the brilliant lights of the 54s as they streaked off. However there was no time for admiring. The RWR began to change its tone with him, telling the pilot they had bandits targeting them. Razor called out bandits at ten o’ clock at 45 miles; Ryan snapped to the heading. The rest of the fourship maneuvering in much the same way.
              “Bandits are attempting to bracket, Firebird 3 break and counter!” Ranger drawled.
              With their drop tanks leaving the jet, Ryan yanked the jet to the left alongside Tom and increased the throttle. He’d cut across, get out of the MiGs’ forward quarter, then roll back in and attack from the side. He left his Sparrows on standby and went straight to his Sidewinders.
              “Bandits turning towards us.” Razor updated.
              “Roget that, what about the Phoenixes?” Ryan asked.
              “Should’ve impacted by now.”
              “Knowing our target and our weapon, I say we got em. If we die, we died aces.” He commented as the Fulcrums got close. Fuck the armchair generals that debated kills; they’d probably know about as much as him in hindsight.
              The Belkans had also set aside their semi-active radar-guided missiles in favor of nimble, reliable weapons. Ryan got a head-on lock at 9 miles and let his first shot go.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 2.” He called.
              The pilot saw a flash far ahead as his jet and the shape of a jet it lit up. He deployed flares as he was told by the jet he had a missile on him and broke high and left. He began to roll to strike further downwards and get some space between himself and the missile when he felt his body rattle. Razor called out that the weapon had gone up to meet them and gone off to the rear. The warhead detonated far enough behind to rattle them, but the F-14 shrugged off the insult from its Yuktobanian-built adversary. He continued his dive and stared to barrel roll the Tomcat to aim back at the MiG, but the enemy jet had already snagged the offensive position. He completed his roll then snapped down again to stay unpredictable; scrap his first move on the fly and shake up the Belkan.
              Razor went from side to side, keeping tabs on the pursuing MiG as it followed them down in what was becoming a series of barrel rolls. Ryan pulled back up, easing the throttles towards him. The MiG undershot, barely, and the two ended up almost side-by-side. This led them into a sort of race to the bottom as they both tried to get behind the other. The Fulcrum, blessed with the advantage this time, had the lower stall speed. Ryan was forced to give up a chance at the offensive position again and keep running. In most other situations the elkan probably would’ve gotten off a shot and killed him, but the Fulcrum driver also had to regain some of his energy. Ryan used what few seconds he had to gain momentum and space to maneuver against the MiG.
              “Okay Razor, where is he?” Ryan asked as he banked left towards the last known position of the Belkan.
              “Coming up on our eleven high.” The RIO pointed out.
              The pilot’s gaze snapped to the left and spotted the twin plumes of fire just as they disappeared. He went left and snapped upwards to try and get on the guy’s tail. The MiG-29 pulled into a loop to deny him the advantage yet again; Ryan cursed the bastard. He rolled away from the MiG and pulled his own loop to meet the bandit as he came out of the maneuver. During the loop, Ryan selected the M61 so he could get off the quickest shot. As the two jets ended up almost head on, Ryan squeezed the trigger for one or two seconds, maybe three. He slammed the stick towards his control panels and avoided the MiG by a couple dozen feet. His breathing filled his ears in loud, wheezing gasps, like he’d just come up from under water. Immediately the pilot yanked his jet to the left and began looking again.
              “Razor, where is he…where the fuck is he?!” the blonde shouted, high on adrenaline.
              “Coming around on your left! Get him before he gets on our ass again!” Razor shouted, equally as fired up as his front-seater.
              Ryan saw the MiG as it was turning to make another head-on pass at him. He caught it from below, almost head-on again, and let his 20mm cannon roar with a vengeance again. Glowing yellow tracers arced up towards the MiG as he pulled the nose higher and higher, losing more and more speed. Finally the jet passed by above and he began worrying about reducing his Angle of Attack (AoA) to avoid stalling. In the meantime Razor watched as the Fulcrum passed overhead, trailing light gray after a minute.
              “We got him, we got him! He’s trailing smoke…” Razor breathed out, sitting back in his seat.
              “Roger that…okay give me another guy to wax.” Ryan replied, in the process of easing out the path of flight. Razor checked the radar.
              “Multiple bandits on heading 163, 32 miles. Looks like we’ve got a massive furball down there.” Razor nodded.
              As he turned, Ryan did some quick thinking and listening to the radio, from what he could tell, much of the raid had come at them…It looked like the Stinger’s battle group was bearing the brunt…in a way that was good, very good. It was supposed to happen. It meant the other ships were safe.


    Last edited by Ronin201 on Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:00 pm; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:51 pm

    Chp. 6: Bloodied Nose
    March 31, 1995
    OFS Eglin Straits (CG-52)
     
              Contrary to Ryan’s belief, the whole task force was being lit up. He’d only heard enough to make him think otherwise…
     
     
              “I’ve got two more Backfires! Heading 313, 87 miles, Angels 23!” A radar operator aboard the Ticonderoga in Stinger’s battlegroup, the Eglin Straits, shouted.
              Shouts came back as other sailors readied more Standards to fire. Within a minute the front Vertical Launch cells were shrouded in fire and smoke again as two more RIM-67s were unleashed into the night air.
              “Weapons away, acquire next bandit!” one of the officers barked.
              The two missiles streaked away, reaching near-top speed in a matter of seconds. From their cockpits, the Belkan pilots detected the two missiles among several others that’d been fired at them. Formations split as the coordinated response to the Backfires that’d slipped past the initial screen of Osean Tomcats and Hornets. Several bombers, after releasing chaff and flares, started to accelerate to better their chances. The first two bombers Eglin Straits had targeted (it had already fired on four more targets, three missiles and another bomber). The chances of accidentally hitting friendlies were low, even in a big battle such as this. As per Osean Navy doctrine, the “Inner Battlegroup Defense Zone” belonged primarily to the surface ships.
              “First two bandits down!” One of the men tracking the engagements reported as the one and two Standards of the latest salvo found their mark.
              “Add three Vampires to that.” The sailor next to him chimed in as they started going for the next target…
             
     
              Hauptmann Christen Scthulz, in all his time as a bomber pilot, had never gone through a mission that reeked of suicide like this. His masters in BAF’s command circles, determined to strike at the Osean fleet trying to enter Oured Bay, had concocted a mission that had big, vulnerable bombers such as his Tu-22M over contested (at the least) airspace much of the time. Their escort had, as was predicted, now occupied taking on carrier-based fighters. His crew was equally encumbered with work, deploying countermeasures and trying to get the anti-ship missiles they carried to lock onto the “helicopter carrier” somewhere in the distance.
              “Do we have a solid firing solution?” He asked, becoming impatient.
              His question wasn’t answered at first by the weapon systems operator. Scthulz wanted to raise his voice, when the man finally said something.
              “We have proper angles! Weapons ready to fire in low-altitude mode!” He shouted.
              At the same time the radar warning receiver told them they’d managed to blind the latest two missiles fired at them. A blessing, no doubt; the order was given to launch all the weapons onboard. There was a notable amount of weight lifted from the frame as each of the 12,800 lb-missiles was released, allowing the heavy aircraft precious agility, however little it got out of the ordeal. The missile began to ascend as Scthulz put his bomber in a hard left turn, slowing even more to quicken the move. As he did, he neglected to properly catch a single F-14D Super Tomcat from the carrier Hawk coming from below and behind. The fighter let loose a single AIM-9 at the fleeing bomber, and in an engagement lasting only seconds, wrote the final event in Scthulz’s career…
     
     
              “Three Vampires, Heading 309, 90 miles, Angels 32 and descending.”
              “Roger, do we have a bead on what they’re after?”
              The sailor tracking the inbound ASMs ground his right teeth together as he pointed out the Kirwin Islands was the target. The two servicemen aboard OFS Cole Austin, a Perry-class frigate, had managed to get the targets just at the maximum range of their RIM-66G Standards. East of the Austin, fellow Perry-class ship Jessie B. Waters was also well aware of the immediate threat. The single-arm launcher on the front of each frigate began working, firing a missile a little over every ten seconds. Word was also given to ready countermeasures. On the Wasp-class assault ship, the port side RIM-7 Sea Sparrow and Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapons System) were set to track the Kitchens when they got in range.
              “Two more Vampires! Heading 305, 110 miles, Angels 22 and descending!” someone in Waters CIC called. The alert was followed up by three more tracks five degrees to the right.
              The first three tracks were engaged by the two Perrys, and the next two fell under the responsibility of the Ticonderoga-class Cape Landers. The AEGIS-equipped cruiser had no trouble engaging the AS-4s that’d been fired at its charge, the Kirwin Islands, but the three AS-4s that’d come first had gotten what could be ,determined in retrospective, the luckiest break in missile warfare. Only one of the missiles was even near the RIM-66s when they exploded, suffering damage along its body. More AS-4s were coming in, redirecting fire and overwhelming the systems and mean of the Osean Navy. Finally it was down to Kirwin Island’s port Sea Sparrow and CIWS mounts.
              The RIM-7s were the first off after the remaining three missiles. However, the problem became numbers: three missiles, one Sparrow launcher. Ships began firing countermeasures in the form of chaff to confuse the missiles, but it was too late. Now with three weapons boring in on the centerpiece of the Marine Amphibious Group, it came down to the CIWS weapon. The last-ditch defense weapon defeated the weapon that’d already been damaged by the initial fire from the Perrys, and was greeting the next weapon when the final barrier was passed. Throughout the ship, alarms were already telling all hands to brace for impact. Each weapon’s multi-thousand pound warhead impacted just above the waterline of the ship, sending fire and debris shotgunning through the compartments beyond. Personnel not killed immediately in the inferno were thrown about, some badly injured by what they were thrown against.
              Atop the ship, the few aircraft chained to the deck, mostly the ship’s component of AV-8B Harriers, rocked back and forth. After a moment, when the shock subsided, it was determined the ship was listing to port. Those still alive out of the nearly 2,500 Osean Marines and Sailors aboard her were ordered to abandon ship. She wasn’t the only casualty; further to the southeast, another important ship’s defenses had been breached. OFS Eratosthenes, the Blue Ridge-class command ship attached to the task force, was stuck twice from above. The Belkan raid had first sought it beneficial to sink the Spruance Determination and heavily damage the Perry Erin B. Cassidor. The ship seemed to settle into place; it had no way to sink immediately. The carriers, though, remained unhurt. So far casualties were unknown, but either way the general order was given to start launching helicopters to perform Search and Rescue…
     
     
              The Wagon Wheel: a tactic first put to use by Belka in 1916. Ironically the name and general setup of the procedure was taken from old Osean Westerners about explorers and settlers defending themselves against bandits and hostile Juregadarian soldiers. In this context, though, it was slightly different. The point was to draw attackers into the wheel with the prospect of easy targets, only to reveal they had been suckered and had a Belkan on their six. It was with this knowledge that Ryan led Tom in a passing attack from directly above the MiGs.  The pilot of Firebird 105 wanted to break them up. They used their M61s, saving the more valuable Sidewinders for when, or if, they managed to snag another admirer or two.
              Ryan was pissed. He’d heard the chatter about the hits that were being landed on the force. They’d gotten the flotilla’s command ship and the assault boat that was supposed to reinforce the battle in Sapin. They passed through the Wagon Wheel, wings fully swept, and split.
              “Rocky, I got one after me!” Tom confirmed. The bait had worked but Ryan needed to act fast. He reversed to he could see the general area where Tom was and spotted two sets of jet exhausts.
              “Bull, I see you! Coming in!” He assured.
              Ryan pulled the nose up more and snapped the F-14 to the left, slowing and choosing his weapon. The AIM-9, his last one, would again be weapon of choice; no time to lock and shoot a Sparrow.
              “Bandit at our six.” Razor spoke up.
              “Motherfucker…” Ryan exhaled. They’d still fallen to the Wagon Wheel.
              Ryan ordered Tom to break hard left, and make the incoming Fulcrum think he was gonna turn into it and attack. In the meantime Ryan would keep on the Fulcrum pursuing Tom and at least force him off Firebird 104’s tail. He saw Tom break and the Fulcrum start to follow, but Ryan’s presence swayed him otherwise. The MiG started left, and then moved his nose away from the escaping Tom to deal with Ryan.
              “Where’s the other guy?” Ryan asked.
              “Still on us.” Razor updated.
              “I’m after him, I’m after him.” Tom spoke up.
              Razor was able to observe Tom, who hadn’t switched away from his M61, make a close and fierce pass at the Belkan on 105’s tail. Ryan let the other MiG go for a minute and went up and right to give his wingman room. He then rolled inverted and struck down at where the Fulcrum he’d been trying to shake off Tom had last been. He saw it twisting back to reengage in the furball to back up its now beleaguered brother; Ryan dove for it to defend Tom. The Belkan saw him and dove away, with Ryan in close pursuit.
              “Nice shooting, 104.” Razor commented as they screamed downwards. Ryan would ask Tom the details later.
              The Fulcrum turned to the north and increased speed. Ryan felt the temptation to switch to an AIM-7 for a minute. The angle was pretty good…no, no he couldn’t risk the semi-active weapon’s need for him to keep his nose on target. As they passed beneath a cloud, Razor pointed out something. Two things, actually.
              “Got a pair of bandits…more Fulcrums.” Razor called out.
              Ryan broke to the left and started to climb to attack. How many times was he gonna get ambushed ton-
              “Rocky, it’s Ranger, break right and help me engage that other sucker.” An older drawl radioed.
              From ten miles away, Ranger heard his subordinate call out a “Roger that, Skipper” and proceeded to fire an AIM-7 after a minute of waiting. When he got closer, he would use his remaining AIM-9 if his Sparrow failed him.
              “Firebird 101, Fox 1.” He reported.
              The Sparrow dropped away and raced ahead; Ryan’s jet went below Ranger at his two o’ clock. The CO of the Typhoons watched and waited as one of the MiGs tried to turn and pursue Ryan; Cody kept his nose on the bandit. About that time, the Belkan apparently became concerned that there was a missile being fired at him He made a hard jink, to which Cody left behind his AIM-7 and queued up his Sidewinder. His craned his neck as he rolled in from above on the Fulcrum and searched for any kind of solid heat signature to get a lock. The Fulcrum broke left immediately to buy more time. Cody wasn’t going to give him any quarter, not when he’d tried to get another one of his own. The “old man” had been one of the last guards of his country’s existence during the Cold War, and he’d seen a fight before. This holier-than-thou Belkan who thought he was really hot was facing a man who’d already blown two jets out of the sky. Not only that, he’d studied that MiG he was flying since he’d gotten his commission, in the event its original creator and his masters decided to throw caution to the wind and start World War III.
              Cody slowed and went inside the Fulcrum’s turn for as long as the F-14 could do so. He pointed the nose up and kept his left hand tight on the throttle. At first he intended to shoot the Fulcrum while it was turning, but the bandit ended up showing him his tailpipes. All the better for Cody; he depressed the fire button and hit the gas, jamming the nose up to avoid any debris.
              “Firebird 101, Fox 2.”
              Cody planned to come around and gun the guy in the stomach if he didn’t die from the Sidewinder, but the weapon worked and struck the MiG between the tailfins. The commander sailed away from his fourth kill of the night, the eight of his career, with a small smile.
              “Firebird 105, status.” He radioed.
              “Firebird 105 is up. Thanks Skipper; we owe you a pack of Marlboros.” Ryan radioed.
              From his current, position, Ryan checked his ability to fight. He was down to three Sparrows, a single Sidewinder, and the remaining rounds in his gun. His fuel status was starting to run low; whether he wanted to or not he’d have to bug out soon to gas up and maybe get more weapons. No telling how long this fight would last. Ryan decided he needed gas.
              “Firewatch, this is Firebird 105. We got any tankers up? I need gas.” He radioed. There was a pause, probably while the E-2 was directing engagements.
              “Roger that 105…we’ve got Texaco at station 2 and Citgo at Station Five. Take your pick.”
              “Razor, which would be closest?” Ryan asked as he refered to his charts.
              “Citgo would be…pending we get there.” The RIO replied.
              “Hey none of that glum crap, I don’t wanna hear it, especially not from you.” Ryan snapped.
              Without waiting for a reply from his RIO, the pilot aimed his F-14 south, towards the KA-6s far off in the distance, and made haste for the lifeblood of his jet. His RWR told him the battle was still being fought, but he’d managed to free himself from it temporarily. Ryan lowered his altitude below where most of the fighting was apparently taking place and looked out over the horizon. He probably would be able to see any of the ships that’d been damaged or sunk until he was at least a few dozen miles away. So far he saw nothing too unsettling about Stinger’s escorts.
              “Razor, how are you back there?” He asked.
              “Alive and okay.” Razor said, flashing a thumbs up.
              With the quiet in control now, Ryan was able to think for once. He tallied up how many jets he’d downed…at this point he had to be an ace. The biggest mystery was packaged in the initial engagement, when they’d launched their AIM-54s at the Backfires. The Fulcrum he’d gotten was a sure kill; he’d seen it. If he’d bagged all four Tu-22s, that would bring his killcount (and Razor’s he reminded himself) to seven. Ryan didn’t feel any qualms about the fact that any of those men might be dead, not now anyways. He felt… respect? They were warriors too, jokes about the Belkans aside. It was like he’d reached out to them after they’d fought and they’d both said “good fight”. Both of them had fought on pretty even terms, and the better man (or men in the case of the two-seat F-14).
              The aircraft they sought were two KA-6s orbiting close to the carrier. When he checked his fuel again he saw he would have to be relatively quick in hooking up with the refueling bird. He set the F-14 up to pass them from the front.
              “Citgo 1-1, this is Firebird 105. I need gas, got any? Premium if yah have it.” He spoke up.
              “Firebird 105, this is Citgo 1-1, pull right in.” the Intruder pilot radioed.
              Ryan banked his F-14 until it was almost on its side and brought it around to get behind the two Intruders. In the night, all that was available to see the KA-6 were its positioning lights and his sight, which had long adjusted to the dark. He centered them in his HUD and exposed the refueling probe to the open air. The fingerlike appendage extended from hiding on his right and locked into place. Ryan pulled out his flashlight and shone the beam on the object to give it a quick looksee as he started closure. He also turned on the cockpit lights a little to get more illumination. He spotted the hose and basket as the system quietly hung in the sky, swaying a little as the air buffeted it.
              “Okay 105, bring her in…nice and easy. You know the drill.” The Intruder’s co-pilot spoke up.
              Ryan eased the throttles forward and synchronized the movements of the stick and rudders to make any adjustments as smooth as he could make them. It seemed that every correction slid into an overcorrection when he tried to refuel, especially at night. Razor kept his mouth shut to give his pilot all the concentration he needed. Ryan didn’t even talk when the Intruder co-pilot guided him in. The white basket at the end of the refueling probe became bigger and “easier” to see. He looked down at his fuel; a point had been reached where he would have to make several misses in order to reach critical fuel. The pilot eased himself in, noting and planning to counter the natural sway of the basket in the open air.
              The refueling probe and the basket closed in on each other, feet from connecting. Ryan could hear his breath as the final few seconds passed and the two objects danced towards each other. Feet…inches…they met; the A-6 gave him the call “contact”. Ryan looked down and noted he had a green light.
              “Green light on my end, Citgo 1-1.” He reported.
              “Roger that, 105.” The co-pilot in the Intruder replied.
              Much-needed fuel filled the tanks of the Tomcat, giving it more time aloft. Ryan decided he would get back to the fight and expend what weapons he could until they were gone or the Belkans had withdrawn. He was given the standard load to keep him aloft in a combat mission and disconnected. The pilot stowed his refueling probe and broke out of the pattern smoothly. He eased towards the fight and selected his AIM-7s, which he planned to use as his opening shots for his next round of fighting. At this point he became less concerned with bombers and ASMs and more concerned with fighters. The majority of the Backfires were likely destroyed or leaving at this point and the ASM barrage had to have passed.
              “Firewatch, Skull 200, bandit dope.” CAG radioed. Ryan held his breath and waited. Where were they concentrated?
              “Skull 200, you’re clear…Bandits are bugging out north. We beat em…yeah we beat em.” The E-2 controller reported. He sounded out of breath…
     
     
              Ryan pulled off his helmet after what felt like a month of wearing it. His hair was marred and molded by warm sweat, leaving him feeling like he’d just stepped out of a humid rain shower. He set the HGU on the forward part of the canopy, near his HUD, safed his ejection seat, and unstrapped himself as quickly as he could so he could stand up and stretch his legs. He turned around and looked at Razor, who was hoisting himself onto his feet.
              “Good job, Razor.” He said, truly relived the ordeal was over.
              “Good job, Rocky.” The RIO said back as the two shook hands.
              Ryan saw a flash next to him and looked over as a Photomate, a sailor who snapped pictures for release to the public, captured their handshake. He rolled up his sleeves and negotiated his way out of the cockpit so he could reach the deck of the carrier. The lovely, lovely deck that was still there. Studies by various sources from pundits to politicians to review boards in Oured had a grim outlook on the survival of the carrier against missile attack. What had the statistics been, a 37% chance of survival against any large-scale, determined attack by high-speed bombers carrying much faster anti-ship missiles? Ryan dismounted and started shaking hands offered to him. Washington approached and offered a hand.
              “No swimming tonight, Wash.” Ryan commented. His Plane Captain smiled nervously.
              “No sir.” He said, pushing the thoughts out of his head as soon as he could. The man looked at the jet, specifically the soot around the gun port.
              “Did you two…” He started.
              “Nailed a MiG-29 with it.” Razor nodded. Washington’s eyes widened.
              “The guys aren’t gonna wanna wash that off.” He commented.
              “Do you know how many you got?” the Plane Captain asked.
              “We’ll find out for you.” Ryan promised.
              He spotted Tom and Keith’s Tomcat as it was positioned on the deck a handful of feet away. With Firebird 105 firmly in the ground crew’s hands, Ryan and his RIO went to greet their wingman. Bull exited the jet in a very celebratory manner, shaking hands and grinning. Keith was his usual self, but he did shake a few hands.
              “How many did you get?” Ryan asked as the two pilots shook.
              “At least three! Hate to say it but I’m glad they count Kitchens as kills!” Tom replied over the sound of another Tomcat coming aboard.
              “Any MiGs?” Ryan asked.
              “One, caught him with a Winder. Boom, right in his sorry ass!”
              “Unfortunately we weren’t able to prevent the pilot from getting Brawler and Flounder…”
              The three looked at Keith. His serious face bore an extra emotion, pain. Tom’s own expression tightened as he nodded.
              “Yeah, they weren’t able to punch out.” He admitted.
              Things became awkward, uncomfortable. Keith hadn’t meant to kill the mood, they knew. In fact he was likely more concerned with other knowing that the crew of Firebird 106 had not made it. The sound of fighters recovering seemed to get louder as the others absorbed the announcement. Finally Razor croaked out something.
              “I never knew, Samurai.”


