Disclaimer: The Strike Witches series is fully owned by Shimada Humikane, Noboru Yamaguchi (May his soul rest in peace) and Gonzo Animation Studios while the other original characters and concepts are fully owned by me. Oh and also I do not own anything that is being used as a reference in this story either.
Author's Foreword: Hey guys, I know it's been awhile since my last update so I'm sorry for you guys that have to wait for me to update. Well as I promised, here's the new chapter and I hope it's worth the waiting. Let's get on with the show oh and also credits to my Beta-Reader Nim Maj who although is busy with his role as a teacher, he still get the job done and I thanked him for that.
Chapter 12: Engagement over the Suez Canal
[To my dearest Mom in South Carolina, how are you lately? If you ask me on how I was doing, well I'm fine…for now. The war is going good for us in North Africa after we managed to push back the Neuroi assault especially in Egypt. With most of the towns and cities west of the Suez Canal are under our control, we all have begin our preparations in anticipation for an imminent Neuroi counter-attack after our reconnaissance units spotted what seemed to be a Hive in a shape of a walking monolithic pyramid of Doom that are posed a threat to our entire operation, Field Marshal Montgomery has ordered the troops to dig in along the Suez Canal. AT-Guns and hulled down Tanks covers the Canal, ready to fire at any incoming Neuroi should they begin their attack. We waited in our foxhole for some time…it was to be honest…a bit boring and all. Even so, I praise to God for the help we get since the Joint Naval Force helping us in every battle and even myself are awed with what those people from the future could do. I do hope that I can get back to visit you Mom after all of this is over. I have to stop writing for now but know that I still miss you Mom. Your beloved son; Harris. – Letter of Corporal Harris Olson, 1st Infantry Division, II Corps. Killed In Action during the subsequent cleanup operations against remaining pockets of Neuroi resistance after the North African Front declared liberated by end of August 1944.]
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: On the banks of the Suez Canal, 3rd Defense Sector.
After the liberation of El-Alamein and the Port of Alexandria, the Allied Forces of North Africa began digging in along the banks of the Suez Canal which has been separated into three defense sectors and fortified for future attacks. The defenses are consist of Anti-Tank guns of various caliber, machine gun nests, infantry foxholes and hulled down tanks in anticipation of a Neuroi counterattack.
Inside one of the foxhole, several soldiers are seen talking along with their fellow men and exchanging stories although they still keep their rifles close to them in case of a future attack.
"Hey guys, I heard Norman has been sent home." A Brittanian soldier speaking in a highlander accent told his fellow soldiers.
"Lucky bastard." Another Britannian soldier named Private York replied.
TheBritannian sighed as he added, "York…that 'lucky bastard' lost his leg."
"Well at least he's out of this bleeding desert! I mean I want to get out of this Godforsaken place too! Should I have to lose my leg to do that? No, I love my leg alright." the Private said as the others laughed and the Britannian just shrugged at his comment.
As they finally stopped laughing, a Liberion soldier by the name of Harris decided to speak up, "You know…I heard that the Neuroi here are on the run."
A Britannian soldier by the name of Pierson asks the Liberion, "Really now? From what I've heard…their hive is on the move now and probably tried to drive us out from this place."
"Hell, I wonder if we would able to destroy them…I mean sure we've got help from the Witches and those Joint Naval Forces guys but…can we really beat the Neuroi's?" Harris said as he cleaning up his rifle.
"Harris, the only thing that we can do now is pray that the final battle here would end quickly. I mean after all of this, we're going to Europe because Command needs more men and material for the upcoming offensive against the Neuroi on Karlsland…or so I heard." Pierson told the Liberion soldier along with several soldiers who are with them nodded to themselves.
Pierson then added while grinning as he pulled out a large sack which contains written letters from each of the soldier's homeland, "Anyway, let's forget about that alright? I have a bunch of letters here waiting to be read."
"Pierson you sodding bastard! How long have you kept that?" Others glared at the Britannian soldier.
"Oh just got these from the Colonel yesterday." He grinned as he continued, "Right, let see who's the lucky sod that get the first letter of the day eh?" He and the others only laughed as they began to distribute the letters to each of the soldiers.
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: Unknown (Estimated several miles west of the Suez Canal)
With the Allied Forces now fully entrenched on the eastern side of the Canal, the Neuroi's of the North African hive became restless as their main hive have transmitted an order for the rest of the Neuroi to regroup to a designated location in order to mount an attack against the humans.
Unknown to the Neuroi's, they are being watched by small five-man team of US Marine Force Recon from the Joint Naval Forces. Their objective is to observe the Neuroi activity around the hive after their UAV's managed to pinpoint their rendezvous area.
First Lieutenant Santos, leader of the five-man recon team is observing the Neuroi's from a well hidden area not too far from the hive itself. The Lieutenant couldn't believe his eyes as he saw the pyramid shaped hive the size of the famous Pyramid of Giza but nevertheless he didn't have time to awed or gaping at his enemy.
"LT…" He heard his second in command, Sergeant Vincent DeMilo lying next to him as he also watched the Neuroi activity from his binocular and asks, "So that's the hive we're supposed to destroy?"
