Chapter1 Wings Clipped
It was a hot day the day that 1st lieutenant Antanov Yeghevich lost his wings in Afghanistan. It was 1986, and a detachment of the 103rd Guards gunship squadron had been called upon to aid a detatchment of surrounded VDV. The war had been escalating, and becoming increasingly dangerous for helicopter pilots, as the Mujaheddin had recently acquired American surface to air stinger missile launchers. The VDV request had come in 8 minutes before for close air support, and the conflict promised a target rich environment with minimal risk to the helicopter crews.
The 3 mi-24 hind gunships flew in a loose inverted v formation going low and fast over the dry desert, down wash from the rotors kicking up miniature sandstorms as they flew over. Antanov was to the right of the flight leader in Volga flight. His job was to "officially" warn the flight of any incoming stingers, but unofficially to flip right the fuck out when a missile was launched, and scream over the radio so everyone would know to take evasive manoeuvres, and politely get out of the way. After all incoming fire has the right of way.
The hinds were empty on this mission. Not meaning of course that they were unarmed. They had enough fire power combined to wage a small war, which in a way was what they were going to do, and god help anyone who got in their way. By being empty it meant that they were not carrying any soldiers in the crew compartments of their helicopters, meaning that they could fly faster, stay in the area longer, and actually hover in their sleek crocodiles.
When completely loaded up with soldiers and weapons, the hinds would have to make a rolling take off just like fixed wing aircraft. That always pissed Antanov off. In his words helicopters are supposed to go vertical when flying. Not get a running start at it.
Antanov was one of the youngest pilots in the squadron when the conflict began, but also the most promising. He had graduated from Moscow flight school at the very top of his class, and his instructors said that he could make the hind, "dance"through the air. Antanov had received several awards and recommendations from the prestigious school, and his favourite instructor Markov had said that he had a bright future in the military over a bottle of vodka on the classes graduation night, in February of 1979. It wasn't long after graduation that he was called to war in Afghanistan along with the rest of the 103rd Guards airborne Division.
Antanov had been in Afghanistan now for six years, and was now 26 years old. It had been fun in the beginning, flying in his Hind over the hot sands spearheading the Soviet advance into the little backwater country, and completely crushing any resistance along the way. The offensive into Afghanistan had been short, and extremely bloody for the Afghans, and Antanov had wished that the conflict could have lasted longer, because he had never felt more alive than behind the controls of a gunship in battle. He quickly began to regret his wish.
While officially the Soviet war in Afghanistan had been an outstanding success, and the war had been won, the war was anything but over. Resistance began to escalate through the country, as bands of tribesmen whom Soviet high command had labelled of negligible importance began to rise up into armed fighting bands, assaulting soviet convoys, and attacking outposts. Antanov had been ecstatic at the news. Although Yurri his gunner had just grumbled something about having to stay in Afghanistan longer than was absolutely necessary was more apathetic than Antanov and had "grudgingly" taken one for the team, and accepted a night of Vodka shots that Antanov had insisted on paying for, and Yurri had graciously accepted.
Yurri had graduated from Moscow Gunnery school at the top of his class, and was said that he could write his name in the ground as he passed, but Antanov hadn't believed him until he called him out on it and Yurri had in anger one day fired out a long burst in the middle of nowhere going on a hunter killer mission. On the way back Yurri had told him to look down for a unique land mark reference, and written in the sand clear as day was the word, "Yurri". Although Antanov would never admit it he was a bit of a sore loser. So on a verification pass he had "accidentally" flown too close to the writing, and the down wash from the rotors had completely by "mistake" erased the writing. Although Yurri was annoyed he wore a smile all the way back to base. Antanov now owed him 1000 ruble's.
They had made a name for themselves in hunting out the bands of freedom fighters, and getting the highest kill count in the division. With Yurri's peerless gunnery, and Antanov's superb flying, they had earned the nickname the White Cossacks. Mostly because of the fact they were reckless in their fighting, flying just above roof tops, and diving down for a strafing run, and just barely pulling out in time to avoid making their own hind shaped impression in the desert sand.
The white part wasn't as dashing and heroic. Antanov and Yurri had both contracted dysentery one week, and had gone on a mission without realizing it at first. Well the symptoms had made themselves quite well known on the way back, and the rest of the flight were worried when their hind was suddenly flying at max power back towards base. Their hind had touched down in an uncharacteristically heavy landing, and then both of them had bolted from the hind without even waiting for it to fully power down. They had made a beeline for the latrines heedless of who or what was in their way, at one point almost repainting a landing MIG. Apparently their faces were as white as sheets, the whole run to the latrines, so white was added in front of the Cossack.