    _________________

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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Fri Jan 15, 2016 8:32 pm

    Chp. 7: Hit and Run
    March 31, 1995
    Altaria Bay, Osea
     
              “Behind me you can see the Kirwin Islands as she finally sinks beneath the surface. It’s a truly sad sight as one of the most powerful ships in the Osean Navy has been overpowered. I think I can understand the emotions the rescuers of the ocean liner Serenity felt when they watched the mighty ship sinking at the end of the ordeal. Helicopters have been pulling survivors out of the water all morning long but we don’t have an accurate count of how many have survived. We can be certain it will be a long effort, however…”
              Mae hugged her knees tighter as she watched the scene from the comfort of her home. The attacks on the Osean Navy had been the big focus lately, as had been the continued push by the Belkan Army into Northern Osea. Mae had only ever lived there a few years when her dad was in the service; she had no particular connections outside of distant friends.
              “…Statements released from Oured are giving us a vague picture. It appears that the main concern for the military right now is its own understanding so it can help the civilian populace. However many civilians have called into our local stations up there complaining about the lack of information.”
              Though Ryan and she hadn’t seen eye-to-eye on everything, she had agreed often with Ryan’s short tirades on the media. Despite restrictions on details of what they could say regarding the military, reporters still obsessed over the stories and sometimes construed them intentionally or otherwise. Mae only watched the news now to get an idea of what was going on to. It seemed like they were dancing around blaming them for not being transparent enough. Was the civilian population’s safety important? Yes, it was one of the principles Ryan had sworn to when he’d become an officer. But she felt they were taking the military’s attempt to contain and double-check as a sign of not helping them.
              Unable to take much more, she changed the channel to something else, and ended up on a rerun of Bana Vice. The brunette stood up and walked to the fridge, but she didn’t open it up in the end. She had little idea what to do with herself; she felt too anxious with no contact from Ryan. And she still had to go to work later today…soon disgusted with everything at the moment, she turned off the TV and stormed into the bedroom, hiding from being reminded where Ryan was under the covers. As far as she was concerned, he’d be home this evening when she got back at five; until then she’d dream about him…
     
             
              Mae kept her arms out as she balanced on the surfboard, aiming for the end of the closing wave. Her face betrayed little more than a tinge of anxiety; there was always the chance the water would close around her before she exited, and her natural instinct would be to feel uneasy with so much of it closing its grip on her. She crouched over just a little more and squinted to keep more of the spray out of her eyes. Almost there…almost there…Mae exited the curl and pressed onwards to safety. Feeling a little confident of herself, she held up a hand and waved to her other friends on shore. Mae eased herself down and carefully paddled back to shore. As she stood up on the sand and dragged her board up off the ground, a young man with a Marine Corps’ haircut approached her.
              “Most excellent there, Mermaid.” Lance Corporal Eli Bates said.
              “Hey my dad doesn’t want his girl to be a slacker, Bait.” She replied, completing the exchange of nicknames.
              They gave each other low fives before walking towards the gaggle of people settled around a small grill. Mae set her board with its kin and joined the rest, accepting her lunch with a smile after she peeled off her wetsuit. Eli sat next to her and took a few bites from his plate before he looked away and then jerked his head off in the same direction.
              “Hey, you’re pretty good at making friends, right? I want you to meet someone.” Eli said.
              He led the brunette towards the fringe of the group, where an unfamiliar face was sitting, tending to a hamburger.
              “Oy Ryan; look alive, Blue Jacket.” Eli whistled.
              The young man stopped as he was lifting the sandwich to his mouth and settled his eyes on Mae. She smiled and gave a polite wave.
              “Heyo, Bait said you and I should meet?” She asked. He stood up, clearing his throat.
              “I guess…uhm I’m Ryan. Ryan Bradford. Eli’s my cousin.” He explained.
              Once he was standing, she was able to get a better look at him. The dirty-blonde hair, skinny frame, green eyes. It wasn’t hard to assume he wasn’t trying to stare at her body. Mae kept back a giggle.
              “Nice to meet you, I’m Mae Bridger.” She said, extending a hand. He reached out and shook it.
              “He spends summers out here with me nowadays. You two might get along, at the very least both your dads fly.” Eli added.
              “Your dad flies?” Ryan asked. Mae was slightly irked that the aircraft mechanic had brought up her dad so quickly, the deterrent to many potential boys, but she played along anyways.
              “Yeah, he does; VMFA-52.” She shrugged.
              Ryan invited her to sit down with him. He steered away from the subject of her dad’s job.
              “So is it fun being a Leatherneck’s daughter?” He asked, smirking a little. Cheeky…
              “I don’t know, is it easy being a Blue Jacket’s son?” She winked. He chuckled.
              “Touché. Don’t worry I’m not one of those snotty Navy types that thinks Marines are all uncivilized and rude.”
              “I would’ve punched you by now if you were.” Mae announced.
              Ryan smiled, looking like he was becoming a bit more comfortable, and looked out at the ocean.
              “You did pretty well out there.” He said.
              “Thanks, you surf often?”
              “Not at all, actually. I was born at Tanner Air Force Base while my dad was on exchange with the Air Force, and after he passed we lived with family in a place called Nora Flats, in the desert.”
              “Oh…I’m sorry to hear your dad passed.” Mae said, resting her hands on her knees.
              “It happened a long time ago; I’ve learned to get past it. Hope that didn’t make things too awkward.” Ryan apologized, his tone getting a bit more nervous at the end. He started to get quiet when Mae decided to bring up something happy.
              “Wanna hear something kinda goofy?” She asked. He tilted his head at her.
              “My name isn’t Mae. It’s actually Marine; Mae is just a shortening. How clichéd, eh? The daughter of a Marine is named Marine.” She laughed, a bit wryly.
              “I think it’s a really pretty name.” He admitted, almost too quietly for her to hear.
              He was cute, really cute…in that shy, boy-next-door kind of way. Mae didn’t usually take note of boys like this so quickly, but she liked giving her attention to this Ryan Bradford, at least for now…
     
     
              Flottillenadmiral Hinkel felt this suicidal. His armada was already painfully outnumbered, and now the force was being split. The reasoning, he’d been told by Flotilla Command, was to reinforce the defenses at the Futuro Canal while operations were underway to extract oil from the facilities there. The Prince Bierwirth would remain with half of its escort, ten ships, and stave off the Oseans as long as they could. The promise was that the Willhelm and Dinsmark were leading the rest of the Belkan Navy to reinforce and would be in range to strike in a few days. A few days wasn’t enough; the only reason the Oseans weren’t in the bay already was because they were distracted by their wounds and the near-constant stream of Belkan bombers lobbing ASMs at them from maximum range!
              Hinkel, sitting alone in his cabin, leaned forward and pressed his palms against his face. The Sapin Royal Navy had been easy to defeat. They had no carriers, only old Osean frigates they’d locally retrofitted to their needs. The Oseans were, despite delays, going to win. He expected them to attack by air, primarily, using their vaunted carrier air power to destroy this fleet. The Kirov’s fearsome reputation could not withstand overwhelming numbers. Therefore the plan was simple. They WOULD hold out until the two other Kirovs arrived, and they would even retreat to reinforce the ships around Futuro and make a last stand there. From that position, fighter cover would be in a better position to help.
              In fact that was his best chance of survival; he would withdraw north, delay death (maybe even escape it) and concentrate into a strong defense around Futuro. His recommendations would go out immediately. Then when Willhelm and Dinsmark arrived, they would trap the Oseans and try for a victory. It was his only option, but it provided some good fortune. Until then he would have to maintain his current orders. Hinkel just had to survive that hurdle. He sighed and looked at the copy of the battle chart on the far wall of the well-lit space. If only the Njord had become a reality…
     
     
              The scene was reminiscent of the night of March 30th: jets, at least a dozen, being armed with the AGM-84F Harpoon…but now it was April 3rd. For close to ten days the Osean fleet had failed to retake Oured Bay. It was so bad at points said mission was side-lined so the three wings could help in Sapin. VF-115 had been tasked with providing CAP for a strike on a bridge last night to gum up the Belkan advance. To try and help the Navy, the Air Force had given some more focus on the bomber bases in Southern Belka (coincidentally an F-15 from one of those strikes had led Ranger to his latest kill when he rescued it from a Mirage). But now the Navy was going to take the bay, and knock out the Belkan Fleet. They’d had their run, distracting the task force with bombers and submarines, but they were out of steam.
              Ryan watched as the “Harpoon shooters” that were to be launched were being arranged to follow their escorting Tomcats. He and his RIO would be part of the CAP for a six-ship of A-6s from VA-67, the Heartbreakers, as they struck against the southern part of the Prince Bierwith’s escorts. They’d been briefed to expect five ships, two Hamburg-class destroyers and three Bremen-class frigates. The Bierwith itself would also be a factor with its own SA-N-6 “Grumble” SAMs, their 96-mile range and their Mach 4 speed. The nature of the mission meant they were without hard-kill SEAD, but two EA-6Bs would be on call to jam and confuse the array of air defense radars. They could expect to bear the brunt of the defense.
              The entire time, Ryan was doing everything from praying for survival to playing out the different ways this could go down. His best hopes, beyond returning safe, were to bail out far enough away or bail out and hope he could survive in the confusion of the attack. If the fleet was pushed north, or any direction away from him for that matter, he would have a good chance of a rescue helicopter plucking him out of the water. It was the first time he’d ever really considered the threat of being shot down. The subsided though when more present matters came to be. The cat shot that day was the same as it had been for his other combat launches; Ryan had to admit despite no physical differences the lurch and sudden acceleration seemed to get his mind in the right state for the fight. They weren’t expecting much in the way of enemy air cover, though. The attack had been planned to hit as the Belkans rotated CAPs…or, at least that was what they were hoping.
               The strike pressed southwest, nearing Oured’s realm. Ryan could see a few outer patrols of the Capital District Air Defense Wing. They were probably just the tip of a number of layers of defense. He could imagine that for once staff tours at The Castle were at least somewhat noteworthy. He would never imagine, either, that the capital of his own country would be at the center of the war like this. It’d always felt like Oured was far enough away from its enemies to remain in relative safety. Those paranoid types always said that you’d be fighting in the streets of Bana City or Arwood if Osea was invaded, not Oured. The strike force pushed near-parallel to, then west, of the city. They planned to hit the ships broadside.
              The thoughts of capture started to creep in soon after, when the quiet task of pressing towards the target settled into motion. He’d seen pilots suffer the indignity before, especially in the modern age of 24/7, worldwide media. Once proud, brave fliers had been reduced to scared, beaten shells of themselves when captured and interrogated. The media time was solely to have them unwillingly denounce the war effort by their nation. Futuro in 1985 had yielded such sights, as had Romny in 1987. Ryan shivered; what would the Belkans do if they got him? Would he be simply locked up? Beaten? Starved? Dragged in front of a camera where Mae would have to watch him get prodded to declare Osea the aggressor? Ryan shivered and sought distraction from the thoughts. He referred to his trusty RIO.
              “Razor, any updates on the little lady that’s soon to be?” Ryan asked as they settled onto heading 270.
              “Imari’s been going to the doctor regularly; Amika’s developing as a healthy baby should.” Takeru assured.
              “Good to hear, good to hear.” Ryan said. There was a brief pause.
              “Say Rocky, I know Tom was just being cute about a week ago, but have you and Mae considered a kid?”
              Ryan thought about that was they banked right towards the Belkan fleet some 340 miles north, maintain their altitude of 22,000 feet.
              “I personally would like to have a kid, but I never seriously asked her.” He said.
              “Then ask her, genius.” Razor winked. Ryan rolled his eyes.
              “Want a son or a daughter?” He added.
              “Either would be fine…we’ll save the rest for later.” Ryan replied.
              They were closing in on Grumble range; the SA-N-4 Geckos on the escorts only had a range of about ten miles but they were out further from the Kirov. The Prowlers were sending out all the jamming they could against the ships. The A-6s moved to very low altitudes. The attack aircraft were slow, but besides making their runs at the highest speed their two engines could put out, they planned to launch their AGM-84s (four each) at near maximum range, 170 miles. Ryan watched his Horizontal situation display and kept in tune with Razor to get an idea of where the Belkan fighters were. They soon learned the strike from the Kestrel and the F/A-18 package from the Stinger had drawn them eastwards. VF-115’s only enemy today was the fleet itself.
              The pilot of Firebird 105 kept up his speed so he could have energy. The RWR was already chirping as the F-14s were entering their CAP stations. His wingman, Firebird 107’s Charles DePalm and Bruce Cole, split on his order and took the cold leg first. They were roughly 94 miles away from the Bierwith, but the frigates below were the first threat. They didn’t wait to meet the Tomcats, either.
              “SAM coming from one of the Bremens.” Razor confirmed in tune with the noises in Ryan’s ears.
              “Beef, break from the station. I’m going right.” Ryan ordered as the two F-14s passed.
              “Going left.” The fellow Lieutenant replied.
              The blonde deployed chaff and searched for the missile. All the meanwhile he quietly cursed the whole situation. SAMs were the worst kind of enemy, the big, fast brutes. Damn the Belkans, damn them playing all sides. Damn them for begging the Oseans to help ease their financial woes by offering to sell Belkan weapons to Osean proxies. Damn them for cozying up to the Yukes to get some of their anti-aircraft missiles, arguably the best in the world, so they could turn around and shoot them at Oseans. He searched still until he saw the growing trails of smoke from below. Picking the one aimed at him he deployed more chaff and angled himself to get into a place the Gecko couldn’t chase him.
              “Got a second missile coming at us.” Razor updated. What were the Prowlers doing?
              “Where is it?” Ryan asked, keeping his mind on the first.
              “Seven low, break left and dive.”
              “Okay hang on, gonna get past this first one.”
              Ryan braced as the first SAM sailed by, exploding somewhere behind. The second was racing up and closing. Ryan deployed more chaff and followed his RIO’s advice.
              “Third SAM, third SAM; six low.”
              At least this one had come as the second was losing track (the EA-6s were helping after all, he decided to hope). Ryan kept his cool and turned right. He then decided it was time to move further south. Ryan was also being pressed for altitude, speed and momentum with all these maneuvers. He decided he would go low, for the waves, and see if that would help. The pilot increased his speed and began to pull back on the stick so he’d level up when he was low. The missile arced after him despite the moves to resist its pursuit. He decided to maneuver, jinking wildly from left to right at first to overwhelm the weapon with his maneuvers.
              Deciding the tried and true moves were the best, he broke hard right and let off a little more chaff, waiting to see what would happen. As he neared the water, so close he could see the foam from the waves, the weapon exploded. It was close, close enough to damage their jet. Shrapnel fragments slashed lightly against the skin of the fighter, but Ryan kept going. Takeru whipped around to check the jet for any apparent problems, and then looked at the gauges on the jet itself.
              “Okay we’re good so far.” He relayed.
              “Gauges on my end look okay.” Ryan announced, flicking down his eyes as he screamed forward at roughly 2000 feet.
              “Beef, you up?” the pilot added.
              “Firebird 107 is airborne and defensive. What about you, Rocky?”
              “Pulling back a little to get some breathing room.”
              Ryan pulled back towards the sky, keeping his speed going. The RWR was still beeping; it hadn’t stopped. Ryan looked at his fuel and started calculating his options…
              “Firebird, Firebird, this is Heart. We’ve rifled our loads and are turning tail.”


              The words he’d been waiting for.


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:08 am

    Chp. 8: Game Plan
    April 3, 1995
    Over Oured Bay
     
              CAG Hamill pushed his F-18 as fast as it would go towards the Bierwith. The whole scene felt like something out of the 1974 war epic Percer Sea. Explosions from missiles dotted the sky all around him, and he’d already lost one Tomcat from the CAP and two of the Hornets in the eight-jet strike. The nice part was the Belkan CAP had withdrawn; the timing of that had been PERFECT. He wasn’t going to dump his Harpoons just to grab a kill. Ustio was still about to be overrun, and replacements for those lost aboard Kirwin Islands needed to get to Sapin and rush north. He looked at his weapons’ display for the AGM-84 as it told him he almost had a lock on the Bierwith. Just a few more seconds and he’d shoot and scoot. Those Prowlers had already incurred his debt for making it hell for the Grumbles aboard the monster.
              At least his jet was making the shot easy. The Hornet had become CAG’s favorite jet to fly; he’d always been a light attack pilot, since day one when he’d checked out in the old A-7E Corsair. With his rank, he’d done time in the wing’s F-14s and A-6s, too, but the F-18 had the most hours. The change from the stubby little A-7, which had been filled with a lot of older electronics, to the newer and almost sci-fi Hornet had been a jolt but one that in the end felt like a dream. He looked at the weapons’ display again; the AGMs had lock on the Kirov. He jammed down the release button twice.
              “Cadillac 200, Bruiser, Bruiser.” He called.
              With a notable feeling of weight loss, the pilot waited to “Two one-thousand” and yanked back the stick, working the countermeasures switch with his left thumb. The Hornet snapped up as the other jets in the flight also made their shots and broke the wide “V”. To the Northeast, a flight of Hornets from the Kestrel performed a similar maneuver. CAG didn’t expect to encounter any Belkans in the air as he worked to defeat the two SAMs that’d been fired at him. If he did, however, he had his Sidewinders and AMRAAMs to back him up. The pilot weaved through the ball of maneuvering Hornets, rolling and pitching, jinking and deploying more countermeasures. The ship that’d fired on him, a Hamburg-class, was hit twice on the starboard side by Intruder-launched Harpoons seconds later.
              In the meantime the Harpoons from the two flights raced through the Belkan fleet at low-level. The shooters from Kestrel had largely been a diversion; their Harpoons were meant to be sacrificed, if only to overwhelm the Bierwith’s long-range fire control. Most of her escort ships had also been engaged by a combination of Harpoons and torpedoes from Osean attack subs operation beneath the waves. The AGM-84s’ computers had the Kirov-class cruiser clearly in their sights, and so the last-ditch battle began. Frantically the ship’s crew moved to engage with AK-630 CIWS mounts and Osa point-defense missiles. But as the Kirwin Islands had fallen to the speed of the missiles attacking it, Prince Bierwith fell to the number of missiles attacking it.
              Eight missiles in total stuck, most of them along the forward half of the ship. The fully-fueled P-700 anti-ship missiles, still dormant in their pods, added to the inferno. Several of the bridge’s window panes had been shattered, leaving some sailors with gleaming shards in their faces and arms. Electrical systems failed, volatile materials ignited and maimed. From his quarters Flottillenadmiral Hinkel was calm, though. Even as the damage-control klaxon shifted its tone to abandon ship, he kept a mask of serenity. The Alouette helicopter that had been sent to fetch him from his doomed ship had long been turned away, and the pilot told to tell Waldemarr Rald to go burn. The relieving ships could also turn back; they would find no victory here.
              Hinkel looked at a portrait of Kruger “Kobold” Holst near his bookshelf. The famous surface commander of the 1940s Border War had managed to fight outnumbered and win, making the Oseans go where he wanted them to and opening up and escape route for his own fleet. But he had been in the north, where the seas were open. Hinkel was trapped here. At least Holst would never know one of his most dedicated admirers had failed to replicate what he had pulled off. Hinkel stood up, comforting himself with that one thought. He had no family to ease his pain instead. The officer locked the door to his abode and tossed the key into the waste bin next to his desk as he sat back down…
     
             
              Ryan held out a hand as one of the aircraft’s ground crew, a brunette named Jane, held out a piece of shrapnel to him.
              “Biggest chunk we found, sir!” she shouted over the general sounds of the flight deck.
              Ryan accepted the jagged piece of charred metal and examined it with a frown. He passed it off to Razor, who turned it over in his hand a few times.
              “So how bad’s the damage?” the blonde asked.
              “Oh not bad at all. Take maybe a day at most to get it back to full flight status.” The enlisted woman said, easing herself down from the Tomcat. Ryan cocked a brow.
              “A day for a few scratches, Jane?” He asked.
              “Gotta figure it into the maintenance schedule, check under the scratches, get the metal, paint, and all that, sir.” The mechanic explained. Ryan nodded slowly.
              Somewhere inside him, it felt like when a teen crashed their first car. Ryan and Razor were temporarily out of the fight, and since the big one at the end of March all their air-to-air engagements had been inconclusive scuffles where the Belkans ran or Ryan, in a show of mercy, let badly-wounded jets run. With no positive way to confirm if the four Phoenixes they’d shot the night of March 30th had killed anything in the storm of confusion, they were subsequently denied the kills. It was only a day though Ryan told himself. The Belkans weren’t going anywhere, not soon. In the future yes but no sane military move short of nuclear warfare would dislodge them from their advance.
              “Alright then, keep us posted.” He said before turning to leave.
              The two left their F-14 near the #2 cat and went below decks to debrief. The meeting was shorter than usual, as no one had killed anything or been shot down. Another VF-115 Tomcat had been banged up, but like Ryan’s it would be aloft again in a few days at most. Until then Ryan actively questioned what he would be doing. Buck had the answer.
              “Well then I’ll have you take more of the workload in the department, Rocky. With the Belkan fleet’s center broken CINCATLAN’s got plans for us Pacific boys.” He drawled as the two stood near the coffee machine. Ryan nodded.
              “CAG wants a solid plan for Sapin going now that our days planning to get the Belkan fleet’ve paid off, for us that means planning CAPs and TARPS. We need to talk with the Hornets and Intruders to know what they’re prioritizing so we can give our plan and have it mixed with the Daredevils. I’ll talk to the Warlords and Fists, you talk to the Hearts and get to drafting something.” The Lieutenant Commander went on.
              “Gotcha Buck. How soon does CAG need this?” Ryan asked.
              “Soon, with the Belkan fleet boxed in Futuro, we’re moving into the attack against the Belkan advance. First and foremost we need to get most of our boots in Sapin, and then we’re to take the canal. Belkans still have lots of fighters and we don’t have the available resources to hit their industry in full yet. We gotta eject em from Sapin and our own home at least.” Buck explained.
              Ryan understood. Despite its large size and the invasion of home, the Osean military had to maintain its commitments elsewhere, and it would take too long to bring everything and everyone back. The Belkan army was also only so big; Oured was playing the strategic game, committing only what resources it needed. The Lieutenant was dismissed to get to work immediately on talking to The Heartbreakers about their own plans. He would have plenty of time to rest soon. The pilot left the ready room and went a few doors down to the abode of the wing’s sole A-6 unit. He knocked on the door firmly and waited until a ruddy, dark face poked out to greet him.
              “Afternoon sir, is your Ops O or Ops JO around?” He asked, nodding to his squadron patch.
              “Yeah, come on in, Pointy.” The man said.
              Ignoring the nickname attack types gave to fighter pilots, Ryan went through the open door into the ready room. He glanced at the model of a SBD-2 Dauntless and an A-4 Skyhawk hanging from the ceiling as he entered. VA-67 was an old attack squadron, having first flown the dive bomber when it was created in 1941. They had the distinction of being one of the few “light attack” squadrons to go from A-4s to A-6s and thus become a “medium attack” squadron. Ryan found Intruder pilots to be approachable types; prideful like his own cadre but not as bad as Hornet drivers.
              The major source of machismo was that they flew without any defensive weapons. Intruders used electronic defense and tactics rather than guns or missiles to defend themselves (logistics dictated AIM-9 stocks to the fighters). This gave them the idea that escorts, like the Tomcat, were largely useless. If you could snake along the terrain and not be seen until it was too late, why have escorts high up, giving away your cover? They also argued that they were the real core of the air wing; Ryan couldn’t care less. He was pointed to a man sitting in the front row, reading over something in his lap.
              “Lieutenant Commander Beauregard is the Ops O.” The man who’d let him in said.
              “Thanks.” Ryan commented before walking forward.
              Ryan cleared his throat at the hawkish-looking man with auburn hair. The older pilot considered the Tomcatter as he introduced himself and his purpose here properly. Ryan made his own quick observations. Despite the time of year he had on the old leather jackets Heartbreaker types went around in, keeping with their grasp to lineage. Under that he had on his khakis.
              “Alright Lieutenant, follow me.” He said, standing up.
              The two men left the ready room and went deeper into the bowels of the space VA-67 owned. They went to the operations space, where the Lieutenant Commander’s JO was working. The senior man went to a record player sitting on the far end of a desk and reached down into a box of records.
              “You a fan of Men at Work, Pointy?” Bowtie Beauregard asked, looking over his shoulder. Ryan shook his head.
              “Oh well.” The senior man shrugged as he took a 45 record of the album Business as Usual.
              The man pointed towards three maps on the far wall; Ryan walked to them to get a better view. They were of Belka, Sapin, and Ustio.
              “Our priority now is the situation in Sapin and south Ustio, at least until or if we’re moved. The main target is Futuro with two airbases and what’s left of the fleet there. These circles represent our list. Red is first priority, orange is second priority, yellow is third. We got em listed, too. On the Ustio and Belka maps, we’re building a list for future strikes. I’ll make you photocopies.” Bowtie said over the saxophone playing behind them.
              Ryan examined Sapin and found most of the targets were bridges and supply depots for the Belkan Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions moving southeast. Most of the circles were centered on Futuro, with notes denoting that extra care had to be taken due to the valuable refineries near several of these targets. Ustio, for now, was the home of command and control centers and captured air bases the Oseans and their allies would be interested in destroying. The Belkans had very few divisions there as the majority moved on to Sapin. A tiny perimeter around a place called “Valais Air Base” noted that the Ustian Army and Air Force were still holding by a thread.
              The belly of the beast, Belka, was the most dotted. Cities where industrial targets were, ports with ships, bridges, rail junctions, supply depots, bases of all kinds, command bunkers…Beauregard mentioned Dinsmark would probably need its own map. A mark in the northern seas speculated the general domain of the fabled Njord. The other two Kirovs of the Belkan Navy were noted as somewhere near Nordlands’s coast, running back to those same waters. Ryan’s eyes looked at each target once while the VA-67 Operations Officer got him copies of the lists he’d promised. Ryan leveled a finger at one mark near Tauberg.
              “Why’s Excalibur crossed out?” He asked.
              “Air Force hit the thing and disabled it two days ago. Only still up there because the thing’s so damned central to the Belkan’s IADS.”
              “And they managed to get in without that thing lighting them up?” Ryan gaped. Bowtie shrugged.
              “Don’t know the details, just know the OAF got it and it ain’t working anymore.” The man said as he held out a small stack of papers.
              “So much for Belkan Space Magic…” Ryan chuckled, accepting the packet.
              “Anything else yah need, Pointy?” The Lieutenant Commander asked. Ryan shook his head as he looked at the lists. Each target had a name, location, and priority.
              “None, sir.” He confirmed.
              “Alrighty then, now if you could stop stinking up the place I’ve got my own work to do.” Beauregard said with a small smile. Ryan nodded with the same expression.
              “Thank you, sir.” He said before he left…
             
     
              For his own work, Ryan gladly replaced the new wave with the album Moving Pictures by Rush. Relaying the targets to the maps VF-115 kept in the space was easy enough; several major points didn’t even require the list for anything other than priority. It was making sure he had them all that took up the time. As he made additional notes based on talking to Bowtie, his mind conjured up other things they would need to factor in. Since they and VF-34 contained the recon assets of CVW-5, certain stretches of road were also considered for TARPS runs. There was also the factor of routes Belkan air raids tended to come into Sapin and Ustio via. For a minute the plan blossomed into something much more complicated than Ryan felt he could comprehend, but he stopped. It was a draft; it would be amended over time.
              Getting back on track, Ryan took a look at all the circles and the roads he’d highlighted. The picture in Sapin looked, in a cynical and detached sense, manageable. The Belkans controlled about a fifth of Sapin, and Osea was working to get the Royal Sapin Ground Forces some help in the form of the 12th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division. The 1st Brigades of each were coming in by air and LHD, respectively, but much of the heavy equipment was to be brought in aboard Roll-On, Roll-Off ships (RORO). Sufficient CAP protection for these arrivals would mean that the Belkan Army would soon be stopped, and then reversed.
              Ryan pulled up a chair and examined what he’d done again. He then retreated to the fridge kept in the space and took out a Dr. Pepper. The pilot drank some of the soda for caffeine and continued to study the map. He stared at it until he needed to see something better on his eyes. Ryan unzipped a flight suit pocket and withdrew a picture of Mae. Like she’d asked of him, he’d gotten a private picture for his eyes only. Mae had gone all out, too. She’d invested in a black, see-through negligee for him. He got to see it hug her figure on their honeymoon. Ryan blushed like a schoolboy every time he saw his wife looking as good as she did in it.
              “I should’ve gunned for an LSO slot, Mae.” He muttered, looking back at the maps.
              “Mr. Bradford, Mr. Buckley? Either of you in there?” a young, female voice called from behind, softened by the door.
              Ryan quickly stowed his little keepsake and made his presence known. In came Airman Jessie Harmon, one of the enlisted people assigned to VF-115’s operations department. A spunky West-Coast native with brown hair and freckles, she was one of those people whose voice sound far younger than her age.
              “Heya Harm, mind giving me a second opinion?” Ryan said, motioning her over.
              “Sure, and I got the stuff we need from the Amps.” She said, referring to VAQ-327.
              “Excellent, set it on the table.” Ryan ordered.
              Harm walked over and studied the maps for a few minutes before she spoke next.
              “How long have you been at this, Mr. Bradford?” She asked, looking towards him. The pilot checked his watch.
              “Good few hours.” He realized.
              “Looks fairly solid to me, has Mr. Buckley weighed in yet?”
              As if summoned, the Operations Officer entered with a stack of papers under his arm and a relieved look on his face. The two watched as he approached the center table.
              “I swear that guy can talk your ear off like a pro. Was lucky Commander Swatzinski got him in line.” Buck said, letting the packets of data he’d gathered fall onto the center table.
              “VFA-215 Ops O?” Ryan clarified.
              “No other than.” Buck nodded. He looked up at the maps.
              “This what VA-67 has so far?” He asked.
              “Yeah, I added in the major routes that Belkan supplies may come down as well as air corridors that they might go through to get raids to their targets, though really anywhere they can make a gap for their jets is possible.” The JO explained.
              “Okay well it looks like our charges in the Hornet squadrons also have these down, as well as the Belkan Army’s formations themselves. That’s good, saves us some work.” Buck mused aloud.
              “Harm what’s VAQ-327 got?” He added. The young woman picked up the info she’d brought.
              “All the ground-based radars they could get a fix on…and believe me there’s a lot, Mr. Buckley. They told me they can only guess on the SAM count. Everything from SA-16s to SA-6s has to be considered.” Harm explained.

