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Cpl. Elena
-
Godamnit, one more packet of corn crackers for breakfast! My goodness, a little variety! -



Cpl. Jordan
-
Eh eh, i'm sorry Elena. If it were up to me I would immediately take you for breakfast in a coffee shop, too bad that the closest one was blown up 2 days ago by a bomb, and the one down the street has Ruthenian machine gunners inside it ah ah! -

 



Cpl. Elena
-
Thanks for reminding me what a mess of a place I find myself in, Jordan. -

 

 

In war there were those who went crazy just hearing the din of an impending battle, the sight of dead soldiers covering the ground, or the whistle of a falling bomb, making you unable to understand if it would kill you or one of your fellow soldiers... but for me the only thing that drove me crazy in that damned besieged city was... the absence of a decent and varied meal, damn it!
The "great Ruthenian offensive that would have wiped out the invading Anatean dogs from San Palia", according to the propaganda of Radio Debalsteve, had run aground in the ruins of the city and its surroundings. In that chaos of debris the positions of both sides could not gain even a meter, and if they did, the victory lasted only a few hours, before the position was lost again. We thought that this situation reigned only here in San Palia, but apparently the other units on the entire Dalstavian front were not doing well either.
The allied reinforcements had certainly arrived, and surprise attacks carried out by our air force or those behind enemy lines by Free Dalstavia managed to prevent the Ruthenians from preparing large offensives, but the enemy also received reinforcements and like us tried to prevent supplies and new troops to arrive at our respective positions.
We were literally stuck in a positional warfare.
The only things my teammate Jordan and I could do were reconnaissances and assassinations of officers or machine gunners. As snipers we couldn't do much, but these small surgical cuts to the enemy chain of command or some strategic positions managed to buy us time to prepare some offensive and weaken the enemy in some key points. Certainly the enemy was not stupid, and they used their snipers how and where they wanted too, so much that San Palia had been renamed by the captured Ruthenian prisoners "Gnezdo paukov", which meant "Spider's nest". There couldn't have been a perfect nickname like that.
Wherever you went you always had a crosshair that kept an eye on you, an ally or enemy one.
That afternoon Captain Alberti called us back from the front line to assign us a task, certainly one of the many reconnaissance that we had to do between the enemy lines, but when we arrived at the improvised command post we were told something else.

Cpt. Alberti
- Here we are again guys, I would have warned you on the radio but we found out yesterday that the Ruths' are playing "Guess the radio frequency of the enemy". They took out Schiavo's entire team with an ambush during a reconnaissance after we ordered it over the radio. Call me paranoid, but I don't want to risk another disaster. -

explained Captain Alberti, a big giant who at first looked like a first-rate bastard, but who after a few weeks treated you like his equal despite being in the army. A person to be respected in the midst of all this mess, always ready not to unnecessarily risk the lives of his men.

Cpt. Alberti
- You absolutely have to head to Liberty Square. The next attack will be there, and it will happen in the next few days. We don't know how the hell the enemy is entrenched and aerial reconnaissance, as far as they can, don't say much. I know it's one of the usual reconnaissance missions that i give you, but this time there is something big at stake. -


Cpl. Jordan
- I can imagine, Captain. We will try not to get caught. -


Cpt. Alberti
- I hope so, the area is full of Ruths' ... it will be risky but please keep your eyes peeled, and for the whole mission no radio, we can't risk anything. Good luck... -

Alberti finished, shaking our hands. A lot of things were at stake, but if we could complete this stupid task, we could unblock the situation.

 

Cpl. Jordan
- Do you think all this mess will really do any good? -


Cpl. Elena
- I don't know, it looks like just another suicide reconnaissance to me. -


Cpl. Jordan
- That' s why i' m aksing, every action always looks the same and never changes anything. But ... this time Alberti seemed very serious. Maybe because he lost Schiavo and the others, but it really seemed that there was something important at stake. -


Cpl. Elena
- It may be, but I don't want to get any hopes. The important thing is that you and I stay alive and possibly healthy, okay? -


Cpl. Jordan
- Eh eh, of course Elena. -

 

We started our mission without wasting too much time, traveling with great caution among the ruins and keeping our eyes and ears wide open, every noise was a signal and it was important to pick it up before the start of a disaster. For a journey that took 30 minutes to do on foot it took us 2 hours, sometimes risking to be even discovered by the Ruthenians who patrolled the sector.
The target was in sight: Liberty Square. We decided to observe the enemy positions from some destroyed building, in order to have some extra cover.
With binoculars we were able to detect many hidden targets, including machine gunners, infantry armed with anti-tank weapons and some tanks well hidden among the destroyed buildings. It would have been impossible for the air force to see everything we saw.
In total silence we left the area, returning to the devastated streets and destroyed buildings. The mission had been completed and what remained to be done was to return to our lines and report everything to the captain.
I admit, we were quite surprised that the mission had gone quite well, we hadn't had any hitches of any kind except for some enemy patrol that passed a little close, but the action would have moved the front once and for all.
Or so I thought.
One shot. The silence murdered.
A thud.
I turn around behind me and Jordan is on the ground. His incredulous look, he doesn't believe it.
He's still alive, but he still doesn't believe he's been hit. His right knee has been completely hit, his leg is compromised, and he can't get up.