The base commander had personally chewed them out for that one saying that next time they had better shit their pants, before endangering other pilots lives and soviet equipment like that ever again. Two days later 3lbs of camel shit inadvertently found its was into that mans dress uniform pants. Antanov strongly suspected Yurri, but he swore up and down on his mother's grave that he didn't do it. Antanov would have believed him if not for one tiny detail. Yurri's mother routinely sent him cookies. Which the bastard ALWAYS refused to share.
The first loss had been a shock to the Pilots of the 103rd. They had thought themselves invincible to the little backwards Afghan tribesmen, and their outdated Lee En field rifles. Antanov had been flying with Sergei that day, on a routine mission spreading the so aptly nick named butterfly mines to deny area to insurgents, when a puff of smoke bloomed into existence on a ridge, and a missile screamed out towards them. Antanov had tried to warn Sergei of the danger, but there simply wasn't enough time. The missile homed right in on the heat exhaust of his engine. The stinger hit the hind amidships, and with the butterfly mines aboard, made it explode spectacularly. The shock wave had shook Antanov's hind, and caused him to lose over 1000 feet of altitude.
Another stinger went for Antanov, but dumping all the mines he pushed the hind to full military power, and went into a near vertical climb. Just before the stinger impacted he flipped the hind over onto its belly and barrel rolled to the right causing the stinger to go wide and miss. Antanov and Yurri then flew low to the ridge taking as much power as the hind could give, and turning it all to speed. The hind pitched forward like a predator going in for a kill. They had seen the Mujaheddin members try to fumble a new rocket into the unfamiliar American weapon. Upon seeing the fast approaching hind the Mujaheddin members had thrown down the weapons they had murdered Sergei with and tried to kill Antanov and Yurri with. Yurri's fifty calibre swivel mounted Machine gun spat death at them, the falling brass glittering like gold rain, while Antanov unleashed a barrage of 82mm rockets. The so called freedom fighter had tried to flee when they had made their attack run. They died running, tossed the air like some demented child's toys, or chased down and consumed in a stream of hot lead.
The Hind seemed to roar in in victory as it passed overhead, casting its shadow over the remains of the Mujaheddin as if daring them to have the audacity to continue living and offer a better fight to it.
They had stood a vigil over Sergei's crash site, after radioing in what had happened. They stayed until their fuel began to drop dangerously low causing them to have to leave their friend in the burning wreckage of his beloved hind. Antanov rocked the helicopter in a farewell before he left. The hind itself seemed sullen as it was forced to turn and fly away.
Sergei had been a good friend. A womanizer with a crush on a nurse whom he used any and every excuse he could use to get to see her. We had laughed at him, and his antics then congratulated him when he was able to gain access to her bed. Despite his womanizing it was obvious he loved her. He stopped shamelessly flirting with anything with a skirt, and had sold all of his illicit American playboys to some ground pounders from the 82nd Rifle Division. When they went through his things they found an engagement ring. He was going to propose to the attractive nurse he had pestered and taken every opportunity to see. She wept when she heard the news.
Antanov had never gotten to know Sergei's gunner, but he remembered him being a kind man who drank very little, and had a passion for good literature. Antanov had never heard a bad word about his gunner. Always willing to help, and never having a bad word in turn about anyone else. He had apparently come from a poor family closer to the Urals. They had found a tenderly wrapped framed certificate. His graduation certificate from Moscow Gunnery school. His most cherished possession. Antanov felt guilty for not getting to know him better.
They had held a quiet memorial for them that night on the tarmac in front of their hinds. A toast of Vodka, and a moment of silence seemed too little to honour their friend. They didn't deserve to die that way, it just didn't seem real that they could die. Not members of their little family. Death was something that happened to other people in other units. It was on that solemn desert night that the true realities of war began to become clear to Antanov.
As more and more of their friends began to fall to American supplied stingers, and soviet equipment the 103rd became more vigilant. Flying faster, tighter, and always vigilant. What seemed like a heavier blow than it should have been was the fact that the Mujaheddin were using captured soviet equipment too shoot down more helicopters. It just wasn't right.
Flying became harder as the new faces had shown up. Fresh from flight school, each and every one of them thinking they were an ace, or some kind of fucking cowboy. We didn't trust them, and they thought we were uptight scared war veterans who had lost their nerve, and couldn't hack it anymore. The stupid ones died, and the smart ones followed our example, and eventually became accepted into our family. It was strange being 26 and being an old timer of the Division.