              The matter of the Belkan Air Force’s AWACS platform of choice, the A-50 Midas, had to also be considered she went on. Another piece of hardware the Belkans had cozied up to the Yukes for, maybe this wasn’t so far from fighting Ivan after all. The other Airman from the Ops Department, Carlton, had gone to talk to VAW-23 and VS-37. It was possible the Noble Eagles had some info from their radar tapes, watching the skies. Ryan felt his mind getting a little overwhelmed again. I really should’ve gone for the LSO slot, Mae…


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:03 pm

    Chp. 9: Skybridge
    April 4, 1995
    OFS Stinger
     
              “Today we’re starting a shift to operations against Belkan forces in Sapin and Ustio. After its raids against us and counterraids by us, they’ve essentially worn out their bomber force. The Belkan Navy has gone into full retreat as well; the few ships that haven’t been taken down in the middle of Oured Bay are holed up in Futuro Canal acting like floating SAM batteries. Besides pounding it from the air, it’ll be seized by 1st Marines while 12th Infantry hits Belkan forces north of it. The Sapinish Army has been stalling as much as it can. We do have some reinforcements from both the 1st and 12th in country, but the meat of the divisions are still arriving. We’ve also received word that the Ustians trapped around Valais have managed to stall what Belkan forces are coming their way. Once we have the grunts on the dirt, we’ll be able to rush to their rescue.”
              After he was done talking, Ranger went to the map of their mission’s subject. He traced the two lines that curved into the east of Sapin, well away from the fighting that was marking the lands in the northwest of the country.
              “RORO ships, as well as the bulk of Military Airlift Command’s easterly units are landing the 12th and part of the 1st in the eastern part of Sapin. We’ve been called upon to help provide CAP for the supply train moving them. The ROROs are mostly escorted by vessels from the task force, Hawk’s ships to be specific. The Belkans have concentrated their stabs at MAC’s flights, many of which contain the men to man the machines being brought to the country. Ah shouldn’t have to elaborate on things from there.” He elaborated.
              “Our CAPs, as y’all can see, are these stations along the west, guarding the final leg of the journey. We’ll be working with OAF assets for this one, namely an E-3 and a KC-10. The E-3 will be under the callsign “Referee”; its frequency is noted on the board so y’all can see it when I turn off the projector. The KC-10, “Buffalo 4-4”, will be positioned near the city of La Puerta. We’ve been told it’ll be on station for about three hours after we hit CAP station. Referee will have to clear y’all to cross the corridor the C-5s and C-141s are usin. Don’t want no mid-airs. As an extra note, area further south will be under the watch of Sapin Air Force Mirages, callsign “Hidra 3” so pay attention to yer IFF and keep clear lines of communication.”
              Other details to be noted were the loadouts and that their Alert Five would be Osean Air Force F-16s from San Encante AB (also known as SEAB). Most of the F-14s in the wing and aboard the other carriers were committed elsewhere. Strikes inland, BARCAP for the taskforce; the rest of the Belkan ships were still there and smaller jets like the Mirage 2000D could deliver the Exocet anti-ship missile. The plan was to have three CAPs at a time, two to a station as usual. Ryan would be on Ranger’s wing today, something he considered a bit of an honor. The weapons setup would be four AIM-9s and four AIM-7s. While they wouldn’t have the range of the AIM-54, Ryan welcomed the extra Sidewinders and lower weight overall.
              “Rocky, y’all interested in taking lead today?”
              Ryan snapped his head towards the squadron CO with that “Deer caught in the headlights” look.
              “Shit son, Ah’m kidding. Didn’t think yah’d take me seriously.” The older man chuckled.
              “In due time though, in due time.” He added. Rocky nodded.
              “So can we expect any trash haulers to come through during our shift, sir?” He asked.
              “Oh hell yeah, MAC’s flying em down this corridor nonstop since we entered the bay. We can expect at least half a squadron of birds to pass us at some point. They’ll make calls as they hit navigational points.”
              “Any pattern to the BAF’s attacks?” Tom asked as he took a seat near the discussion.
              “None, they keep it random. One day its MiG-31s making a hit-and-run, the next its Mirage 2000s swarming the place. Last Ah heard though, the 2000s are sticking close to Futuro. Too few of them to waste and the issue of Sapin’s use of the same bird further restricts things.” Ranger nodded, taking out an unlit cigarette to put in his mouth.
              Ranger’s time in this region back in 1985 remained undiscussed, even though it wasn’t a touchy subject. No one needed to constantly bring up that the man, now an ace, knew what he was doing. He’d proved it several times. Though Ryan could tell, especially after the night Kirwin Islands and Eratosthenes had been sunk, he looked strained. Like he’d failed them and the aircrew who’d died, but he wasn’t talking any about it.
              “Anyone have any further questions?” the Commander asked. When his answer was shakes of the head and mutterings of “no sir”, the man stood up and slid his pack of Marlboros back in one of his tiger-stripe pattern flightsuit’s pockets.
              “Alright then, gear up everyone; time for another day in the fields.” He said.
              Ryan was tempted to ask how his CO was, but he held his tongue. There were Belkans to be kept at bay…
             
     
              Major Eugene Dearheart had grown accustomed to the way big transports handled, especially the monster C-5B Galaxy. The XO of the 535th Military Airlift Squadron had flown nothing but C-5s his entire career since he’d finished training. Today was just another day doing what he’d always been doing. Except he’d never been shot at, or been at the risk of being shot at during his career. That, though, hadn’t become an issues, so these flights were just normal milk runs at a rapid pace. It didn’t take a genius to convey just how boring flying the Galaxy was, and how sluggish the transport was either. Vulnerable, too…Eugene shook his head and looked out the window. Below was the coast of Southeast Sapin, which indicated they were to start making a steady turn to the northwest. Their destination was Cótobana Air Base, between the capital of Gran Rudigo and the city of Laurus.
              “Referee, this is Chieftain 3-1, we’re currently passing Nav Point…Charlie. Heading towards Alpha.” Major Tyler Morris, the flight lead, radioed.
              “Roger that Chieftain, see you at Alpha.” The E-3 to the east radioed.
              Alpha was the final approach to Cótobana, where most of the 12th Infantry’s things were going. Flights to SEAB were to bring urgently-needed supplies and personnel, some for the frontline units but most for the command and support elements of the war. Parts, technicians, the like.
              “So how’s…you know.” Captain “Toot” Gunther asked. The Major frowned.
              “She’ll be moving out at the end of the month, and the kids go with her. They’ll see me every month for a week each time.” The Major sighed.
              “I’m sorry to hear, sir.” Gunther said.
              “Fuck her, once she’s gone I’m taking the money I was gonna buy her anniversary gift with and getting all the lap dances I can afford.” Eugene commented.
              His co-pilot chuckled when the RWR started to warn them of unfriendly radars transmitting across the skies.
              “What the fuck?” Gunther remarked.
              “Chieftain 3-1 to flight, break, break.” Morris ordered.
              “Tell everyone to hang on!” Eugene barked into his headset’s boom mike. In the passenger section, the 72 soldiers of the 12th Infantry who were aboard started to sink into their seats as one of the Loadmasters with them relayed there was an emergency happening.
              “Fuck, how’d they get through?” Gunther said, only able to think of one foul word to use in the confusion of the sudden ambush.
              The two men started doing what they could to get the C-5 to move defensively…however possible. They also deployed chaff and flares liberally. As the pilots started to descend to get below some of the clouds, the Major spotted one of the jets above. He could see their triangular shape as they screeched by.
              “They’re Mirages, that’s how.” The man growled…
     
     
              “Firebird, we’ve got bandits! They’ve slipped into the corridor MAC’s got set up!”
              Ryan made a face at the sudden call as he turned into the cold leg of the CAP, well now the hot leg if the shaken call was correct.
              “Calm down Referee, and give us some details.” Ranger said firmly, like a father talking to his child. There was a pause; Cody Walker didn’t waste any time while he waited.
              “Rocky, on my wing now. Keep it loose, though.”
              “Roger that, Skipper.” Ryan said obediently
              Rocky tightened his turn and slowed while his commander broke right and came around. Ryan let Firebird 101 pass before he broke towards the man to end up behind him. After that he slid to the left and pushed it up to get closer, into position. He stayed two miles off the skipper’s eight o’ clock.
              “Firebird be advised, they’re Mirages. Must’ve turned off their radar and used their appearance to sneak in.” A different, and calmer, voice said.
              “Bandit dope, Referee.” Cody drawled.
              “Bandits are at 113, 80 miles, Angels 25. Count about six so far, mixed with a flight of C-5s, callsign Chieftain 3.
              “Roger that…Firebirds, use caution. Don’t kill a heavy by mistake. 2-5, 2-6, execute a left hook, we’re gonna bracket em with your pair and mine. 2-3, 2-4, drive straight at em, force the bastards to split.” Cody ordered.
              Ryan followed his led to the left after they abandoned their external tanks, and then back to the right. He selected his four Sparrows and started referencing his displays, both vertical and horizontal.
              “What’s up, Razor?” He asked.
              “Okay I think I can separate the Galaxies from those Mirages, at least looking at the screen.” Razor told him.
              “Gritty, what’s your take on this? Any chance of a good shot on those Mirages with our Sparrows?” He added, addressing Ranger’s backseat.
              “I don’t think we can risk it…I sure as hell don’t want to gank one of those heavies.” The fellow RIO confessed.
              “We’ll get em with Winders; Rocky break when Ah say.” Ranger interjected.
              The two F-14s sped up to reach the beleaguered C-5s in time as the Mirages descended on them. The Belkan pilots, aware they would encounter Allied fighters minutes after they pushed into the attack, had left all but two jets to deal with the transports. Those two kept to their two 20mm DEFA cannons. Eugene watched as tracers flew at one of the other C-5s while he desperately tried to make his do something that would help them defend against the fighters. The best he could do was get slow, slow enough that the Mirages would shoot past. His co-pilot called out a sickening sight.
              “Easy Baby is on fire; she’s losing altitude.”
              Outside the windscreen, another camouflaged C-5 was slowly dropping towards the Sapinish countryside, black smoke in its wake. Eugene forced his eyes away and concentrated on his own jet.
              “Chieftain 3 Lead, this is Firebird 2-1. Be advised we can’t risk long-range shots. Might hit y’all but we’re coming in now, so hang in there!” a thick country accent called.
              “Roger that, Firebird!” Chieftain 3-1 shouted. The Tomcats were only miles outside AIM-9 range.
              “Break now, Rocky!”
              As soon as he heard the call, Ryan announced he was pulling up and guided the stick back towards him. The nose went towards space rapidly for a second, and then Ryan eased back the throttles so it leveled out. He spotted a Mirage with its nose pointed almost directly at him. The RWR tone in his ear told him that it was already looking to shoot him, which it didn’t hesitate to do in a matter of a second or two. A single Super 530 radar-guided missile screamed across the sky at him, to which Ryan broke left and deployed chaff. He then pulled up and made a rolling ascent, as if performing a barrel roll, to get above the Mirage and poise himself to easily strike down at the Emmerian-built fighter. The 530 exploded off to his right and the Mirage started to ascend to meet him. Razor took over watching the guy as Ryan took the best choice he had and passed through the air behind the Belkan before jerking left again to come around. As he did, the pilot caught a glimpse of what he quickly guessed was the smoky wake of an OAF transport as it fell to the ground bellow. Please let the thing be carrying cargo and not troops…
              “Okay he’s gonna come around on your left, try and nail him with a Winder!” Razor called.
              Ryan snapped his vision to the ten o’ clock area and saw the Mirage out ahead. He brought the nose to follow the bandit and closed in, drawing in steady breaths. The Mirage reversed its turn and rolled over, bleeding speed to force Ryan to overshoot. Ryan was too far back; the Belkan didn’t give up and began to us his position to dive. The clouds peeled away across the sides of Ryan’s vision and the green landscape of Sapin appeared bellow. The camouflage on the bandit almost seemed to blend with the ground; Ryan nearly lost his target, but the Sidewinder was unhindered. It growled in his ears and he promptly fired.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 2!” He declared.
              The Sidewinder traced a path to where the Mirage seemed to have become less visible. Ryan saw it as it again went above the horizon in a sharp right, trailing of flares and rolling before pulling hard and downwards. Ryan went high again and dove after him, rolling to the same position the Mirage had itself as it flew down so he could keep flying after it. Up they went again, into a high right turn, almost like the curve of a racetrack. Ryan fired his second AIM-9 as the wings of his Tomcat swept out. The Mirage went through its turn and reversed, leaving flares behind. As it dove, the Sidewinder’s warhead exploded and threw its fragments into the belly of the jet. Ryan waited for a second until the enemy fighter went into a mortal dive.
              Kill number four secured, Ryan banked right and started to ascend gently and gain speed. As he did, he spotted something burst from a cloud. Another C-5 was going down, and it was on a course to plow into the side of the speedily-moving F-14.
              “Oh shit! Oh shit oh shit oh shit! Rocky!” Razor shouted as the behemoth of a machine hurtled downwards at their path of travel.
              “I see it, so shut up and watch the tails!” Ryan snapped.
              He pulled back hard on the stick and accelerated as the nose cleared the doomed Galaxy. The tail of the transport slashed at them and missed by about fifty feet.
              “Chieftain 3, how many aircraft you still have up?” Ryan asked.
              “Chieftain 3 has lost two birds; third one is heavily damaged. We’re clearing the fight now.” Someone in the flight reported. Fucking hell, we’ve failed in that respect…had to swat away the other Mirages now before they killed the other two C-5s.
              As Ryan pulled right and pushed above the clouds, his plane warned him there was a missile being fired at him, then another. With flares behind him he pulled into the attack swiftly and looked out across the sky to spot hi enemies.
              “Saber, this is Ranger. Spotted the guys who shot at y’all; Ah’ll get the wingman.” His CO spoke up.
              At that time the blonde spotted the enemy as their R.550 Magics missed him. Two more Mirage 2000s screamed overhead, one turning for Ranger (wherever he was) while the other made a gun run at Ryan. The Osea broke to the right and then snapped back to the left after the feint. His opponent had broken into him already and was slowing to get the angle for his other R.550. Ryan kept up his move but wasn’t able to get a lock-on as the Mirage slipped across his field of vision. He tilted the stick right and sped up to catch the Mirage. Move closer to give him less time to react. The Mirage made a quick move to the left, slowing and pulling into a tighter descending turn. Ryan yanked back the throttles and ended up with the Belkan above him. Razor grabbed the handle over his console and lifted himself out of his seat a little to keep an eye on the bandit.
              Ryan managed to slow the Tomcat enough to get the favorable angle so his AIM-9 could lock. He rolled it so his nose was pointing northwest, like the bandit’s. The Mirage then began to ascend, answering Ryan’s attempt to shoot with flares. The two jets spiraled up, mimicking the airflow of a hurricane. Once again the wings of the F-14 were swept out, allowing maneuverability but limiting speed. Ryan regarded the throttles like a policeman did a live bomb. He struggled to get his fighter’s superior Angle of Attack to make an actual difference. The Mirage was slowly inching into a good angle for a Sidewinder shot. The Mirage suddenly shot off in an errant direction, leaving him scrambling to follow after the Belkan. The Mirage then made a descending break to the right, forcing Ryan to bleed more energy to keep the offensive position. He looked down at his speed and realized he would need to speed up. His mind raced.
              “…Razor, keep an eye on this guy. I’m gonna shoot and then we’re gonna have to hit the gas.” He said, still thinking as he talked.
              “Do it.” Razor said. There was little question of his trust in the front-seater despite the shouting earlier.
              Ryan drew in a breath, gulped, and for good measure quietly declared he loved Mae very much and he would always be thankful for her. He then kept the nose aimed at the Mirage as he increased speed. The enemy jet eased its turn, apparently confident Ryan had been forced to give up his advantage. Ryan watched as the symbols on his HUD slid together. Ryan fired the second he heard the tone, which he figured was just a little outside minimum range.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 2.” He reported, feeling his chest tighten in anticipation.
              Ryan went to the right of the Mirage and started pumping both kinds of countermeasures he had. He dared look over to the Belkan as he went for speed and energy. The pilot was most likely going to have a Magic or his cannons ready. Ryan felt a vibration and looked over to see the fireball as it tore apart the Mirage. He watched another second as the sight fell behind and then looked forward. The pilot let out a breath for the first time in a minute. Score five; Ryan Bradford and Takeru Hinamoto had earned the coveted title of ace…
     
             
              The fighter community, especially the jet fighter community, had been around long enough that Ryan knew what awaited him on deck when he trapped aboard the Stinger. He’d seen all the pictures of the famous ones: Skip Barnet, Samuel Hopper, Gregory Walker, César Alvarez and Harold Kilian. His own dad and his CO, who were closer to home, and all of them pictured triumphantly in one way or another after the fifth kill. Often they had some sort of smile and were near the aircraft that’d worked with them to achieve that fifth kill, among several other photos. Ryan and Razor’s defining shot was them shaking hands next to the jet, just after they’d gotten down from the cockpit.
              First on the scene, apart from the aircraft’s ground crew, were Ranger and Gritty, who offered up handshakes and congratulations to the two aviators. Tom was also on scene for two of his best friends.
              “Good shooting, guys! You gotta tell all the details. Fuck I bet those Belks are probably gonna be pissed when their loss today included making two guys aces.” He exclaimed enthusiastically as he shook their hands.
              “We’ll share all we can in debrief, Bull.” Ryan assured.
              As the two accepted more handshakes, the crowd was joined by CAG and Captain Richard Schumacher, commanding officer of the carrier. It was no surprise that he’d shown up.; Captain Schumacher had made such an appearance a habit. The celebration surrounding anyone’s achievement of ace, whether they were the first, fifth, or twenty-eighth of the war was nothing to him. Aces were aces aboard his carrier.
              “Congratulations Lieutenant Bradford and Lieutenant Hinamoto on your fifth kill.” He shouted in a subtly nasal tone.
              “Thank you, sir.” Razor replied as the two shook hands.
              “Yes, thank you sir.” Ryan added as the Captain turned to him. Schumacher looked at the jet.
              “Do you plan to give the bird a nickname, too? Think a plane that belongs to a pair of aces deserves a nickname.” The senior man suggested.
              “We’re thinking about it, sir.” Ryan commented.
              Finally on scene was a proud-looking Washington. His aircrew shook hands with him and congratulated the man on the work that kept the jet in good shape. The major part of what made their kill possible. He then accepted a tool tray with metal stencils and paint in it. The kill marking that was becoming standard for Osean crews was a yellow triangle with half the inside black and the other half white (a combination of their national flag and military’s roundel). Ryan and Razor had been keeping their tally under their names on the canopy.