"Yeah DeMilo, can't believe we have to bomb this shit to liberate North Africa…I mean look at that thing! Those red points on top of that thing aren't for decoration purposes I assume." Santos said as he observes the hive.
The Lieutenant let out a small laugh when DeMilo suddenly spot something, "LT, we spotted big movement…very big movement on the ground."
From both of the Marine's binocular, they spotted a large concentration of Neuroi Walkers and Flying Goblet-types moving en-masse with the Neuroi fighter drones cover the skies above them.
"Well I'll be damned DeMilo…do you think that's what I think it is?" the Lieutenant asks his Sergeant.
"Well sir, that's probably a big push…probably to reinforce their frontlines, should we inform the Admiral about this?" DeMilo asks.
Santos thought about that first and then he decided, "Do that, send only footage but our orders to observe their activity still stand. You do know today is the day those Force Z squadrons from Malaya are going to cross the Canal soon right?"
"You're right sir. So we should stay here and continue to observe any changes among the enemy sir?"
"Damn right, now we should stay here for awhile until we move out just before dark. Think you could handle being out here in the desert?" He asks the Sergeant.
DeMilo could only smile and laughed quietly, "Alright LT, I'll tell the men. Let's just hope we would survive this shit soon."
"Hell, we're going to survive Sergeant and I'll be damned if we just stick to hope. We're the Marines sarge, we're bound to get into action soon enough." He grinned before gripping his M16A4.
DeMilo then went to inform the rest of the men before he paused and asks the Lieutenant again, "Sir…what are the odds for us to get out alive this time?"
"Do I look like your Fifth grade Math teacher to you?" He grinned.
Sergeant DeMilo could only chuckled at his superiors comment before moving in to inform the rest of his team that they'll staying before being told otherwise.
And just as the Sergeant leaves, First Lieutenant Santos suddenly saw several squadrons of flying Neuroi's headed out, probably they've heard about the Allied Force Z coming through the Canal. He decided to contact the Admiral at the situation.
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: Coast of Egypt, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Admiral Frederick Robertson sits down on his command chair at the bridge of the Eisenhower to enjoy his morning coffee; he and his fleets have been in North Africa for 20 days as he counted himself. To be honest, he never thought of being able to meet three well known commanders of what should have been the Second World War…fighting together and combating the Neuroi in North Africa. For him, it was an honor to fight alongside them.
Of course he also have seen how the Witches especially the 501st and the 31st fare in combat. Now he knows how powerful they can be while in combat and even while not in combat surprisingly. He still remembers when one time he tried to stop the bickering of Rommel, Patton and Montgomery during one of the combat planning session, he even sighed as he could not stop the childish bickering of the three famous commanders until Katou Keiko decided to end the fighting that degraded to a fist fight…that was until a Fusoan Tank Witch whom Robertson later learned was known as Kitano Furuko decided to…'fix' the three commander's straight to the American Admiral surprise, Robertson later noted that he didn't want to incur the wrath of any Witches after that.
His trip down memory lane was soon interrupted as personnel with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Two stood in front of him and saluting before informing the Admiral, "Sir, recon team informed about possible Neuroi actions against the incoming allied navy squadron sir."
'And just when I want to enjoy my coffee…' he thought before putting his cup down and began ordering the rest after he dismissed the CWO-2 to his duty, "Alright, all fleet into combat readiness. Scramble the birds, wake the Witches up and get those CSAR teams on standby! We got work to do pronto!"
"Uh sir, we also received a possible movement of the enemy ground forces too…a very large one at that sir." The CWO-2 then hand over the folder to Robertson before dismissing himself.
The Admiral read the report and then finally put it down as he turned to his assistant Commander Newman, "Commander, send this report to the Field Marshal Montgomery…he need this as soon as possible."
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: HMS Indomitable, Force Z Squadron (Crossing the Suez Canal)
After fifteen weeks cruising at utmost speed across the Indian Ocean and passing through the Arabian Sea the fleet of Force Z Squadron finally arrived at the Red Sea and entered the Canal to link up with the Joint Naval Force and the Allied Mediterranean Fleet in the preparation for their last offensive against the last Neuroi holdings in Egypt.
Private Trevor Maloney who just got transferred to the naval squadron is currently cleaning the mess hall as today it was his turn to clean it as a part of the cleaner's duty roster of the Indomitable. Ever since he transferred from Singapore to the squadron, his infamous reputation as a man who tried to dismantle the Strike Witches is also known by his fellow crewmate of the Indomitable and he basically has been given a cold shoulder because of that.
To say it simply, he's being ignored by the others and Maloney would have to come to grips with it.
As he quietly mopping the floor while tried to ignore the other peoples spreading rumor about him, the klaxon blared to life as everyone are now on their guard. An Officer finally came down to the mess hall and shout, "Oi you lot! We have a Neuroi forces inbound! Everyone get to your stations now!"
The people who are still inside the mess hall immediately stop on what they are doing and ran out to their stations as the Officer began noticed Maloney, "You Private! Follow me; I need someone to assists the planes and the Witches on the deck!"
Mentioning the Witches, Maloney winced but he hides it immediately and complies to the Officer's order, "Yes sir!"
