"Blackout-2 come in." Came a voice over the now crackling helmet radio attached to Shane Schofield's ear "I repeat Blackout-2 come in. Oakley, you there?"

"Copy that Delta, I'm Okay" Schofield responded.

He heard Delta leader breathe an audible sigh of relief as he replied. "Was that a SAM I just saw?"

Still kicking himself for not seeing the Surface to Air Missile before it almost blew him out of the sky, Schofield spoke edgily "Affirmative, Delta. SA-6 MANPAD. They're still not showing up on radar. Can you confirm?"

The only way they could sneak up on him like that was with a MANPAD a 'Man-Portable Air-Defence-System' and from the area that it came from it was most likely some Serb assholes firing a handful from the back of a jeep or something equally as 'High Tech'.

"That's confirmed Oakley, unknown origin, they must be on the move" Delta reported.

Tell me something I don't know Schofield thought as he returned to silencing the screaming alarms going off inside his cockpit.

There was silence on the line for a few long minutes as Schofield madly flicked switches and checked gauges. With a low chuckle Delta came back on the line "How are you still in the air you crazy son of a bitch. That was some nice fly..."


Schofield didn't hear the rest as at that moment the entire rear section of his jet exploded into two pieces.

Sitting in the darkened room of the WASP Sergeant David 'Delta' Deswell could do nothing but stare at his screens.

It had been a regular patrol of the no fly zone. As far as he knew this shouldn't have been happening.

After a few close calls with SAM in that area previously Delta had been questioning the higher ups orders to carry out this mission. Well, he would have been if it was anyone else but Jack Walsh giving the orders.

Fast thinking and good at improvising Schofield, despite his young age of 22, was well respected by his subordinates as arguably the best pilot stationed on the WASP. Delta was quite fond of the lieutenant and his attitude towards his work. The nickname 'Oakley' being a friendly jab at the fact Schofield always had a pair of Oakley sunglasses on when not in his flight uniform. He'd heard they were given to him by Captain Walsh himself as an award from a particularly tricky mission he had once flown.

All he knew was that Schofield wore that pair of Oakley's everywhere and Captain Walsh had had him assigned to all those problematic 'not so public missions' they were 'never involved in' ever since.

He figured that it must have been a pretty important mission if Oakley had been pulled off regular duty to fly this one.

Despite Deltas' worries it had all looked routine until approximately five minutes ago when Oakley had picked up an alarming bogey and initiated evasive actions. Even that had appeared over when suddenly he'd lost all contact and received a mayday signal.

Then dead silence.

Meanwhile back in his harrier Schofields' entire world was wildly out of control. Red lights flashed strobe-like as the jet began to spin wildly. Grappling with the now hardly responsive control stick he managed to purge the left-hand side engine just as he the plane jerked to the right. The response being that the plane stayed level long enough for him to rip the ejection seat lever and go flying into the icy Bosnian air.

Schofield shot into the air at phenomenal speed; he let himself drift for a couple of long seconds before he pulled his parachute cord.

It wasn't until he was a few hundred metres from the ground that he saw them. A vehicle of some kind headed along a dusty path that could barely even be described as a road. Not really that suspicious until you noticed their headlights were off and there was some kind of large contraption on the back.

Shit! Schofield thought as he redirected his parachute. He was in trouble now, with no way to change his speed he was a sitting duck.

This day couldn't possibly get any worse. He thought to himself.

Now steering as far away as he could from the men with the big guns he heard an explosion from below him.

It was about three times the size of the one that forced him to eject, as his Harrier burst spectacularly into a thousand shards of light. Quickly pulling his legs up as far onto the seat as he could, he managed to avoid being ripped to shreds by the shrapnel. That's more than he could say for his parachute. A sudden jolt and he began to fall through the air.

Schofield looked up and swore as he saw his life saving parachute now resembled a very large silk soup strainer.

Well then, only one thing for it.

Wrestling to get his rope knife free from his flight suit webbing he reached up and cut the cords holding him to the chair. Praying to god he still had time.

Too low to open his auxiliary parachute and with his main parachute now gone, Schofield fell. Fast.

Five hundred metres

Two hundred metres

One hundred meters

He released his backup parachute and...


...was bounced relatively safely to a complete stop about one metre from the ground!

Now safe from certain death, for the moment anyway, Schofield sat at the base of a large conker tree. It fanned out over a shallow gully leaving him relatively covered from searching eyes, for now. Hunched over and gasping for breath he ripped off his utility vest and fumbled for the zipper on his flight suit. Stifling a grunt he lent back and pulled it open to expose his stomach. Also exposing his rope knife again, now firmly planted in the left side of his abs.

Apparently this day can get worse!

Silently cursing Murphy and his law he rolled onto his right side reaching for his emergency pack from the discarded vest at his feet.

He felt the warmth of blood creeping across his stomach. Unsuccessfully muffling a groan he put one hand next to it to apply pressure and grabbed the handle with the other. Turning his head to look up at the moonlight filtering through the trees his breaths came fast and unsteady as he shut his eyes and pulled hard.

Luckily, the searching Serbian soldiers didn't hear the following muted cry of pain radiating from the vast Serbian woodlands.