              “Sirs, I believe now is the time to solidify your new title with physical proof.” He nodded. The pilots agreed and accepted the supplies. Ryan held the stencil while Razor started carefully applying paint. For Chieftain and the Firebirds we’ve lost, Belka…


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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:08 pm

    Chp. 10: We Did the Ditch!
    April 23, 1995
    OFS Stinger
     
              “Death is inevitable, my fellow sailors. We are human; we are not above God, his Son or his Kingdom. Therefore our time on Earth is never forever, and it is never given any guaranteed length…”
              Ryan listened silently as Lieutenant Commander/Father Marlowe gave his sermon. Other members of the ship sat in the pews around him, listening as the chaplain offered a way for them to address the losses of shipmates and friends over the past month. Ryan hadn’t realized it’d been that long until recently.
              “God never said that following him would make life easy. Life this way was never supposed to be easy. The life of a warrior, the sheepdog who guards the flock from wolves, is never easy. But with God we have something to draw strength and direction from. We have a way to find a greater purpose, fellow sailors. He takes death, an event that seems to many the ultimate in pain, and makes it nothing put a temporary struggle; one that leads to eternal life with him. So know that your fellow warriors suffer no more. Let’s bow our heads and pray fellow sailors.”
              Ryan lowered his head while Marlowe led the others in prayer. Every time he came here he felt a new sense of his own humanity. It was so easy to feel all-powerful and in control when you had a college degree, a commission in the Osean Navy, and were a fighter pilot who flew the F-14 Tomcat. Even when you were launched or recovering you didn’t think about it. Maybe night landings, but it tended to play second fiddle to the sheer desire to get aboard safely. But you came here and you were humbled. If it was your time, you could find your cockpit would be your coffin. Ryan opened his eyes as the prayer, and subsequently the service, ended. He stood up and followed the others out, trying to decide whether or not he wanted to die in the front seat of his plane. He nearly bumped into another person going down the hall.
              “Sorry I was a bit wrapped up in thought.” Ryan apologized. He looked up to see Tom.
              “Bull, what brings you around this part of the boat?” the blonde asked with a questioning look. He shrugged.
              “Can only have so many vices, man.”
              “Rocky” Bradford cocked a brow at the enigmatic statement and then looked back at the chapel. Father Marlowe was leaving and the Catholic Priest, Lieutenant Commander/Father Isaac Griss. He put two and two together.
              “Talking to Father Griss?” He asked.
              “Yeah…I uh, can’t be all partying and vices all the time, yah know?” Tom admitted.
              “Nothing wrong with that.” Ryan replied readily. The other man who’d been known for his wild lifestyles quickly excused himself and hurried for the door.
              “Hey, Bull.”
              The taller pilot looked back at him and found Ryan was back near the door.
              “Lemme go inside with you, man. Least you can have a familiar face along for this little venture. Yeah I know, I ain’t Catholic but moral supports better than none.” He proposed. Tom nodded and walked in…
     
     
              The phrase “Did the Ditch” had been in Osean Navy culture for decades, Cody Walker lectured. The tradition of visiting the Futuro Canal and patrolling it was like part of a family’s yearly road trip. Since the OFS Osea had first traversed her in 1949, such an event had only been stopped twice. Ranger would be a part of both, having first seen combat when it’d been cut off during the 1985 crisis. In a performance that the squadron declared was nothing short of Oscar-worthy, their squadron commander explained how grave an offense the Belkans had committed. Like a vegetarian railing against a steakhouse, he amused and riled up his aircrews for the fight ahead. Generally Ranger wasn’t known for this kind of humorous act, but the need to maintain morale was something he valued.
              “It’s like having a man steal yer dog! It’s like having a man steal yer wife! It’s unlawful, almost! The Belkans, with their noses angled up high, come stompin in and take The Ditch?! Why Ah’d sooner fly an Eagle than Ah’d let them hold The Ditch!” He raved, trying not to smile. His subordinates had long given up hiding their grins; it was only fuel to his fire.
              “Ah see yah boys smiling, all yah West Coast boys! Y’all get to go too Songola, Emmeria and the Islands, and chase all those young girls. Ah never expected y’all to love The Ditch! Fool Ah am for havin hope.” He answered, sighing dramatically at the end. The man’s composure slowly reformed into the usual afterwards. Cody smoothed out his hair and put his aviators on the podium he used.
              “But Ah know y’all know the motto and mission of us Typhoons very well. So we’re gonna go out, and we’re gonna ride that storm. And whadda we do after that?!” He said, becoming the king calling his knights to war at the end.
              “WE KILL THE BANDITS!!” The squadron roared back.
              Charged for what many believed to be the ultimate fight for Sapin, the pilots exited the room to gear up. Today, VF-115 was launching six of its jets to cover a strike on the airfield at the canal. VFA-215 would be adding four of its Hornets to the mix to provide close-in CAP for a strike force of six birds from VFA-28. They’d be hitting one of the “airbases” at the canal. In reality it was a small airport used by the oil companies there, but the Sapinish government did have the facilities for a small detachment of fighters plus radar. The Hornets and four Prowlers would destroy the radars and most of the base’s facilities while four Intruders destroyed the runways and knocked out hardened aircraft shelters.
              Further complicating matters was the fact that two other strikes would be going on over the canal. The Ustians would be sending a force of F-20A Tigersharks to knock out part of the Belkan ground component of the defense, covered by Mirage F.1s and their only two F-15 Eagles. At the north end of the canal, along the large inland bay there, CVW-15 aboard OFS Kestrel would be destroying the last of the Belkan naval presence in the area while Sapinish F-18s and Tornado GR1s hit the other airbase. Every member of the coalition was coming to Futuro to kick out the Belkans. It was understandable this was being deemed the “ultimate battle” for Sapin.
              Ryan would be with his ever-faithful friends Tom and Keith yet again. Ryan gave them the lead position to get them some more experience. Besides Tom had six kills by now; he’d shown he could at least try the lead position more…under supervision. It helped that Keith was as levelheaded as he was. During the time between having geared up and waiting to be called topside, they discussed the route they would take. Coordinating with the rest of the CAP, Ryan and Tom would be on the far right. The plan was to let the Prowlers strike at the defenses around the airbase and then take up position to the northeast of it afterwards. The Hornets would make their runs east to west behind their protective screen.
              It was notably warm on the deck that day, enough to where Ryan rolled up his flightsuit’s sleeves and kept his mask off until he was easing into place on the #2 Catapult. As much as he’d liked the older HGU-33, it felt less like his head was getting boiled in the 55. It felt like he was all the way over in the Persian Sea, near Kedhan, Shamlak, and Isara. He kept his gloves on to beat the warmed controls, though, and kept two extra bottles of ice-cold water on hand. Everything was being done to prevent the heat from getting him while he was on the ground. The wind rushing down the deck teased him after his canopy was shut. He eventually had to ignore it as he was launched to once again perform his trade.
              The ocean was shining blue today, dotted by the gray hulks of warships. Ryan and Tom settled into position 22,000 feet above the Earth and began their steady trek northwest towards Futuro Canal’s western side. The gait was slow to allow the EA-6s to stay close by. Ryan kept a constant eye on his fuel; it was possible they would need to bring the KA-6s up further to meet the F-14s after the fight.
              “Hey Razor.” Ryan spoke up as the whitish-yellow sands of the Ibãnez Desert began to appear at the maximum range of his vision.
              “Talk to me, Rocky.” His RIO said without lifting his eyes from the radar display.
              “I, uh…I asked Mae if she wants to have a kid when I get back.” He confessed.
              “How long back was this?” Razor replied, arching a brow.
              “Last letter, so about five days.”
              “Did you give it serious, actual thought to this? The costs and such?”
              “Razor you know me. I spent three months worrying about proposing to Mae after being with her for years.”
              “This is very true.”
              The conversation died down after that while the two shifted into combat mode again. Razor declared them feet dry just as the Prowlers were starting to hone in on the radar signatures further inland. Ryan did have some closing comments, though.
              “So is it bad I kind of want a kid in part to keep the bloodline going? Like it’s not an active desire but like when I think on it, I don’t reject it as a reason.”
              “I…don’t know how to answer that. My degree was in Aerospace Engineering, not Psychology.” Razor said.
              Holding off on the matter, Ryan switched to chaff and divided his attention between instructions from Tom, the RWR tone, and his RIO. The tones were changing and shifting today in an almost uncertain manner. Unlike the radars of the Belkan Navy, these dishes weren’t sitting on top of floating arsenals. SAM sites were “easier” to kill, if you could put it that way. The weapons aimed at the incoming Oseans were examples of the SA-6 Gainful.
              “Firebird Lead, this is Galm Lead, we’re approaching our IP from your nine. We’ve got Cheetah Flight with us…keep a heads up.” A voice with a Usean accent (no one could place exactly where it was) declared.
              “Roger Galm Lead, good hunting.”
              Ryan looked to his left, but couldn’t see anything. Swinging his vision back to the right, he caught glimpses of the smoke trails from AGM-88 HARMs (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile). His RWR’s skittishness began to drop off, but for a long time. It went back up as at least one defiant SAM site rebelled against the incoming Osean missiles that would inevitably render it useless. Ryan didn’t see the missile launch against the sandy landscape at first, but he deployed chaff and followed Tom’s instructions until he spotted the white-colored missile.
              “Rocky, break!” Tom called.
              Ryan threw himself away from the missile first, and then used his speed so when he wrenched back to the left, the missile wouldn’t be able to follow. More launches heavily suggested two batteries, maybe one among the Belkan ground troops, was gonna go to the death. Ryan dared not roll or make any moves down; that would bring him in range of the ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” or the SA-13 “Gopher”. The Gainfuls may have been big and fast, but they were slow to maneuver because of their size. Even as the radar shut down a few more came, probably on optical guidance (Ryan had only learned that while spending his time making the overall plan in Operations). He still deployed chaff and dodged another one, which raced above and exploded behind after being fooled. Both men in the jet could feel the shockwave vibrating their big fighter. There were no signs of any kinds at all, Ryan noted. Nor did any of the MiGs that were supposed to be around seem to be tracking. He smiled and glanced towards one of the ugly-looking Prowlers as he overtook it.
              Ryan and Tom ended up closer to the oil refineries by the time the ground-based radars were going silent. It wasn’t the best position to be in as Ryan saw the twinkles of ZSUs vainly trying to reach them. AWACS was also making bandit calls now. They were late.
              “Firebird, this is Ambassador, pop-up contacts. Bandits at 165, 70 miles, Angels 18. We count four, most likely Fulcrums.” Their E-2 radioed.
              “Roger that Ambassador.” Cody replied, unable to hide his testiness. “Galm Lead” cut in.
              “Galm and Cheetah will go for the bandits near the mouth of the canal, Firebird. Press for the airbase and take out the rest of em.” Galm’s leading pilot volunteered. The Typhoon pilots all wondered if their commander might deny the Ustian.
              “Negative Galm, Cheetah, Cadillac is turning to engage.” Privateer Campbell, the XO of VFA-215, cut in.
              “…Galm copies all…We uh, our AWACS just handed us bandits to our north.” The unseen man replied, working to recompose himself.
              “Firebird you have more bandits, just got airborne. Heading 358, 50 miles, Angels 2. Just two now, expect more.” The E-2 said, getting things back on track.
              Ryan selected the six AIM-7s they had, and Razor started tending to the radar.
              “Rocky, loose deuce.” Tom radioed.
              “Roger, Lead.” Ryan said, easing his stick to the left.
              The RWR became alerted again as the radars on the Belkans turned towards the Oseans. Their flight paths were both respectively straight and level as each side ran to get to weapons range (AIM-7 and AA-10). Ryan had to wait until 31 miles separation to shoot; the Belkans would be firing just after he knew. The hell with it; if he got off a shot maybe he could stop their attack.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 1!” He called.
              The RWR surged for a minute, only to drop. Ryan saw a flash far ahead and adjusted so it at least looked like it was going to go to his right.
              “Break formation, Rocky.” Tom ordered with an edge in his voice.
              Ryan did that the best he could while trying to keep a single dot inside the AIM-7’s steering circle. Something in him was shouting “show that the Sparrow can kill something for once”. He drove the MiG-29 down and to the left with his aggressiveness, daring the protective envelope of AA below. The MiG made a violent snap upwards; Ryan simply abandoned his first AIM-7 and went for a second shot. The two jets were closing in on the range for dogfighting now, and he had to wonder if the Sparrow have enough distance to arm properly. His question was answered in the blink of an eye. The weapon intercepted the Belkan aircraft as if it were a rocket rising up to the stars.
              Ryan rolled over and cruised over the airfield high and fast, inverted so he could try and spot any aircraft that might be taking off or trying to hide in the envelope of the defenses on the ground, which ones were left. He saw two explosions below near the perimeter. More HARMs, he guessed; the Prowlers had to be having a field day. He spotted movement on the ground itself and found himself a little surprised they still seemed to be trying to get jets up.
              “Skipper, we’ve got two MiGs trying to take off. Is the AAA down?” Tom radioed.
              “Amp Lead reports so.” Cody reported. A second later he seemed to catch what Tom might be getting at; it was too late.
              Tom snapped right, accelerating away towards the water. At the same time the pilot nosed down. Ryan followed him in support.
              “Bull, what’re you planning?” He had to ask. His lead’s tone fit his personality when he said the next sentence.
              “Gonna try and strafe em while they’re trying to taxi.”
              Ryan pushed his teeth together and started to switch to his gun, but stopped. It wasn’t good to go jumping up the chain of commander, but…
              “Skipper?” He spoke up.

              “Watch for AA, yah two. Do not, DO NOT, press if yer RWR beeps.” Cody replied reluctantly.
              The main threats on the ground near the base, at this point, were ZSUs detached from the army troops around the canal. The two F-14s slowed so they could make a tight turn  and start their run at the airfield, once again speeding up to avoid the guns. Tom advised Ryan to break left just before they overshot the Fulcrums to avoid the jets having a good shot immediately after takeoff, to which he couldn’t agree more. Tom would be going right. Ryan selected his M61 and kept up with Ryan. The airfield came by in a flash, but he could still see everything clearly. Off to his right, he spotted shapes parked near executive jets that’d been pushed off into the sand to make room. Their un-Fulcrum-like appearance (if that was even a viable word) made him guess they were the Super Etendards supposedly here for anti-shipping. He drew in a breath and depressed the nose for just a second, squeezing off a burst. The aircraft barely had time to warn him once about his altitude before he snapped up and to the left, screaming back to the high altitudes his plane was made for. Razor watched the results, or lack thereof; if anything had happened, they were moving away too fast for it to be seen.
              “Okay Rocky, they’re getting airborne. If we’re gonna nab number seven, we’d better get em now.” He advised.
              “Roger that.” Ryan breathed out.
              The rest of the F-14s were circling above and overhead, tangling with the few Belkan jets still higher up. For now he kept his eyes on the darkened shapes of the MiG-29s as they rushed along the floor, probably trying to get to the SA-13s and ZSUs. Ryan, cannon still selected, gave Tom a heads up and made a slashing attack at the fighters before they could do anything like that. This time he had more altitude to play with, allowing him to keep his nose down longer as he started the attack from around 8000 feet. Still he kept it short before pulling away; this time he saw a few flashes on the lead MiG. As they went ahead he made the F-14 turn left faster than usually was called for. The sheer power forced a warrior like yell out of him.
              His vision faded even as he grunted and worked his muscles, but Ryan’s heart was pounding away too much for him to feel much of anything. He heard Tom call out over the radio that he was coming in from above. Ryan acknowledged; the airframe survived the turn and he selected the AIM-9s he had. The MiGs split and Ryan took the lead guy as he made for the hills beyond the Canal Zone. Just as they hit the terrain the MiG broke left and began to slow. Ryan had too much momentum and was forced to break right and climb. The Fulcrum made a lazy sweep back to the right, increasing speed and centering his nose right on the Tomcat.
              Ryan deployed flares as the RWR stayed quiet and quickly brought himself out of after burner. He rolled and went into a Split-S, aiming to move so fast, so violently, so unpredictably the Belkan couldn’t keep up. Ryan looked over his shoulder towards his five o’ clock and saw the MiG had made as hasty a 180 turn as it could to negate his move.
              “He’s got an Archer off.” Razor reported just before the warning came on.
              Without a word Ryan tilted the jet left and made as tight a turn as his speed would allow him. The missile was still coming, prompting Ryan to throw his fighter back to the right and make a wide roll. He let off more flares and rode out the shaking from the Gs. Ryan then came out of the loop in a turn towards the MiG, shaking off the missile. The MiG shot again as it turned towards the F-14, forcing Ryan to snap to the right quickly. He found himself screaming back towards the canal. Ryan had to kill this MiG somehow…he had no tricks to use. Old fashioned way it was.
              Ryan decided to at least gain some altitude and pulled up, making a climb to around 10,000 feet. He could see the twisting and turning of the furball over the airfield, and he heard the strikers announcing they were starting to roll in. Ryan went higher to avoid the Hornets.
              “Razor can you see what he’s got left on him?” Ryan asked.
              “I can…I think I can see a pair of Alamos…Nothing else; no dual-Archer launchers today, heh.” The RIO observed through several maneuvers to try and get the advantage. Ryan was sarcastically glad his friend found that humorous.
              The pilot rolled over and made a dive for the water, speeding up at first and slowing just as he went inverted. The move brought the Fulcrum closer than its pilot would’ve wanted to be without proper preparation. As a result he went screaming over Ryan and Razor, which Ryan immediately took advantage of. He got his fighter into the best position he could with the energy he had so the AIM-9 had enough of the MiG in its view to get a lock. The Fulcrum trailed flares more as a kneejerk reaction; he didn’t even try to maneuver. The F-14 separated from its weapon just after the countermeasures were gone. The kill was quick, almost simultaneous with the launch from the Tomcat.
              Ryan pulled up and over the wreckage of the Fulcrum, kill number seven. The pilot turned to the left and struck north to establish a CAP, or try and do something of that nature. He also made a mental note that Tom would need more time being lead around the boat before he led out on a combat hop again. The place was still a ball of confusion. Unbeknownst to the duo in Firebird 105, Cody was mumbling about how the strike was “falling apart like it had in 85”. Ryan caught glimpses of Hornets flying in twos and threes, their passes over the airfield followed by explosions and trails of oily black smoke as planes and other flammable objects burned unabated. Belka’s last hold on Sapin had been broken…
     
     
              “Do we have a good camera angle?” The reporter asked his cameraman.
              The man with the minicam on his shoulder nodded and the reporter walked out so he could be seen. Behind him, the latest of the LCACs coming ashore was easing into place. Aboard was another M1A1 Abrams being sent to give a heavier punch to the infantry and lighter vehicles, LAVs and AAVs, fighting near the refinery. They waited until the sound subdued to a tolerable level before the cameraman started recording.
              “This is Jason Ian for Eastern Osean News. Behind me, elements of the Osean 1st Marine Division land after the initial assault on Futuro Canal. Though we can’t hear it over the sounds of this military hovercraft, called an LCAC, coming ashore, we’ve seen signs of fighting throughout the day. The Osean forces have been very particular about avoiding a fight near the machinery or the oil storage tanks around the facility. They believe that the destruction of these will not only lead to dangerous conditions, but will adversely affect their objective of securing this facility intact.” He stated.
              As the man talked, a pair of AH-1W Super Cobras rushed overhead, west of the beachhead. The cameraman instinctively moved his device to catch them.
              “The Marines have been flying in attack helicopters like those ones and jets just as frequently. The amount of equipment going ashore indicates that the fighting is fierce over the refineries and ship facilities. She unfortunately have not been allowed to head closer to the battle for our own safety; for now the only cameras in there are lone reporters who can capture the fight in the heat of the action.” Ian went on.
              The tank that’d recently come ashore moved up to a forward area were another two were. The last of the tanks to be brought ashore in the latest wave was due to arrive soon.
              “We haven’t been given any clear indication on when the area will be safe yet, but we’ve been told that the Belkans have nowhere to run and have been attacked extensively prior to this landing. It’s speculated that the Belkan forces here will be unable to hold out for long and will surrender in short time. This is Jason Ian, Eastern Osean News.”

              As the bit finished up, another pair of AH-1s went overhead, armed with fresh missiles, rockets, and bullets. Belka’s last Sapinish stronghold may have been broken, but it hadn’t stopped punching and kicking.


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:01 am

    Chp. 11: Peeping Tomcat
    May 10, 1995
    NAS Altaria Bay
     
              “As always Mae, thank you for helping. I know it’s just as tough on you, but you’ve been strong and that’s important. You haven’t let the worry stay.” Anne Walker said as the two left the ballroom for Altaria Bay’s events center.
              “I think I just flushed it out of my system. Like when you get angry; you fume and fume until you just run out of the energy to be angry. Or you stop and think or have time to think.” Mae replied with a small smile.
              The two had finished another Squadron Family Support Group (SFSG) meeting, and with Anne as the wife of Cody Walker that meant she was usually the leader at the meetings. She’d been a sailor’s wife the longest so naturally she’d had the most time to understand the trials. As they approached the lobby of the building, someone loudly cleared their throat. The two stopped their conversation and looked over as a woman about Mae’s age, maybe a few years younger, approached. Anne showed immediate recognition.
              “Mira?” She asked, surprised.
              “Hello mom.” The woman replied weakly. Anne’s motherly instincts picked up on the tone; the dark-haired woman quickly drew her daughter up in a hug.
              “Mae, this is my daughter, Mirabelle. We tend to use Mira, though. Mira this is Marine, or Mae for short.” Anne quickly explained. Mira widened her smile a little at Mae.
              “Nice to meet you.” Mira said.
              “I’m glad to see you honey, but this is unexpected. What brings you here?” Anne replied, pleasant as ever. Mira cast an unsure glance at Mae.
              “Can we talk in private, mom?” She asked.
              Anne excused herself; Mae simply decided she should head home since there was nothing much to do here anymore.
              “I’ll see you soon, Anne. Mira, it was nice to meet you.” She said in farewell.”
              The young wife left the mother and daughter to talk and walked out into the parking lot towards her Toyota. She cast one last thoughtless glance towards the lobby as she got in the car and saw Mira seemed to be crying. Anne also seemed to be visibly distraught. Mae froze, at first uncertain whether she should let them have privacy or aid her friend and her daughter. After a second the second option won; Anne helped Mae and now it was time to do the same. The brunette hurried across the pavement, sandals slapping rapidly against the pavement, and slowed herself considerably when she reached the doors. The two looked back at her, showing a little surprise but not much.
              “I…I’m sorry Anne, Mira, I couldn’t help but notice.” She explained sheepishly. Mira didn’t say anything to the stranger.
              “Did I…listen I only came back because Anne is my friend and I’m not generally comfortable with turning my head away from this kind of thing.” She replied, constantly pushing back a defensive tone in the face of an uncomfortable-looking Mira.
              “You don’t have to tell me what’s going on; I just want to make sure you’re okay and offer my help, however that would play out.” Mae added.
              There was a long, painful silence. Mae looked to Anne for some kind of guidance on what to do, or maybe approval.
              “It’s a long story.” Mira simply muttered.
              “I understand.” Mae nodded readily.
              “Mom…I uhm, I’ll be in my car.” Mira said, walking away sheepishly.
              Mae let her past and looked at Anne, who covered her eyes with a hand.
              “Anne, is there anything I can do right now?” Mae insisted. The older woman, unlike her daughter, look calmer but still deeply troubled.
              “I need to think about this, Mae…I’ll, I’ll keep in contact, okay?” She said with a strained grin. Mae nodded slowly.
              “Please, anything I can do to help. Just ask.” Mae said. Anne hugged her gratefully.
              “Thank you, dear. I know Mira’s reluctant right now but I think she’ll need some help.” She whispered…
     
             
              “Today’s your lucky day, Rocky my boy. Our other TARPS bird got some real nice dents in it from a Zeus yesterday, so that means you get to do today’s run.” Buckshot said with a cheeky smile. Ryan’s face paled.
              “Whoa whoa whoa there Buckshot…sir.” Ryan protested, changing his tone when he saw the Ops O wasn’t in the mood for such a line of speaking.
              “My qualification for TARPS isn’t much more than a gilded title. I’ve barely got any time doing this kind of thing.” He tried, poking at reason.
              “You trained on how to do low-level, right?”
              “Yes.”
              “And you were certified ready for TARPS hops in a combat environment?”
              “Yes.”
              “Then you’re qualified, Rocky. Besides you’ve got Razor; he loves TARPS. More to the point he knows his shit, so if nothing else follow his guidance.”
              Ryan turned around as Razor walked up to the Ready Room’s flight schedule and gave the sortie one last look over. He turned his head to his pilot and smirked confidently.
              “Like the man said, I love TARPS and I know how to do it. Trust me it’s not that hard, Rocky. You just fly in a straight line when you get close and let me take pictures. We get admirers we have an entire force guarding us. CAP, Iron Hand, the works.” He promised.
              “Well not like I have a choice.” Ryan said, putting his best foot forward to avoid drawing any further wraith from his department head.
              The target that morning was the capital of Ustio: Directus. The Allied troops were rapidly closing and the need for up-to-date intelligence was becoming more and more apparent. In two days, the boots on the ground would seize the capital. Ustio’s own army, leading the way on this one but lacking the air recon capabilities of its bigger friends needed images of the Belkan defenses, which were constantly being reinforced and repositioned. Ryan could imagine they were being generously given every picture of their own city. He looked at the route: They would push up over Futuro, adjust to the right, and then go straight for the capital. One pass, southwest to northeast, and then they’d circle around and head back into Sapin. If they needed a divert, Valais Air Base was the nearest facility.
              Ryan noted his armament, which was his gun, two Sidewinders and two Sparrows. The TARPS pod would take up a good deal of space on the belly of his Tomcat, but he’d have an ALQ-167, an electronic warfare pod that’d just started coming into the Tomcat community since last year. It’d give him some protection against whatever the Belkans wished to lob at the aircraft, but Ryan still intend to rely heavily on the Prowler they’d been allotted. Coincidentally CAG would be flying the Prowler, which made him feel safer.
              “Your route will take you over the city’s center, where you’ll be photographing the Central Justice Chambers, National Treasury building, and the Department of Governmental Affairs for the Republic. From what we know the Belkans tend to keep their AAA away from the town center to give them clear fields of fire. Don’t they they won’t still try and shoot at you, though. The lack of clouds today is gonna have you guys exposed, but in your one pass you should have caught them off guard enough to avoid most of the shooting.” Professor Yulet explained.
              Ryan checked the charts being passed around and saw they had SA-10s sitting around the capital. He grimaced at the fact; SA-6s would be trying enough, especially in force. The SA-10, the system which the Prince Bierwirth’s SA-N-6 was derived from, was lauded as the most potent air defense system out there. It was part of why he’d be loaded down with so much chaff. He’d have the stuff in an Enhanced Chaff Adapter (ECA) and in the compartments at the back of his Sidewinder rails. He’d also have an ALQ-167 noise jammer to try and preempt the defenses they’d be braving. He was still going to rely on the Prowler, though. That and the low-altitude approach in the final minutes, which was supposed to keep them out of reach of the more powerful defenses around the area.
              Ryan and Razor launched last in the cycle that morning. High above, six Tomcats from VF-34 cruised along through the purplish sky, while four VFA-215 Hornets and a single Prowler roared along several miles off his two o’clock. A lot of firepower to protect one camera ship, Ryan had to admit…
     
