Posted on Sun Feb 10th, 2019 @ 12:04am by
Edited on Tue Dec 31st, 2019 @ 10:51pm
Beginning of the war’s third year
Georgia System, Planet Holden
Captain Dallard Callahan- Independent, 4th Army, Heavy Air Arm 5, Squadron 3, Detached
Corpsman Malika Lophart- Independent, 7th Infantry Med Corps, Detached
Last Flight recollections on Holden.
The symbols jittered on the HUD as the ship buffeted in the sunward turbulent updrafts of the near sheer cliffs he was trying not to become part of while throwing off the MANPAD gunners in the valley below. There were far too many of the little red diamonds flashing on and off on the HUD’s map for his liking that were possible ground pounders trying to lock his craft.
He could hear the little sharp grinding sounds, even through his flight helmet, that were coming from the HUD’s growing crack that was throwing it out of focus. It’s moving maps and symbology told a simple tale of time and distance and danger.
There was simply too little time, too much distance and an over abundance of that danger.
The Apache VTOL craft suddenly veered starboard and he barely caught it in time with a light flick of his stick wrist, compensating for the tilt that sudden violent push of rising air had caused trying to make him and his wounded passengers and paramedic a permanent piece of the landscape.
‘A dark smudge on the orange and gray rock face and lots of burning pieces and disintegrating flesh was more like it,’ Dal thought to himself.
A hand grabbed his shoulder from behind, “Can’t you fly this thing any easier? The plasma bags can’t stay attached and one ripped out of a critical’s arm!” Corpsman Malika Lophart shouted through the headset above the high-pitched howl of the turbine engines above them and the ducted fans they powered, just outside the half open cabin door.
“Can’t help it! Lots a weapons trying to get a lock on us down there! Go back and strap in. Those next cliffs up ahead are going to be worse!”
The corpsman’s flight helmeted head tilted up to see what he was talking about, then retreated back to the cabin.
Captain Dallard Callahan liked this corpsman, perhaps a bit too much.
He’d noticed her and bought her a drink at the commissary tent the evening after the Buffalo drop ship he’d been piloting of late had brought her and forty-seven fresh recruits and a pair of LAVs from orbit four weeks ago.
He wondered if any of the rest of them were still alive
They’d gotten pretty drunk a couple more times, but things just seemed to interfere, and no further progress had been made on advancing his cause. They had gotten along great and she was funny as hell and would just stare into his eyes and magically hold him in place.
At one point that first night, she’d held his hand, squeezing it here and there, running fingertips between his fingers, stroking a single finger, squeezing the flesh on the palm side of his thumb then stroking his thumb with the same fingertips.
It had seemed soooo erotic. He though his pants might not restrain the throbbing bulge in place.
Then she looked him in his eyes again, smiled and said only, “Huh.”
It was weird, his feelings that had turned beyond the swelling in his pants, and it disturbed him. He really did want to bed her. He was most certainly horny as hell.
But there was something about her that made him not want to rush.
There’d been strong hints she was willing and waiting to be asked.
He would never have hesitated before but inexplicably, he had this time and had only graduated to a few quick kisses on her cheek.
She was the one who had kissed him on his mouth, but her fellow nurses had pulled her away just as their tongues had come together and her chest had pressed against his.
Through all the present danger, he sighed at the missed opportunity.
‘Well at least Malika is still alive,’ he thought, hoping to get a bit more than her pretty smile if they were able to keep the date they made last week.
Trouble is, three hours later all hell broke loose as missiles and Alliance dropships darkened the skies.
They were all over the valley he was skirting, but if he rose above the rim of the shear wall, he’d have to deal with real heavy automated AA batteries and missiles and not the smaller less capable MANPAD AA below.
He dropped the nose just enough to put their craft between another ridge and the wall, gaining some stiller air and protection from the sensors seeking them out in hopes of turning them into flaming bits.
The HUD crinkled ominously again and completely blanked for a few seconds.
The local stronghold of Meh showed to be twenty-seven kilometers away.
