Author: Acky002 PM
Flight Lieutenant Jake Hunter is one of the Elite, piloting one of the worlds most versatile aircraft. Having been on many dangerous missions there is almost nothing he hasn't seen. Or so he thinks. When asked to do a reconnaissance mission over supposedly neutral territory, he has that strange feeling that something is very, very wrong.Rated: Fiction K - English - Adventure - Words: 2,900 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-25-13 - id: 3103973
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The wind whipped down the valley, watched over by a glinting, silver sphere. Shimmering speck of light twinkled through the darkness of the void. Silence. On the moon-washed ground, a glazed-over lake lay still. Snow covered it in a cold, crisp blanket. Tiny, sparkling diamonds danced in the moonlight. All shimmering. All glinting. All silent.
Reeds stood sentinel, surrounding the picturesque lake. In the darkness A vole looked out, peering through their ranks, the bright, darting, beady little eyes scanning the skies for any untold terrors that may be hiding in the endless void above. It ran for the cover of a burrow only to be plucked, mercilessly, form the earth by the deathly claws of an owl. Silence
The wind wondered through the reeds, stirring them into a swaying dance. The rustling of reed-like skirts whispered through the stems. As sometimes happens, the world stopped. Not a bird flew, nor did the wind whistle, nor the water run, or the reeds rustle. Nothing. It was as if the sands of time itself had stopped ticking away the seconds. Silence.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, unpredictably, the silence was savagely torn apart. A fireball fell from the sky, a flaming pebble falling through the oily sea of sky, plummeting into the pond below. The front of the object was torn apart and the empty shell was left floating on the surface, in a roaring, raging, roasting inferno.
Flight Lieutenant Jake Hunter grunted and rolled over in the wet grass.
His head was pounding and he could hear his heart hammering, pounding, and throbbing against his chest, as if trying to escape the catacombs of his ribs. Slowly his vision focussed. Swimming grew blobs slowly transformed into huge, pillar trees in front of him. The snow was crisp under his feet as he struggled to his top height. The altitude made him nauseous and he swayed like a tree on the brink of being felled.
He took a shaky step forward, his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he became even more worried. Being shot down is bad, but being shot down in the middle of no where was even worse.
He dived for the nearest cover as the first shots rang out. He lay still. Not realising it, he had dived straight into what was rightly named the "Grave Zone." Two cold, dead, unforgettable eyes looked at him in an unnatural stare. They were as blue as the sea and were almost speaking to him. The sheer terror that was etched into those beautiful eyes was now permanently imprinted into Jake's shock-shaken mind. He looked up the face, and vomited. Half of the jaw was missing form what would have been a handsome face. What was left of the jaw was hanging, segregated, in the wind by a bit of blackened skin. The nose was missing also, and the deadly ridges of a black, deadly, Spearhead Cobra, lay in a coil of sleepy scales, resting in a gaping hole where his mouth used to be.
As if disturbed by Jake's presence, the scales moved. They wriggled about before finally disappearing down the man's maggot filled throat, with a sickening squelch. Jake's eyes followed the deadly serpent down the poor man's body, as it slithered deeper into the rotting face of death. A hole had been blown in the man's midriff and his intestines slipped down a river of dried, cracked blood that twisted, wriggled, and twirled down the leaf green, bullet torn, rags of uniform that still hung loyally to the rotting corpse. The maggots had already hatched and were now devouring the rancid remains of this dead brave soldier.
In a moment of insanity, Jake ripped himself from the gruesome scene. He ducked, and dived, and drove onwards. Parts of the corpses, dead and decaying, lay dotted around. The chit of a scalp. A dash of bone. The charred, and crushed splinters of what resembled skull, blackened by incendiary bombs, lay on the pure white snow. Pure innocence blanketed in a rug of soft, comforting, white, diamonds. A hand here. A foot there. A gruesome reminder of the horrors of World War Three. The war that was meant to end all wars.
Jake dived for a snow drift. Hollow, heartless bullets pierced the matt black sky, with sharp uniformed cracks. He could hear a faint whisper. It was as if the Corpses themselves were cheering him on, praying that he wouldn't fall to the horror, the darkness, the evil that they themselves had fallen to. He looked up and saw a trench. In reality the trench couldn't have been more than ten meters away but to Jake it felt like ten miles. With an unearthly scream Jake willed his broken, battered, and tired shell of a body home. He fell in a heap at the bottom of the trench. Unconscious.
1 week previous
The air was dry over Kandahar. The fiery sphere scorched the mountainous ground below a sapphire blue sky, with an unrelenting stare. It was quiet as the wind danced among the rocks a boulder, whipping soft sand up into tunnels of tiny spirals in the valleys. All was quiet in the valleys and gorges. No sheep bleated on the mountain side, nor insurgents shout from post to post. Silence reigned over the Rocky out crops and the jagged cliffs. Without warning the air was brought alive with the crackling roar of three afterburners, spitting out rings of purple and blue. They shook everything, from the very depths of earth to the roof of heaven. And that was only after they flew past, at lightening speed.