     
              Hauptmann Rudolph Bernhard stood behind his subordinates inside the command trailer of Battery 3 of the Belkan Army’s 98th Air Defense Battalion. Rudolph always felt an unescapable, hair-raising power when he was in his battery’s command truck. It was the most beautiful missile system a man could be gifted with, and when married to Belkan technology for localization purposes the SA-10 Grumble (as the Oseans and many of their allies called it) could hold up any air force. The fact that he was one of two batteries in the city, layered with SA-6s and ZSUs, only made him feel happier. The last days had brought many catches as well, mostly tactical aircraft hammering away at the Belkan 19th Panzergrenadiers as it clung to the city. With more examples of his system helping to keep their supply feed as unmolested as possible, Bernhard was happy to sit here and waste away the Allied jets at day. Then he would treat himself to the local comfort women at night.
              “Herr Hauptmann, we have multiple radar contacts at Heading 215 closing at multiple altitudes. Nearest group is approximately 173 Kilometers away, flying at an altitude of 7000 Meters. Radar identifies six targets in the group.” One of the controllers reported.
              “Second group numbers five. They are 179 Kilometers out and at 4200 Meters altitude; same vector as first group.” The one next to him reported. She then squinted.
              “They have a jammer aircraft with them.” She reported as signs of interference started to show on her screen.
              “Are they in our sector?” Bernhard asked, looking towards a map at the same time one of the Fire Control Officers did. To avoid the entire network set up around the city from firing all at once, endangering friendly aircraft and wasting ammunition, sectors had been assigned. Inside those sectors altitudes were also assigned with the lower half belonging to guns and short-range missiles and the upper half weapons like the SA-10.
              “Yes sir, their current path will take them over the city’s government sector.” He nodded.
              “Very well, start with the strike aircraft and their jammer; our own air force can deal with the fighters.” He replied.
              The sound of plastic and metallic clicks started to go off like fireworks as the crew inside the trailer got to work, simultaneously trying to track the incoming aircraft and deal with the jamming from what they were guessing was an EA-6B Prowler by its speed. The impulses and numbers were relayed from the command post, sitting under some trees in a park, to six missile launchers positioned (in various places) in a low arc north of the Ustian houses of government. The dots on their radars started to maneuver, even the Prowler which was hanging back and trying to hide behind the shield the offensive machines provided. The problem that would grow with the jamming and general countermeasures was that the missiles the site carried were only capable of reaching out 62 miles away. The crew worked fast and from their TELs, six missiles were fired with solid enough tracks, two for the EA-6 and four for the Hornets. About five seconds later the response came in the form of two AGM-88 HARMs, one for the search radar, and one for the acquisition radar. The operators would be spared, for the most part, pending the Hornets didn’t close in and use their AGM-65G Mavericks…
     
     
              “CAG?!” Someone in the Hornet flight called. There as a burst of static that almost made Ryan flinch hard.
              “Amp 600 is hit, Amp 600 is hit…bugging out and heading southeast…” CVW-5’s commander reported grimly through the electronic noise.
              Ryan made a low noise that had the traits of a moan and a growl. Their Prowler was gone, and with it a good deal of their electronic protection. At Razor’s behest he dove to 3000 feet while the RIO made sure for a second time the ALQ-167 was functional and firing on all cylinders. His hands were split between being ready to fire off the TARPS’s cameras and put out a storm of chaff.
              “Firebird 1-1 this is Skull 1-1 we’ve got bandits inbound. Maintain your course; we will draw them away.” Commander Roy Hunter, CO of VF-34, radioed.
              “Roger, Skull Lead!” Ryan blurted out, sounding more like a nugget doing his first night trap than a combat veteran.
              “Keep cool Rocky, keep cool…here we go, brother.” Razor said in a steely-cool voice from behind.
              Ryan descended again to 1600 feet, where the main threats became the ZSUs and the SA-13 Gopher. Ryan watched as the final few hills southwest of Directus flattened out, leaving the somewhat rustic cityscape. A few office buildings’ glass exteriors glinted in the sunlight, contradicting the fact that the city was occupied and had been subjected to bombing since April. Ryan even thought he saw cars as he passed the city limits; his mind was more focused on the run, though. He worked the rudder pedals and swiveled the nose just enough to the right that they’d pass directly over the target buildings. He then, very reluctantly, lowered his speed so the pictures would be of good quality.
              “We’re at the IP!” Razor called.
              Ryan eased back the stick and brought them upwards again. He saw errant flashes that were tracers, and heard his plane warn him that a SAM, a Gopher to be exact, had been fired at him. Ryan frantically pumped out flares and waited for Razor to announce the film was rolling. Somewhere behind him the SA-13 round had gone ballistic; they were now around 5500 feet.
              “Film’s rolling!” Razor called.
              Now Ryan couldn’t move a muscle…this was insane! But now he understood why the A-6 jocks bragged about their “safety at low level”: they didn’t have to do it at over Mach 1 with an entire arsenal flying at them! Ryan gritted his teeth as they screeched over the government complexes. The words “Fuck this hop” and “I love you, Mae” took turns being aired inside his mind. Below and behind him and his RIO, the cameras in the oddly-shaped pod snapped picture after picture of the desired structures, along with the Belkan Military Policemen and members of the “Ustian Provincial Transition Council” (the fledgling puppet government Belka had been installing). In hindsight Ryan had wished he’d flipped the place the bird as he passed, but his mind was still too focused.
              “Film’s stopped!” Razor declared.
              Ryan immediately started pumping out chaff from the ECA, pumping it out at the level that aircraft like the B-52 did (or at least trying hard to reach that level). He banked to the right, moving away from the direction of the airport.
              “Firebird 1-1 has made run, Firebird 1-1 has made run! Egressing from Directus on Heading 017!” Ryan called out as he screamed along, still at relatively low altitude.
              “Roger that Firebird, Skull and Cadillac are egressing on Heading 190. We’ll meet you at the RP.” Hunter replied. Ryan made his acknowledgment quick as the firing died down. He glanced up at a rearview mirror to see Razor flash a cheeky grin.
              “Told you it was my thing, Rocky.”

              “Shut the fuck up, Razor.”


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Tue Sep 13, 2016 2:28 pm

    Chp. 12: Precarious Waters
    May 12, 1995
    Solis Ortus, Ustio
     
              Brigadier General Harold McKaffey, commander of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, walked from the command post he had in the schoolhouse to a waiting M1025 HUMVEE. The Corporal inside hurried out to salute him, as did the gunner manning the M2 machine gun atop the vehicle, which McKaffey quickly went through for time’s sake, and got in the front seat. His radio operator sat in the back. The light vehicle lurched off and quickly turned around, accelerating rapidly down the street towards the main highway through town.
              “Good morning sir, day’s getting better by the minute isn’t it sir?” The driver nervously chattered.
              “It’ll keep getting better if you drive properly.” McKaffey warned. The young man just nodded and concentrated on not crashing.
              McKaffey looked at a shop as the wrecked hulk of a Belkan M113 jutted partway into it. There were plenty of scenes like that around this town. The place had been nothing more than a place for skiers to come in the winter for their pastime before the past few days. Now the trinket shops and bakeries were being passed by Osean airborne infantry on patrol. They’d clear out the remains of the two Belkan Panzergrenadier battalions here in the coming days, for now the priority was to get the Ustians’ 3rd Mechanized Division and 16th Armored Brigade through so they could make a lightning descent onto Directus and the Belkan forces there. McKaffey would be at the northern part of town to greet the lead elements of the former as they came through. There’d also be teams from about half a dozen different news outlets to film the historic moment that was one general telling the other what the road ahead looked like.
              The General didn’t care about this little PR act; among other things he was glad to be away from his blockheaded S3, Major Skarpske. Like the politicians who lauded Directus would fall in a day, the S3 had his own stupid claims. He believed and constantly insisted that the Osean Army Airborne and Rangers could do this alone; the infantry divisions and the Marines were “useless”. McKaffey would see him replaced as soon as they were back at Fort Sink. The general looked at another sign of the past days’ fighting, a Wiesel AWC with several holes from AT4 anti-tank rockets in it. Someone had drawn the character Killroy on the front along with “Up yours, Rald” below. McKaffey chuckled.
              The HUMVEE turned onto the highway and raced up the southbound side alongside the leading elements of 3rd Mechanized in their ERC-90 armored cars. The gunner on McKaffey’s HUMVEE returned the waves from a few smiling faces. The utility vehicle overtook the bigger machines and slowed at the northern edge of town, where the general got out. About two platoons of men under his command, one infantry and one weapons, were dug in just beyond the last buildings in the settlement’s limits. McKaffey looked at them, and then turned his head as a canvas-backed Land Rover slowed near him. General Joseph Von Welts, commander of the division, got out and returned the Osean’s salute. Unlike the paratrooper he was dressed more like Bernard Montgomery. In fact the two looked like they could be relatives, perhaps.
              “Welcome to Solis Ortus, General Von Welts.” McKaffey said over the sound of the column passing through.
              “We wouldn’t be able to if you and your men hadn’t pushed the Belkans out of the way.” Von Welts, looking very much the part of an aristocrat, nodded.
              “We’ll be turning you over to the 1st Marine Division now, General. They’ll cover your right flank and cut off the Belkan retreat when you push on Directus. They’re good boys, the Osean Marines…just keep a hand on your wallet.” McKaffey smiled.
              The Ustian General gave him a confused look, to which McKaffey only smiled. The man must not have watched A Bridge Too Far
     
     
              “Hey Ry, I gotta ask…why do you wanna be a pilot so bad?” Mae asked.
              Ryan looked up at the ice cream shop they’d gotten their cones from and gently rotated his cone in his hand.
              “I want to do something worthwhile, patriotic…and I dunno. I just wanna get up there and fly, I guess. Don’t wanna do it in a jetliner or something.” He explained.
              Mae let out a pensive “hmm” and took his hand while she licked away at the mint chip on her cone. Ryan thought nothing of the comment at first as he followed her example with his chocolate fudge, until the silence between them let his mind run long enough. Sensing his new girlfriend (and moreover his first) might not approve of his patriotic, adrenaline-seeking dreams he thought of a way to ask her. He couldn’t be too direct; she might not like that or it could fire off an argument. He had to be vague…tactful as Eli put it. It made sense; you went about any delicate situation by not asking dumb questions. He decided to appeal to Mae’s romantic tastes.
              “Hey Mae, do you think fighter pilots are sexy?”
              The brunette turned towards Ryan and gave him a bemused grin.
              “And what if I don’t think they’re sexy? I mean my dad’s one, so in a way I’d be saying he’s sexy.” She reasoned. Her boyfriend frowned while she went back to tending to her ice cream.
              “What I meant was do you think I’m sexy? And would I still be sexy as a fighter pilot?”
              Mae cocked a brow at him.
              “Why the hell didn’t you just ask if I thought you were sexy?”
              “Okay then, do you think I’m sexy?”
              “I don’t know, what might I think makes you sexy?”
              “Uh…I’m outdoorsy? Not an asshole? I have a soft spot for cute brunettes?”
              Mae chortled.
              “And you prefer yours to be of the hot, sporty girl variety.”
              Ryan frowned as she enjoyed his frustration at how to go about his dilemma.
              “You don’t seem to like the idea that I want to fly.” He tried. She took his hand and walked down the ramp from the shop onto the sidewalk.
              “Ry, my dad’s been doing it since I was born; I think I can handle you doing it.” Mae answered.
              “Even if the Yukes come and invade?”
              “Ry, YOU sound more worked up about it than me.”
              Ryan only fell deeper into embarrassment over how bad this had gone; Mae finally let up on him.
              “I think you’re sexy, Ry. You’ll probably be even sexier as a pilot. I prefer my beefcakes lean, if you catch my drift.” She smiled. The brunette then batted her eyelashes at him.
              “So tell me, flyboy, am I sexy?” She purred. Ryan smirked.
              “Hell yes. You’re hotter than a Playboy Bunny.” He said. She threw her head back and laughed…
     
     
              Ryan jolted awake when he leaned too far to the left. The pilot frowned that a nice dream of memories with his now-wife were interrupted just because he moved a little. He straightened up in his seat and unfolded his arms, resting his hands on either side of the HUD. Outside the world was bathed in a soft blood red, similar to a sleazy bar almost. It was all the direct opposite of the white beaches, warm sun, and bikini-clad Mae he’d been dreaming about. Soon enough they’d be in a place where he’d want his feisty brunette’s warmth even more.
              The Cascade Ocean, another place that Ranger had “chided” his subordinates about not visiting. This time though Ryan understood the place to a degree because it had a twin: the Arctic Ocean. The Osean Navy, and any other navy that had the expeditionary reach, went to the top and bottom of the world to train in the bitterest conditions possible. Cruising the frigid waters had universally become known as “Arctic Runs” in Osean military nomenclature. As adventurous as that sounded these were usually very, VERY trying stints. It meant no port calls for days or weeks and much more dangerous conditions. The Yuktobanians seemed to love to let their submarines toy around up here, which made the game of avoiding detection, or worse ambush, harder. The carrier only had six S-3s, and four SH-60s. That compared to the 48 F-14s and F-18s ready to ward off hordes of missile-slinging bombers…Ryan reminded himself they did also have an escort flotilla, to include an attack sub.
              “Deep in thought, fellow aviator?” Razor asked from the back.
              “Yes…desiring the warmth of my sweet, sweet Marine Bradford. Was having a nice dream about her.” Ryan yawned.
              “Was she clothed or all natural?”
              “Magenta bikini with flowers all over it.”
              “Very nice, very nice.”
              Ryan grinned at the cartoony accent his RIO had added and retracted his hands to check his watch. It was 0230, so they were due to be relieved in about four hours. He considered getting out and doing another walk around of the jet, but at this point he felt he was risking it. They were in the Avgrund Straits, where the carrier group could not be in its usual formation. They had to go up single file, and the entire air wing was confined to the ship. On their left was the perpetually neutral Republic of Nordlands and on the right was the always cranky Erusean Federation. The Alert Five WAS the BARCAP until they got into more open waters and airspace; the escorting ships would bear the first line of defense. They didn’t even dare to have an E-2 airborne since they couldn’t protect any adequately with fighters. The compensation was to have Eglin Straits play early warning, and to back the Alert Five with a Prowler, an Intruder tanker, another pair of Tomcats and a pair of Hornets.
              Aboard the aforementioned cruiser, the sailors on the graveyard shift were all in a sort of machinelike state as they watched their stations. The tension since The Battle of Oured Bay had tapered off sharply and the cruiser had gone from beating back waves of Belkan bombers and missiles and sinking a Belkan ship here and there to either launching BGM-109 Tomahawks at far away targets or simply looking pretty. Tonight there was the benefit, at least, of doing something important while looking pretty. In her seat, one of the many young sailors aboard the ship watched the skies and sea around the ship, looking for anything of note. Most of the airborne contacts were either civilian planes with their radio transmitters squawking in Mode III (as they should be to avoid trouble) or were well within their airspace.
              Her eyes swiveled towards the right side of the screen after checking the left, where she found a pair of Nordlands Air Defense Force aircraft, probably JA37s, and saw three radar contacts in the vicinity of Farbanti International Airport, which also doubled as an air force base. She watched as the contacts slowly turned southwest, towards the water. The sailor tensed and turned her head.
              “Radar contact! Bogeys Heading 085, 320 Miles at Angels 20. I count two bogeys.” She called.
              Heads turned towards her, then hands started guiding grease pencils on threat boards to record the potential threat. Weapons operators and officers quietly went about their business; Eglin Straits had 61 of its VLS cells loaded with RIM-67s. In more than a few peoples’ humble opinions, two jets weren’t worth a quarter of that. The matter wasn’t of WHEN they would fire; it was IF. These were likely Erusean jets.
              “New pair of bogeys…Heading 090, 350 Miles at Angels 23. Two in this group as well.” The radar operator updated. The threat boards were annotated to meet the new picture. Radio contact was established with the carrier.
              “Mothership, this is Echo-Sierra, we have four bogeys in two groups. First group Heading 085, 300 Miles at Angels 20…second is  Heading 090, 350 Miles at Angels 23.”
              “Mothership copies all, launching Alert Five, callsign Firebird 1. Echo-Sierra continue to monitor; you will guide Firebird in. We’ll uh, also have a Prowler up to run ECM.”
              “Echo-Sierra copies all.”
              On the deck of the carrier an alarm sounded loud enough to break through the usual din of activity. Ryan threw a glance towards the island, and then looked forward as deck crewmen were scrambling around his fighter.
              “Ready the Alert Five! Ready the Alert Five!”
              Ryan lowered his orange-tinted visor and looked around as the announcement sounded across the deck. The HH-60 acting as plane guard was already lifting towards its place next to the carrier. He looked to the right, where his lead was sitting on Cat #1. He’d be on CAG’s wing; had to appreciate the little things. The aircraft was pretty much ready to go; they just had to go through the final few procedures of launch. Ryan moved his plane’s control surfaces once everyone was clear of the F-14 and pushed the throttles forward. The glow from the two GE engines lit up the forward part of the flight deck. The next order reverberated across the space.
              “Launch the Alert Five! Launch the Alert Five!”
              Ryan locked gazes with the catapult officer, who gave him the signal they were ready when he was. Ryan saluted, braced himself, and rode the catapult into the abyss. This time CAG had only launched a brief time before him so they could be in formation almost instantly. Behind them, the EA-6 and the KA-6 were being launched as soon as they were clear, with the Hornets being brought up to increase the number of fighters in the air.
              “Razor, we got a datalink yet?” Ryan asked. Razor nodded and called out the contacts; the radio came to life.
              “Firebird 1-2, get your radar on. We want em to know we’re here and we want em to know right now.” CAG ordered.
              “Roger that Firebird 1-1.” Ryan acknowledged.
              With their AWG-15 on and searching, Razor immediately spotted the closest two bogeys and directed Ryan to turn towards them. The two jets climbed to 22,000 feet to meet the potential threat. Ryan kept close to CAG as they leveled out over the carrier and started heading northeast towards the unidentified aircraft. A new voice came on the radio very quickly.
              “Firebird this is Alpha Bravo, your status is Warning Yellow, Weapons Hold…Warning Yellow Weapons Hold.”
              It was the carrier’s CIC telling them their status. There was universal awareness a potential threat was coming, but the F-14s were not to fire unless an assessment revealed any kind of danger. Ryan mentally noted where his Master Arm switch was as his jet glided through the starlit sky. He checked his Horizontal Situational Display to check for the bogeys. They were still just over Erusean lands, having apparently stopped their move towards the battlegroup as soon as the fighters had gotten up (or so he guessed). The Prowler was up and settling into position between the Stinger and the Eglin Straits to play its part. The two F-14s settled into a racetrack east of the cruiser while the Erusean aircraft hung around and waited for them to make a move.
              “Firebird Lead, this is Cadillac Lead, we’re airborne and taking up station to cover Amp’s left.” The lead of the two Hornets radioed.
              “Negative Cadillac, bogey groups are both going feet wet. Intercept second group.” CAG replied.
              The two F-14s came around and then headed down the vector the unknown aircraft were coming from. Razor noted they were moving like smaller jets, which only narrowed things down a little. The Eruseans had a number of small combat aircraft, but at the very least it ruled out the Avro Vulcans they’d bought from the Lenish. The two formations kept closing, neither diverting nor changing course.
              “First group is now 250 Miles out.” CAG’s RIO, Loopy, reported.
              “Roger…Cadillac do you have radar contact with the second group?” CAG asked. The reply took a minute.
              “Roger Firebird, we’ve got em.”
              Finally the two bogeys made a move and went to their left (the Tomcats’ right). Naturally the Oseans followed to block them; the Eruseans swung back to their right and the F-14s kept them pinned. The two formations swayed back and forth like they were fish-tailing on ice; altitudes changed little.
              “I think they’re trying to piss us off.” Ryan concluded sourly.
              “First group is at 200 miles.” Loopy updated.
              “Firebird this is Cadillac, we are 230 miles away from second bogey group.” The lead F-18 reported.
              In the front cockpit, Ryan felt more anxious than tense. He’d intercepted at least two-dozen Yuktobanian and Verusean jets since he’d gotten his wings, but never any Eruseans. The Yuktobanians were very stoic and formal until everyone was lined up and the Tu-95 or Il-38 had been turned around. After that the more relaxed atmosphere trickled in with questions about home, jokes, and occasionally showing each other centerfolds. The Veruseans were either like robots or about ready to fight, even in their ageing MiG-21 copies and J-8s (which were barely different from the former). They just stared and demanded over and over and over that you were 100% in the wrong; the ocean 80 miles from their shores could be claimed as theirs on the spot.
              Ryan looked back down at Mae’s picture and checked his Horizontal Display again. The range kept closing, and finally the two bogeys made a new move: they dove down about two thousand feet. CAG, Ryan following closely, descended to meet them. He then looked over his shoulder at Ryan.
              “Firebird 1-2, go high and get on their four low.” He ordered.
              “Roger that, CAG.”
              Ryan looked over to his left and then pulled back on the stick, pushing the F-14 out of the formation and going above the other F-14. He pushed the throttles forward, letting the wings sweep back. Referencing the two bogeys, Ryan went wide of them. Neither of the jets turned to meet his move…these weren’t fighters. Fighters would’ve turned to meet his move. The only thing that happened was the RWR told him he was being tracked, now. Ryan kept his nose pointed away from the Eruseans to show he wasn’t a threat; he turned so they wouldn’t be in his engagement envelope. The bogeys were close enough he could soon engage them with Sidewinders if he needed to, but he kept going and pulled up again. The pilot made a high yo-yo to get on the bogeys as fast as he could.
              “Alpha-Bravo, Firebird has intercepted first group.” CAG called.
              Ryan swept his nose back southwards so he’d be parallel to them as soon as possible. In the dark, he tracked the bogeys via their position and anti-collision lights and the forms attached to the beacons. They were Tornado GR.1s from the shapes of their tailfins and fuselages. Ryan was surprised that they’d intercepted Tornados, of all things. Sure the Eruseans had played a part in helping develop the aircraft, but he’d expected to see fighters first. Su-27s or MiG-29s, their current fighters (once again, thank you Yuktobania) had seemed more likely. Maybe the Hornets had intercepted the fighters he’d been expecting.
              The two jets didn’t seem to acknowledge his existence at first; he saw CAG’s plane easing into place soon enough. The Eruseans had to acknowledge now, Ryan figured. CAG’s lights started blinking to communicate with the intruders while Ryan squinted and tried to study the aircraft. In the darkness, helped only by his aircraft’s own lights, he saw large shapes hanging from the bottom of the nearest aircraft. Anti-ship missiles, it appeared; the Sea Eagle ASM to be exact. Ryan looked back up and saw the backseater of the Tornado and found the man was looking over at the both of them. The Erusean had his visor up, allowing a partial view of the face beneath the Yuktobanian-esque gear.
              “So uh…does anyone among us speak Erusean?” Ryan asked.
              “We have four phrasebooks that got issued amongst the entire squadron. The only phrase I know by heart is “Tvoja majka je kurva”, too.” Razor replied as he contemplated snapping pictures with his 35mm camera.
              “What’s that mean?”
              “Your mother is a whore.”
              The pilot snorted quickly, but he was still on edge. Ryan always felt spooked by this kind of thing. He was so close to his potential enemy he could talk to them. If something went wrong it was going to be a real scramble to avoid getting shot down. His attention was redirected when he saw the lead Tornado waggle a little. With that, the jets slowly began to turn away from the battlegroup and head away from it, and possible international incident…
     
     

    Osean Press Release, May 17, 1995: Today the Erusean Federal Center for Government News and Information (ESCVVI) release a statement regarding the reported encounters between Osean and Erusean aircraft over the Avgrund Straits. Erusea has admitted to these encounters, which have occurred at a time when tensions are at their highest due to hostilities with Belka. Erusea stated that the moves were, on its part, shows of force and protests against the increasingly overaggressive war the Oseans and their allies are waging against Belka. The Osean Navy revealed it would release photographs of the incidents in the next few days. There were no exchanges of fire, but as one Navy spokesman said, the situation highlighted that the Osean Navy will and must always be ready for situations and threats outside of any conflict it’s involved in, not matter the size.
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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:32 am