We were sad when our friends were wounded, and had to leave us, but also happy that they would be able leave this hell hole alive. When Dmitri got shot down he and his gunner Ivan got discharged on medical grounds. Dmitri was the Division clown, and Ivan his partner in crime. We threw them a farewell party complete with Vodka, Cigars, and a heavily bribed buxom clerk to act as a stripper. Dmitri and Ivan kept us laughing and in good spirits with their jokes and antics until the small hours of the morning. We bid them goodnight reluctantly, and the buxom clerk sat on each of their laps and gave each of them a good-bye kiss while wiggling enthusiastically. No one mentioned Dmitri's missing arm, or Ivans missing leg until they did themselves.
"Well comrades", began Dmitri," "it looks like the cost of this war is so high it costs us an arm," as Dmitri held up his stump, "and a leg just to get in" finished Ivan as he held up his stump of a leg. One final joke for us to remember them by. " We laughed so hard we cried. It was easier that way. We could cry then in mirth or misery and none would be the wiser.
When Antanov's and Yurri's tour was done, by an unspoken consent they had both agreed to sign on for another. Neither wanted to leave their family alone, and leave the new recruits to fend for themselves. They had both swore up and down to each other that neither of them were signing on for another tour, because the other was. If either had fears about dying by signing on for another tour neither voiced it. To talk about death was to invite it in.
Antanov and Yurri became a legend in the division for courage under fire, and even landing in the middle of a firefight to extract wounded soldiers who wouldn't have made it otherwise. Both became heavily decorated for bravery, and courage under fire. They admired the medals, especially the attention it brought from the female counterparts. Antanov liked to show them off, but they didn't do it for decoration. They did it because they wanted all of the soviet soldiers, most no more than boys to make it home alive. They were getting very tired of watching their friends die.
As Volga Flight made its way towards the entrapped V.D.V. It had an air of fierce determination about it. The formation looked loose, but they moved as one, and each watched the others blind spots. The sun glinted menacingly off of their cockpits, and weapon mounts. They moved like the crocodiles they were so aptly nick named after, gracefully moving through the air hunting for their next meal. The air was their territory, and any Mujaheddin their prey.
Antanov decided to try and strike up a conversation with Yurri to pass the time.
"Hey Yurri" began Antanov coyly.
"Yes" said Yurri with a tone of mistrust, he recognized that tone of voice.
"Do you know what Yuri means in Japan?"
Yurri could tell Antanov was smirking by the tone of his voice.
"I'm going to regret this but what?"
"It means when two women have sex with each other".
"You mean like Lesbians"?
"Exactly my good friend, exactly like lesbians."
"HA Ha ha, I didn't know my very name inspired women to compete to please me."
"I more interpreted it as women turning gay to avoid having to go anywhere near you"
"Fuck you Antanov".
"I Don't do screw ugly girls Yurri."
"That didn't stop you with your mother did it Antanov?"
"That was just uncalled for Yurri."
"Yeah she was quite dissatisfied your performance."
"Really"said Antanov he pretended to ponder for a while. "But your mother seemed so satisfied with my performance."
"And you say you don't screw ugly girls."
"Your mom ugly?"
"Yeah so have as much fun with her as you want chubby chaser."
"As much as I enjoy intelligent conversation amongst my flight, keep that sort of things to yourselves". Mikhail interrupted over the radio. "Or at the very least keep your conquests to yourselves." There was muffled laughter, and snickers over the radio.
Mikhail Zobratsky was a middle aged man in his early forties,and he was routinely put in charge of Squadron fitness. He seemed like he would fit in better being a teacher than as a trained killer. He was always patient with new recruits, and he was the Squadrons surrogate father. Never too harsh or too lenient, and his hair was just starting to turn grey. His black eyes showing nothing but endless patience, and care. He had been unofficially adopted by the squadron as a surrogate father for his understanding ways, or as Dmitri and Ivan had called him Pappa Mikhail. Then they had asked for a horsey ride. Once, and Mikhail had obliged by shoving his boot up their asses, and dragging them by the ear to the discipline sergeant for punishment. It just reinforced his image as Pappa Mikhail.
Though no one was stupid enough to call him it to his face. Except for Dmitri and Ivan when they were still around. They were slow learners it seemed. He was called to different parts of the division from time to time to help iron out any problems with the new recruits.
"He had only gotten mad once in Antanovs memory, and it had been because some hind crews had taken it upon themselves to beat a forward scout who had reported an area clear of hostiles, only for it to become a deathtrap when they had tried to move troops through. We had lost two hinds fully loaded with infantry. All dead. He had walked right into the middle of the throng of irate gunship crews, and interposed himself between them and the bleeding scout. He had told them that they had lost enough people for the day, and that turning on each other wasn't the answer. He said if they wanted vengeance, to take it out on the Mujaheddin. He had helped the scout to the infirmary, and said he wanted everyone to report for disciplinary action at 5:30 the next morning. He didn't take names or look at unit ID. He didn't need to. Everyone had shown up without exception.