Cpl. Elena
- Stay down you idiot, goddamnit! -

i whisper.
We are both flat on the ground.The entry hole on the pants of the uniform is to the side, so the enemy shooter is on the street or on some fairly tall building, but the rubble we jumped into covers us pretty well for what they can, and the soldier hasn't fired a second time yet. It means that the shooter is not a sniper and we can get out of his firing range with ease if we lie on the ground.

Cpl. Jordan
- Fu*king hell, fu*king hell! -

His pain is excruciating and the only thing I can do at that moment is drag him from his arms while remaining covered behind the rubble. Behind him he leaves a trail of blood.

Cpl. Elena
- You only have a crushed kneecap, you can do it. -

I give him morphine and, with the first aid pack, I bundle his knee trying to tighten the tissue on the wound, so as to stop the bleeding as much as I can.

Cpl. Jordan
- Right now that we were a few steps away from our lines, motherfu*kers! -


Cpl. Elena
- It's the bad luck of the moment, you know it better than me eh eh. -

I try to play down but inside of me I'm dying of anxiety and worry. I didn't want to lose Jordan, I've known him for years since we were rookies. We had been through hell in this city, and without him now I would surely be depressing myself in some dark corner, killing only to satisfy a void and not because we have to face an enemy.
Distant voices. They are not Anatean ... foreign. An accent that I don't understand.
Civilians? I don't think at all, not after hearing a shot. Suddenly a shout, it seems an order.
Probably the enemy.

Cpl. Elena
- Jordan, we have to leave. I think the Ruths' are coming to give us the coup de grace. -


Cpl. Jordan
- I think that too... -

I drag Jordan to a slightly more covered position and, without wasting too much time, load him onto my back. It's damn heavy but I have to do it if I want to save my friend.
I start running through the ruins, towards the safety of our lines. At that moment I don't even pay much attention to enemy snipers anymore, I can't concentrate when I have an important person who is wounded while he is with me.

Cpl. Jordan
- Will we make it Elena? -


Cpl. Elena
- Of course we will make it. -

His voice is weak, almost calm and emotionless. The shock of the wound begins to be felt.

Cpl. Jordan
- Please, don't leave me alone. -


Cpl. Elena
- I'll not do it. -

I'm sweating my soul. I leave my rifle on the ground. There's too much weight with my equipment and his and I have to make drastic decisions that don't make any sense at the moment. But I have to, every cell in my body tries to get him to safety.
To make matters worse, the enemy artillery begins to hammer the areas around us.
Small pieces of debris start falling on us, but nothing heavy or dangerous.

Cpl. Elena
- Is everything oke there? -


Cpl. Jordan
- Mhm. -

He's probably about to pass out, but that little sign of assent was enough to understand that he was still with me.

 

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I complete the last stretch in 8 minutes. As soon as our folks see us, they are incredulous. They never expected to see a girl with a partner on her back in the middle of the road, in the open field. My legs were now sore and my throat almost completely dry for the fatigue, while my body sweated my soul to try to save my friend.

Cpl. Elena
- Medic! I need a medic! -

I shout with the last faint of voice I have.
The soldiers immediately call the medic, while I fall to the ground as soon as I am five centimeters behind our lines, as if between our positions and the outside there was an invisible barrier that protected us from the enemy.
I let Jordan slide to the side as the other soldiers help him. I am physically destroyed, I can not even open the uniform or take off the backpack from the fatigue that has affected my body. I'm tired ... but happy. I knew Jordan was safe.
For a minute I remain on the ground, breathless and intent on recovering, but the soldiers are still there helping Jordan. Someone walks away, someone else starts talking but I don't understand well between my heavy breath and the oxygen that flows back into my brain. Suddenly one of the soldiers turns to me and looks me in the eyes.

Anatean Soldier
- Elena, your friend is dead. -

I smile, I get up on my side.

Cpl. Elena
- Don't joke about these things. Try to say it again and i' ll punch you in the face. -


Anatean Soldier
- I'm not joking. He' s dead. -

 

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My smile fades. Unbelief takes over.

Cpl. Elena
- What the fu*k are you saying? He' s alive. They just shot him in the kneecap. I even talked to him a couple of minutes ago. -

I approach Jordan, he's still.

Cpl. Elena
- He just fainted. -


Anatean Soldier
- There is no heartbeat ... and not only. -

The soldier turns Jordan's head to the side. At the level of the right temple there was a small hole from which a very fine stream of blood emerged. It wasn't a bullet, it was too small; it looked more like a splinter, probably a metal one. It had also pierced the helmet.
I think back to the bombardment in which we found ourselves, to the small rubble that fell around us. Yet he had answered after that, but it was only a murmur. I didn't even know if it was actually a final gasp.

Anatean Soldier
- I'm sorry. -

I remain still, immobile. Staring at Jordan, thinking that in a moment or another he gets up and says this is all just one of his usual idiotic jokes.
But it does not happen, it remains there motionless. The skin pale, the body limp.
They take him away on a stretcher and what remains for me to do is recover my composure somehow and go to Captain Alberti.
When he sees me he doesn't ask questions, he just asks what I saw. He knows what it means when only one member of a sniper team comes to report, and my dead gaze was already screaming what had happened.
The debrief is short, quick. He thanks me and tells me that I can also take a day off from sniper actions, but it is useless. Nothing makes sense anymore.