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: Skies above the Suez Canal, Force Z Squadron location
Above the skies over the Suez Canal, several squadrons of Joint Naval Force Carrier Air Wings consists of F/A-18's and F-35C's along with the Strike Witches have linked up with the Force Z Squadron Combat Air Patrol group in anticipation of the incoming attack and they are finally ready to face their enemy.
"Hey Hawke, I heard the Admiral finally sort out that rank problem and give you the Lieutenant Commander rank instead of Major." Albert, the WSO officer of [Reaper 1] said to Hawke E. Yeager, the [Reaper 1] pilot and head of the VFA-534 'Twin Reaper' Carrier Air Wing Squadron.
LCDR Hawke E. Yeager sighed as earlier before he faced a problem in regard to the ranking system as he was supposed to adopt the US Navy ranks rather than the US Air Force ranks which Shirley finally noticed while talking to him during one of their usual break before the operation and forwarded it to the Admiral Robertson realized it and finally fixed that mistake which means he is now officially recognized as a Navy Air Wing Pilot instead of the Air Force.
"Well I suppose since Shirley pointed that out before…I have to thank her when we get back in one piece." Hawke said as he watches the skies for any hostile contact.
"Only thank her? Really now sir, I thought you would do better than thanked her." His WSO grinned behind his helmet.
Hawke sighed again, "Shut up Al, if you still continue with that…I'll eject both of us out of this plane understood?"
Albert finally apologizes before the pilots saw the Witches formed their formation up next to his squadron and saw Shirley waved to him.
(Comms)[Hey Hawke, think you're free after this mission?] Shirley asks through her comms.
"Is this a suitable time for you ask Shirley? Well I suppose if you insist…what the heck alright then." Hawke relents as he knows Shirley will keep asking him to spend time with her.
(Comms)[It's a promise alright!] She giggled
"Of course…of course." Hawke muttered as he didn't have anything more to say.
(Radio)[To all callsigns, this is AWACS [Silver Dawn]…we've detected a considerable group of hostile Neuroi squadrons bearing north towards the Force Z Squadron, your objective is to drive the Neuroi away from the Naval Squadron until it reaches allied controlled air space.]
"10-4 on that [Silver Dawn]." Hawke replied before sending in all orders to his squadron, "Attention all Reaper callsigns, our mission is to thwart any Neuroi attack at our friendly fleets coming through the south until they reach the safe zone of our AA defense coverage."
As the rest of his squadron acknowledged their order, he got another report that another squadron had engaged the Neuroi. He ordered the rest of his wings to join the fray. He managed to asks the AWACS, "[Silver Dawn] this is [Reaper-1], do we have any other friendly air forces in the area?"
(Radio)[Affirmative [Reaper-1], the Force Z has reported to launched their planes and Witches to protect the fleet. Link up with them and repel the attack, caution is advised as several hostiles have detached from their main force and are headed towards your position.]
"Copy your last [Silver Dawn], heading to engage the hostiles." Hawke said as he given out the orders and began engaging the Neuroi interception forces.
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: On the deck of HMS Indomitable, Force Z Squadron, en-route to friendly controlled area of the Suez Canal.
The top deck of the Britannian carrier HMS Indomitable are crowded with sailors, airmen and Witches as they hurriedly ran to their posts with the airmen and Witches get into their respective planes and Striker Unit. The carrier's anti-air emplacement roared to life as they desperately began shooting down incoming Neuroi which are aimed at the fleets and the other ships of the fleet joins in as flak engulfed the sky above the fleet. He could also see the Allied controlled area of the Suez Canal join into the fight as their anti-air emplacement also roared to life.
"Maloney! Bring that bloody munitions trolley over here now!" A Britannian sailor shouted at Maloney as they began distributing weapons and munitions to the other crews and the Witches whom are now standing by at the carrier's runway deck.
"On it sir!" Maloney shouts back as he dragged a stack of machinegun ammunition on a trolley to the waiting Witches on the runway.
As he arrived with the said munitions, the Striker Unit maintenance crew immediately grabbed the trolley from him and began loading it into the Witches heavy weapons. He decided to help in as a formation of Britannian Fleet Air Arm Fairey Fulmar's fly above the carrier with a Neuroi chasing on its tail and witness two of the five plane formation shot down and crashes onto an unfortunate Fusoan Destroyer.
"Jesus Christ…" Maloney muttered at the sight before he is confronted by a Witch who stood in front of him.
"Is my weapon ready?" the Britannian Witch asks as she looks at the Besa Machine Gun which Maloney is currently loading it with munitions.
Maloney could only nod and the Witch grabbed the machine gun and went back to her Striker Unit already assembled at the flight deck along with several other Witches who were already in their Strikers and were ready to take off.
A Sailor who was next to Maloney as they help load the Witches weapons patted his shoulder and said, "Come on, we need to get to our stations."
"Alright." He said but not before they heard another ominous sound of a falling airplane and they turned to see a Supermarine Seafire plane engulfed in fire and smoke came spiraling down towards the Britannian carrier at an alarming speed. What makes it worse is the fact that the plane also carried a pair of unfired rockets on its wing.
"Oh God…" Maloney muttered again as he saw the falling plane and immediately ran for cover.