"Also Antanov." continued Mikhail.
"Good Job I'm proud of you."
Antanov was a little confused, but felt pride swell in his chest at the compliment from their adoptive father. "For what?" he asked curious to know what he was getting praise for.
"Well in my experience," he paused for effect, and Antanov was hanging on his every word.
"Big girls need love too, so good for you."
Antanov felt the stirrings of pride in his chest get crushed with the force of a pile driver.
"What?" he exclaimed incredulous.
"Yeah continued Mikhail, but that whole business with your mom is a little strange." You should really stop that."
"I didn't sleep with my mom!"
"Of Course not interjected Yurri." For once though Antanov Yurri is backing me up on this. However if he had been paying more attention he would of noticed the playful tone in Yurri's voice. "You were up allll night with her." Yurri made the best hip thrust he could manage while still strapped into the hind, and accompanied it with feminine moans. Antanovs blue eyes blazed, and he quickly decelerated to almost stall speed , and then went to max power in the space of about 2 seconds. Giving Yurri a little bit of whiplash. Yurri just looked back through his little bubble back into Antanovs, locking his brown eyes with Antanovs blue. They stared at each other for a moment then burst out laughing. It was moments like this that kept them sane.
"Cut the chatter. Came Mikhail's voice over the Radio 5 mikes to target." The laughter stopped immediately, and was replaced with serious expressions worn by all members of the flight. The Forward machine gun swivelled like some ancient predator sniffing trying to catch the scent of its next meal. The Rocket pods swivelled up and down like it was flexing its muscles in preparation.
Despite the danger Antanov felt the familiar excitement build up in him. He was about to go into combat again behind the controls of his hind. The Euphoric feeling was like a natural high. He felt his heart rate increase,and his senses become almost unnaturally sharp. He was almost jittery from the pre-combat rush. His hands were just itching to push down the firing studs that would mean death for any in his way.
Yurri's deep baritone voice brought him to his senses. "Calm down Antanov, we do this nice and easy, and we all go home." He was using the internal intercom system. His words were for Antanov's ears only. "We work as a flight, save some crazy people who jump out of perfectly good aircraft, and go home safe and sound."
Antanov felt his heart rate return to a more stable rhythm, and he became far less jittery. "Thanks Yuri, almost got caught up in the moment." He forced a short laugh, and focused on the fast approaching village. "Don't mention it" said Yurri.
One thing that terrified Antanov to his core was that he enjoyed more than the fight, and the rush of combat. That he enjoyed the killing, and that's why he signed on for another tour. Damn helping the new guys, they're just fodder so Antanov can keep killing people, as many people as he possibly can, and get a pat on the head, and a chest full of metal for it.
Antanov forced himself out of his revere, and became completely focused at the task at hand. Men who spent too much time thinking were dead men.
Black smoke drifted lazily out of the village ahead, curling its way into the pale blue sky above it. The village was built right next to an oasis, and was probably a trading hub for miles around as it had water. The Deserts currency, and plenty of it. The land around the village was flat for miles around, and it was all desert.
Antanov saw explosions, and the occasional tracer fire coming from the distance. The VDV had taken cover in what appeared to be a school house. It was a two story structure, and was flying the soviet flag, to mark their position. The flag was tattered, and full of holes. He saw what appeared to be Pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns on the back pouring fire into the school, with more Mujaheddin freedom fighters trying to storm the building by sheer weight of numbers.
"Volga flight this is Volga lead how copy over?"
Volga lead this is Volga two read you 5 by 5 over."
"Volga Lead this is Volga 3 read you five by five over." The responses were automatic, and Antanov gripped the control column just a little tighter. It was almost time.
"Friendlies are confirmed in the school house." "We are to avoid fire on the school house at any cost anything beyond is fair game, how copy?" "Volga lead this is Volga two copy on your last over." Volga lead this is Volga three copy on your last over." Mikhail always spoke in his calm school teachers voice before combat. Like he was discussing the weather, or a particularly interesting story in the paper. Not telling us how to kill people.
Volga flight had gained altitude to make their attack run, and now it was time. "Volga flight follow my lead, the VDV know to keep their heads down." Mikhail had given the last order he ever would. Antanov turned with the rest of Volga flight into an attack run. Antanov felt the force of the G\s, and acceleration push him back into his seat. He felt the dizzying effect of rapidly losing altitude, and the ground sprinting by. They had the sun at their backs, and the Mujaheddin hadn't seen them until it was too late.
The effect was outstanding, they had descended in tight order in perfect formation. They had even begun firing at the same time. Rockets picked up the rag tag freedom fighter and thrown their pieces everywhere. The Gunners swept left to right over the kill zone finishing any who had survived the initial bombardment.