Another day like any other ends, the usual routine. There are those who live and there are those who die, and those who live must deal with the deads, allies or enemies. The void gets bigger and silence remains the only thing that hammers you more than the bombings or the gasps of the dying wounded.
Whether I was here or at home, nothing mattered anymore.

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Edited by Anatea
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Posted (edited)

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Some weeks passed since the San Palia counteroffensive had broken the Ruthenian lines, turning the war in favor of Anatea. The Anatean units, now free from the chaining of the Ruthenian forces, were advancing at full speed across the front, trying to reach Ikras and Mirevka, two strategic cities for the logistical traffic in the region.
From above, as AWACS, I could not help but observe all the action and give support with the informations we received from the radar mounted on our E-767. It was a stressful task, sure, but when the results turned in favor of your allies, satisfaction made its way into your mind and with it you realized that the AWACS task was not as useless as it seemed. We were the eyes of the frontline.

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AWACS Overlord - 2
- This is AWACS Overlord to all units, we're approaching the coastal town of Silivia. We detect the presence of at least an enemy battalion in the area. Coordinate your actions with the ground forces and viceversa. Good luck! -

Operation Rangoon, the attack we were carrying out under the Summer Sun, had the objective of penetrating the southern Ruthenian defenses on the coast, in order to distract as many units as possible from the main front. Unfortunately for the troops at the front, a large number of enemy units were concentrated in the area, accompanied by a few destoyers in the adjacent sea, but if we coordinated the actions well between the units we could be able to reduce the losses. We had to hope and stay focused.

AWACS Overlord - 6
- Ribbon, Tetra e Lysta squadrons. Enemy fighters approaching from West, bearing 090, angel 2, on the nose. You're clear to engage. -

 



Anatean Squadron
<< Ribbon 1 through 4 engaging. >>



AWACS Overlord - 3
- Altax and Uriel attack squadrons, keep your vector on 160. In area C-05 then change your course on vector 100. Three enemy destroyers are present in the area. Sink them before they engage our ground troops. -

I warned over the radio, watching on the computer screen the targets that the radar was picking up.

Anatean Ground Unit
<< This is unit B, we're engaging enemy positions in area C-08! >>



AWACS Overlord - 4
- Copy Unit B. Pay attention, a small amount of enemy tanks are moving towards you from vector 350. -

 



Anatean Ground Unit
<< This is unit B, thank you Overlord! Right flank, watch out, enemy reinforcements coming from North-west! >>


The inside of the plane was a din of informations and code names. Even though the battle had started 3 minutes ago, the amount of data we received and passed was impressive. We thanked God that there were 10 of us managing the front for this operation. If we had been less we would surely have gone mad.

Anatean Squadron
<< Altax squadron here, we lost Uriel 3 and 4, but we're engaging. One destroyer sunk. >>



AWACS Overlord - 3
- Copy, but watch out: 6 enemy Mig-29s approaching from vector 330, altitude 1050. Pull out from the area and wait support from Tesla squadron. -

 



Anatean Squadron
<< Uriel 1, roger. Pulling out. >>

The situation was chaotic. On the screen I kept seeing unit icons disappear at alarming speed, a sign that many allied or enemy units had been shot down or destroyed. In addition, as if the situation was not bad enough, the enemy and allied units in the central and northern part of the front were no longer visible on the radar and contactable by radio.

AWACS Overlord - 1
- Heavy jamming in the northern and central part of the front. Probably enemy A6s or AWACSs. Callista Squadron, try to hunt and shoot them down ASAP. -

 



Anatean Squadron
<< Callista squadron, roger. Entering in heavy ja..mm..g ..r...ea. >>



Anatean Squadron
<< Altax squadron here. Tesla squadron took care of the Migs. We continue the attack. >>

 



AWACS Overlord - 3
- Overlord, copy. Once you finished with the destroyers give support to the central front. We don't know how is the situation over there. -

I ordered, trying to bring as much support as possible to that front. We didn't even know if the battle was turning in our favor or not. Anxiety and a sense of responsibility gripped our stomachs and our minds, keeping our eyes glued to our computer screens as the clusters of pixels disappeared one after another. It was a real-time chess match with the enemy. After 15 minutes of radar obfuscation, the units finally reappeared on the radar, showing that the situation had fortunately improved in the northern front, but in the central part the allied troops had not yet managed to break through.

Anatean Squadron
<< Callista to Overlord, we managed to destroy the enemy jammers. They were two An-71. >>



AWACS Overlord - 9
- To all aircrafts, update on the frontline: Tetra and Ophal squadrons are destroyed. The central front is still blocked. All aircrafts, give support to the central part. -

 



Anatean Ground Unit
<< This is unit F, we're under artillery attack! Half of our tanks are destroyed! We're pinned down! >>



AWACS Overlord - 2
- Roger. Callista Squadron, destroy the enemy battery. Bearing 120 from your position. -

 



Anatean Ground Unit
<< Jesus, Callista squadron today is our saviour! >>

After an hour from the beginning of the battle, the situation was improving. The southern front was no longer a problem with the destruction of the three enemy destroyers, the central part was continuing its advance while the northern front was now spreading behind the enemy lines and was no longer encountering resistance. We could announce that the southern front of Dalstavia had been breached.