    Chp. 13: The Blue Saber
    May 19, 1995
    Over Southern Belka
     
              Captain Lee “Muddy” Walters of VMA(AW)-515, The Double Nickels, pushed the stick on his A-6E Intruder forward and brought the attack aircraft down from 13,000 feet as the Belkan border passed by, going for the rolling hills ahead. They were the only terrain he’d have until he dropped the twelve Mk.82s hanging from his wings on the forward positions of the Belka’s 30th Panzergrenadiers. His BN (Bombardier-Navigator), Major JT Andrews, had his face firmly nuzzled up to the scope, tending to the Intruder’s sophisticated bombing system. Walters kept a calm face as the terrain rushed up, almost too fast, and then leveled out as he screamed across the countryside as fast as the A-6 could go.
              “Nickel 2-1 is at IP.” He radioed.
              The low hills, some scarred by the war, rolled by at a steady, almost rhythmic, pace. Errant houses or the remains of them flashed by occasionally. Walters checked his map and compared it to his radar display. The Belkans were close…almost there…bingo! His eyes spotted shapes at ten o’ clock, in a circular valley surrounded by a C-shaped ridge and patches of trees on three sides. According to pre-strike recon, there were about three companies of M113s and infantry down there with supporting AAA emplacements. Andrews pulled his head back for a split second. Tracers started to fly over the tops of the rises, but both ignored them. By now it was expected that the Belkans would shoot even if they didn’t have a direct shot.
              “TRAM’s locked.” The BN reported.
              “Rog…Nickel 2-1 is in hot.” Walters replied, switching to the radio as he declared he was beginning his attack.
              Walters smoothly worked the stick and banked the A-6 left and out of the terrain. As he left the relative protection, Walters deployed flares and chaff preemptively to spoof any missiles and confuse the Shilkas firing at him from the ridge’s top. Walters rose up just a bit to ensure they’d avoid the bombs’ explosions and pushed the throttles up to regain speed lost in the turn. Andrews ensured the numbers were right for the bomb run before he cleared Walters to drop.
              “It’s hot!” He called, referring to the weapons release button on Walters’s control stick.
              “Nickel 2-1, bombs away!” Walters declared.
              The pilot felt weight coming off his aircraft as the 500-pound bombs fell away from the four TERs (triple ejector racks) on the wings. The “Snakeye” fins on each deployed after a few seconds and slowed the bombs while Walters accelerated and roared away, more countermeasures tracing his path. The Belkans kept shooting, adding to the ZSUs with small arms and even a pair of SA-13s at the foot of the ridge. Walters made his exit run into the attackers, aiming to go over their heads. The other four Intruders in the flight played a similar game, running in fast and low at almost the exact same time to drop all of their bombs. Walters and Andrews’s wingman even claimed he could see individual soldiers scurrying about, desperately seeking cover from the sudden rain of shrapnel, concussions and dirt. By then Nickel 2-1 had dropped down again to seek cover in the terrain and started making a bank to the left, towards the Osean border.
              High above, Lieutenant Colonel Phil Stavros and his six-ship flight from VMFA-202, the Fighting Bengals, screamed towards the patrol Mirage 2000s that’d failed to do their primary job of warding off enemy aircraft. The exhaust streaks of recently-launched AMRAAMs and Super 530s crisscrossed the sky as both sides maneuvered and jinked in organized chaos to avoid being hit. Colonel Stavros and his wingman, “Daffy” Donald, broke high and left as they spotted a pair of Mirages rushing up to meet them. Stavros deployed flares to buy time immediately.
              “Tiger 1-2, break now! Get the lead guy!” He ordered.
              With a quick acknowledgment his wingman snapped up and went above the two BAF fighters while the Colonel dove down at them. His HUD tracked the trailing fighter with a TD box while the lollipop moved ever closer. Yellow-colored flares fell from the Mirage but Stavros kept on him; the man had six kill markings on his plane and he intended to make it seven, at least. He rested his thumb on the launch button, and then waited the last few seconds while the Mirage deployed flares and made a hard right, hitting his afterburner. Wrong move, sucker… Stavros thought.
              “Tiger Lead, Fox 2!” He called.
              As the Sidewinder screamed ahead from its wingtip rail, the first thing the Marine noticed was that his RWR and radar suddenly went apeshit. The radar became a fuzzy, unintelligible picture and the RWR screamed that he’d suddenly been locked onto by a very powerful, ground-based radar. An SA-10 site? He thought in the first second, No it’s…Suddenly the world around him disappeared in a blinding blue light. Even with his visor on the man had to squint his eyes. He never got another thought in before his plane became a fireball mixed with tiny shreds of what’d once been an F-18 Hornet. From their position, Walters and Andrews only saw a slowly fading blue beam several thousand feet above their heads. Neither were too sure what they were seeing, but given that a significant chunk of their CAP was gone, it wasn’t good…and they were just one of the newest wave of hits landing on Belka from the air…
     
     
              At the same time, the deck of the Stinger was buzzing with activity. It’d barely been a day since her carrier group had taken up station some 400 miles off the northern coast of Belka, with Kestrel a similar distance away to the west. From his F-14, Ryan watched the activity with growing excitement and energy. The trip up here had been too abrupt and too long; Ryan still had a lot of fight left in him and he was eager to get back to what needed to be done. The war hadn’t paused while he was “gone” so he wanted to start doing his part again. Besides, he reasoned flippantly, the Air Force could not be allowed to nab all the MiGs and Mirages. The Tomcats and Hornets of the Osean Navy would keep redeeming themselves for the mistakes in Oured Bay.
              This afternoon marked the first strike against Belka since the carrier had sailed out of Oured Bay. Though they’d retreated and been kept back, Belka’s two remaining Kirovs and the still-unseen Njord were afloat. CVW-5 was on call today to pull a two-fold mission: perform the act of aerial minelaying against the port of Anfang and destroy the Willhelm and Dinsmark. VFA-215 would have the honor of deploying the Mk. 52 magnetic mines needed to block the harbor while VA-67 would throw all the Harpoons they could carry at the two Kirovs. Either way they won: the two battlecrusiers would be destroyed or trapped and then destroyed.
              Ryan followed the directions of a Plane Director to the bow catapults. A particularly enthusiastic Cat Officer was launching jets from his station at Cat #1, where Ryan was directed to go to. The man seemed to be moving and motioning with the grace of a professional dancer, even in the chillier air of the Cascade Ocean. He sent Ryan and Razor off with a splits rather than the traditional drop to one knee. The two aviators smirked at the personal touch as they jumped into the sky with their fighter. They circled around once to pick up Bull and Samurai before heading due south in a power climb.
              Razor started painting them a radar picture after checking in with the AWACS. With the clear blue skies, the visual range of the two pilot’s eyes felt near limitless, but the weighed-down Hornets flying below dictated they engage well beyond visual range. Ryan looked around then back at Tom; the two exchanged thumbs up.  Ryan pushed out left of the flight lead today, Baron and Lightning in Firebird 112, and selected his two AIM-54s. Well ahead and down on the deck, the VFA-28 Iron Hand flight screamed towards the two batteries of SA-10s they had covering the harbor. Ryan watched them poke out down and forward of his F-14, barely recognizable despite the blue sea.
              “They must have jammers down their…kinda like Futuro. Lemme see what I can do.” Razor reported. Ryan made his acknowledgment quick.
              At the same time, the two Prowlers started making a zig-zag approach towards the northern end of Anfang’s waters, working their magic with their six (three each) jamming pods. Inside the E-2, the controllers eagerly watched for bandits to appear.
              “Firebird Flight, this is Throne, we have bandits…Count two, correction, four. Closest pair is at 155, 300 Miles at Angels 19. Second pair is at 190, 300 Miles at Angels 23. Looks like they’re Fulcrums; Firebird, you’re cleared to engage.”
              “Firebird Lead copies all…Three, Four take closest pair; five and six take the other. Lead and Two will maintain top cover for strike group alongside Seven and Eight.” Baron ordered.
              “Gotcha Lead…Firebird 1-4, go to loose-deuce once we get our nose on em; Four-mile spread.” Ryan ordered.
              “Gotcha Rocky.” Tom radioed obediently.
              Ryan eased the F-14 onto Heading 155 and weaved back and forth as he approached.
              “Razor, how we doing on our radar?” Ryan asked as the miles ticked downwards.
              “It’d help if those Hornets killed some of the stuff down there with their HARMs.” The RIO shot back.
              “Roger…Bull, if we can’t get a shot due to this jamming and you can, do it. Then Break formation and close from high and above; I’ll hit low.” Ryan said. Tom’s reply was, in hindsight expected.
              “Gotcha Rocky…Samurai seems to be having the same issues.”
              Ryan kept a lid on his frustration and watched the displays to see how Razor’s fight to defeat the jamming was going. In the meantime, his RWR told him that both airborne and ground-based radars were searching the sky. He pumped out chaff in intervals. Another check of the displays made him frown; it didn’t seem to be changing. Then suddenly it disappeared; Razor checked the strike frequency and found the Hornets had started shooting off HARMs.
              “Well one “thank you” goes out to the Strike Fighter Guys for that.” The pilot smiled.
              As the HARM shooters descended on Anfang’s harbor, visible at the edge of Ryan’s field of view, The MiGs started to turn. Ryan checked the distance to them again: they were 160 miles from the two bandits. He watched and waited to see if they were trying to bracket, but they instead completely turned around.
              “They’re running.” Razor called out to his pilot. The surprise in his voice couldn’t be masked.
              “…Shit, I kinda wanted to fight after all the days of tooling around while going north.” Ryan remarked, unable to mask his own disappointment. Oh well…
              “Firebird Lead this is Firebird 1-3, bandits are bugging out.” He reported.
              “Roger that Three, take up CAP station and make sure they’re really going.” Baron ordered.
              Ryan acknowledged and ordered Tom to close in again. The two F-14s pushed a little further southwest and took up their CAP station 90 Miles east of Anfang. Now all they could do was wait while the Hornets came in to drop their mines. Several pillars of smoke already snaked towards the upper edges of the sky, likely from the jammers and SA-10 sites. Errant tracers went up, but the two Kirovs, small but visible from here, sat still. War machines out of their element, unable to do anything against the aircraft swarming around them.
              “Cadillac Flight is at IP, bracketing now.” Swede Swatzinski radioed.
              “Roger that Cadillac, Axe Flight is turning to 010 to give you some space.” The lead Warlord pilot said.
              The SEAD element went high while the mine-layers went low after separating. The first four jets would lay their mines parallel to the coast, while the next ones did so in a perpendicular fashion. Their RWRs stayed almost silent, especially as the MiGs ran south and the SA-10 sites had little to nothing to guide them. All that was left were Das Vaterland Troops equipped with old S-60s. The reservists, namely ones by the docks, lobbed shells at the low-flying Hornets, an effort which became a little easier as they brought their radars to life. Ryan could see the black puffs from the airburst shells dotted the sky over the harbor. He saw one Hornet’s back end burst into flame before the pilot ejected, and a second running away while it trailed back smoke. Then, almost as soon as it started, the guns ceased. The strikers didn’t wait to question it and Razor quickly switched to their frequency to check in on things..
              “Okay, Cadillac is off target, turning to 009-what the hell?” Swatzinski radioed.
              Before anyone could respond, the RWR went crazy. Then suddenly something twinkled high above them all. In an unreal turn of events, a blue glow fell from the sky towards the Hornets. Ryan, despite his visor, instinctively looked away until the blue glow subsided. The frequency was thrown into chaos, prompting Firebird 105’s RIO to go back to the channel VF-115 was on.
              “Firebird this is Throne, what the fuck’s going on out there?” The Hawkeye demanded.
              “Throne, Firebird, we’ve uh…we’ve got some kind of blue beam falling from the sky.” Baron reported, still somewhat shocked by the event.
              “Uh roger…roger. Throne to all aircraft, bug out north. Bug out north.” The E-2 controller replied slowly as gears turned in his head.
              “All aircraft, this is Throne…be heads up for further attacks. Firebird, confirm that it was a blue beam? Laser-type weapon?” the AWACS controller radioed.
              “Roger, confirm it was a laser-type weapon.” Baron said.
              Personally, Ryan didn’t care what kind of weapon it was. All he cared about was not getting hit by it. The pilot ordered Tom to return to the Loose Deuce with a five-mile spread. Then they swung north, accelerating as they turned. Behind him, the two GE engines roared as they spewed out perfect cones of orange flame. Afterburner was a risk move fuel wise, but Ryan needed that speed. Suddenly the RWR started to beep and warn the two aviators something was in.
              “We’ve got a big hit at our nine, break right!” Razor called.
              Ryan hauled the F-14 into a break, calling out for Tom to maneuver as well. The flight recorder’s audio was marked by grunts and gasps as the two pilots went into the hard kind of maneuvering. The kind you did when you had multiple missiles after you and they were the kind that ran as fast as a Phoenix. Ryan struggled to keep an eye out for the laser, throwing his head around as he weaved back to the left, chaff following his path through the sky. He caught a brief glimpse of Tom as they went towards each other. Firebird 104 passed behind them and kept fleeing to the east. Ryan turned his jet the same way too and reluctantly eased back the throttles from afterburner. His eyes flew to the fuel gauge and saw they were fast approaching Bingo status. He opened his mouth to report it, but held back for now. Everyone was retreating; he’d be leaving no one uncovered. A second thought convinced him to transmit anyways.
              “Throne this is Firebird 105, be advised I’m at Bingo Fuel.” He reported.
              “Roger that 105 contact Throne again if you need a tanker.” The controller said hurriedly.
              “Another one…this is gonna be pretty close…” Razor grunted over the maneuvers.
              Ryan watched as his displays almost blanked out before he detected a glow behind him. He didn’t look back because if it was going to engulf him, he didn’t want to know until it was too late. The glow subsided as it had before, though. Ryan drew in a deep breath and kept going. He looked to his right and saw Tom was with him; Ryan breathed a sigh of relief. The RWR quickly reminded him he was still in a (completely one-sided) fight, but the glow was far behind. Razor looked back to investigate.
              “They got the mines…” The RIO called. Ryan took it; better inanimate objects than his fellow sailors.
              Ryan then tuned his ears to the radio for a minute to see who was still up. His brethren in VF-115 all seemed to be fine. A switch to the Hornet and Intruders’ frequency didn’t reveal an as nice picture. Four Steel Fist Hornets had been downed and another two damaged, which accounted for half the strike force. Furthermore, no one had been able to raise the Prowlers. Ryan felt a lump in his throat as he ran north back to the fleet…
     
     
              The entire CAP from the failed minelaying mission looked more like a football team after losing their championship game, Cody thought. Some had stayed in their flight gear and simply come into the ready room to slump down in their chairs and let the exhaustion win. Ranger was used to the image; he’d been there several times. That crash after the high of flying into combat, going toe-to-toe with a real bandit, and the exhilaration of sex brought on such a state. Unfortunately none of these boys had seen their ladies back home since March. Emails from his beloved Anne told him some of the ladies were hurting just as much for their men. Cody was among those feeling homesick. No amount of “turning and burning”, traps and launches could beat being home with the one you loved. If they’d still been in Oured Bay, he though conspiratorially, a Greyhound or two could get some wives and girlfriends out here. Cody kept any smug looks off his face, though. The “young’uns” didn’t need him smiling at them right now.
              It’d been an extra spike of warrior’s adrenaline this time, bigger than when the squadron had gotten blitzed by Belka’s now-ineffective Backfire force. This time it’d been a cocktail of a “new” threat and the fear of what that threat could do. Excalibur wasn’t new, per say; the machine had been created in the 1980s as part of an attempt by Belka to get onto the world stage quickly without nuclear weapons. According to what flowed through the grapevine, the weapon had been disabled on April 1st, 1995 by the Osean Air Force. Cody’s best guess was that the air war that followed hampered repairs; that and the concentration of assets to eject Belka from Osea, Sapin and Ustio. The system was employed in a purely defensive manner, it seemed. Cody gulped at the thought that it might potentially be used for offensive operations in the region. Then again, that meant the Belkans could be labeled cowards for hiding behind it. Belkan pride, don’t fail us now… He thought. A tired Baron Redd approached him and stood as straight as he could.
              “Sir, flight’s been assembled.” He breathed out; Cody nodded.
              “Grab a seat, Baron…and some coffee if y’all want.”
              The Lieutenant Commander just went back to his seat while Cody walked forward and cleared his throat. He had the entire squadron gathered for this one.
              “Ah wanted to start by saying that Ah’m proud of all of y’all for the simple fact that y’all all came home. Ah know it may seem stupid, but remember that sometimes it’s the biggest victory each of yah can have after a flight.” He spoke up. Everyone, Ryan included, let out murmurs and nods of gratitude.
              “Now, Ah honestly can’t say much in regards to a debrief, seeing as we didn’t do much. However we’re gonna use this time to let the Intel Duo fill us in on Excalibur and what it can do. Professor, Ash?” Cody said.
              Ryan rested his head against the back of the seat as the room darkened and watched an image of this laser’s source appear on the screen. It was a large, black tower that looked like some Medieval fantasy game. A large base branched off in multiple directions to more futuristic structures. Another picture, a top-down diagram, was shown next. The complex was intricate in design and defended by what was labeled as the “Railway Laser System” and the usual rings of SA-10 and SA-6 sites.
              “This is Excalibur, located near Tauberg in Central Belka. It’s a high-energy chemical laser designed initially to destroy any kind of airborne threat to Belka: ICBMs, air raids, cruise missiles and even meteors. The structure is a few thousand feet tall and in flat terrain, but stealth is not its game. This weapon’s appearance is as much to deter as it is to actually attack. It operates with a system of highly specialized satellites that reflect the beams to targets, allowing it to conduct sudden top down attacks with no warning.” Ash began, using a hand to bring attention to certain details. Ryan had to raise a hand at the term “no warning”; Professor cocked a brow at the pilot.
              “We did get warnings…my RIO and I would get a big spot on the radar, like jamming almost, before the thing took shots at us.” He pointed out. The two intel types exchanged looks.
              “You can check our radar tapes.” Razor added in, sensing doubt in them.
              “Very well, we’ll take a look after this.” Professor agreed reluctantly. He went back to the slideshow.
              “Now, the system is actually rather vulnerable, especially to weapons with penetrating warheads. Therefore it’s surrounded by multiple layers of defense. At least three batteries of SA-10s and as many batteries of SA-6s, plus two squadrons of MiG-29s at a pair of airfields to the east and west of the facility…”
              Ash took over from there.
              “The system hasn’t fired until now due to being disabled on April One by the OAF. Other attacks on its supply chain have slowed repairs to the power stations that fuel it. Moreover, we have reason to believe it’s an expensive weapon to fire. Therefore the Belkans likely can’t afford to fire it often.” She said. The pilot also quietly added that Belka’s armed forces likely wanted to take the opportunity to try and best the Oseans.
              Ryan listened as the two non-flyers continued to tag-team on the subject, brokering few, few questions in the wake of Ryan’s interruption. As they went on into detail about the system’s capabilities, one of the earliest things that became clear was that the entire system covered all of Belka. It couldn’t engage multiple targets, but it could sure as hell bloody an air campaign’s nose. Obviously stealth aircraft could defeat it like they always seemed to defeat radars, but one thing matter to Ryan as much as this new threat: VF-115 was once again out of the war.


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:44 am

    Chp. 14: Embrace the Suck
    May 21, 1995
    WY Corporation Altaria Branch
     
    To: Mae (Marine.Bridger@WY.corp)
    From: Ryan (Ryan.Bradford115@ON.mil)
    Date: May 21, 1995 (10:07 AM)
    Subject: Going Out of My Mind
     
              Mae,
     
              Probably not the most reassuring subject line but I just need to get it off my chest. Sorry I haven’t been emailing you as often as I should but it seems these days I’m either asleep, eating, flying or doing department stuff. I don’t know if you’ve heard but the war’s basically stopped; I’ve seen it all over the news and I know it more than anyone. I have to confess that it’s driving me nuts. Being away from you is bad and so is all the danger, but suddenly screeching to a halt makes it downright unbearable. One minute my mind is laser-focused on being at war. Everything revolves around it until it’s done. I tune myself to stay strong and now we take a pause. It’s hit my like a good solid punch to the gut from your old man. I know all that might make you feel some unpleasant emotions; it might even suggest I like war. Maybe I do, but neither of us is a pastor or s shrink. You especially don’t need to hear that stuff.
              The one thing I desperately need is you, though. I say it all the time but I miss you like crazy and that feeling’s only getting stronger. I think about you and keep your pictures on me all the time. I really wanna come back to you and get to enjoy all the wonderful things about you. I miss the stuff I get annoyed about sometimes, too. Honestly if I could get one day with you while everything’s stopped, I’d be happy for a long, long time. I hope you’re doing okay and I’m not freaking you out. I’m glad to hear Mira’s doing okay; Skipper’s a good guy and he doesn’t need his daughter suffering when he can’t help her. Give my regards to everyone…and remember I’ll always love you. I can’t wait to wake up next to you again.
     
              Your Goofball Husband,
              Ryan
     
              Mae frowned at the message on her screen and minimized the window. The tone of Ryan’s emails had always been relatively cheerful, even as the war went on. She knew it was because he didn’t like having negative emotions during this time. He wanted and needed to be confident, he would insist. That warrior bravado her dad still exuded; she understood it and hated it. They’d all always been cocky in their own way. Ryan, Takeru, Tom, and even Keith walked like they had control. Mae easily kept her anger away, though; she would never, NEVER be like her mom. She looked around the organized rows of cubicles to make sure her supervisor wasn’t nearby and started thinking. She was supposed to be organizing reports for mass distribution, but this was her man they were talking about. She started composing a reply, typing it out in bursts before returning to what she was actually supposed to be doing.
              Mae tried to put herself in Ryan’s shoes for a minute and see it from his perspective. The news had reported a sudden slow in fighting, and people were claiming to have seen some kind of blue light. Mae guessed it was some kind of weapon or something of that effect. She understood why no one in the military was talking much; classified information and whatnot. She looked at Ryan’s message again and grimaced. He’d been on cruises before and lived with the air of constant vigilance. They’d also become used to being apart from one another. Most of the time they were uneventful ventures, but this time it’d been different. It was easy to see how he would feel after he’d left, ready to wage war, only to be yanked out so suddenly. She could see how he felt, but she felt frustrated she couldn’t generate the same feeling.
              Mae went back to her work to try and think. She looked over at a notepad near a calendar and ripped a sheet away. The brunette made a note to look into a quick vacation for them when they got home. She could think of half a dozen locations they could go depending on the season. Mae set the note face down and got back to organizing reports. A new thought on how to help Ryan formed in her mind; she decided to chew on it awhile before she added it to the email…
     
     
              Razor lowered the binoculars and referred to the map sitting on his lap. This was one of the best places in the Cascade to hide a carrier: north of Bock’s Island, which was subsequently southeast of Wellow. The Njord was behind the Kestrel and Stinger battlegroups and between them was an island. Not that one carrier would last long against two, in theory, but they had a good chance of getting a sucker punch in from behind. Down there he saw nothing but water; not even a fishing boat. On the horizon was the green and brown shore of the island, at which point a carrier operating would be impossible. Not unless they planned to scuttle her by plowing her into a sand bar. He should’ve known when they had a completely unopposed run in.
              “Privateer 1-3 this is Firebird 2-1, got anything?” He radioed.
              “Negative Firebird; I’ve got nothing.” The S-3 to their southwest radioed.
              In the front cockpit, Ryan’s brow furrowed as they turned to the right to come back around on the east side of the island. The RWR picked up the radar for air traffic control on the island, but there wasn’t a single military radar out there other than the Oseans’ radars. The initial search area was from Aulick Bay to here…where else could the Belkans have gone? Ryan raised the E-2.
              “Storm Watch, Firebird 2-1, anything on your end?” He asked.
              “Negative Firebird, scopes are clear of bogeys.” The controller replied in an apologetic voice.
              Ryan gave an annoyed nod and acknowledged. As he came around the island, he eventually saw one of the island’s three towns in the distance. According to the map it looked similar to Altaria Bay. Ryan’s frown grew; the lack of action was making him think of home too much.  He looked forward, thought a minute, and then hit the radio again.
              “Firebird 2-2 this is Firebird 2-1, how you holding up?” He called.
              “Hanging in there...think I see an airliner near the island.” Tom assured laconically.
              Ryan swept his gaze around again for the jet and saw a flash of white go between two thin clouds. It was becoming unbearable at this point; he almost felt like screaming. He had half a mind to drum up a spontaneous 1v1 with Tom before they went back to the ship, just to get the blood pumping. This was a combat hop though; the boredom could quickly be interrupted. The war over Belka was still going, too. Cruise missiles of all flavors crossed the border on their one-way missions to destroy Belka’s war machine. Excalibur could try and get them all, but the weapons came like rain. Special Forces teams still crawled through the country, causing havoc and near the borders, artillery duels between armies happened on and off, as did long-range duels between fighters. Finally, it was common knowledge that the Air Force’s F-117 Nighthawk was still fighting the air war…quietly, of course.
              The Belkans showed no signs of trying to come back over the border though; they were digging in to keep the Oseans and their allies out. Ryan no longer had fears of Belkan bombers and the like threatening his home and the ones he loved; Belka wouldn’t move. They tasted imperial conquest and it’d tasted of bitter defeat. Even Excalibur was losing its potency as the Osean military knocked its supporting satellites from orbit. Still, it all did little for Ryan Bradford. He was too removed from the action still going on to not feel stir-crazy.
              “Firebird 2, Firebird 2 this is Privateer 1-3…we’ve got a MAD contact.”
              Ryan’s head went still; it was the call he’d been waiting for. The Viking’s MAD or Magnetic Anomaly Detector had picked up something below the waves. That usually meant it was a sub, which wasn’t Ryan’s area of battle but it was action. And if there was a sub out there it possibly meant there were more and maybe even other ships. Maybe even a battlegroup.
              “Roger that 1-3…Two, back on me; go line abreast.” Ryan said.
              The two F-14s closed it up and moved ahead of the lone S-3 while it lowered its altitude to drop sonar buoys. The fighters became like a pair of flashlights peering into the midday sky, looking for any sign of trouble. The contact was to the east of the island, nearer the two carrier battlegroups. Ryan felt his blood flow go up; if this was a sub, it was getting in a good position to sneak up on the ships from behind and hit em. He kept his ears tuned for transmissions from the S-3 or AWACS. In the meantime the two F-14s continued their push to the east. Ryan checked his gauges and saw he still had some fuel left in the external drop tanks.
              “Privateer 1-3 this is Alpha Bravo, do you have a solid fix on the MAD contact?” A new voice spoke up.
              “Roger that Alpha Bravo…uhhh wait one. Contacts may be whales…” the Viking radioed.
              In reality it wasn’t uncommon for ASW fighters to accidentally get false contacts. Especially in waters near land; in fact sub hunters could sometimes spend their whole careers chasing ghosts. The two pilots in Firebird 105 didn’t know that, though. For them false contacts were only possible if their radar was on the fritz. Ryan cocked a brow and looked down at the water. After a few minutes and spotting a few fishing boats, he saw something break the surface.
              “…Yeah, they’re Orcas.” Razor frowned while he peered through his binoculars…
     