"Bloody hell! Get out of ther-" a sailor on the observation deck shouted before the plane hits the exact spot where the sailor had been on the observation deck as it exploded violently causing the flight deck shook and debris falling down onto the deck.
The activities on the flight deck of the HMS Indomitable ceased as black smoke and fire covers half of the deck as the American Predator Drone flies over the burning Aircraft Carrier.
"Jesus did you see that…it doesn't look good. You guys think there is still anyone alive up there?" One of the AWACS operators onboard the E-2 Hawkeye said to his colleague as they witness the live feed from their drones which saws explosions and subsequent aftermath of the collision between the plane and the Britannian carrier.
"They won't be if the Neuroi slices them in half. Inform any available squadron to provide air cover for that carrier and contact the Admiral about this." The pilot of the E-2 informed the rest of the operators before continuing with their tasks.
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: Bridge of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Coast of Egypt (Mediterranean side).
"Sir, we got news…the Force Z's HMS Indomitable suffered considerable damage to their bridge." The Aircraft Carrier's communication officer informed Admiral Robertson as the officer received newest information from their airborne AWACS who witnessed the Seafire crash onto the Indomitable via the Predator drone.
"Did the captain survive?" Robertson asks.
"Affirmative sir, the captain was in the ships lower deck when the plane crashed." The Officer said.
Robertson then asks again, "How long till the fleet gets out of the danger zone?"
The communication officer then contacted the AWACS and then turned back to the Admiral and said, "Sir, they estimate at least two hours before the fleet left the area."
"How about the enemy status?" the Admiral asks about the Neuroi.
"Enemy presence in combat airspace is down to twenty percent. Our AWACS inform that they have ordered one of our squadron to form a security detachment for the carrier. "
Robertson sighed as he looked at the Comms Officer, "Are there any other carriers that got shot up?"
The Comms Officer paused a bit before he continued, "The Soryu suffered minor damage but it still can hold on its own."
Robertson wiped his forehead and nodded, "Alright, order our flyboys to continue engaging them but their priority target is to protect the carrier."
"Yes sir, relaying your orders now." The Comms Officer then began relaying the order.
Date: August 20th 1944
Location: Skies above the Suez Canal, Force Z Squadron location
The air battle is currently underway as Robertson's carrier fighter group accompanied by a small detachment of the 501st Joint Fighter Wings lead by Major Mio Sakamoto managed to link up with the Witches and the navy fighters of the Invincible and the Soryu carrier fighter group of Force Z. Even now, the sight of tracers, clouds of flak and black smokes from damaged ships fills the sky as the naval squadron of Force Z mounted a desperate defense to protect their fellow ships from the Neuroi attacks.
Major Mio Sakamoto has just destroyed one of the Neuroi which are aiming at the Fusoan Carrier Soryu when she is confronted by a group of Fusoan Witch which are a part of the Soryu carrier air wing, "Sakamoto Shōsa, it's good to finally meet you. I'm Hayate Takefumi, Chūi (Sub-Lieutenant) and acting squadron leader of the Soryu Carrier Air Group 15thSentō Hikōtai. Our condition is going from bad to worse until you guys came so we are grateful for your assistance."
Mio smiled as she told the Fusoan Witch to be at ease, "At ease Chūi, where is your squadron leader?"
"Our previous squadron leader got shot down…we're the only ones left of our squadron. The other squadrons got their hands full and our boys tried their hardest to help us." The Witch said as she looks at her fellow squad mates.
Mio patted her shoulder and give a reassuring smile, "Don't worry, the Strike Witches are here to help. Now let's get into action shall we?"
The Chūi saluted and then fly off to engage the nearby Neuroi that are threatening the carrier. Mio saw her own squad mates busy engaging the enemy with Shirley and Lucchini supporting the Karlsland aces Erica and Gertrude in taking down multiple Neuroi while Yoshika, Perrine and Lynette all fly to Mio's position after shooting down another unfortunate alien fighter to pieces.
"Mio-san! What should we do now?!" Yoshika asks Mio.
"We should support our allies here, protect the carriers. All of you with me, Yeager and Lucchini will support Barkhorn and Hartmann." Mio ordered and the rest acknowledge it and follows her.
As the Witches are heading out to engage the Neuroi again, the American fighters which consists of the Navy's F-35C's and F/A-18F along with their 'E' variant continues to pick off Neuroi squadrons with their missiles before switching to their cannons to finish them off.
A single F/A-18F which is flown by US Navy's LCDR Hawke E. Yeager and Lt. Albert Lebowski as his Weapons System Officer managed to shoot down another Neuroi which had been weakened by its previous engagement with some Witches. The missile launched by Yeager's plane engulfed the Neuroi into a fireball before it disintegrated.
"Hawke, that's another Neuroi you scratched out today. Good shootin'." Albert complimented as he began to inspect their current fuel and ammo left on their plane.
"Thanks. I need the status on our plane. How much ammo and fuel we got left Al?" Hawke said as he linked up with his squadron.
"We've depleted all our missiles and ammo, we should head back to rearm and refuel." Albert finished his checklist.
(Radio)[Reaper 1, this is Reaper 2 do you copy over?]
Hawke answered the transmission from his wingman, "Reaper 2 this is Reaper 1 Actual, go ahead."