Anatean Squadron
<< Ribbon 3 here, we've lost Ribbon 1! >>



AWACS Overlord - 6
- Copy. Ribbon 2, take over command. Continue to support the central area. -

It took another hour for the central Ruthenian stronghold to collapse once and for all, after some forces from the northern front were diverted to the center. Losses on both sides had been high, but it could have been worse if there was no coordination between units. We all did a great job.

AWACS Overlord - 3
- AWACS Overlord to all units, we did it! The enemies are no factor or they're on the run. All aircrafts RTB. -

I concluded, once the Anatean GHQ gave us confirmation about the withdrawal orders for the air forces.
Somehow we had made it, and despite having witnessed the battle from the inside of a plane, it felt as if we had been there on the battlefield with our comrades. We didn't suffer the physical fatigue and pain, but stress and anxiety were something we all had in common. And the sad void that remained in the ranks of our troops was remembered by both, whether they were in front of us or on a computer screen.
 

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Edited by Anatea
codes, as always :V
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  • 2 weeks later...

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Briefer
<< This is it. After a long time we finally managed to completely break through the front and get to Ikras. The fall of the enemy in this region is nigh. >>

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Briefer
<< The recapture of Ikras is important as most of the Ruthenian 10th Army is concentrated in the area, fortifying the city with everything it has. The battle will be tough but an important one. >>

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Briefer
<< Operation "Serenissima" will see troops of the 3rd, 10th and 16th Anatean divisions trying to circumvent and end the siege of the city from the north, south and east. The objective is to recapture Ikras and destroy the surviving members of the 10th Ruthenian army that garrison it. It will be almost impossible to break through the defenses, but with you we can succeed. Your task as air units will be to give maximum support to the ground forces, trying to annihilate as many enemies as possible. Be careful as the enemy will also have a large air force available for this battle, but if you manage to coordinate with the anti-air forces you should be able to repel them. We expect very high casualties on this mission, but I'm sure you will make it. Good luck! >>


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We couldn't believe that we had come so far from San Palia and the previous battles. Many soldiers had wagered that the situation would remain unchanged for months, if not years, but with the attacks we had inflicted on the Ruthenians we were able to break through the front and continue the attacks relentlessly. The only obstacle that separated us from Mirevka and the end of the conflict in Dalstavia was the city of Ikras. Would we have lived up to the battle or would we have been shot down like many other comrades in previous missions? It was up to us to find that out, and I hoped in my heart that my wingmen and I would never appear on the tombstone of the military cemeteries in Anatea.
 

AWACS Sky Arrow
<< Sky Arrow to all units: operation Serenissima has begun. Even if the city was bombed for days, the Ruthenians are still resisting. Be careful because they will try to evacuate their troops towards West, so try to stop them before they can leave and reinforce Mirevka. In case of troubles with enemy countermeasures there'll be AWACS Blackjack ready to give additional support. >>


We were now on the battlefield. My squadron, as always, was full and ready for action, as the setting sun painted the battlefield with the long shadows of the remaining buildings and trees. Luckily for us, the sky was clear, but this became also an advantage for the enemy who, numerous for land forces, could engage us with anti-aircraft units without problems. It would have been nice if all this had been just a reconnaissance flight or some air show, but the Ruthenians had wanted this war and now there was no turning back.


AWACS Sky Arrow
<< This mission will be really long, that's why the GHQ has set up an improvised airfield on a part of Highway 22. Here's the coordinates on your radars. >>



spacer.pngSol 2
<< Aww, what a nice gesture from them. It was time they woke up. >>

 

 



spacer.pngSol 3
<< If we had this option in the first part of the siege of San Palia we would have repelled the enemy a long time ago. >>

 

 



spacer.pngSol 1
<< Yeah, here's our hero. Bah... and who would have thought about the anti-air units and those Wasav bastards eh? Speaking of them, i hope they'll not appear again in this mess. >>


 



spacer.pngSol 2
<< Well, even if they would appear again i wouldn't have any problem. This time we know how they fly and they have even a Su-47 less in their squadron, we can beat them. >>


 



spacer.pngSol 4
<< Uhmm... last time was happening the contrary, soooo... i would like to avoid a confrontation again, thanks. >>



 

The morale of our and the other squadrons was very high, but if we felt superior I didn't dare imagine the Ruthenians how they felt. Their desperation could become a very dangerous tool if used in the right way. The ally armored units went into action by engaging the first enemy trenches with a wedge formation, trying to break through the lines while for several kilometers our artillery was firing non-stop at the enemy positions. I was thankful that according to the data collected by the scouts, the population had been evacuated with the help of the humanitarian society "Oltre Confini" (Over Borders). It was in Dalstavia when the region wanted to join Anatea, but now "Oltre Confini" was dealing with twice as many injured and displaced people.
The enemy air formation was clearly visible and threatening, like the beginning of a storm out of the blue. In between there will have been at least fifty aircrafts like Su-24s, F-15Cs, Mig-29s and F-14s. On the contrary, we were in 7 fighter squadrons composed of Su-33s, Su-35Ks and F-16s, while 18 F-4G Phantom II had to support the ground forces with ground attacks. By our grace we had 3 units of mercenaries with us who, from the speeches that went around among the pilots,  was said they were not bad at all.