The flight of hinds passed over the village at roof top level causing an artificial sandstorm as they passed. It had been text book perfect. Rockets demolished building causing them to collapse, while the .50 cal munitions chased down any stragglers in a spray of blood. Antanov was using his rockets like he had planned where to send each one before he came. He caught several trucks, as they tried to return fire turning them into fireballs, and tossing them up into the air like discarded toys. The Mujaheddin were running and now it was time to finish them off.
The hinds flew past the end of the village at an excess of 140mph with Mikhail going straight, then start a climbing turn while Antanov went into a wide right turn, and Volga 3 went into a wide left. They had regained their altitude, and just had to turn back into position for another attack run. Then all hell broke loose. Mikhail uttered his last words before being consumed in a barrage of guided missiles.
"STINGERS!" Mikhail screamed over the radio. Mikhail tried to evade going into a steep dive, and deploying flares. In the end there was just too many missiles. 3 were decoyed by the flares, and 1 was evaded by Mikhail's flying skills. However as he pulled out of his dive into a savage right turn, another 3 struck the hind in the tail, engine, and cockpit. Mikhail and his faithful gunner Zebreyich were dead.
Zebrevich was a large man like Yuri, standing at 6.5 was a full two inches taller that Yuri, and a full 5 and a half over Antanov. He was a man with a surly disposition, and was always in for disciplinary hearings. He was also a man who loved animals, taking in and caring for any strays that wandered by the base. Mikhail had been the perfect pilot for him. His patience and kindness winning over the large Siberian, where no one else could. It didn't seem to matter anymore though, because they were dead
Volga 3 also known as Sasha was more successful as was Antanov Sasha did a simple flare and bank, while Antanov flipped his hind over, and did a rapid series of turns, and rolls, and cleanly avoided all missiles. Mikhail had taken the hits, for no other reason, than he was closer. He had saved them with his death.
The flight combat order had been destroyed, and the flight was in disarray. It had been a trap. Why else would they launch such an attack so close to a major soviet airbase, able to dispatch gunships or fixed wing aircraft at a moments notice? Antanov's suspicions were confirmed when triple AAA began opening up, the tracers chasing, and shredding Sasha's tail. It was barely holding together when he and his gunner Sonny broke contact, and fled.
The mujaheddin were now emerging from all over village hefting RPG's, assault rifles, and demolition charges. The VDV had served their purpose, and now they were going to be disposed of.
Antanov felt his blood boil. He wasn't going to run like Sasha, and there was no way in hell he was going to let them kill the VDV like they had murdered Mikhail and Zebreyich. Antanov looked to Yurri, who simply looked back. They didn't need to use the intercom they were both thinking the same thing. Years of fighting, and working together had made an almost supernatural connection between the two, being able to predict each others actions, and seemingly be able to read each others minds. A nod was all it took.
With a deep breath Antanov swung the hind into a screaming dive. The hind seemed angry and eager for blood, seemingly shrieking as the air went past challenging all those below.
The Mujaheddin were incredulous as a lone hind was making an attack run on them. They laughed and turned their considerable firepower to bare. A fusillade of missiles and streams of hot tracer rose to meet them. Seconds before the missiles impacted, and the tracers found their mark, which would turn Antanov and Yurri's hind into nothing but a memory Antanov made his hind "dance." He rolled the hind on its side, over on its back, barrel rolling and weaving through the missiles, deploying flares out like shooting stars, and looping through the tracer fire. At times causing the missiles to miss completely, and at others by no more than a hairsbreadth. Dancing a deadly dance with the streams of tracers, seeming to kiss them before dancing away again. The seemingly bulky hind appeared to weigh no more than a feather in Antanov's hands as it weaved through the air with more grace than was thought humanly possible.
The missiles stopped flying up to meet them, and the tracers had no hope of catching them. The hind seemed to grin at the plight of its prey savouring the moment before it spat death at them.
A line of explosions tore holes in their ranks, as 82mm missiles carved their way through them, each point accentuated with an explosion of fire and shrapnel, tearing man and machine apart in its fiery death.
The stinger missile launcher operators were desperately trying to reload when Yurri found his mark. He began sweeping the roofs clean staining the white roofs red with the blood of the Tribesmen. Just before Antanov was about to crash the hind into the ground, he pulled hard, and led with the left side of the hind, only a few feet off the ground flying sideways they continued down the street firing all the while, mowing down countless Mujaheddin. They left a glittering trail of brass down the length of the street. At the end Antanov pulled the hind up in a vertical climb, doing a backwards loop to avoid another missile, before going in for another run.
It was a deadly dance that they did. The hind would rise and fall, and each time it would claim more than the last time, and it avoided the missiles being shot at it with seemingly contemptuous ease.