     
              Ranger heard the rapid thwack of someone wailing on a punching bag from the corner of the hangar that usually played host to one of the ship’s “gyms”. He walked over, still dressed for his morning run, to see Ryan delivering rapid punches to the black and red bag. The look on his face was almost animalistic in its rage. Cody frowned but kept his cool; similar things had been happening across the squadron’s roster. At least he was finding a healthy outlet, but still…
              “Hey hey hey slow down on the poor thing, Lieutenant.” He spoke up as he approached. The man stopped wailing on the bag and went to attention.
              “At ease, Rocky, at ease.” Cody sighed, waving a hand.
              Ryan relaxed himself and waited for his CO to say something. He looked a little like a kid caught with his hand in the jar. Cody looked at the bag, then the Lieutenant.
              “Got a little time, Rocky? Squadron’s having an impromptu meetin.” He asked.
              Ryan bobbed his head up and down a few times and took off his boxing gloves. Cody beckoned him to follow and the two walked across the deck towards the ready rooms. At first the Commander didn’t say anything; he looked at a few Hornets and Tomcats as he maneuvered around them. Ryan was caught off guard ducking under the nose of a Hornet when he finally spoke.
              “Y’all been talkin to Mae plenty?” He drawled.
              “Uh yes sir.” Ryan nodded.
              “She’s a good gal, Ryan. Smart, tough, and kind; she has my thanks for stepping up to help Mira. Y’all have my thanks, too.”
              “Glad to help, sir. Sorry you have to deal with this kind of shit at a time like now.”
              Though he couldn’t see it, Ryan had the feeling a dark cloud had passed over Ranger’s face. He was about to apologize when his CO spoke.
              “The little worm that didn’t cover it better be glad he disappeared cause if Ah ever see him again, Ah’m gonna show him how a good ol’ lynchin is done.” The man growled. No argument there; Ryan figured he’d feel the same way.
              “I’ll help you, Skipper.” Ryan grinned. Ranger cocked a brow and smirked back at his subordinate.
              “Ah like yer style, Rocky.” He said approvingly.
              Ryan felt his mood going up as the two went through the door to VF-115’s space and he took a seat next to Razor. Cody stopped Wolfy from call the room to attention and motioned him to a seat. The gaggle of pilots, dressed in various garb, watched their commander with curious looks as he leaned against the white board.
              “Alrighty everyone, Ah’ve convened this meeting because Ah have growing concerns over the cohesiveness of VF-115.” He began, assuming a fatherly tone. Several people shifted in their seats.
              “Now since the general lack of ops about ten days ago Ah’ve found several of y’all stressing out over stuff, getting surly, or otherwise acting what Ah would classify as unprofessional. Ah’ve had to stop two fights from breaking out…”
              Tom and Beef, two of the guilty in regards to that, shrunk in his seat.
              “…One of the department JO’s reports had been submitted three hours late cause they wanted it to be perfect…”
              Ryan noted that Razor averted his eyes from the front.
              “…And Ah’ve both gotten concerns from several of the Chaplains and found several people exhibiting concerning behaviors. Now gentlemen Ah know it’s hard but this kind of shit’s nothing we aren’t used to. Most of our careers have been peacetime cruises where the most we get is a mock battle with the nearest ally’s air force.” Cody said in a scolding tone. He stood up straight and drew in a long breath.
              “Lemme tell y’all a story about a young pilot who suffered from what we call “War Junkie Syndrome” and lost his mentor. He was a young Junior Grade diving into his first real fight and he was tense at first. The first strike, a daylight raid, he waxed two bandits without a single scratch. He landed, he got a round of congrats and he had a thought. He though “Y’all know what, screw the ten missions rule! Ah can survive after just one!”. So he found himself getting fired up, confident, itching to feel what he had in the air one more time. The next day he was sent out on CAP with a Lieutenant Commander known as Madman Mandy. Madman had become a good friend of the young pilot and was something of a mentor in the ways of cruises brought.” Cody began.
              Everyone began to figure things out pretty quickly as their commander told his story. It had to be him, they knew it. Everyone was morbidly curious to see what exactly was going to happen to Madman Mandy, or Ranger Walker for that matter.
              “The young pilot was deep in the CAP but the bad guys weren’t coming up to play. The Air Force had drawn a great deal of em away with a strike to the northwest. That didn’t mean that the air was clear, though. The young pilot and his compatriots found themselves ambushed by a pair of bandits who’d come in low and without radars from the rear. They waxed Madman Mandy like that.” He went on. The man shifted and hardened his face.
              “The young pilot, now more interested in surviving now, evaded the two bandits until a nearby CAP came to the rescue. He’d again survived, but he realized that now he had to get home and land aboard the pitching, rolling carrier. After two wave offs he conceded defeat and settled for a one-wire pass. When he got down to the ready room and endured debrief by both the LSO and his superiors, he finally realized his confidence had been gone. After a long moment it occurred that he’d not once thought he could beat the odds. A day later he was finally broken from his brief surge of War Junkie Syndrome when he was informed that Madman Mandy and his RIO had been killed that day.”
              His story finished, the pilot stood up and looked over his squadron. He placed his hands on his hips and observed their ashamed and uncomfortable looks.
              “Now y’all have college degrees; who’m Ah talkin about?” Cody asked. An uncertain chorus of “You sir” came to him after a second of hesitation. He nodded.
              “Now Ah feel pretty embarrassed for having to say the obvious, but any of y’all have any problems go to me or go to the Chaplains or someone y’all can trust.”
              Cody then relaxed his tone and demeanor. He crossed his arms over his chest.
              “Know this, though. We kicked those Belkan shit stains outta our country and outta all the other ones. I don’t care what some little snot-nosed punk says ten years from now; we beat em and we made sure they ain’t coming back.” He added. Cody stood up.
              “Is that clear, everyone?” He asked. He got answer with some backbone this time.
              “Yes sir!” The squadron sounded. Cody nodded in satisfaction.
              “Good, then yer all dismissed.”…
     
     
              Belkan Air Force Chief General Alfred Von Macht stared down from the aft seat of the Alouette III helicopter as it passed over the scene. There were fires still burning, slowly spreading across the plains around the central pillar as it pointed northeast like a giant finger. Fire crews from the two airfields had been rushed to the scene to fight the blaze, which included both the power stations and Excalibur itself. The helicopter slowed and began to lower itself to the ground below, towards a collection of M113s and canvased trucks on a flat-topped hill southwest of the site. Macht looked over at the nearest power plant as it bellowed oil smoke on the wake of its burning. Half of the remains were coated in a thick film of white fire-fighting foam. The helicopter landed near another of its kind and Machy hurried out, staying hunched over as he ran towards a man in Olive Green Fatigues.
              “Herr General, welcome back to Excalibur…or what remains of it!” Brigade General Hermann Kleimer exclaimed over the buzz of activity. They exchanged salutes before continuing on towards a few tents. The entire situation was far too chaotic for the general’s liking. It certainly wasn’t up to the standards that the army liked to keep with field HQs. Nonetheless he walked into the tent where a number of younger Belkan soldiers and airmen were rushing about.
              “Do we have the fire contained?” Macht asked his colleague.
              “It’s at about 65 percent contained. The most trouble part is, as could be guessed, the main section and where it fell. We’re concerned that if we cannot contain it, it will start to encroach on farmlands in that direction. We’ve got C-160s equipped to fight fires arriving within the hour.” Kliemer machine-gunned out. Macht nodded and frowned.
              “The Chancellor wishes to know if the device is still operational. He is quite upset that such a vital piece of our air defense has been successfully attacked and destroyed not once, but twice.” He said.
              There was no doubting the answer was “no” on its operational status, but Rald had been livid. Macht saw this as the only way to placate him. The reason why had been coordinated strikes. The first time, when the Oseans had hit the facility, they’d attacked low, at night, and after the area had been hit by several prior strikes to destroy and spread out the defenses. It was standard Osean military doctrine in regards to air warfare; Macht had seen it before at the OAF’s “Red Flag” exercises they held several times a year. When the weapon had been repaired and pressed into action, the Oseans once again struck with their lauded F-117 “Stealth Fighter”, using it to make Excalibur vulnerable. A small Ustian-lead strike then destroyed the system by sneaking in and attacking with bombs designed to penetrate hardened structures.
              Repairs to the weapon were out of the question; it would take years to do so. It was because of this that Macht had convinced his masters to ready their conventional means of air defense. They’d spent the last handful of days positioning and training to ensure they could at least stand a chance against what was to come. Osea and its lot would surely be returning soon…


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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:47 pm

    Chp. 15: Fortress Dinsmark
    May 25, 1995
    Dinsmark, Belka
     
              Unification Square was the sight that, in 1625, where the first form of the country of Belka had come together when King Von Graf IV had united the sixteen kingdoms in the land under his rule to keep the groups to the east in modern-day Fato and Gebet from their lands. Today it was filled with a different spirit of unity: that of the Belkan people watching a show of power by their armed forces. Even in the wake of Excalibur’s fall, Waldemarr Rald was determined to show his country would keep Osea and its allies from their lands. Through a bit of work, he’d fired up the citizens of the capital and invited them to come and watch a parade put on my elements of several units around Dinsmark. From a large stand before the avenue of the precession, Rald waved and smiled to his people, wearing the usual dark gray suit, black tie, and Belkan flag pin.
              Down below, a Belkan Army band enthusiastically played the march of the Belkan Army. The color guard, made up of men from Belka’s elite mountain infantry, the Gebirgsjägers, and their equally lethal paratroopers, the Fallschirmjägers, marched along at the head of the pack. As a special touch, the two outer guards were carrying what would soon be Belka’s newest combat rifle: the G36. Rald was especially pleased to see the small detail; it showed that the country could still maintain a forward-moving industry even in war. Further down the line he’d also ensured that new Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Gepard anti-aircraft guns (projects revived after decades of stagnation) were also on full display.
              Behind that came more infantry march along, all in full battle dress but with their green berets on to signify they were mechanized infantrymen. Their steely looks and near-robotic demeanor presented them as they should be seen by the public: fearless makers of war and defenders of their native land. They did not react to the peoples’ cheers, but one or two did occasionally have a flicker of a smile. Behind them rumbled Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks, looking like they’d just come off the production line at Krauss-Maffei. Rald’s smile seemed permanently transfixed to his face; like all politicians he was a sucker for seeing his country’s raw military power.
              More than anything though, this display was a dare to Osea, Sapin, and Ustio. The parade was in the open daylight, in the middle of Dinsmark (one of the most heavily targeted cities in Belka right now), and he was out in the open. But, even with such a tempting opportunity, the capital was the most heavily-defended place in Belka. Batteries upon batteries of SAMs and AA guns formed a layered bubble of defense over the area. One of the two airports, Himmel-Tor International, had been largely converted into an air base. There was also Dinsmark Air Base, located to the city’s southwest. The BAF’s remaining Fulcrums and Mirages had a large presence at these bases.
              Even further out, the forces that had escaped back to their country were being readied and reinforced by reservists from the “Das Vaterland” troops. Even when arrayed against him on three sides, Rald and his followers were confident in their survival as a nation and as the ruling party. His opponents would pay dearly for setting foot on their homeland again, he promised silently…
     
     
              Ryan impatiently stabbed another forkful of pancakes and shoveled them into his mouth. He looked back up at the TV screen relaying a camera feed from the flight deck, and then another that had World News Network on. Ryan, never one to be too interested in news, paid attention to the action on the flight deck as a bird form VF-34 landed. For now nothing of note was going on other than a changing or BARCAPs. Next to him, Tom was busy watching the news for a reason other than updates on the war with Belka and life back home.
              “I bet I could score with her in the span of a night.” He declared with a cheeky grin.
              Ryan ignored the comment, which drew Tom’s attention. Instead he worked on clearing a plate of pancakes, breakfast sausage, and a tall glass of milk. Tom cocked a brow at his friend’s drive over an early dinner. The taller pilot reached over and slapped his friend’s nearest shoulder like he was about to go a few rounds in a boxing ring.
              “Hell man, I haven’t seen you this fired up in a while.” He said.
              “It’s time to end this, Bull. Belka got its breaks and now we break it.” Ryan said as soon as he’d swallowed his food. Tom chuckled.
              “You really think we can do it that fast?”
              “Yeah; Belka’s military is outnumbered and in the long run outgunned. They can’t hold out long enough to send us packing, only long enough to piss us off more.”
              Tom cocked a brow as he lifted his mug of coffee.
              “I’m the JO for Ops; you think I don’t know what I’m talking about?” Ryan insisted, motioning at himself. Tom waved a finger.
              “Now now, being a cocky bastard is MY job.” He said, pretending to chide the shorter pilot.
              Ryan rolled his eyes and got back to his food. He plowed through the meal as fast as he could after a check of his watch; they had a briefing to make in fifteen minutes. As soon as he had the last bite in his mouth, he collected his things on his tray and hurried, Tom in tow, to drop it off and leave. They left the wardroom behind and hurried down several halls before dropping down some stairs into the space where the ready room was. Despite nearly ten minutes until the briefing was supposed to kick off, almost the entire squadron was present. Instead of the rowdy, punch-happy atmosphere, there was a calm and concentrated air throughout the space. Ash and Professor were at the front, discussing the items of several manila folders with Buckshot and Wolfy. Several pilots had mugs of coffee or cans of soda in their hands as they waited for their CO to arrive.
              Ryan took a seat next to Razor and pulled his mission charts from under his seat. His RIO leaned over so they could compare notes and the like. They quickly pieced together that the mission would be escort for a large strike. The smaller-scale charts indicated their target was Dinsmark. The radio frequencies and callsigns suggested most of CVW-5 was involved. All he could do was wait until Ranger entered and the lights dimmed.
              “Everyone, this morning the diplomats of the nations allied against Belka made a statement offering the country the chance to find a way out of this war without us beating them down. They offered Belka a non-aggression treaty that would allow them to end the war before we invade. The Belkans rejected the offer outright. As a result we and the rest of our flying friends have been given the okay to resume offensive operations over the country. Tonight CVW-5 and CVW-15 will be conducting a large raid against strategically important targets in Dinsmark. Our job will be to escort a force of strikers from VA-67 as well as HARM shooters and jammers from VFA-215 and VAQ-327. We’ll be working with VFA-28, who’ll be providing close-range CAP, while we provide CAP well ahead of the force. Try and draw any bandits that come up to us first.”
              Ranger brought attention to a map of an airport, a large one at that. Being passed around for viewing in the dim light were recon images of the airport’s defenses. Ryan noted that most of the civilian jets had been pushed almost right up against the terminals that jutted out from the center octagon. The fighters, MiG-29s and Mirage 2000s, were positioned near some while others were placed near the runways, likely for the purpose of getting airborne. According to info from Ranger and the intel pair, the based was also defended by two batteries of SA-6s and a battery of old S-60 57mm guns.
              “Most of the SA-10s are going to be subject to TLAM strikes before we really get into the fight. The strikers’ main targets will be planes on the ground and the airport’s runway and major facilities. Two of the six Intruders will be carrying GATOR mines inside Mk. 20 Rockeye cluster bombs for that. Two of the Prowlers on this hop will be going with the HARM shooters to destroy the SA-6 batteries and the S-60s.” Ranger went on.
              Ryan noted they’d be armed with the load of two Sidewinders, three Sparrows and two Phoenixes. They’d be using Air Force KC-10s deployed out of Heirlark to refuel north of Anfang. He’d be flying with Tom on his wing, out on the right edge of the CAP’s formation. As per normal doctrine, they aimed to engage far out with their Phoenixes and then close in, less weight hanging from their frames, and destroy any aircraft that were airborne. They’d also try and gun what they could on the ground to help the bomb-droppers.
              The biggest question was how good their opposition was supposed to be. The Fulcrum and Mirage were familiar faces by now, but they were by no means easy kills even this deep into the war. The pilots at the controls might be replacement squadron-fresh, or aviators who’d survived since the war’s start. Ryan reminded himself of how you beat them in the bigger F-14; he didn’t want to get rusty out there and crash. The fact that they’d be “going downtown” doubled the danger. Still Ryan felt confident as he suited up and followed the others into the hall to the flight deck. The evening sun glimmered off of the water of the Cascade Ocean, persuading Ryan to wear his sunglasses as he walked to his F-14.
              It felt like a morning run through the hangar deck. Aircraft from all squadrons involved in the raid sat on the deck, packed into every space available. Even then a number of jets were still below deck, waiting to join the cycle. All of CVW-5 seemed to be running it tight today. VFA-28 was the most strained tonight, with six of its jets going with the strike while the rest stayed behind with VF-34 to guard the battlegroup. Ryan and Razor’s Tomcat was parked next to a few of the Hornets slated to help them escort the Intruders.
              “Still sharp, Razor?” He asked over the intercom. His RIO let out a sarcastic laugh and then held up a middle finger at his pilot.
              “I’m still doin good, Rocky.” He said, trying his best to imitate Sylvester Stallone.
              “Sly PLAYED Rocky, smartass.” Ryan said as he brought the F-14 to life.
              “I can’t do Adrian or the old man’s voice…I forgot his name.”
              “…I can’t either.”
              Ryan closed the canopy and looked around as the Tomcat was unchained and cleared. He carefully navigated the big fighter through the tight avenue to the #2 Catapult, avoiding tractors, other planes and flight deck personnel. He swapped his sunglasses for his orange-tinted visor as he inched up to the catapult. Ryan drew in a breath and felt one of his flighsuit’s pockets. The “intimate” picture of Mae was still there. While the plane was checked by others, he let that image slip into his head, and then removed the negligee. Ryan smirked under his oxygen mask and looked towards the Cat Officer. The man visually checked the area one last time and then gave Ryan the signal that he was cleared to launch. Ryan returned the salute and waited for the shot…
     