The trio of F-35 Multi-role Fighters flew low across the desert towards their target. At just under 1.3 times the speed of sound, the world was but a blur to the pilots, a vast expanse of blurry sand and rising ridges. Still they flew on, eating up the miles that lay between them and success. They head out towards the heart of the mountains, the sun blinding them as it dipped below the horizon to their right. As they flew in V-formation there was regular chatter over their radios. In the lead F-35, Flight lieutenant Jake Hunter radioed his superiors
"Kingfish X-Ray, this is Mike Romeo Lemma Nine One, target ETA 5 minutes, requesting radio silence, over" the radio crackled in the helmet of the officer before the soft accent of the American commander known as Archie 'the bulldog' Francis, came back on the air,
"Mike Romeo Lemma Nine One, this is Kingfish X-Ray, permission granted. Good luck lads, out"
Hunter now focused on the task ahead, his hands deftly switching off the radio inside his cockpit, his eyes already searching for the cluster of buildings which housed a group of militants whom were giving the ground force a heap of trouble. Hunter recalled the information given him by the U.S commander. A group of his men had been pinned down by the "opposing force" as Francis called it. Three challenger tanks and two trucks of Taliban Fighters. It was their job to end the threat. This was easy when you have an arsenal at your fingertips.
"Don't worry boys," Hunter whispered, "helps on the way." He glanced across to the other jets on his left and right. Flying Officer Elliot Batty was busy twiddling knobs on his dial whilst Pilot Officer Jenny Chung glanced across at Hunter Giving him a nod of recognition. The young Flight Lieutenant radioed the others in an entry of unorthodox commands.
"Ok guys," Hunter crackled, "we split up, Chung in from the West, Batty from the east, and I'll take them head on, over"
Batty's voice came across first on the crackling intercom
The jets split off Hunter continuing as normal into the sapphire horizon. Soon they would reach the troops pinned down by the convoy of tanks. Silently Hunter prayed he would not be too late. He pushed forward the throttle and felt the surge of energy push him into the seat as the jet effortlessly broke the sound barrier with a tremendous double boom. Hunter pressed numbers on the computer in front of him and the felt his stomach lurch as the jet dropped from 1200 to 800ft in less than ten seconds. Now he was ready. Again he tapped the computer screen, cycling through the F-35's vast array of weapons before he came to the ones he required. A grin danced on the edges of Hunters lips, pulling at the corners of his cheeks, lifting them ever so slightly upwards. The deafening roar of the F-35's engine died away, the cockpit halted its back-breaking shaking. Hunters Vision sharpened and his finger hovered over the trigger, waiting for the two words he wanted to hear.
"Missile Locked," squawked his on-board computer. His finger jerked. There was a shudder. A white serpent of smoke disappeared into the distance, heading for the target. The white snake disappeared in a fireball which exploded out with a satisfying whumpf.
Hunter shot over the convoy, engines roaring as he guided the fighter into a steep climb, rising higher into the cloudless sapphire sky. The jet pulled round in a tight U-turn, returning for a second attack. Hunter watched as two more explosions followed his first one, leaving the Challengers a raging inferno. There was no remorse as he selected the next two targets. Two more ribbons shot from the plane, exploding in an impressive fire ball. From the cockpit Hunter could feel the heat as he passed overhead. Leaving what was left of the two Troop trucks burning in the Afghan sun.
Forty minutes later the three jets touched down on the dusty air strip at Kandahar, images of the devastation they had wrought still fresh in their minds. They taxied into the hanger, and waited while they were docked and ladders brought up to the cockpits. They surrendered themselves to the questions fired apon them from the ground crew that swarmed over the jets like bees on a new flower. Batty walked off, head low, eyes glazed over, mouth clamped shut. Hunter watched after his young wing-man and wondered what to say to him. Chung joined him
"Do you think he is ok?" she asked
"Taking your first blood is always hard," he sighed remembering the first time he had seen the devastation caused by his missiles. The Horror was all too fresh in in memory, "I'll go talk to him,"
"Ok Jake," Chung flashed a charming smile and walked off towards the Barracks. Hunter looked after her. Even in the bulky flying suit, she was still the prettiest girl on campus by far. He smiled and turned, catching a glimpse of Batty disappearing through the fire exit at the end of the murky hanger. He jogged after him, his combat boots making rhythmic thuds of the hard concrete floor. Hunter walked out into the searing heat of the midday sun. Batty stood, slouched against the wall of the hanger, an unlit fag hanging form his jaw. Hunter stopped, taking a moment to compose himself, then strode over to the slouching officer.