They caused the mujaheddin to run in terror from them and they began shooting their AK's wildly at them. The bullets sounded like steel hammers pounding on the outside of the hind, but was as affective as pissing on a forest fire.
After just pulling of a dive, and flying about 8 feet off the ground Antanov saw a trio of stingers fly towards the cockpit. Antanov felt cold dread in his stomach. There was no evading this, they were going to die. Time seemed to slow as Antanov saw the missiles close in. Then a miracle happened. Yurri Showed the most amazing gunnery skills ever witnessed in the whole history of the soviet air force, and Antanov had never seen repeated. He began shooting them down.
The entire time they were closing Yurri was firing. Antanov was too transfixed to look away, the first exploded in a fireball, and then black smoke. The second was batted of course by the heavy .50 calibre shells. The last missile and the hind raced down the centre of the street towards each other, the hind spitting its shells, and the stinger missile Screaming down the street.
Closer and closer they raced, 60 feet. The Missile adjusted to a straight on impact. 40 feet, Yurri narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth. 20 feet, Antanov shut his eyes, and waited for the end. 10 feet Yurri smiled as his gun clicked dry. At 5 feet the missile exploded, and the hind tore through the smoke cloud it had left in its wake. Antanov opened his eyes and used the last of his rockets to obliterate the trio of dumbstruck Mujaheddin.
Antanov pulled up sharply, all the while he and Yurri were cheering loudly, unable to believe they had done it. The White Cossacks had cheated death of his prize, and against all odds had won. They had just made Soviet military history, saved a full company of VDV, and had single handedly taken on nearly a full battalion of Mujaheddin and scattered or annihilated them. They were alive, and they had been sure that they were going to die.
The hind pitched violently, and became sluggish to command. The last remaining triple AAA gun had struck the tail rotor, in a lucky hit. The twenty millimetre shells unable to penetrate the fuselage began shredding the tail. The hind seemed to moan in pain. Unable to return fire or to now evade they were forced to endure the punishment. What Antanov saw next made his heart stop. There on the ground was a tribesmen in rich clothes, and a shouldered stinger. With a wash of back blast the missile rose to meet them.
Antanov was dead and he knew it. With the tail shredded, he had no legs to run. He had used the last of his flares long ago, so he had no shield with which to defend himself. They had shot off the last of their armaments, so they had no sword to swing back with. Antanov swung the hind so the tail faced the incoming missile. It was the best that he could do, it was all he could do.
Antanov called out Yurri's name but it was unnecessary. He saw the missile too. They shared a knowing look. No words were needed to say their silent goodbye they had become the best of friends, comrades in arms. They had fought to keep each other alive for six long years, and now their time was up.
The sound of the impact was deafening inside the cockpit and it made Antanov temporarily deaf. The hind bucked wildly and was pitched forward as the missile impacted, and the tail rotor was completely disintegrated. The hind spun in circles out of control, the G,s sucking Antanov and Yurri back hard into their seats as the world spun like some twisted merry go round. Antanov was deaf to the world, but could still hear his own laboured breathing as they fell from the sky like a broken bird. Antanov's blood thundered in his ears. It was then that Antanov for the first time of the war felt cold Terror.
Antanov and Yurri were Going to join Sergei, and his quiet gunner, their surrogate father Mikhail, whom they hadn't even had time to grieve for yet, Zebrevich Mikhail's gunner who had a surly attitude, but a love for animals, and the rest of the friends that they had lost over the years. Too many to name but they knew them all. Time seemed to stop for a moment just above the ground.
The hind impacted the ground, and the rotors went first. Taking two great gouges out of the ground before breaking free, and whistling away. The hind hit with with a lot of forward momentum causing them to carve a trench out of the sandy road, and causing the sand to cascade over the canopy. Antanov's view was blocked by cascading sand, and then turned black as his head pitched forwards, and crashed into the front of his little bubble.
Antanov came around slowly his vision bark, throat dry and sore, and he couldn't feel his left leg. He reached up to wipe sweat off his face, and his glove came away sticky and dark. It was blood. His sandy blonde hair was adhering to his head from a mixture of blood, and sweat. His breath came hard, and he had trouble breathing. He looked to the front of the hind to the gunnery seat to find Yurri, and check on him but found the front compartment empty.
A groaning protest of metal on metal caused Antanov to look to his side. To his relief he saw Yurri on the outside of the hind trying to force the side door open. The cords were standing out clearly on Yurri's neck. Yurri said his uncle had been an Olympic boxer, and Yurri had trained under him, gaining much of the bulk, and muscle that he now had through hours of rigorous practice.