(Radio)[Reaper 2 here, my bird is bingo on fuel and Winchester on all weapons, Reaper 4 also reported that they are on bingo fuel. Permission to RTB to rearm and refuel]
Hawke immediately replied, "Permission granted we're about to rearm and refuel too. [Reaper 2] and [Reaper 4] RTB; remaining Reaper squadron, cover our asses."
With that the two planes of the VFA-534 Squadron began to pull out from the operation area to rearm and refuel their plane. But at the same time, Hawke is feeling something bad will happen soon…and he didn't like that feeling one bit.
"Al, what is the 501st status?" He asks his WSO.
"What? Are you worried about your girlfriend?" Albert joked.
"Al I swear I'll put you into latrine duty for a month if you don't stop with that shit…now what is the status of those Witches?" He asks again in a serious tone.
"Alright alright…sorry Sir." Albert said before he informed his fellow pilot again, "They're currently engaging hostiles near the vicinity of the fleet. It seems they handled that job pretty well for girls."
"Good, we'll go and move to help them. The other squadrons seems doing fine." Hawke said as he informs the AWACS about his intention to go back to rearm and refuel, "[Silver Dawn] this is [Reaper 1] do you copy over?"
(Radio)[Reaper 1 this is Silver Dawn Actual, what is it?]
"Uh…my bird along with [Reaper 2] and [Reaper 4] are heading back to friendly base to rearm and refuel, the rest of my squadron will continue to assists with the fleet defense." Hawke stated his intention.
(Radio)[Hold on Reaper 1…] the AWACS operator told and the line went silent for a few minutes with the radio chatter of other squadrons and Witches in combat only fills the transmission before the AWACS contacted the Lieutenant Commander again.
(Radio)[Affirmative Reaper 1, return back to base. Phoenix Squadron and Falcon Squadron will move to assist your squadron]
"Copy your last [Silver Dawn]." Hawke said before switching transmissions to his remaining airborne squadron, "to all Reaper Flight, this is [Reaper 1], we're decided to heading back to base with [Reaper 2] and [Reaper 4] but your objective still stand…relieve friendly forces in combat against the Neuroi, head over to the Force Z fleet location and provide protection for the fleet until it reaches out of the combat zone."
It's not taking long for the rest of his squadrons acknowledge the order and they headed to where the Force Z squadron are in an effort to relieved the battered Witches and Allied naval air squadrons while Hawke and the others decided to head back to friendly lines.
Back on the deck of the HMS Indomitable,
After the plane crashed onto the deck of the Britannian carrier and exploded, several surviving deck crews immediately went ahead to assess the damage, some immediately grabbed their firefighting equipment and began extinguishing any remaining flames on the deck. Thankfully the deck is still operational with minimal damage taken after the plane crashes.
Maloney just barely survived the crash as he came out from his cover and saw several crewmen and medics began to search the bodies and treat the wounded. Anti-aircraft fire still fired at the Neuroi despite the damaged that the carrier took after the crash. He also saw much of the bridge and radio room gone into flames as he could see the tail section of the crashed Seafire plane sticking out from the bridge.
He continued walking until he saw an injured sailor with a missing arm and asks him, "Oi mate are you fine? Where is Captain Stevenson?"
The sailor coughed and looks at Maloney's face while he gritted his teeth in pain and tried to answer the best he could, "I-I'm just fine…the Skipper is back there, thankfully he was on the deck when that plane crashes. I-I heard he went to help the rest…Christ it hurts." He said as he pointed his other arm to the back, showing where the Captain of the ship is located before he moaned in pain again.
"Thanks now just stay there until someone arrives and sent you for treatment." Maloney said as he saw a dead medic next to them and he immediately scoured the medic's body until he found a tourniquet, he then used the tourniquet to wrap the bloody stump that was once the sailor left arm, "In the meantime, this should stop the bleeding."
He left the sailor without hearing his thanks and headed out to look for the Captain of the ship until he heard a moaning of a young girl…a Witch he corrected as he saw the young Witch lie on the deck with her legs still stuck inside the Striker Unit which has been crushed by a falling radio antenna pole, to add the matters worst…there is flame surround her too so he immediately went to rescue the Witch despite his bad experiences with them.
"P-Please…let me out of here…it hurts…" the Witch moaned in pain as she can't move from her crushed Striker Unit and felt scared for the first time as she was beginning to think that she will die.
But then she heard a man let out a grunt as he began lifting the heavy antenna pole long enough for the Witch to crawl out from her Striker Unit and the man let it go after seeing the Witch finally got out safely and asks her, "Are you okay ma'am?"
She felt relieved that someone managed to help her out and began to thanked him, "Y-Yes I'm fine…thank…you…" she paused as she saw the man who saved her, it was Maloney…the man who are famous for his failed Warlock Project and the man infamous for his distaste of the Witches. She had heard from her fellow squadmates about this man who got transferred into the carrier to join the fight in North Africa and she couldn't believe that this man has also saved her life.
Maloney knowing this after looking at her astonished face and began to say in a stern voice, "Look I know what you are thinking now ma'am but this is not the time or the place…" He said as he put his hand onto her shoulder and spoke softly, "…for now, what is your name?"