     
              Orange-yellow lights twinkled on the horizon, signs that the Tomahawks had landed on their targets. The RWR was also quiet, and this close Ryan suspected the only long-range SAMs still able to fire were SA-6s. He looked down at his displays and gave them all one last check before the fight could start. Then his RWR changed its tone, telling him they’d been picked up by someone’s radar. The radio and his own radar were also being degraded; indications of at least one jamming aircraft. It was a rare but plausible sight and it was really screwing with the communications between aircraft and the ability to detect enemy aircraft.
              “Razor…can you try and get a shot on one of those jamming sources for us?” He asked as a result.
              “I’ll see what I can do.” His RIO assured.
              In the meantime Ryan kept his eyes on the look for ambushes while Razor gave the AIM-54 a firing point: the center of the nearest cloud of jamming. At that point he reckoned there was likely a Mirage F1CR with a jamming pod. Razor had little faith that the Phoenix would kill the Mirage, but it would rid him of the weight. Over $470,000 dollars’ worth of weight; Takeru had to chortle at the errant thought. He opened his mouth to confirm they had a solid lock when AWACS broke in over the radio.
              “Firebird and Axe I’ve got bandits on radar. Pop-up contacts! I count eight airborne so far, Headings 140 to 220, Angels 22. Nearest two pairs are 40 Miles out!” Was what the two figured out.
              “Rocky, shoot!” Razor commanded on the heels of the call from “AWACS Commodore”.
              “Firebird 105, Fox 3!” Ryan said, somewhat clumsily. He repeated the call and fired his second soon after.
              The weapon fell away and accelerated forwards and up. Ryan looked towards Tom and hurriedly lit up his flashlight. In the faint glow, he gave the man a quick command: spread out and follow me. Tom acknowledged with a waggle of his wings and banked right. Ryan started looking around while Razor tried to “burn through” the jamming.
              “Fire…01, Fox…” He heard over the radio.
              Ryan looked around and saw a bright light heading off into the dark at his eleven o’ clock. Then another, barely visible…but where were those MiGs? His Tomcat told him where: missile range. He had a pair of AA-10s inbound, looking two kill him. Ryan told Razor to hang on and broke left, deploying chaff to defeat the weapons. As the world rolled upside down, he spotted movement below them, dark shapes that were almost invisible in the sky. No friendly planes in the area were supposed to be camouflaged.
              “Heads up Bull; bandits below!” Ryan called. The answer came back clear.
              “Roger that Rocky!”
              The jamming was gone, and with it Ryan could again operate his plane to its fullest. The burst of confidence it gave him pushed him to bring his nose towards the bandits below, and then snake towards the AA-10s. Ryan then pulled up and screamed towards the stars, hoping the violent maneuvers in rapid succession would shake the weapons’ guidance. The RWR’s tone told him he’d managed to lose the missiles as he rolled over inverted and dove back towards the fight. He spotted Tom’s F-14 circling back around towards four MiG-29s that were barely visible in the low light. The crumpled form on an F-18 sailed by beneath it all; Ryan hoped it wasn’t one of the two that were assigned to back him and Tom up. Once again ignoring the unimportant things, he switched to the two AIM-9s he had on hand.
              “Shit…Rocky, radar’s going bad again.”  Razor growled.
              Ryan cocked a brow but rolled with it; whatever had happened had happened. He focused himself on the nearest MiG, which was one of the ones who’d attacked from below. After telling his wingman what he’d be doing (and hoping it got through), he pulled from his dive and found the Fulcrum above him. The MiG rolled and went over him; Ryan turned hard right and ascended. He strained to look for the Belkan under all the Gs. In the dark, even with his eyes adjusted, the camouflaged fighter was nearly invisible against the ground. He caught its movements as the jet dove in the general direction of the airport and then started to make a Split-S to get behind Ryan. The pilot took what few seconds he had to push to the right again and come around.
              The MiG turned into his attack and swooped beneath him, going as fast as it could to keep Ryan from countering a second time. Ryan accepted the defensive and hit the ground running by turning after the MiG again. The two fighters made a long arc to the left, heading towards Dinsmark proper. They crossed paths again and again in a flattened scissors fight. The AIM-9’s seeker head moaned and wailed in Ryan’s ear as the heat sources on the Fulcrum passed in and out of view. Neither jet was getting anywhere; Ryan decided to lay a trap before they got too far over the Belkan capital. He pushed hard on his next left and then took his F-14 into the vertical plane of movement.
              “Is he following?” The pilot demanded.
              “Yeah, he’s still on us!” Razor assured, uneasy since he had no clue what was cooking in Ryan’s head.
              Ryan turned away from the city and went back towards where the F-14 had first been told of bandits. Over the city he was prey to ever small arm in the Belkans’ inventory and whatever guns or missiles hadn’t been hit by TLAMs or HARMs. Out here, in the “furball”, he felt safe with friendly fighters close by.
              “Firebird 104 this is 105, can you hear me? Report status.” Ryan asked, taking over for Razor while he tracked the Fulcrum.
              “Loud and clear, Rocky, loud and clear. Firebird 104 is engaged offensive.” Tom said in his usually cocky way. The radar was clearing up; Ryan sent quiet thanks to missiles’ ability to have a “Lock-On-Jam” Mode.
              The F-14 was also gaining distance from the MiG. As the RWR warned them the Belkan was likely to go for an AA-10 shot, Ryan deployed chaff and broke to the left, diving down. He slowed and then snapped back to right to shake the MiG, who was rapidly trying to slow himself. Ryan’s wings extended, warning him he was closing in on his minimum airspeed. He saw the MiG off to his left and yanked the jet back towards it, pushing the throttles up. He steered clear of other jets as they crisscrossed the skies in an immaculate and deadly ballet.
              “Firebird 102, Fox 2!” He called.
              The AIM-9 on the right pylon zipped away from its mothership and chased after the MiG. Ryan passed behind the enemy fighter and then twisted back for another shot; he caught the two just as the Sidewinder’s warhead went off and tore away chunks of the MiG-29’s end. Ryan passed over and then turned around towards the city again. With kill number nine now theirs, Ryan was looking to make double ace. He still had enough fuel for one more fight, he reckoned. The Intruders were also still in danger and the BAF forces hadn’t been broken yet.
              “Razor, you got anything?” Ryan asked as he looked around.
              “Yeah, I think I’ve got something…our ten low.” His RIO reported.
              Ryan craned his neck and looked down until he spotted the shape of a Mirage 2000 flash by some lights on the ground. Ryan gave a quick warning to his friend and dove to the left, selecting the Mirage with his radar. He went back into level flight above and behind the Belkan, and then pushed down towards him. The enemy jet broke right and ascended to meet Ryan. They passed about a mile apart and Ryan turned into him to pursue the jet. They circled for several seconds before the Mirage then dove towards the land. Ryan naturally gave chase and closed to engage with his remaining Sidewinder. The Mirage deployed flares and screamed for the airport, which was now clearing up as the strikers fled north.
              The Mirage darted back and forth quickly to further frustrate the Tomcat’s weapons as Ryan continued his pursuit. Finally the Osean switched to his M61 and took in a long breath. He hit the throttles, nearly going into full afterburner, and made one aggressive thrust at the Mirage as it jinked to the right. Ryan pulled back the trigger and saw sparks run the length of the jet from the right intake to just shy of the tail. The Mirage pilot snapped left, overcorrected, and then plowed into the central tower for Himmel-Tor International. It all happened so fast that Ryan didn’t fully grasp it. He flashed past the spectacle, still low over the airfield.
              “Saber, nine o’ clock! Gopher tracking us!” Razor called.
              Ryan blinked and looked to his left just in time to see two missiles burst from the boxes on top of the SA-13. The Gopher was an IR-guided system; it could hide from the rain of HARMs that’d come down on the airport. Combined with Ryan’s position and its position near a pair of wrecked 747s, the system had gotten very lucky.
              Ryan still released flares and broke into the attack, but it didn’t stop his plane from being violently shaken by the blast from the first missile. He was sparred the second; the countermeasures had saved the two aviators from being blown out of the sky. Still, they were hit and hit bad. Ryan slowed, turned north and started ascending as steadily and as quickly as he could manage. He went east of the furball to avoid someone looking for a quick and easy kill.
              “Firebird 105’s been hit…I’m bugging out north.” Ryan said in a tense but calm tone.
              “Roger that 105…we’re tracking you. Will alert SAR if it becomes needed; Mothership will be notified as well.” The E-2 radioed.
              “Rocky, Razor, you guys okay?” Tom spoke up immediately after.
              “We’ll find out soon.” Razor replied as he turned around to try and inspect the damage.
              Ryan leveled his F-14 at around 25,000 Feet above the Earth and went to a nice medium of speeds to avoid ripping apart his fighter, but allowing him to escape quickly. Things finally slowed down and he was able to stop feeling so pumped full of adrenaline. Well, not as much; his plane was riding the edge of failing and getting home. Ryan checked his position and then started going over the instruments and gauges. Nothing looked particularly bad; he noticed the plane felt a little sluggish and his RWR was out of commission. That was great; he’d have to hope he wasn’t going to get shot at anymore. Ryan checked their position again and found they were about 30 Miles North of Dinsmark already, slowly turning northwest. It was another 60 to the coast and they’d want to make sure to go AROUND Anfang.
              The last thing Ryan wanted to do was eject over Belka, and he was sure Razor would agree. The pilot felt for the SiG Sauer P226 that was his sidearm but felt little comfort. He was qualified to shoot it but his last time qualifying to use it had been last September. It would be of little use against Belkan troops or whatever brought them down on him. Maybe he could scare off any angry locals…No, that wasn’t the right kind of thought. He needed to approach this with the intent that he’d make it alive. Every mile he went was a mile closer to home, and he was trained in escape and evasion.
              “Coming up at your eight low, Rocky.” Keith announced.
              Ryan looked over as the F-14 slowed its fast approach. The two pilots made eye contact and nodded at one another.
              “Rocky, Razor is there anything you want us to check immediately?” Tom’s RIO asked.
              “Check the back end; that’s where the missile went off.” Razor said, still turned around in his seat.
              Tom’s F-14 slid back and around slowly. All the while Ryan kept checking the gauges and reminding himself that ever mile was a mile closer to safety. He was starting to notice something, though…
              “Firebird 104, am I leaking fuel?” He asked cautiously.
              “Hang on…shit, yeah you guys are leaking fuel. I see some hydraulic leaks too.” Tom said, tone changing in frustration.
              Ryan bit his lip and did some calculations. They were closing in on the coast, maybe 50 Miles now. He watched the fuel loss and did some calculations. They were losing distance and it was anyone’s guess when the hydraulics would give out. His friends reported some other damage that didn’t look good, but as long as the plane held together. Tom settled into an escort position and the two jets flew on. The few lights on in Anfang flickered off in the distance to the left, and slowly the dark green land was replaced by the abyss of the Cascade. Ryan started thinking about how he was gonna get aboard the carrier when the plane started to vibrate. Ryan tried the controls and found his stick was near unresponsive.
              “Bull, Samurai…my stick’s going dead…I think this is about as far as I can go.” Ryan concluded.
              Without hydraulics to move the control surfaces, he couldn’t land or even get into the pattern. With rapidly depleting fuel, likely from damage that was only getting worse, he wouldn’t be able to even stay airborne. Ryan frantically checked to make sure they were at least somewhat over the ocean and found they were. He decided they’d ride until the last second or first sign of big trouble.
              “Razor, get ready to punch out.” He said.
              “Gotcha Rocky.” His friend assured.
              Ryan waited, watching the outside and the fuel gauge while he communicated with his carrier, AWACS and Tom. The Stinger and the proper people aboard her were aware, but that only helped so much. The battlegroup was 200 miles off the coast to avoid being too easy a target. Ryan also took note of the skies; he could see clouds out ahead and below, which likely meant the rain reported earlier today. Ryan frowned and hoped it wasn’t too bad or that the two of them would be reached quickly. Finally the fuel alarm started to sound; Ryan sighed and looked back at his friend. They nodded to one-another and then started bracing. Ryan took in one last breath and went from thinking to praying.
              “Okay Bull, we’re punching.” He announced.
              “Roger…good luck guys. We’ll alert the SAR guys.” Tom replied coolly. Now was the moment of truth. He watched and heard the final words from Ryan.
              “FIREBIRD 105, EJECT, EJECT, EJEC-”

              The radio was cutoff as they bailed.


    _________________

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    Ronin201
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    Re: TF Sea Dragon

    Post by Ronin201 on Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:20 am

    Chp. 16: The Martin-Baker Guarantee
    May 28, 1995
    Somewhere Over the Cascade Ocean
     
              “I love you, Mae.” Ryan said. It was drowned out by the roar of the wind
              The pilot knew he was tumbling as his unmoving body and the ejection seat hit the high-speed air, but he couldn’t see anything. It was like he was falling into an abyss.
              “I love you, Mae.” He repeated.
              The tumbling stopped and he fell downwards. He could hear the F-14 sailing away from him, but he wasn’t able to properly spot it. He couldn’t see Razor, either.
              “I love you, Mae.”
              It was all he could say as he desperately waited for the parachute to deploy. He fell for what seemed like a millennium before he felt a jarring shock run through him. He looked up and saw the white and orange canopy of his parachute fluttering gently above his head. Ryan sighed in relief and looked down at the ocean, wherever that was. As he became reoriented, the pilot noted that he seemed to be surrounded by a veil of gray. As it faded, he heard the soft tap of something against his helmet. Rain…that system weather had warned about had come far enough south that he was in it. That made him a bit more nervous; how long would that hold off the rescue helo?
              Ryan shook his head and concentrated on landing. He recalled his training and tried to get an idea of his surroundings. He noted that he had his legs open as he came down. Ryan closed them on instinct to protect himself. He didn’t want to know what it would feel like down there if he hit the water with open legs. As he sailed down, probably below a thousand feet, he started frantically patting himself down. He wanted to make sure he had his survival radio and locator beacon now. They were both there, secured to him. That gave him a reason to smile for a minute, compounded by the fact that he was alive. His ejection seat, at the time it was most needed, had done its sole purpose beautifully.
              “I love you, Mae! You’re the most beautiful woman ever and I love you!” He howled, now because he could and not because of any fear of death.
              That elation evaporated as the last few hundred feet passed by. Ryan could mentally prepare himself all he wanted but it did nothing to help when he landed. At first he sank like a stone until his neck-mounted flotation device activated. Ryan felt his lungs scream; he’d forgotten to take in a gulp of air before he landed. Cold salt water filled his mask; he pried it off and let out a loud gasp as he broke the surface, only to get splashed in the face by the choppy seas. After an angry burst of expletives, He calmed and looked around. After a minute he lifted up his visor…and then lowered it when sea spray burned his eyes with salt. There wasn’t much to see, anyways.
              His attention was redirected to the fact that there was nothing beneath him. There was…likely several thousand feet of nothing beneath him. He felt his body seize up before he started reaching for his life raft. Ryan actually had a fear of the open ocean. It was subdued being in the air or on the boat because he wasn’t in the ocean. His imagination dreamed up some enormous mythical sea creature slowly reaching for him. A giant squid, the Shimoji myth of the Umibozu, the Nordic Jormungand, Jaws, Nessy…the list flooded his mind between images of his doom rising up to engulf him. He flailed his way onto the black-and-red raft before gasping loudly several times. He looked all around, expecting to see his fears become real, but his fearful gaze only saw water churned by the weather.
              Ryan relaxed and laid back on the raft, trying to focus on his predicament. He also made sure to secure himself to the device, lest his fears have an encore. He considered the possibility of being captured but quickly dismissed it. He was far from Belka and the Belkans were likely too busy being hammered into oblivion to go looking for a single fighter pilot. They likely didn’t even know he’d bailed. His main concern for now was surviving long enough to be rescued. He maneuvered his survival kit out from under him and onto his lap. Inside he found pen flares, a mirror, camouflaged bandanna, face camo, water, rations, shark repellent (which he employed posthaste), and a small first aid kit. Ryan stowed all his stuff again and went to his radio.
              The PRC-112 was a newer radio, thankfully. It was far better than the Songolian War-era PRC-90, which had a rep for being ornery. Still, Ryan knew that Mr. Murphy was out and about; for all he knew the radio would refuse to work. He carefully examined the device for visible damage before he turned it on. There was a hiss of static, rising like the waves around him, and then the low crackle of the radio airwaves. He pulled out his flashlight and used it to illuminate the list of callsigns in one of his clear pockets.
              “Igloo, Igloo this is Firebird 105 Alpha…Igloo can you hear me? This is Firebird 105 Alpha, requesting immediate assistance. Am down, feet wet. Need assistance.” He said.
              Ryan repeated the message twice and got nothing. He signed and set the radio back where it was supposed to go. He turned it off after a second to conserve the battery. Ryan lit the face of his watch and checked the time. It was around 1:45 AM on May 28, 1995. He remembered that things were likely very busy with aircraft from Osea and her allies all hitting targets across Belka. That shouldn’t excuse delays in getting pilots, though. Ryan decided that he’d call again in a half hour. In the meantime he got comfortable and stared up at the sky.
              “…Razor!” He exclaimed in sudden realization.
              The pilot looked every which way for another raft, sometimes going back over spots just to make sure he hadn’t looked too quickly. He kept looking until the voices in his head finally made the rest of his mind sit down and realize that there was nothing he could do. Ryan slumped down, feeling utterly helpless, and then laid back again. He took in a deep breath and tried to think about happy things. Mae probably would’ve made light of his flopping around in the water. He imagined she would’ve laughed her ass off at him like she had when she’d first heard of his fear. Or the time she’s tried to teach him to surf. Like then he blushed, but more out of happiness than embarrassment and indignation. This time wasn’t bound to be so humorous, though. Ryan pressed his palms to his visor at the thought.
              “She’s gonna kill me when she finds out about this…” He groaned. The young man laid back and sighed; he felt a little tired…
     
     
              The young man hadn’t even gotten to stand up fully before he lost his balance. The surfboard flew skywards to his left and he felt the ocean slap against his back. In the last second before he went underwater he sucked in all the air he could and closed his eyes. Ryan than began to roll and tumble with the wave but he kept his eyes shut. When he was able to get above the surface, he felt the surfboard tug him closer to shore and swam towards it, grumbling the entire way there. He reached over and took the surfboard under his arm before he guided it back to shore. Enough of this shit; he was content to wade where his feet touched the sand or stay on the shore. Mae was standing next to her own board in the early-morning light, smiling. He could tell she was barely containing roaring laughter.
              “Yeah yeah yeah laugh all you want, Marine.” Ryan growled as he dragged his surfboard ashore. She smiled even wider than she already was.
              “What did I tell you about being quick, Ry?” She asked.
              “I was quick!” He quickly protested. Mae let out a sarcastic “Uh-huh” and watched him as he dried his hair and knelt down to detach the ankle cuff.
              She noted his eyes were being kept away from her. Mae couldn’t help herself; she was in the mood to tease and by this point she had a serious relationship with Ryan Bradford. No more wanting shy kisses and trembling for just a second when they held hands. He was off to the Naval Academy in two weeks, and then they’d really have to be adults and deal with a long-distance relationship for four years. Mae batted her eyelashes at him and toyed with her hair innocently.
              “Aww, is someone disappointed about the bet?” She sang. When he scowled she rolled her eyes.
              “I swear you’re always like this. Lighten up and have some fun for once in your life.” She said, sitting down next to him.
              See he was still being grumpy, she leaned forward and planted a kiss on his cheek.
              “Your hair looks nice when it’s all wet.” Mae said. That got a half-grin out of him as he stood up.
              “Yeah but everything about me is something you can find sexy.” He chuckled.
              “Either way don’t mind me; I can be a sore loser sometimes.” He shrugged. Mae took a step towards him and wrapped her hands around his wrists.
              “Oh yeah? And who says I can’t say you won anyways?” She purred.
              “Why Marine Bridger, are we saying that we want Ryan Bradford to get sexual with you anyways?” Ryan smirked with a wink.
              “Very sexual~” She said, reaching for her wetsuit’s zipper…
     
             
              Ryan jolted upright as the cold seawater splashed his face and filled his mouth with even more salt. He coughed several times and let out a number of words he best use only at work. After a minute he realized he wasn’t back on the sandy beaches near St. Hewlett anymore, and he wasn’t a wide-eyed 18-year-old anymore. Ryan sighed and pressed an open palm to his visor. Leave it to him to think about losing his virginity while he was adrift at sea…
              “Wait.” He said aloud.
              The pilot checked his watch and found it was around 3 AM. Ryan hurriedly pulled out his radio and turned it on. He forced himself to breathe and hit the transmit button.
              “Igloo, Igloo this is Firebird 105 Alpha. This is Firebird 105 Alpha, requesting immediate assistance. Am down, feet wet. Need assistance. Igloo can you hear me?” He asked again.
              There was a soft crackle and the pilot thought he heard someone say something. He tried again.
              “Igloo can you hear me?” He pressed.
              “…oger 105 Alpha, we can hear you.” A voice replied. Ryan let out a long sigh and felt the first bit of optimism he’d felt during this whole affair.
              “Igloo, what’s the chance of getting me a helo?”
              “Wait one 105 Alpha, stand by for authentication questions.”
              Ryan quickly admonished himself. They needed to make sure that the voice talking to them wasn’t a man being held hostage to draw in other Osean aircraft or a Belkan who could imitate him for the same reason. They were questions that he’d written down and besides the rescue people he was the only one who knew the answers.
              “What’s the best car on the street?” The voice asked.
              “68 Mustang GT.”
              “What’s the Old Man’s unit?”
              “VF-135, The Gunfighters.”
              “Who was the family’s cat?”
              “Puma.”
              There was a brief pause before Ryan heard the words he’d so desperately needed to hear.
              “Okay 105 Alpha we’ll have a helo to you ASAP. Check in once an hour; the bird’ll tell you when to activate your beacon.” The unseen individual instructed.
              “Roger that Igloo, 105 Alpha will stay in touch as ordered.” Ryan assured.
              He checked his watch again and then set an alarm on the digital watch in case he dozed off again. Ryan then settled back and watched as the raindrops pattered against his visor. Out of boredom he started humming whatever song came to his mind. It kept him awake trying to remember the lyrics to the various songs that came to him. Was it “sing a song about the night” or “sing a song about life” from the song “Walk of Life”, and what the heck was that one guy saying after the phone ringing in GnR’s cover of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”? Okay maybe he knew that second one; Ryan shrugged as if someone was with him to excuse his thoughts.
              Some amount of time had passed before Ryan checked his watch again. He still had fifteen minutes before he had to call next. The pilot sat up and checked to make sure he still had his flares and beacon. He started running through the procedures for being picked up by a rescue helo. The rescue swimmer they dropped would be calling the shots, so his job would be to be an obedient aviator and follow him. Ryan was making sure he was all ready to go when he saw a twinkle out on the horizon. Ryan squinted in the direction and then wiped a hand across his visor. The light bobbed gently, and then seemed to turn towards him.
              The pilot watched until he saw a shape form in the darkness. It was a boat; Ryan froze and felt for his 226. He glared at the shape moving towards him, lighting the choppy seas as it pushed through the waves. It seemed small, which at worst made it a patrol boat. Ryan’s 9mm handgun was useless against even a boat with one machinegun and an armed crew. He looked at the water and considered his options. He couldn’t drown the raft, and out here he didn’t even consider getting into the water. He’d panic before the Belkans were done searching for him. Instead Ryan drew out his P226 and started repeating the words that he’d thought and spoke when he’d first ejected.
              “I love you, Mae…” He breathed out, clutching the weapon in his grip. He pointed the barrel direction of the boat’s lights.
              The light shone over him and he resisted the urge to pull the trigger. He waited for anything…bullets, orders, something! Instead the light remained on him and the ship sailed ever-near. Ryan wondered if he might be able to get the first shots off, and then reconsidered the water. Mae had constantly reassured him that most predators of the sea either lived too far down or didn’t actively hunt humans. He tightened his grip on the handgun and started preparing to unstrap and roll into the water. Screw being a POW, he thought, he’d rather take his chances in the sea!
              “Hold on, mate! We’re coming to help!”
              The voice was faint, but just loud enough that Ryan heard it. It didn’t sound Belkan in accent, more Lenish or maybe Skully or Aucklin. Ryan stared dumbly at the ship as it soon became apparent it was nothing more than a fishing trawler. Three figures, all dressed in heavy overalls, long-sleeved shirts and gloves, stared at him as he sat there, bobbing up and down on his raft. Against the lights of their boat, they looked more like apparitions at first.
              “The fuck you holding that gun like that for? Do I look like a damned pirate or something to yah?” A mustachioed and barrel-chested man asked.
              “He’s a pilot, looks like.” A second man, clean-shaven but with a long nose and sunken eyes, said. Both sounded Lenish.
              “Osean.” The third said in an accent that suggested he was from The West Afrikaner Republic. He had a single finger pointed at Ryan’s left shoulder.
              “Yeah I’m Osean…” Ryan admitted, unzipping one of his chest pockets and pulling out a blood chit.
              “You guys like making money? Help me get back to my friends and all that and you’ll get rewarded.” He offered, showing the single sheet of paper that essentially repeated what he’d just said.
              “Thought we were Belkans, eh?” The Afrikaner asked with something between a humorous grin and a sneer.
              “There is something of a war going on…” Ryan frowned.     
              “Fish don’t care about war and neither do we, man. Anyways yeah we could use some extra cash.” The clean-shaven one nodded.
              “Great, now help me out before the helo shows up. Wouldn’t want you guys getting shot at cause they think you’re trying to abduct me.” Ryan said.
              Ryan stowed his gun and chit and slid into the water, leaving his raft behind. The two Lenish men reached down and grabbed his hands, helping him from the murky sea. The one with the moustache seemed to be in the mood to joke.
              “I swear I thought I was done plucking the pointy noses outta the water. Why I remember one time during the Adama-”
              “Shut up, Barry!” The other two barked. He grumbled out a retort.
              Ryan plopped down onto the wooden deck and pried off his helmet. He took in a few deep breaths, grateful to be out of the tiny survival raft, and looked around the deck. The boat was long but narrow with fishing nets and other things needed to bring in large catches. All of it was alien to a man who sailed aboard a warship. There were no Sea Sparrow launchers, life vest bins, radar dishes or masts loaded with high-tech gadgets in sight. He suddenly wondered again why these guys were looking to fish while the entire region was up in flames.
              “Like we said: fish don’t care about war. We gotta make a living too, man.” Barry explained with a shrug, sensing Ryan’s look of confusion.
              “Anyways I’m Barry, the other Lenny is Sean, and the red-faced Boer is Rudi.” He went on.
              “Ryan.” The pilot nodded.
              “Think we should radio this in?” Rudi asked.
              “I’ve got a radio. Besides who knows who’d hear that call. I don’t want a Belkan frigate to show up because of it.” Ryan assured with a wave of his hand. Barry scoffed.
              “Oh please, why the hell would they send a frigate after one guy? What’re you, the admiral?”
              “Point, I guess.”
              “Sides they’re all gone; Anfang’s empty, man. Anything that isn’t a wreck got lost at sea.”
              “You’ve been to Anfang recently?”
              “Yup, our port for the spring and summer months.”
              “Any news to share?”
              “People are getting restless, man.”
              “Restless?”
              Barry lumbered to a spot next to him and sat down with a grunt.
              “War’s dragging, sons and husbands and dads aren’t coming back, and the fanfare drummed up by the government’s long faded, mate. It’s like when the Queen went to take back Adamas Island. We went out bright-eyed and ready to kick the Sathies in the nuts. Then we lost the Suffolk and the Winston. My diver pulled kids who were half-charred from the Suffolk.” He explained. Ryan had concluded he was once a pilot on a Sea King helicopter.
              “But you won that war.” Ryan pointed out.
              “And yet there’s talk that Adamas Island will be turned over to the Sathies anyways.”
              Ryan blinked as he thought about his situation. As if to reject that thought that even if Osean won, it’d lose, He remembered the fact that he was aboard a fishing boat talking to a large Lenish gentleman who’d been to a city in recent times that Ryan was sure had gotten the crap bombed out of it throughout the war. He was supposed to be acting as if he were behind enemy lines. Barry waved a hand a few inches from his face.
              “Uhm, yah there? Helloooo? Ryan?” He asked. The pilot blinked several times.
              “Sorry man I just…this feels kinda surreal. Maybe fifteen minutes ago I was adrift in a raft, trying to survive. A few hours ago I was aboard an aircraft carrier in the middle of a war, and now I’m talking to you like we’re best pals thinking about the meaning of our existence.” He explained.
              “Life works in strange ways, my young friend.” Barry winked.
              Ryan stared at him for a minute, and then let out a loud, roaring laugh. To the fisherman’s surprise, Ryan fell over, letting out loud hoot after loud hoot. The events of the night seemed so surreal he wondered if he were dreaming. Too much fear, too much adrenaline, or something else suddenly made him wonder if he was dreaming. The three fishermen stared at him with lost expressions.
              “You break him?” Rudi grunted.
              “I don’t know…bastard probably drank too much salt water.” Barry shrugged.
              When the HH-60 finally arrived, the first stands of daylight had started to creep into the sky. Ryan stood at the back end of the boat, watching as the bird from HSL-8, The Eight Balls, hovered to a standstill over the fishing boat.  Waves pushed out in an imperfect circle, bringing up spray onto the deck in a mini-typhoon of mist. Despite the relative safety of the pickup, the two crewmembers manning their M60s on either side of the helo stayed frosty. Even with no Belkans in sight, there were always sharks and the like to watch for. Only Barry was out on the deck, watching the cousin of his old mount as it lowered the sling for Ryan. Once again training took over and Ryan carefully inserted himself into the orange device. He felt sort of like he was hanging already.

              He looked up to see the helmeted head of a helicopter crewman. Ryan gave him a thumbs up, grabbed the top of the sling and waited. With a jolt the cable running from helicopter to harness started to retract. Ryan looked back at Barry and noted the man render him a Lenish-style military salute. Ryan straightened his free hand and returned the gesture. Barry gave a grin and a wink before turning back towards the pilot house of the boat. He quietly thanked the man and hoped there was enough of a reward from the blood chit to give them all a proper share. They’d earned it, in Ryan’s opinion.


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      Current date/time is Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:57 am