Even from this distance, he saw what looked like a K-Hummer rising above the ridge that visually hid the city from his view, making for orbit.
The six criticals they were carrying were the last of those they said they would wait for. There was no telling how many of the shuttles were left.
His Buffalo had taken a critical hit three days ago and even though he had put it down without loosing any passengers, they’d assigned him to evac runs from the lines. He didn’t have a choice and besides, his dear lumbering beast was a total write-off.
He did get to fly a couple Bronco and Mohawk close air support missions in between though.
They’d been harrowing, but fun of the sort that huge spikes of adrenalin bring on when cannon fire is outgoing and incoming. He missed doing CAS runs when every man and woman the Alliance could muster was trying to obliterate his flying machine.
That was the adrenalin rush he lived for.
He also missed the ex-atmo runs to the orbiting cruisers, destroyers and troopships.
He never got back to his cruiser, ‘Jersey Shore’ and the ‘Halleluiah’, the nickname he’d bestowed on his latest Bearcat, his beloved ex-atmo strike fighter. He would be sweeping this valley clean, or as least some spots of it if he, his FO and Halleluiah were hunting.
His co-pilot/Nav/EO officer, and get your yayas off sometimes lover, 1st LT ‘Stranger Danger’ Lucyloo Shellby had picked up a devastating parasite and had been sidelined and Halleluiah had been taken from him for an engine retrofit.
He’d volunteered to fly the Buffalo runs, simply because he felt completely useless if he couldn’t have his hand on HOTAS set, and Stranger Danger was not due to be moved out of isolation for at least a few weeks.
His current Apache was almost like the CAS birds though, but with only a single fifty caliber Gatling gun, not nearly as devastating to any unlucky bluebellies who happened to line up in the HUD’s sights as the Stinger gunships were. The two seven round missile pods on each side of the airframe hadn’t seen a fresh round loaded for a week.
The canyon ended, the HUD announcing Meh was now nineteen klicks out. Another K-Hummer was clearing the city’s hills ahead, this one being picked up and tracked on his HUD as a green diamond.
“How far,” the intercom speaker in his helmet asked, “I’m losing one of them.”
He could hear the sorrow and concern in her voice over the scratchy connection.
A warning blared in his ear, ’Missile, Missile, Missile…’
His left pinky instinctively popped off four chaff/ flare combos and he jinked in as close as he possibly could to the rushing granite.
A red arrow appeared at their ten o’clock along with the dashed line of a possible intercept vector.
His left index finger popped off a Baby, a small drone that mimicked the heat and radar signature of this Apache along with a blinding laser to help confuse any visible guidance a missile might be using to track them.
To kill them.
He was flying right seat and so, could not see to port well but even so, spotted an exhaust plume and smoke trail rushing in their direction above the trees below.
“Hold on! We’re being locked!”
He dropped the nose further and dropped his last Baby.
The counter claimed he had ten flares left, but those tended to be unreliable at simple counting. He decided to save them for a few more seconds to try and throw the missile, so intent on killing them, off their scent at the last moment.
At a half kilometer away, he popped off five more and pulled hard up on the stick making the ship shudder.
“Shit! Take it easy! You’re killing them!” he heard Malika scream over the headset.
He ignored her and popped off the remaining flares, which amounted to all of just one, “Cai Bu shi! Goushi!”
He saw the missile’s rocket plume emerge from the cloud of shiny chaff streamers only tens of meters away, then a brilliant retina searing flash.
It sounded like a cloud of hail instantaneously hitting a metal roof as centimeter sized cubes of metal plastered and tore the side of their Apache.
Miraculously he felt nothing even though the windscreen and port side of the cockpit were riddled with holes and parts were falling to the interior deck.
The ship started to twist violently to port.
The port side engine claxton was sounding out its fate, shaking the entire craft with its death rattle.
All the performance monitor bars for that turbine and ducted fan were either red or yellow and were dropping perilously fast on the HUD.
He could hear Malika screaming something in a language he didn’t know.