With a final groan of protest the door gave way, and Antanov was assaulted by the smell of Cordite, smoke, the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh, and death. Yurri's brown hair was discoloured, and was wet from the blood of a gash on his head. He had discarded his flight helmet, and had only his flight suit, and an AK-74u slung over his shoulder. Each Mi-24 hind gunship had an AK in the cockpit with the flight crew to give them a better chance if ever forced down.
Antanov felt immediately at ease, despite the numbing of his body. Yurri was going to look after him, he would be all right.
Yurri leaned in and started to undo the harnesses holding Antanov into the hind
"It's going to be alright Antanov I've got you now."
Antanov tried to say something, but it came out as a strangled croak.
"Don't worry we'll be fine I can carry you and the VDV are just around the corner, we are both going to make it out of here, you and me." He gave Antanov a reassuring smile, and finished unstrapping him from the hind. Then his head exploded, and showered Antanov with the remains.
It wasn't real thought Antanov in dull horror. Yurri can't be dead. Yurri his steadfast and best friend. Yurri the man who teased Antanov relentlessly about anything and everything. Yurri who had defended him in bar fights, when he had too much to drink, and laughed about it with him in the stockade the next morning. Yurri the man who always remembered Antanov's birthday and got him a present while Antanov invariably forgot, and forgave him when he gave Yurri some half assed present when it was his birthday. Yurri the man who had stayed up late and talked with Antanov about their ambitions, and dreams in the barracks.
Yurri's lifeless body hit the ground with a dull thump, and the sand began to turn red. There was a crunch of approaching footsteps coming over the hot sand.
It just couldn't have happened, it had to be a bad dream one that Antanov was going to wake up from at any moment. Yes that's it was all just a bad dream, none of this had happened. Antanov was going to wake up and he and Yurri would laugh about this together in the mess hall. Just a bad dream. All just a bad dream. With a final crunch a figure stopped in front of the open cockpit, and cast a shadow over Antanov. The bad dream became a nightmare.
Antanov looked up into the eyes of the man who had shot him down. The eyes of the man who had killed Yurri. He was a middle aged Afghan man, hair just starting to get wisps of grey in it. He looked at Antanov with pitiless eyes. He had a full beard black as night, and his clothes were made of fine silk that had intricate patterns woven into them. Then he spoke.
"You Russians think that you own the world." His Russian was fluent if a little accented, and he spoke calmly and without anger, just like he was stating well known facts to a group of peers.
"You come with your tanks, and your planes, and your bombs, taking all you see before you with no care of who or what it belongs to." "What it is." He gestured around him. He paused for a moment binging up his AK-47 level with Antanovs head. Antanov felt no fear. If Yurri was dead how could he still be alive?
"You think you bring us freedom with your communism?" He practically spat the word. Anger becoming more apparent in his words. "All you bring us is pain and suffering." You put mines in our fields so we can't harvest crops and starve." "You gun down our children in the streets from your helicopters." His voice was beginning to rise. "You've killed many of my men today you godless Russian bastard." "Sent them to Allah before their time." "They have died a martyrs death, and will have all their rewards in heaven." He paused, "but you." "You I will send straight to hell." He aimed down the sights, and Antanov closed his eyes and waited. He would follow Yurri shortly. It didn't feel right to abandon him. The gunshot was a crack that resounded through the streets.
Antanov felt extremely light, and opened his eyes again, eager for his first glimpse at the next life. He was still in the cockpit of his hind, but standing in the doorway was an angel. Pale blonde hair framed a beautiful face, containing two sapphire eyes. They glittered with intelligence, and seemed omnipotent. She spoke but Antanov Didn't hear her. The setting sun framed her in the doorway.
Then Antanov noticed something odd about his angel in the doorway. She had a Dragunov sniper rifle on her back. Angels don't have sniper rifles thought Antanov...do they? It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase having a guardian angel. No one would fuck with you if you had a pissed off angel covering you with a high powered rifle.
"Can you hear me?" The voice brought Antanov out of his musings, and focused on the owner of the Voice. She was a well built women, with a figure that the VDV fatigues couldn't hide, and her voice was full of confidence whether she realized it or not, and it commanded absolute respect.
Wait, are there women in the VDV thought Antanov. Maybe I really am dead. "Can you hear me?" The voice brought Antanov out of his thoughts again. Blood loss was making his mind wander. "Yes" Antanov croaked out, and noticing her rank added "kapitan."
"I am going to try and move you, are you ready?" Antanov nodded weakly and said "Yes kapitan."
As she leaned over she said "Thank you for coming to our aid despite the danger, you were very brave." "You saved a lot of lives today." Then in a lower tone added "I am sorry about your comrade."
"Yurri", said Antanov weakly. His name was "Yurri". She looked down at Yurri's body and said "he fought bravely, you both did." Antanov said nothing.