Starlia 2
<< Holy sh-...that's at least half an air division! >>



AWACS Sky Arrow
<< Coordinate your actions with the ground AA forces. We don't have other reinforcements for this operation. >>



Anatean Squadron
<< May God help us. >>

 


Not being so many we had to stay close to the allied anti-aircraft units that began to engage the enemy air targets, creating confusion in the opposing air deployment. In the chaos of flares and allied SAM missiles we took advantage of the situation and began to engage, being just slightly beyond the range of enemy SAMs.


spacer.pngSol 1
<< Sol Squadron, engaging. >>

 

 


I warned over the radio as the other squadrons began the engagement at the same time. The dances began with radar-guided missiles, the so-called Fox 1, to which the enemy responded with defensive maneuvers without losing ground. On the contrary, some of their rear guard fighters were able to respond, albeit with significantly less volume of fire than our missiles trail. One of the enemy missiles was in fact going towards me, but thanks to an evasive downward maneuver, I was able to disperse it with a little more ease, although starting a battle with a wall of almost 9G in the face was not actually the most extraordinary thing in the world. I hadn't even noticed that I had started firing flares during the manuever, but it had become an automatic gesture for my body after the previous battles.
By the time the fighters were engaging, the enemy and allied attack fighters had begun to drop their bombs on ground targets, being intercepted and some shot down by SAMs.


Anatean Ground Unit
<< Target hit, woohooh! C'mon, advance while their positions are silenced! >>



Anatean Ground Unit
<< This is Unit C of the 10th Division "Steel Dragon", we're breaching the central front in the outskirts but those Su-24s are starting to be annyoing. Can somebody wipe them out? >>


It took a few minutes between defensive and offensive actions to find the allied and enemy fighters mixed in a furball, having to base all our tactics on short-range engagement techniques given the short distance between the aircafts.


spacer.pngSilver 2
<< Hell yeah, that's what i was waiting for! >>

 

 



Anatean Squadron
<< What? Are you actually enjoying this? >>



spacer.pngSilver 1
<< Are you kidding? We were waiting for this! >>

 

 




In less than a few seconds I found myself behind an enemy F-14 which, perhaps due to the chaos of the battle, perhaps due to the radar that had gone mad, was unable to spot me in time. I opened fire with the GSH-301, unloading something like 40 rounds for just one target. The F-14 was completely destroyed in the part of the engines and rear wings, starting to drop in altitude and slowly losing engine thrust. Only the pilot was able to bail out, about the WSO no trace of him. I had the target still in front of me, yet fear and unconscious desperation had taken control of my hand, making me react in the most animalistic way possible, ignoring any technicalities and the fact that I had to save ammo for the other targets. I had begun to sweat as my breathing became more labored. I started sobbing as my wide eyes could not move away from the F-14 which fell into flames and the bailed pilot. And the WSO, was him still alive? Was he launching? Maybe he had a technical problem, but he could do a fairly safe manual bail out now that the fighter's speed had dropped dramatically from before.
Yet he did not bail out, the plane kept falling.
The heart was beating relentlessly, the sweat and heat became more and more intense. It was one thing to take down a fighter and see it go up in flames, but the other was to see an enemy die in front of your eyes, having his blood on your hands. What did the WSO have thought at that moment, and the family? Was he married, or was he a father? How the hell would his children have done without him? But mostly why the hell had we come to this?


spacer.pngSol 2
<< Captain! Bradley! Come back here damnit! >>

 

 



spacer.pngSol 1
<< What...? Y-Yes, yes, sorry Alis. >>

 

 



spacer.pngSol 2
<< Don't do that never again and help us out! We're keeping them at bay but just an error and we're smoked! >>
 

 


Without even realizing it I had flown in a straight line for 2 minutes. 2 minutes that could cost me my life if all the Ruthenian fighters weren't busy with my mates. I turned the plane around and returned to the battle zone, targetting a Mig-29 from behind and shooting it down with a Fox-2 missile.

 

Ruthenian Squadron
<< Damn it AWACS, where the hell are our countermeasures?! >>



Ruthenian AWACS
<< I'm trying, but another AWACS is messing the comm- ...damnit, they targeted us! Who the he- (OFFLINE) >>



spacer.pngSilver 1
<< So people, how are communications now that we shoot down the enemy boss and his escorts? >>

 

 



AWACS Blackjack
<< Stop being so idiotic and go back in the AO, we don't pay you to do shows. >>



Ally Mercenary Squadron
<< Aaaaaaalright o Captain, my Captain! >>



spacer.pngSol 2
<< Mphf...mercenaries. At least now we know why they were barely helping us in the furball. >>

 

 

 


With the return of the mercenaries to the battle zone, the front was reinvigorated, allowing us to launch more or less organized attacks. In the chaos of the battle, I lately realized that a Ruthenian F-15 had targeted me. I didn' t even had time to start the evasive maneuvers that a missile crashed on my pursuer, shooting it down.