There was a long pond coming up fast, and he applied full thrust to the starboard engine, kicking the rear propulsor full hard allowing the short wings to help keep them upright, but they would never be able to supply enough lift on their own. They were losing altitude quickly and so, losing the battle to stay aloft.
The way he was now crabbing the aircraft was cutting airflow over the wings further, and though he mostly recovered from the slow spiral, it continued a slower twist, inevitably yielding to the pull of gravity that would force them into the trees.
He liked trees, but they now seemed to rise up, all too horribly anxious to greet them at an alarming rate into their solid spear like embrace.
He battled the control stick and it actually seemed to be working.
At the last second, he deployed the water landing ballutes from the undercarriage and discouragingly heard the port side one explode.
“Wo de ma!”
That disappointment probably saved them in hindsight, as it all but halted the roll and pancaked the fuselage into the pond in a huge wave of water before the nose dove under and hit the bottom, flipping their craft end over and onto its back to a cacophony of grinding, splashing and tearing sounds.
Hanging upside down in his straps, he was dazed and couldn’t imagine he’d survived.
Even more amazing, it seemed the HUD had survived and looked to be in perfect factory fresh working order until something small popped, and then more loudly, exploded in back and it went dark as the muddy water rose up to embrace it.
He punched his harness release and fell headfirst into the cold, silty and rapidly rising water.
It was only a couple meters deep and he escaped the now windowless cockpit and swam into the side door.
The port wing and fan were gone and the starboard one had folded back and bent the tail and propulsor to a right angle to the fuselage.
“Shit, Lost another.”
Malika was already swimming a patient towards shore and he grabbed another whose arm had waved weakly at him, following his corpsman.
She pulled the woman onto the sand and kneeled beside her.
The top of the corpsman's uniform was half gone, her left breast exposed with a four to five centimeter cut extending from the side of her breast to her ribs with heavier bleeding patch staining her uniform near her hip.
Her patient was missing her hand.
Dallard pulled the man he’d brought to shore and laid him out next to the woman who the corpsman was attempting to apply a tourniquet too.
He was turning to go back but the corpsman yelled for him to stop.
“They’re dead, Captain. I need your help here,” she said all to calm and matter-of-factly.
He turned back and suddenly felt the adrenaline that had kept me going for the last twenty nine hours straight, rush out of him, replaced with a wave of fatigue.
He waded back to Malika and collapsed onto his knees beside her.
“Here,” she told him urgently placing the lower hand less stump in his hands and handed him the stick she used to twist the strip of cloth she torn from her useless uniform, “Hold here, as tight as you can.”
He did as she asked, then she reached into the backpack she had also managed to bring ashore.
She tore open a packet and opened up a cup shaped thick fabric like piece and placed it over the bloody stump, then pulled a string. The cup hissed and sizzled sealing tightly around her patient's reddened skin, stopping the bleeding.
The woman jerked and moaned in pain.
“You can let go now and take it all the way off. Let’s see what you brought me.”
She moved across to the soldier he’d pulled back to the shore, but winced in pain as she twisted her body.
“Let me help,” he said, but she was already checking his vitals.
“Too late,” she said, taking her fingers away from his neck, snapping his dog tags away.
“Hey, I need you to look at my hip. I think something’s stuck in there.”
“Yah, There's a lot of blood. Roll in you side. I should do something about that… Cut too.” he said pointing to her breast and side.
“Heh! My boob? Yah, a couple butterflies will close that up. Cut my pant pocket open. My boob’s all you’re gunna see today, Cap’n.”
He pulled his folding knife from his pouch and cut the pocket and seam of her uniform open and peered in, then cut the waist band of her bloodied panties away too, lifting their remains up so that I could look for other damage.
“There’s a couple gashes, a piece of metal a few centimeters long coming from the top one. I need to cut this open more,” he told her and did.
“Lower one’s not so bad,” he said before returning to his examination of the other wound, inspecting the damage.
“Is it jagged? Or is it smooth edged?”
“Looks fairly smooth. Part of the airframe aluminum I think. Not missile shrapnel. Looks like it just ran along under your skin and not deeper in”
“Think you can pull it out?”