Blinked the Witch introduces herself, "S-Sub Lieutenant Annabeth Greathart, 892 Naval Witch Squadron."
"Very well Sub Lieutenant Greathart, go and see to your wounds. I need to find the Captain and help anyone in need so can you walk?" Maloney asks.
After hearing Maloney's word, she knew she cannot antagonized the person who just saved her despite his darker past and decided to let it go for now and began to focused on getting a medical attention but she suddenly realized that she cannot feel her legs.
"I-I can't feel my legs…" She said.
Maloney sighed and said, "Come on, I'll get you to the nearest Doc alright?"
The Witch nodded and Maloney began to carry her carefully but he paused as he and the Witch heard a loud crackling sound and saw an overturned ammunition box engulfed in flames, he knew that it is dangerous to stay there any longer as the rounds would exploded and potentially injuring him and the Witch.
"Oh sod it!" He shouted as he immediately turned his back and dived onto the deck at the same time covering the Witch from the eventual explosion and several seconds later, the ammunition box exploded with the sound of bullet rounds ricochet off the steel wall of the carrier and several sound of people getting hit by the stray bullets and shrapnel in which Maloney too have taken hit as he shields the Witch with his body.
Soon several medics arrived and taking care of the wounded including Maloney who was unconscious due to the injury he gained while shielding the Witch herself finally is being given medical attention by one of the medics.
"You're alright ma'am? We'll get you to safety." The medic said as he and another medic lifted her onto the stretcher provided.
The Witch still concerned about Maloney as he also being put on a stretcher asks the medic, "What about that soldier?"
"He'll be treated too although we are short of hands here." The medic said before he saw another plane crashes down dangerously near the carrier but fell short into the water, "We need to get you out of here fast! Come on Rob, help me with the stretcher."
Meanwhile above the skies over the Force Z positions,
As the fighters of the US Navy's 'Twin Reaper' air squadron arrived to assists the friendly forces of the Force Z fleets, the Americans immediately met with heavy laser fire from a fresh wave of Neuroi reinforcements in which Hawke's squadron are forced to scatter away from being hit by the incoming fire. The fighters immediately move into combat as they began shooting back at the Neuroi with whatever missiles that they have and cannon fire which managed to take a couple of the Neuroi's down before a detachment of Witches and A6M Zero fighter squadron arrived to finish the job.
(Radio)[Thanks for the assistance; we'll take it from here.] A transmission from the Witches who are consists of Fusoans from the Soryu thanked the Americans before they began engaging the remaining Neuroi, freeing the American squadron to focus on other tasks to protecting the fleet.
At the same time, several squadrons of F/A-18E's of the Phoenix Squadrons and F-35C's Falcon Squadrons also joins in and began assisting friendly units and engaging any enemy Neuroi formations that are approaching near the Allied fleets.
"Hawke, our guys reported that they manage to handle the situation over there." Albert informed as he received a status report from the rest of their squadron.
"So they have…Al, begin contacting the Eisenhower to clear up for landing." Hawke told his WSO but then he felt something bad would happened.
Albert noticed Hawke became suddenly quiet and asks him, "Hey Hawke, are you alright?"
"H-Huh? Yeah I'm fine…it's just something bad is happening…I'm not sure what…we should head back to base quickly." Hawke told when they heard the latest transmission from their AWACS.
(Radio)[To all Flights…this is Silver Dawn, the Neuroi are finally retreating and the fleet has arrived outside the combat zone. They took some casualties but are still intact; mission accomplished…return to base.]
As Albert tried to ask Hawke what bad feeling he has, both of them suddenly heard another transmission from their AWACS.
(Radio)[This is Silver Dawn to Reaper Flights; we've detected several incoming Neuroi approaching in fast! They are heading straight at you!]
(Radio)[This is Staghound 3! I saw them! They're coming from the n-*static*] apparently as the American AWACS done transmitting this new development to the rest of the fighter group, another American fighter squadron consists of F-35C's callsigned Staghound radioed in about another incoming Neuroi when two of the squadron's plane exploded as soon as the Neuroi opened fire at them.
(Radio)[Fuck! Staghound 3 and Staghound 7 is hit! No chutes I repeat no chutes! Those fucking bastards killed them!]
(Radio)[This is AWACS Silver Dawn, all units retreat! I repeat! Retreat! Get out of there!] The AWACS operator shouted as they saw the Neuroi flown immediately at the fighter's formation, especially the retreating formation of the Twin Reaper fighter squadron whom are heading back to rearm and refuel.
Hearing the transmission, Albert shouted to Hawke through his comms, "Shit Hawke they're gaining on us!"
(Radio)[This is Reaper 2! Christ! They're coming directly towards us! Reaper 1! Evade! Evade!]
"Not on my watch!" Hawke said as he began to do an evasive maneuver as he evaded several shots from the Neuroi drones, his intention now are to retreat and landed at a secured friendly base without risking more minutes of precious fuel needed to head back.
Unfortunately, his luck ran out as a Neuroi managed to fired its laser and hit one of the engines which exploded and caused the Super Hornet to went down fast in a spiraling motion.
At the same time,
Shirley and Lucchini has just finished destroying a squadron of Neuroi while helping the Karlsland Aces Gertrude and Erica in combating the four of them formed up together after confirming the Neuroi's last kill by Gertrude.