Lydra 1 (Kalt)
<< Lydra 1 to the Su-33 that i saved, are you alright? >>



spacer.pngSol 1
<< Yeah, yeah...thanks. >>

 


 



Lydra 2
<< Jeez Major, this is the 13th enemy aircraft you shoot down today! >>



Starlia 2
<< 13th? How is that possible? >>



AWACS Sky Arrow
<< Believe it or not, he really have 13 kills in this mission. For now is the top ace in this entire war. >>



Starlia 1
<< Well, Starlia squadron will make you eat our dust ah-ah! >>

 

The air battle was almost turning in a target shooting competition, until both my teammates and I ran out of most of our ammunitions. It was all so irrational, if before I felt anger towards the Ruthenians, now I felt disgust for this meaningless conflict. With Sky Arrow's permission, we left the battle that was gradually fading, as the Ruthenians were also retreating to stock up on ammunition and fuel, while the battle on the ground continued house to house without stopping. We had been in the air for at least two hours and the front had advanced quite well into the city center.

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It took 20 minutes to reach the stretch of highway that was set up as an improvised airstrip. We all landed carefully, as the space was much smaller than that of a normal airport. I felt sick psychologically and physically, so much that as soon as I got off the plane I quickly went after some vehicles and threw up. Maybe it was the anxiety, maybe the man i saw dying in front of my eyes, maybe the stress, but my body and mind couldn't resist. I was pale and I was shivering compulsively.

spacer.pngAlis
- What's happening capt... shit. -

 


 



spacer.pngBrad
- Not now Alis, please... -
 

 

 


She had discovered me. She probably saw me running and she got suspicious.

 

spacer.pngAlis
- You can't fly in this state! What if you pass out or have other problems? -

 

 

 



spacer.pngBrad
- It will not happen. -

 

 

 



spacer.pngAlis
- It will not happen, eh? Brad, can you tell me what's up? You fly straight for almost 5 kilometers without answering to the radio during a furball, you act weird and now this. We've known each other for four years and I've never seen you like this, so please tell me. -

 


She walked over and sat down next to me, while I couldn't keep my head up from the headache that came after the relieved nausea. I felt weak, helpless, a subkect who was berating her friend and officer. It seemed so unreal and weird, like when you think nothing will ever happen to you because you are special, but you are not, you are just a number and a human like everyone else. I let off steam, telling what I had done and seen, from the plane on fire to the pilot who was saved, to his companion who was left in the carcass of the F-14 to the plane that fell more and more and that damned parachute that did not decided to be seen.

spacer.pngAlis
- Brad, it's war. Unfortunately we are in it and we are forced to do all this if we want to bring home the skin. You and those pilots were in the same place at wrong times, and history ran its course while you did your duty. You are not the only one with blood on your hands, there are us, the Starlia boys and many others, even the new pilots who do not know yet all the rules of engagement but have been thrown at the front to make up the numbers. This is to say that you are not alone, that you are human, you have the right to feel bad as well as you have the right not to take on all the faults of the things that happen in the world. You have done nothing wrong as long as you have done it to protect your friends. -


spacer.pngBradley
- Yeah, friends... -

 




I whispered to myself, slowly rising from the ground and regaining a little color on my skin. I still felt a bit groggy but I was much better off than before. In the end Alis was right, it wasn't necessarily my fault. Of course I had killed him with my own hands, but I would not have done it if the situation had been different, and besides I was not a dirty killer: his partner had survived, at least the salvable had been saved somehow.

spacer.pngBradley
- Better go back to the others, they might worry, and please ... no word with the boys, understand? -

 

 



spacer.pngAlis
- Sure you coconut head, who did you take me for? Ha ha! And by the way... -



 


In that moment Alis hugged me, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue. It was rare for her to hug someone due to her peppery character of her, but when she did that, it meant that she really cared about a person and wanted to make it feel good in any way, or so it seemed to show.
We went back to Daniel and Samuel who in the meantime were supervising the refueling of our Sukhois with fuel and ammunition.

spacer.pngSamuel
- Alis, captain! What were you doing over there? -

 

 

 



spacer.pngDaniel
- Eh eh, Sam you can already imagine what Alis and the Captain were doing over there alone. -

 

 



spacer.pngAlis
- Dan, you son of a...! -

 

 



And, like kids, Alis started chasing Daniel, threatening to shoot him down in flight if he dared to say more idiotic jokes like that. I couldn't hold back a laugh at that scene. I loved my friends and only now i realized how important it was to be in a well-built and established group in adverse times like these. They always knew they were there when you least expected it.
Suddenly 4 Su-35Ks belonging to Lydra Squadron landed on the improvised runway. The same squadron where Major Kalt was present, the ace of the day.
He got off his aircaft safely, while the mechanics promptly went to refuel the aircraft. At first glance he seemed like a calm, confident man, but today both we and the Ruthenians had seen what one man was capable of when he flew a plane like the Su-35K.

spacer.pngSamuel
- It' s the third time he has returned, and not for the fuel, but for the ammunitions. -

 

 


spacer.pngBradley
- And how do you know that? -
 


 


spacer.pngSamuel
- I overheard a mechanic just a few minutes ago complaining about a couple of holes on his plane, insisting not to stay on the ground. He also told me that Kalt didn't actually had to participate in the conflict. Being the son of a senator, his father had made him stand guard at an air base near the capital ever since he joined the Air Force, but as soon as the conflict broke out he used various friends in the military to get himself deployed at the front at any cost. -


spacer.pngBrad
- How strange ... why want to end up in a meat grinder like this on your own? -

 

 



Yet it was there smiling at the mechanics with that calm and cold smile of his at the same time. Although he had almost the same age as us, perhaps a few years older, he was calm, but it seemed that something was troubling him. As if he had something inside that he couldn't express. After all, as Alis had said, I wasn't the only one with a burden on my conscience that day.