“Yah, but’s its gunna hurt.”
“Already hurts, Captain,” she told him.
“Here,” she said handing him some blood stopper pads, “Slap one of these on as soon as you pull it free. Tell me if it starts gushing blood first, then push down hard and the anti-bios and coagulants will release. Don’t toss the damned thing. I want to see what it looks like in case it’s jagged inside.”
“Ready?” he asked.
“Yah, if it feels like it’s moving smoothly just pull it out, If it’s dragging, go slower.”
He tightened his fingers on the protruding part and she winced sharply drawing in a breath as he started to withdraw it.
“It’s smooth,” he told her and pulled it all the way out, then pressed the wound pad on to the open gash as she had instructed him to do.
She shuddered but didn’t cry out.
It was at least seventeen centimeters long.
She grimaced as he held it up for her to examine. “It’s not gushing blood, just bleeding.”
“That’s bigger than I thought… OK Cap’n, it’s your lucky day. You’re gunna have to pull my pants down and make sure it didn’t come out somewhere else down there,” she told him unbuckling her belt.
He helped and then as she lifted her butt up, lowered her trousers down, avoiding the dressing so as not to move it.
Normally he would have been in heaven right now, having to see the parts of her body he’d been hoping to examine a couple weeks ago under more relaxing conditions, but the scenery was all bloodied up and traumatized. Her olive skin was disturbingly camouflaged with patches of fresh blood. There was a reddened area turning black and blue that extended beyond the dressing to the top of her slightly darker skinned mons and labia, but otherwise, no breaks in the skin.
“Looks like it just slid along under the skin. It’s red, more like bruised, but no breakthroughs.”
All thise while, he was hoping to calm himself and shift his eyes way, lest he would not be able to avoid that ‘special hell.’
“OK then, Cap’n,” she pulled her bag closer and got out a folding pouch that held six red injecting ampules in addition to four yellow and four blue ones.
She handed him a red one, “I want you to inject just a quarter of this at the furthest you think it went in, then lift the dressing away and inject another quarter at the opening, another quarter at the leg wound and what ever’s left, on both sides of the cut on my boob.”
He injected the first portion at the top edge of her mons, to which she winced and exclaimed, “Shit! I didn’t think it was that far in.”
Then he quickly pulled the dressing away and did the same at the wound opening, then her leg and then the one at her breast and ribs.
“Don’t be getting no woody now, Cap’n. Gotta save that for later... Heh heh. OK . Now take this other dressing and cover that entrance wound back up then tape it up good,” she told him, tossing the next dressing to him followed by a roll of tape.
He ran a strip of tape across the top of the dressing, then across the bottom, coming tantalizingly close to her fun parts, but tore his eyes away and back to the task at hand, finishing up with a pair of vertical strips.
“Bet you never thought this’d be how you got into my pants, did you?”
“Nope. I had other plans.”
“Yeh, I’ll bet you did!”
“Good, now take these, pinch the wound sides together on my leg and put the tapes across to hold it closed, Use three on my leg and two on my boob.”
Her breast while not at all large was wonderfully firm and while he concentrated on closing the cut up, he could not help the distraction the dark areola and nipple were creating causing him to firm up.
She looked down at his handiwork and said, “Good job. Now help me get may pants back up. Shit! Wait. Cut my panties off. They’re just going to bunch up, sides they’re only half on anyways.”
He did and pulled them away, then helped her get them back seated properly around her thin waist.
“Now take these two and inject them into her shoulder,” she told him handing him one red and one yellow ampule.
Dallard did as she commanded and started to return, but stopped and took the dead soldier’s shirt off him and helped the corpsman put it on.
“Thank you, Capt'n. Such a gentleman.”
“You’re welcome. Look, we gotta move. We left a smoke trail all the way to the crash here and purplebellies are sure to be searching for us right now.”
“We need a stretcher for her.”
“I think the slider board is still strapped to the back of the cabin, I’ll go back out and grab it. Anything else that stayed inside you saw you’ll need?
“There was another med pack, but I don’t know if it got tossed out or not.”