"Well that's the last of 'em." Shirley said as she reloads her BAR with a fresh magazine, ready to continue engaging at a moment notice even as the America AWACS indicate that the remaining Neuroi's are pulling out.
"Yeah, I'm surprised how good this American minigun did to those Neuroi…it literally shredded them into pieces." Gertrude takes a look at her minigun which she secretly named it Chris which much to her dismay, causes her partner Erica to let out a laugh at Gertrude.
"Stop laughing you Frau! Ugh…" Gertrude groaned while the others continued giggling at her.
Lucchini then yawned as she said to Shirley, "I'm tired…I want to get some good sleep after this, how about you Shirley?"
"W-Well…" Shirley wanted to say more when she and the rest heard a distressing transmission regarding someone that she closely knew.
(Radio)[This is Reaper 3! Reaper 1 is shot down! I repeat! Reaper 1 is shot down North-East of the Canal's! We see the chutes but enemy units are coming in fast! Request permission to engage until rescue chopper arrived!]
Shirley's eye widened when she heard the transmission, Hawke has been shot down?! She can't believe it. But her further thought is interrupted when the American AWACS give a chilling order.
(Radio)[This is AWACS Silver Dawn, Command orders are to pull out from the combat zone, I repeat, pull out from the combat zone. We cannot risks of losing another bird or Witch back there.]
The announcement suddenly causes Shirley's blood to boil, she can't believe that they just going to let Hawke and possibly several more pilots and Witches who have been shot down in earlier engagements to be left alone while the Neuroi are crawling around she wanted to save them especially Hawke but then their Squadron Leader, Major Sakamoto Mio appears with the rest and give a fierce glare at Shirley as she knows what the Liberion Witch was about to do.
"Shirley, I heard what happened but we cannot afford to waste more time and lives here, we need to pull back. I promise that we will ask the Admiral to mount a rescue mission when we get back." Mio said in a stern voice.
In the end, Shirley relents and is forced to leave Hawke as the situation is becoming critical with more Neuroi appearing in force. She has to allow Admiral Robertson to initiate a rescue mission or she will have to do so herself.
Back to the falling Super Hornet,
"Jesus Christ! We're hit!" Hawke shouted as the cockpit blared out various alarms as he tried to shout at his WSO, "Al! Al! Can you hear me?!"
"Fuck! We need to bail out Hawke!" Albert shouted back much to Hawke's relief.
"R-Right, grab the eject button! On the count of three! ONE! TWO! THREE!" Hawke ordered as he and Albert began to reach the ejector buttons as the plane quickly plunged downwards onto the ground. The two American pilots managed to eject just before the plane crashes and exploded upon impact.
As they descend, Hawke managed to saw several more chutes from the sky slowly descended down onto the sands of the Suez. He decided if it possible to regroup with the other crashed pilots and tries to make it back to friendly lines.
As if he thought his ordeal is over, he unfortunately landed on a patch of rocks which he knew it wouldn't be a good place to land safely but as the distance between him and the rock began to get closer, he is forced to land feet first as it hit the rock hard and a sound of broken bones is heard.
"Gah! Damn rocks!" He gritted as he finally land with a broken leg. Now he hoped that Albert or any friendly faces to find him and he need to treat that leg fast.
At the same time,
The Marine Recon unit finally received the order to pack up after confirming the operation ended in success until they heard the same transmission about several of their own fighters got shot down. All of them gave a disbelief looks after the transmission ends.
"God…those bastards finally got our flyboys." A Marine PFC muttered while the rest of the team looked towards their team leader.
Sergeant DeMilo asks a suggestion that all the team members shared towards 1st Lt. Santos, "Sir, I suggest that we should try to find our downed flyboys and bring them together to the extraction point."
Santos looks back to his team and then back to the Sergeant, "Are you sure Sarge? I can't guarantee that all of us might not make it out alive."
"Sir, we all signed with Marines for this moment. We will take on anything to get our boys back do we boys?" Sergeant DeMilo looks to the rest of the team which all shared the same determination to save one of their own, each of them let out their 'Oorah' as a sign of agreement.
"It's a definite Oorah sir." DeMilo looks back towards the 1st Lieutenant.
1st Lt. Santos nodded and finally said, "Alright radio in the Admiral, tell him that our objective now is to recover our flyboys and reach the extract zone in 1700 Hours the next morning, Oorah?"
"Oorah sir!" All of them replied.
"Good, pack up and move out! 'Retreat Hell Marines!" Santos said as they all began to head out to where the crash site.
Date: 20th August 1944
Location: Briefing Quarters of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
At the same time after the shoot down of Hawke's plane along with two others, the word reaches the Admiral and he is furious when he heard about it.
"Now tell me why that Recon unit we put behind the lines didn't tell me about this?! Now their lives are in danger especially with the Neurois would be searching for them by now!" Admiral Robertson shouts as he throw the after action report file onto the table.
"With all due respect sir, those new Neuroi's we detected came from a different area where my Marines have no coverage of right here." Captain Farrell said as he pointed at the tactical map where the Neuroi's are appeared.