She leaned forward and grabbed the front of his flight suit. "What is your name?" she asked. "Antanov", he began "Antanov Yeghe-AAaahhhhhhh. As he had been telling the kapitan his name she had started pulling out of the wreck. His previously weak voice having found new strength in pain.
Antanovs previously numb leg exploded in pain, and other pains of lesser degrees wracked the rest of his body. He screamed in pain, and blacked out for a moment. When he came to the kapitan was starting to put him over her shoulders, to carry him. It hurt more than Antanov thought possible. Antanov saw two Mujaheddin come around the corner, AK's raised. No he though, not again, he didn't want anyone else to die trying to save him. Yurri had been enough. far too much.
Before Antanov had time to utter a warning, The female kapitan yanked his Makarov 9mm out of his chest holster, and shot each tribesman twice in the chest. Red blotches spreading over their chests as they were pitched back by the rounds. Antanov should have been relieved, or happy, or something, but found he had no more emotion left to use. He felt empty, hollow.
She put a round in each of their heads as she walked by carrying Antanov as if he his 180 pound frame weighed no more that a sack of potatoes. Putting an end to any thought of survival or treatment. Antanov watched as his broken hind, and dead friend slowly retreated into the distance. He had lost two of the things that he cared most about today.
More VDV ran by hunting out the Mujaheddin, running through the rubble filled streets, and skirting around the craters left by the last ride of the White Cossacks. The Mujaheddin wouldn't escape, the men in the blue berets would see to it. The kapitan passed Antanov to two VDV with medical armbands, and went to coordinate the clean up operation of the town. The dead littered the streets, and those who were still living of the Mujaheddin didn't do so for long, or melted away into the desert sands.
Antanov laid on a stretcher in the playground of the school. There were some rusted out play structures, and the building was riddled with bullet holes. With only depressing thing to look at on the ground, Antanov looked to the sky. He had always enjoyed looking at the sky, it was so peaceful to look up there, and so exhilarating to fly in it. He was giddy, and light headed from the pain killers, and he was swathed in bandages. They had cut off most of the bottom half of his flight suit to get at his injuries. His leg had been broken in five different places.
Antanov heard a distant rumble like thunder, and he saw black shapes in the distance. The gunfire had died away long ago, and now he could hear everything going on. He recognized the shape and sound immediately. Hinds. It looked like the whole 103rd was coming over the horizon. Antanov finally felt at ease. The crocodiles would protect him. The 103rd looked after its own. He drifted off into a deep sleep, clutching Yurri's dog tags that the kapitan had retrieved for him. He had heard her name from what her soldiers had called her.
Balalaika. Kapitan Balalaika.
A.N. Well that was pretty good for the first chapter in my story. I'm very pleased with the end result, and since this is my first attempt at writing a story, I would say it's pretty good. It's like 3:08 am but I just couldn't stop writing. If your wondering why Balalaika was catering to Antanov in the hind, it was because she was trying to reassure him, and make him feel good. He was hurt, and delirious so she was being gentle with him. I didn't Antanov to just show up Roanpoar out of the blue, so a gave him a back story, and reasons for why he does what he does. I still need to tie up a few loose ends in the next chapter, about what happens to him in the intervening 7 or eight years. It's only 1986 and Black Lagoon takes place at a minimum of 1993. For those wondering Antanov is NOT getting with Balalaika. I just don't see it happening. Also if I mess up with canon, or armaments used let me know. For the more bat shit crazy stuff like shooting missiles out of the air, or crazy aerial manoeuvres let it go by. It's Black Lagoon. If people can hit bullets with swords, Jidanbo(right name?) hit an early version of the hind with torpedoes while ramping a boat(Seriously it didn't even have the bubbled canopy) or one person taking down half of roanpoar with two pistols(Revy and Chang) Or killer maids, or killer maids catching throwing knives with their teeth, and fucking break it(Roberta on both accounts) then I should have a little leeway. Well I'll do my best not to make Antanov a Mary sue. Right now he is self absorbed, cocky, a little racist against Arabs, A showboat, and he thinks the Soviet Union is the best thing ever despite what they did in Afghanistan. I'll try to have his faults become more apparent, and not everyone will like him. I'm surprised Revy likes anyone. I had him and Yurri at the top of their classes, because only exceptional people could have done what they did. I'll try to have each update at least 10 pages long. I do my best at editing, and fix add or take out parts as I go along. Also if you could give me some Russian names to use (both male and female) I would really appreciate it, I'm almost out. Well review tell me how I did, because now it's almost 3:30 am and I have school tomorrow, heh aaahh Fu-
P.S. I had superhuman playing while I wrote the big town battle.