Kalt
- Captain Lee, nice to find you here at the front. I did not imagine that even the poster boys of our Air Force ended up here. -



spacer.pngBradley
- Major Kalt. Unfortunately yes, but the guys in Ikras were pushing the front quite well, maybe by evening they will have conquered the city. -

 

 



Kalt
- I hope so, at least the Ruthenians will pay for what they did before the war. -

 



spacer.pngBradley
- Sir? -

 

 




I didn't have time to ask for anything else because the chief mechanic of the improvised airstrip came up behind the Major, shouting.

Mechanic
- Major, please! Stay on the ground and let us repair the perforation! Every time he hits G's, the damaged parts of his plane are at risk of getting damaged more and more! it's could only take- -

But Kalt didn't want to hear about it, walking away from the chief mechanic and returning to his plane as if he didn't want to hear him.

Kalt
- I'm sorry, but I can't hear you amid the noise of the jets! We'll talk about it once the battle is over! -



Mechanic
- I warned you, sir! Then do how you think, but don't complain if you get shoot down behind enemy lines! Mphf, wretched man. They are all like this the sons of the politicians when you put a toy in their hands. -
 

Yet ... there was something strange about that man as I saw him get back on his fighter and leave with his squadron towards the front.
We finished refueling with some delay due to the strong coming and going of fighters, but even if we had lost 13 minutes more the situation at the front had improved considerably. Someone said Kalt was at 16 kills so far. 16 kills in one battle was something incredible, either he was damned lucky and protected by angels, or he had sold his soul to the devil to vent his visceral hatred for the Ruthenians. In both cases the central command seemed to care only about the result he was bringing.

spacer.png




We were back in action by now in the dark.
Although the sun had gone down, on the ground the bombing and the flames in the city made the front clearly visible, exposing the infantry to the same dangers they ran when they attacked during the day. There was no difference for them, but at least I was comfortable with the fact that the ground troops had managed to lock most of the Ruthenian 10th Army into a pocket. If this collapsed the enemy would have suffered a very heavy blow.
 

AWACS Sky Arrow
<< There are still about ten Ruthenian fighters present but they have no intention of retreating. They still hope to save their comrades on the ground. >>



spacer.pngSol 1
<< Why don't they surrender? Damnit! >>

 

 



AWACS Sky Arrow
<< We are a few steps from their territory and theoretically we are in their backyard. They are fighting to protect and take back what was rightfully theirs. Actually they are not all wrong. >>


It would have been nice if the battle had ended immediately, avoiding more unnecessary deaths, but the 10th Ruthenian Army still resisted and the air forces were no less. Some enemy aircrafts had begun short-range engagement, while others, including our squadron, were throwing themselves back into the night furball. I managed to shoot down a Mig-29 before defending myself from an enemy missile that, launched during the chaos, was dodged by firing flares. My squadron was doing well too, so much that they had shot down a couple of other enemy fighters. But the thing that surprised me most was seeing Kalt in action in his Su-35K. He used Fox 1 missiles as a diversion, and then once at short range he used heat-seeking missiles and machine guns like a mad man. Not caring about wasting ammo if he missed a target. Despite this, I saw him shoot down the 18th fighter of the day in front of my eyes. He had no mercy.
Suddenly a glow in the dark, then a missile firing from an aircraft behind him. It was an enemy Mig.


spacer.pngSol 1
<< Lydra 1, on your six! >>

 

 



Lydra 1
<< I saw the bastard! >>


Kalt began a defensive maneuver, firing flares and evading from the trajectory of the enemy missile in a few seconds. He tried to outflank the enemy aircraft, but the opponent wouldn't let go, continuing to chase him like a cat chasing a mouse. I couldn't stand still and see one of my comrades alone, so I turned my Su-33 to try to get into the fight as soon as possible, but the unthinkable happened. Kalt's plane suddenly lost a rear wing, causing the fighter to vibrate violently and making the turn much more messed up and straight. He kept launching flares, but they weren't enough to protect himself from the Ruthenian Mig-29. I thought back to the mechanic complaining about Kalt's damaged plane and his stubbornness, how he was now paying for his own mistake and carelessness. The Mig came up behind him and unloaded a long volley of bullts on his now defenseless plane, causing one of the engines to explode as the plane began to fell into flames. I could see the glass of the plane detach from the fighter, but nothing came out and even if it had, it wouldn't have survived a full speed launch. The plane kept falling more and more, later exploding about halfway between the sky and the ground.


Lydra 2
<< Damn it, Captain! Captain! Did anyone saw him bail out?! >>



AWACS Sky Arrow
<< No, i'm sorry. And even if he did, there' s no SOS signal from his seat... >>



Lydra 3
<< Damnit, damnit! >>


Between the darkness and the chaos the fighters of Kalt' s squadron began to fly around the area but found nothing. No parachute, and the pieces of the carcasses had flown into flames after the explosion, making any chance of salvation almost nil.
The hero of Ikras was dead.
The last Ruthenians were shot down by the remaining surviving ally fighters, while the ground troops by now had pushed the remains of the 10th Army into a narrow space with no escape routes.


