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[Academy Submission] The Rumble before the Thunder


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It had been a few years since Anatea had experienced the thrill of war on its skin.
It was not as cold and distant as they told in school and information books, nor heroic as the novels about soldiers and generals did. It was ruthless, tough, relentless.
Nobody was spared, nobody saw the next day without having had a reckless dose of luck that would have made everyone pass unscathed through the hell of lead and flames that was the war.
They were numbers against numbers, powerful against other powerful, hordes of innocent people who were sent to the massacre despite Anatea had always claimed to be a peaceful nation.
But it wasn't that day.
In the distant Spring 2019 Ruthenia, a nation close to Anatea, was experiencing a period of economic instability after finishing a civil war that had torn the nation in 2009. Of course, the Ruthenian leader Kars Delai and his faction had emerged victorious from the war, but by that time the post-conflict economic trauma was proving more difficult to manage than the civil war itself.
The ruthenian people were hungry and work was lacking, the territories under the Federal Republic of Ruthenia could no longer support the torment of dictatorship and poverty. It was at that moment that the island of Delstev decided to detach itself from the central government and ask for humanitarian aid to Anatea, much richer and more stable. Obviously Ruthenia was furious, and became even more furious when the anatean humanitarian aids arrived on the island to prevent masses of refugees from attempting a suicidal crossing of the sea that divided the two territories. From that day the ruthenian bases remained loyal to the central government did everything to avoid Anatea any support for the region, invoking constitutional laws absent and destroyed by the party itself years earlier, sabotaging or stopping humanitarian convoys and even going so far as to bomb refugee camps. With the escalation of Ruthenia's aggression, Anatea could safely leave Delstev and go home. But it didn't. The center-right government, at that time and still in power in Anatea, decided that everything possible should be done to save Delstev's innocents, not calculating that such stubbornness would cause many other deaths.
They had elevated Anatea to be the hero of the situation, motivating the citizens to be right ... but it didn't help.
The breaking point came when the air cargo of the anatean delegation, formed by King Edward II, Queen Isabel II and other delegates, was intercepted and destroyed during the journey to a peace conference in Sigta, to resolve the Delstevian issue face to face between Anatea and Ruthenia. The attackers? Ruthenian stealth fighters, that's what the AWACS and the anatean escort fighters recorded when they fought that day to ward off the inevitable.
On the same day Ruthenia began a large-scale invasion of Delstev to regain possession of the island, while Anatea could not help but respond to revenge by sending other men to die in a place away from home.
The war lasted for 7 months and ended with the anatean victory over the ruthenian troops retreating from the island, but the damage had already been done and Princess Sofia Soleri, daughter of the parents who died in the attack on the cargo, understood that the war had not solved anything for Anatea. The only results were only obtaining Delstev' s independence from Ruthenia, and the political collapse of Ruthenia which ended up divided into small factions and regions calling for freedom.
It was in that moment that Sofia Soleri understood that the political line adopted by the center-right minister Fulvio Silani was not suitable for Anatea and neither did the interest of the nation, she understood that if Anatea wanted to prevent war disasters or save innocent lives, it had to do it as quietly as possible.


20 June 2020
The pilots of the Sol Squadron, the aerobatic patrol of the Anatean Air Force, had been called to the base of Eris Island regarding their use in an experimental department. The thing had been covered very well, as the pilots were even escorted to the base by the agents of the FSS (Federal Strategy Service) while the superiors had been minimally informed of the transfer, not wanting to get involved in even deeper bureaucratic matters of the already complicated chain of command. It had been a quick, silent and clean operation.
The four were taken to another air base on Eris Island, much more covered and supervised than the official one present on the island.
- Where do you think they are taking us? - asked Bradley, Captain of the Sol Squadron.
- I don't know, it's not the official base of Eris Island ... I don't like this situation ... - admitted Sasha, second in command of the squadron. - I hope it's not connected to that day when ... we weren't able to protect the King and Queen of Anatea ... -
- You will know soon, don't worry. - said one of the escort agents coldly.
Inside the base the pilots were made to sit in a semi-dark room, built inside a hill where half of the base seemed to be hidden. Only a couple of lights on the ceiling minimally illuminated the empty gray room. It felt like being in a box.
Suddenly one of the doors of the room opened and a man in aviation short sleeve uniform with two FSS agents appeared before them. They were silent and the man, probably thirty years old, had dark penetrating eyes, as if they wanted to explore the soul of who was in front of him, as well as a dark wooden staff that he used to help him walk.
- Forgive all this secrecy but this transfer is confidential. Let me introduce myself, I am Colonel Adam Kalt. - explained the man, shaking hands with all the pilots.
- Adam Kalt ... THAT Adam Kalt? - asked Edward - The same Major Kalt who during the war with Ruthenia obtained 26 air kills? -
- Yes, it's me. - the man smiled slightly.
- But ... you ... they said you have been killed in action over the skies of Ickras! - Bradley continued, almost incredulous to face the same ace they had given up for dead.
- That's what they said ... but ... let's say I saved myself, and that the report was not entirely fair. But that's okay. The fact that that last fight no longer gave me the chance to fly is as if it had declared me dead. - explained the man.
- I see ... - replied the Captain, looking at the colonel's staff.
- Moving on to more serious matters, we have called you here for an urgent matter. Anatea is weaker than ever, and the last war, won by sheer luck and sacrifice of many, highlighted the limits that our nation can reach and on which it can even collapse. From this moment on you will never fly in the Anatean Air Force again. -
- S-Sorry... what? - Bradley burst out.
- What does it mean? Is it for that time that we failed to protect Anatea's regents? I know we had to do it, but you have seen it too that we had been outnumbered that day! - tried to explain Sasha.
- That's not for that. - interrupted a female voice coming from behind the shoulders of the four pilots, from the same door from which the four had entered.
At first the lack of light made it impossible to clearly distinguish who she was, but when she got even closer to the pilots the faint light showed the face of Sofia Soleri. The princess of Anatea was in front of them.
- Y-Your Majesty, what ...? - asked incredulously Samuel, fourth pilot of the Sol squadron.
- On the contrary, that day you gave your best to protect my mother and father ... and I am grateful to you. - explained the princess - But for this very reason I called you. I need you to fly for me and for my new secret division: the GHOST Division. You are experienced pilots who have demonstrated great skills in that single battle, even without having participated directly in that war. All those in this division are for the most part veterans of the Delstev war given for dead, but who have demonstrated skill in handling difficult situations and numerically superior enemy forces despite the numerous disadvantages. I want you to join this undercover division. -
- All right, your majesty, but ... why all this? - asked Daniel, third pilot of the Sol squadron.
- The reason? Because we barely struggle to defend our borders, and we absolutely need to prevent future disasters that can hit Anatea or harm innocent people in the most silent way possible. Look at Ruthenia, Anatea and that nation were once in good terms before the civil war, but if we had intervened earlier when Ruthenia asked us for help we could have avoided many deaths and the recent war with Ruthenia that would have erupted. But no, my father and the delegation of that time preferred to ignore and hope that everything would resolve itself, but it doesn't work like that .. someone has to intervene and help the people out there .. and that's us. - she finished explaining.
- Count on us your highness. - Bradley confirmed, saluting with the military salute which was promptly imitated by the rest of the squadron.
- Perfect. Welcome to the GHOST Division, Revenant Squadron. - said Colonel Kalt.
- Revenant eh? I like it ... - Sasha commented, smiling.
Only time would show what the new squadron added to the secret division was capable of.

Edited by Anatea (see edit history)
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