When he reached the downed ship, the mild current of the pond had partially cleared the silt the crash had stirred up. The slider board was indeed still strapped to the back of the cabin so he released it. A quick search found only a floating body, and another still strapped underwater to a stretcher secured to the cabin’s side stretcher bunk.
Dallard pushed the slider out and around to the destroyed cockpit, helped by the flotation foam bumpers it had to keep a patient above water for just such an emergency.
The bug out pack below what had been his seat had been raided of some of its items, but the other beneath the copilot’s seat was seemingly filled. He swung both onto the slider and then released the PDW from behind the copilot’s seat then swam the items back to shore.
“No medpack. Sorry. But there is a small kit in these if someone hasn’t taken them.”
He unzipped the PDW case and did a quick weapon check of the vintage MP7 and the four magazines of 4.6mm ammo making sure they were full, inserted one and cycled the action, set the safety, making it ready, then slung it over his shoulder, causing him to grimace.
“You OK?” the corpsman asked, “Let me take a look at you.”
She pulled his shirt up and whistled, “You took a big hit. You breathing ok? Maybe cracked a rib or two,” she observed.
Dal jerked suddenly when she probed the center of the bruise.
“Yah, I think you fractured at least two. Long as you’re breathing OK, you’ll live. I can wrap them for you. Not much else I can do out here ‘cept shoot you up.”
“Nah. Need a clear head. I’ll be good. Let’s get a move on. You gunna be OK carrying the back end?"
“Yah. Can’t feel a fuckin thing below or my boob for that matter.”
They loaded the patient on and he put the full pack on then strapped the partial one and her med bag up at her patient’s head which he lifted with her taking the feet. They walked with their feet into the water’s edge to hide their path as best they could.
“How far do you think it’s to Meh?”
“Ahhh. We got hit at about seventeen klicks out so I figure we crashed at about sixteen or a bit beyond that, so we’ve maybe gone about anther K. Maybe fourteen more to go,” he guessed as they splashed along through the sand and gravel bottom.
“You OK back there?”
“I’m fine. I feel it pulling in my groin, but that shit you gave me, scares pain away.”
“Those trees about two hundred meters downstream. We’ll stop there for five. Do you need me to look at you?”
“Only if you see fresh bleeding I can’t see. Looks like you mighta made a good medic.”
“Don’t think seeing other people’s blood is in my genes. Don’t wanna see mine neither.”
“Ha ha. Looks like our date may get delayed. Sorry, Cap’n.”
“Hey, It’s Dal or Dallard now, OK?”
“Sure, Dal. You can call me, Mal,” then she chuckled, “Dal and Mal. Cai bu shi!”
They made it to the trees and set the stretcher board down just on shore. Dal rummaged through the bugout bag and extracted a rolled-up water bottle, added a couple pur pills then filled it from the pond.
“This should be OK to drink in ten minutes,” he said shaking the container and watching stuff float around in it and then begin to settle.
Really didn’t look all that thirst quenching.
He looked through the other pack and found one there too, then repeated the process.
Malika was looking through the hole he’d cut in her pants at her leg wound and then tried the same with her breast.
“They lookin OK?”
“Think so. I’m gunna shoot up the biotics just in case,“ she decided and found the ampule holder again, “Mind shooting it in my arm?”
“Nope,” he told her reaching for the ampule.
She held the top of the rescued shirt down over her shoulder and let him inject her.
He’d just finished and heard a snap.
Dallard froze at first, then started to reach for the PDW when he heard, “Freeze!” yelled from three different directions.
“Get you hand off the gun NOW! or you’re gunna get dropped where you stand.”
Dallard slowly put his hands above his head. He couldn’t see the origins of the voices.
Malika complied with the order as well.
“OK steady now, with you left hand, unclip the sling and let the weapon drop.”
He followed the instructions and felt sorry for the vintage weapon as it clattered against the gravel.
“Five steps to you left, both of you. Move it!”
Again they complied.
Three men and a woman emerged stealthily from the brush, assault rifles aimed to kill at the first wrong move.