Ruthenian Ground Unit
<< Damn it, they annhilated our air cover. >>



Ruthenian Ground Unit
<< Idiots, I told him to retreat! At least they could have saved themselves, and instead they preferred to be annihilated. Fools. >>



Ruthenian Ground Unit
<< We must continue to resist for them and for Mirevka, if we contain the Anateans long enough, at Mirevka our allies will be able to continue the evacuations to our homeland. >>



AWACS Sky Arrow
<< Sky Arrow to all air units. Enemy air units are no factor, mission completed. RTB... >>

 


It was over. The air battle of Ikras had come to an end after 4 hours of fighting between fighters and attack planes. The losses? Heavy, on both sides. If the Ruthenians had lost all their strike force, we had lost half of of our forces. But for the central command it did not seem a problem, as on the northern and southern front of Dalstavia, the enemy was almost non-existent or had only a few positions of resistance composed by some platoons or half a company, so the air forces of those fronts could be addressed towards the central one and towards the next destination: Mirevka.
 

spacer.png




Back at the airstrip on Highway 22, I couldn't help but go to the surviving members of Lydra Squadron to offer my condolences. They were torn in pieces. Their friend and leader was doubtless dead, and his fighter vanished into the war skies of this cursed region. He had left a void in the lives of some and in the ranks of the army.

spacer.pngBrad
- I'm sorry for your loss ... he was a good man, even if I had the honor of knowing him for a short time. But if you need an hand my squadron mates and I will always be at your disposal. -

 



Not even a single word. They were staring into space, sitting on the ground in disbelief of what had just happened. They didn't even know if what they witnessed was real or not. Receiving no response, I turned to leave them alone and return to my squadron, when suddenly the girl, who must have been Lydra 2, stood up.

Lydra 2
- Thank you Captain. -

She managed to whisper. I returned the words with a silent smile as some pilots and mechanics nearby began to whistle and celebrate.

spacer.pngBrad
- What's happening? -

 



 



Anatean Pilot
- Didn't you hear? Ikras has fallen, they have surrendered! The Ruthenian 10th Army has been annhilated! -

I was pleasantly surprised by the news, we expected them to capitulate tomorrow morning or afternoon, but perhaps they understood that resisting by shedding blood in a pocket with no escape or support from the homeland was not the best idea.

Lydra 2
- At least the Major's wish is going to be fulfilled, it will be over soon. -



spacer.pngBrad
- Wish? -

 


 



Lydra 2
- Yes ... I remember that he wanted at all costs to be deployed in Dalstavia when the war broke out. We had tried to make him give up, but he persisted relentlessly. At first we did not understand, but once we got to the front we saw that he was not flying for duty, it was more a thirst of blood. -

Tears began to stream down Lydra 2's cheeks.

Lydra 2
- His wife was a volunteer in the “Oltre Confini” association, helping refugees and the poor people in the region. When the Ruthenians started bombing the refugee camps in retaliation, before the war... she was killed. The... The Major was destroyed. When the conflict broke out, he almost went mad and pressed all sides to be deployed. But he was no longer the same, he was colder, detached... different. At least now... now he will be fine with his wife, somewhere... At least, I like to think about this when I think about him now... -

More than an explanation, it was a vent. The war in Dalstavia had consumed everyone, both at the front and at home, and was leaving no one mercy. It wasn't like in the movies and books, it wasn't heroic and it brought no honor, and today I personally tasted the bitterness of this conflict. I stayed a couple of minutes with the Lydras to keep them in company, in silence, watching the void as the festivities around us continued.
Alone in the middle of a burning world.
I went back to my wingmen who, joyful for the end of the battle, had kept some improvised drinks for me. No alcohol, just berry juice, we couldn't get drunk as we were still on immediate service. They welcomed me back warmly and, despite what I had seen and been through, I let myself go and celebrated with them. Would what happened to Kalt have happened to me too? Or maybe we would all get out unscathed?
I couldn't know, and even if it were, the present was what mattered most. I had to enjoy it if I wanted to go on, and with my teammates, I felt that I was not alone.
Operation "Serenissima" was finally considered concluded.

Edited by Anatea
codes, as always :V
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    • By Anatea
      22 June 2020
      For several days on the regional news and on Solisea News the government had announced a referendum about the reduction of fuel use to modernize the country with clean energy.
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    • By Anatea
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      << Thanks Sarah! Yes, humanitarian aids from Senza Frontiere has been able to help rebuild a part of the Ickras district, the capital of Delstev, today. The reconstruction works had already started immediately after the end of the conflict but thanks to donations from other nations and from Anatea, the local population managed to continue the works, making the first area almost completely rebuilt for now. It is expected that for now it will take more than ten years to rebuild most of the island, but if the donations and support remain unchanged, they may also be reduced to 4 years, which would help the region to rise economically once and for all.
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    • By Anatea
      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.
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      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.
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      - 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 ... -
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      - 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.
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      - 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.
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      - Y-Your Majesty, what ...? - asked incredulously Samuel, fourth pilot of the Sol squadron.
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      - 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.
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