It had been almost poetic, to hold death in his palm. No bigger than a soup can, the canister he carried looked up at him, a creation made of equal parts desperation and insanity, and almost seemed to smile. Now he carried hundereds of them under his wings. The pre-flight briefing had made such a thing out as a savior of their country, a valiant sword to turn the tides of war to their favor once again. A swift strike that would turn the waters of the Himmelsilber River, once great waterway of Belka, into a toxic pool that would choke the enemy forces and keep them from crossing it.
Vayshk could not believe his once righteous homeland had fallen so far. Belka was… no, is, an honorable nation. Its citizens still carried the pride of their colors, and her guardians fought for every inch lost to the invading allied forces.
Would they be so proud now, to see themselves reduced to such barbarism?
“NachtViper, this is Ofnir One, contact at three-three-zero. Stick to the earth, and we’ll flush it out.” Instantly, six pairs of afterburners burned into the morning sky as their Su-35 Flanker escorts moved away.
“Copy that. Good hunting,” his co-pilot replied, while he brought the MiG-1.44 Flatpack bomber down to just above the treeline. “Any closer Major, and we’ll have to clean pine needles off the windshield.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time, Illysha.” Dour as he was, the man at his right could still make him grin at least. Ever since the Captain had come under his wing, Vayshk had been his mentor and teacher about the sky, and Illysha was an excellent student. And like him, the junior man was bursting with pride for his family and his country.
A pride that poisoned him with one thought, “Think of it sir, that after all this time getting pushed and beaten back by the Allies, now we strike back for once. Tell me you’re not excited.”
The Major frowned through his mask “’Excited’ is not the word, I would use, my friend.”
“No? But think of it. In one run, we’ll finally be able to slow down those bastards from invading our lands and destroying our homes.”
“I think that Ustio said the same thing about us when this war first started.”
“And how did our former countrymen repay us? They summon the Demon Lord to burn us out of our own skies. Not even that devil will be able to swallow those waters once we are done today.” Illysha countered, ignoring the fact that Belka had invaded its southern neighbor, a country that had seceded from their homeland and quickly prospered on its own.
“So what’s to stop them from countering us with their own weapons? You thought that Galm Team was bad enough, now imagine that monster carrying a bomb like this.”
“You think they would be so reckless as to escalate things?” the younger man asked.
Vayshk was silent at that, as he could not answer. He wanted to believe Illysha, that this strike would be the only one of its kind. He wanted to believe that the blood they were about to pour over their hands would rebuild the homes they had lost. But deep down in his heart, he knew that even by taking part in this mission that Belka had already lost, and was now focusing on making the Allied Force pay for every inch of his country that they were going to take.
“Ofnit to NachtViper! Enemy identified as the Galm Team! Maintain your heading and complete your mission. We’ll hold them off until you return. Good hun…” the radio burst into static as a tiny spark flared in the darkness, another pair of broken wings in the teeth of a Demon. Then another, then another. In a matter of seconds, they had no cover or protection from their hunters.
Vayshk felt his stomach grow cold and solid. They could not outrun their opponent, nor could they stand and fight them as their bomber was no match for an Eagle under such skillful hands. But it was not far to friendly lines, within walking distance…
“Illysha, I need you to do something for me.”
The pilot nodded to his junior, his partner, his friend. “I need to you to raise your children proud. And tell them that their country did not resort to a coward’s ways of fighting.” With that, under the surprised eyes of his co-pilot, Vashyk yanked Illysha’s ejection handle. The chair rocketed out of the cockpit and into the birthing sun.
Once he was clear, the Major pushed the jet into full afterburner, though the sounds of pursuing missiles soon began to haunt him. Yet he was not filled with fear as death screamed down upon him. Instead, the Major began to pray for his children, for his family, and for his country to see that this was not the way they would survive this war. That with his failure here, his leaders would not risk further carnage and thoughtless sacrifice on their own soil. The names and lines on the map might change, but Belka would never fade from memory.
An entry for a Free Write Friday challenge all the way back from the beginning of February. And a prequel for an older bit I did called “For Honor and Glory”.
I hope you all enjoy!