He recognized the uniform of the Alliance Airborne troops approaching them.
“Hands behind your heads and on your knees.”
This was not the way he wanted the war to end for him.
Good thing They don't pay me based on my log accounts...
Two and a half years since we got captured.
They separated us immediately.
Saw Milika at the camp infirmary once but she was working with a doc on another patient.
Still kinda want that date.
Hooked up with 'Jack Of All Trades' as second for two months now. Like this crew. Definitely living on the edge though with some of the jobs we're running. That Badger guy I met with the FO is an asshole and sketchy as all Hell.
Maybe not such a good idea to log this stuff...
Oh yah... Cap'n Gillian doesn't skimp on the brews we carry. Some pretty good stuff. I like the guy, for that at least.
The two women crew are 'busy' all the time... so yah... I'm not gettin any.
Been telling the Chief he needs to look at the ballscrews of the aft port vector drive. It's pretty nervous while the plasma is flowing on entry.
I know he hasn't yet.
Just hopin we don't become a a ball of plasma ourselves and create a new crater attraction for some local land dwellers to scavenge through. LOL
Still no sign of Milika. There are hints she might be on Whitefall, but don't know when we might touchdown there. It's been a year since I dropped in on that hellhole. Hope she's good either way.
Cap'n Gillian said we're doing the big loop and should get to Whitefall before my first year is up. Just maybe...
Captain Gillian and the FO have been talking to that Badger clown again. Every body thinks the money’s too good to pass up, but I have my doubts. Never liked gun runnin and 20mm cannon aren’t just little pea shooters. Gotta drop them on Whitefall.
Sent a wave to that Sallister guy to nose around for Malika. Maybe… but it’s been too long and she’s likely hitched with a passle of rugrats by now. I’ll find him in about two and a half weeks.
Again, hope she’s happy
I think we’re getting paid too.
Last log entry from 'Jack Of All Trades'
Well touched down on Whitefall and that didn’t pan out at all. So disappointing.
Sallister turned out to be a tool. Others warned me about him, but I’m too f’in stupid and want to find Milika.
Maybe she don’t want to be found.
Kickin back to calm down with a beer right now.
This morning when we burned in, BowWow was too funny.
I went up to the bridge where he was just pouring over some old porn or big bazoombas rag he had stashed somewhere near his controls pedistal.
I sat in the second and scanned our course and flightpath.
“Umm BowWow… Shouldn’t you have maybe hit the retros like two minutes ago? We’re kinda zoomin on by our entry point.”
The porn, and it was porn I saw fly by my face, fluttered across the cockpit as he sat upright and grabbed the yoke and throttle controls.
“No Probs! I got this!” he says all nonchalant like, but the urgency in his hands and rapidly swiveling head told quite the different tale.
I know we’re about to have some excitement in flying, cause while we could still make the entry window, we were just barely going to make it.
My hands quickly grabbed the shoulder harness and buckled myself in.
BowWow grabs at the mike and keys up the IC, “We’re gunna hit a bit of turbulence, so’s all best be seated.”
His hands fly around the controls, grabbing the forward thrust reverse and engaged it just a wee bit too much.
The whole of 'Jack' is shuddering and bouncing and groaning like the metal is wanting to twist apart as she sheds velocity.
I start remembering that port ball screw yet to be addressed issue.
Gillian comes on the PA. “What the shit you doin up there BowWow!? Do I need to get Dullard up there to take over?”
Captain’s so sweet, he calls me Dullard, kinda like we call Kennelsworth, Kennels , or BowWow.
“He is here!” BowWow says, like I have something to do with his mind’s lack of concentration and addiction to porn.
“I’m just up here observin, Cap!” I sing out loudly in my own defense.
“Well then!... Make sure he don’t kill us all then!”
So we're burnin with a bit more plasma than the norm since we’re comin in so hot, and BowWow comments, “That damned port ballscrew is feeling mighty flakey again.”
“I been tellin the Chief that for six or seven months now!” I think aloud.
“Me too. Gunna end in tragic circumstances, it will.”