"Batty," he called, waving away the formalities as batty jumped to attention. "Light Chris?" he asked, holding out his father's old Zippo lighter.
"Thank-you sir," he said, his voice dripping in sadness
"you alright Chris?" he asked, snapping the lid shut as the officer took a long, drawn-out drag from the cigarette.
Batty sighed, his shoulders low, "my brother sir. He was in the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment…" Batty took another ragged breathe, turning away from his superior, staring out to the edges of the wilderness. Hunter stayed silent, leaning against the metal beams of the Hanger.
"Jamie was killed…in an airstrike…almost two years ago…" the big man hung his head again and the broad shoulders shook gently
"You felt like your brothers killer?" asked Hunter. He put a hand on his wing-man's shoulder and spoke softly, "Look Chris. You are not your brother's killer. You're a bloody good Pilot and I'm pretty sure you're a bloody good bloke as well. Look, I'm going into the U.S sector with a couple of top notch brasses. It's gonna be boring as hell. Come with us. You're an Officer now. And the oldies could use some new blood at our doos."
"Thank-you sir," the young Flying officer
"Jake," Hunter replied, "whilst you're my wing-man, you call me Jake. No Formalities needed alright?"
"Yes sir," he said, "I mean yes Jake."
"Good man," hunter said, "7:30 by the A.T.C tower. See you there." Batty smiled and offered a sharp salute. Hunter nodded, and returned the salute, before leaving the young pilot to his thoughts.
The air was just beginning to cool I the early evening. The sun was still powerful, but slowly it began to dip below the toothy jaw of the northern mountains. The battle for the sky raged on. Darkness was fighting back the daylight, staining the clouds a dramatic gold and crimson read. Still the sun lost power, retreating to the cover of the mountains. Night closed in. Hunter stood at the base of air traffic control, watching the sunset, whilst a number of other pilots, American and British, bumbled around talking about missions with troops and ground crew problems. But Hunters mind was elsewhere. He still wondered about the young Batty. It was always hard for the newbies to grow accustomed to the devastation that would follow as the trigger was pressed. It was unfortunate that the first mission that Batty had been on, involved reliving how his brother had passed on. The Lieutenant wondered secretly weather his words had made the difference at all. He thought back to the first mission he had gone on. It was a while ago now but he could recall the guilt he had felt after seeing the devastation of the bomb he had dropped. It had made him question his ideology severely but he had come to the conclusion that his superior officers would not had ordered lethal force if it had not been necessary. But still the experience had shocked him.
"What about you Jake?" the accented voice of a pilot he had only spoken to a few times, ripped Hunter from the world of questions he had found himself wondering in, but a minute before.
"What?" he asked, still miles away
"How do you think your newbies are settling in?" said the American as if for the umpteenth time, " I hear that Chung is a bit of a looker, bet your glad you got her," all eyes were on him now, he couldn't avoid the question
"Well," he said, "I can definitely say she beats that bird in medical hands down." The others laughed, knowing the girl he referred to was an ex page three girl who had sought work of a more dignified profession.
"but seriously," one of the others said, still hiding the remnants of a grin, "how are they? I hear that latest mission of yours hit… oh what's-his-name… pretty bad. Is he ok?"
"Who Batty? Yeah I think so," Hunter lied to give his youngest officer some honour, "just the first blood blues I think. But he should be joining us soon so you can ask him yourself Johno."Laughter echoed again before another pilot continued
"Where are your two side-kicks? Are they not coming?"
"We're right behind you sir," Batty spoke out, making the pilot yelp with fright. The others sniggered at the show of stealth put on by Hunter's wingman. The young man went to salute but the men all shook their heads.
"This is a casual. No need for formalities."
Johno walked over to the young pilot, extending a hand, "Wingate," he said as the two men shook, "John Wingate. You are?"
"Batty," he said, smiling broadly, "Chris Batty,"
"Well Chris, how does it feel to fly with Afghan's fines?" Hunter smiled as he watched Batty captivate the rest of the pilots with tales of recon missions he had done in other far flung places. The officer turned, hoping to watch the last few seconds of the dying sun and the rising moon, but finding Chung their instead. The flying suit had gone. Replaced with a pair of tight fitting jeans, a loose white blouse, and a leather jacket.
"Well hello good looking," she smiled giving him a sly smile, Hunter smiled and kissed the top of her hand gently. Their eyes looked for longer than was normal and he looked away, embarrassed.
"Evening Kate, I wish you'd stop giving me a heart attack every time we meet up," he said smiling. Chung blushed, winking at him. Turning to the rest of the group he spoke with the command of his rank, "Right boys, let's go teach these others how we pilots drink." There was a cheer and they piled into the Humvee that was parked a few feet away. The engine started, and the group disappeared off into the night.