Before the Admiral tried to say anything, the door of the briefing quarters opened to show the 501st Joint Fighter Wing squadron leader Sakamoto Mio and the furious and worried looking Shirley entered the quarters and walks immediately towards the Admiral.
"Admiral, forgive us for intruding in a time like this but we should begin a rescue operation immediately." Mio said as she holds Shirley's wrists to prevent the red-haired Liberion from doing something stupid.
Robertson calmly looked at the Fusoan Witch and said, "We are currently planning to rescue the LCDR but we need more time to prepare."
"I understand sir but time is of the essence, we need to rescue them now before the Neuroi could find them!" Shirley overreacted but then flinched when the Admiral gives her a glare and slammed his fists on the table.
"Do you think I'm just sitting here and do nothing Captain Yeager!? Like you, everyone here wanted to save him too! The Lieutenant Commander and everyone on this ship are like a family to me and I will not stand idly by here to let my boys in danger! We will find him and bring him back one way or the other! Do I make myself clear!?" The Admiral stare at the Liberion Witch before an Ensign enters the quarters bearing a message in his hands.
"Sir, excuse me for intruding, I got a transmission from the recon team." The Ensign said as he gives the message to the Admiral which he read quietly.
He out down the message and then looks towards the Marine Captain, "Farrell, ready your boys by the morning, we got news that your Recon team will attempt to find our pilots and extract together by 1700 Hours."
The Marine Captain salutes before he dismisses himself out from the briefing room. The Admiral then looks towards the two Witch and give a smile, "Get some rest girls, tomorrow you'll be joining the extraction team only when they managed to find LCDR Yeager."
Shirley blinked for a moment before she took in the Admiral's word and thanked him, "T-Thank you sir, we won't disappoint you."
Admiral Robertson chuckles before looking at Mio, "Major, I need you for a debriefing so please come at my quarters when you're free."
Mio saluted as the American Admiral leaves the briefing room and then turned to Shirley with her own smile, "Alright Shirley, you heard the Admiral. Get some rest okay? Hawke is going be fine if he found those Marines."
Shirley also smiled back at her Squadron Leader, "Yeah you're right…I hope he'll stay safe out there."
Back at the area where Hawke and Albert landed,
After the Super Hornet that was piloted by LCDR Hawke Yeager and Lt. Albert Lebowski shot down and crashed, both men managed to eject themselves out from the plane before it exploded in a violent fashion.
Albert Lebowski felt relieved as he managed to land on the ground and immediately checking himself for any injury after getting rid of his now useless helmet. After confirming to himself that there are no injuries, he went back to his ejection seat and grabbed a survival pack which he then put it in his pocket as he looking everywhere for his friend Hawke Yeager.
"Hawke! Where are you?!" Albert shouted as the sky beginning to go dark, he need to find his friend or he'll be in trouble and fortunately, he saw Hawke's ejection seat and the person himself who just sat beside a rock with his pilot helmet next to him.
"Hawke! I'm glad you're fine!" Albert felt jubilant to see his friend is still alive but it was short lived as the WSO saw Hawke pained look on his face.
"Hey Al, give me a sec…ugh damn why the hell did I land directly at those rocks…" Hawke muttered as he struggled to stand up.
Albert waste no time as he runs to Hawke and grabbed him by the shoulder before he falls down again, "Don't worry Hawke, I got ya."
"Thanks…damnit I couldn't feel my left leg." He said as he limply walked with Albert's help to His ejector seat. There he and Albert began to grab several essentials along with munitions for their guns and a radio transmitter which proved useful for them.
Suddenly the two pilots saw a group of people heading towards them and as they get closer, Hawke and Albert realized that they we're Fusoan and Britannian pilots who have been shot down earlier. Among them, there are also a couple of Fusoan and Britannian Witches with them; no doubt they were also shot down.
"Oh praise the Lord! It's good to see another face from this bleeding desert!" One of the pilots said as he waved his hand at the two Americans.
Hawke and Albert could only smile as the latter begin to asks, "So who's in charge here?"
"Squadron Leader Warrick Denver, Fleet Air Arm 780 Sqn…or what's left of it." The Britannian looked back towards his group and then back to the Americans.
"So…you're one of those Joint Naval Forces lads are you?" The Squadron Leader asks.
"Yes we are, Lieutenant Albert Lebowski and the injured leg here is my CO, Lieutenant Commander Hawke Yeager." Albert began introducing himself and Hawke respectively.
Squadron Leader Warrick then give a nod as he said, "So…we're now at the same boat eh? How about you two join us? We're trying to head back to friendly lines and evade any Neuroi patrols while we're at it."
"You have Witches right? Are they combat capable?" Hawke asks.
Warrick looks back towards his group and then back to the American as he shook his head, "I'm afraid not, some of the girls suffered bad injuries so we could only avoid any fights as we can. So you guys agreed to join us?"
"Sounds good, what do you think Hawke?" Albert looked at his injured LCDR.
"Yeah yeah that sounds good but can you at least patch my goddamn leg before we're moving out? I don't want to be amputated because I didn't treat my leg here." Hawke sighed as he pulled out a tourniquet and some anti-septic medicine out from his first aid kit.
"Alright sir, now let us help you patch that up." Albert and Warrick began helping Hawke as the rest began to prepare for a long day to head back to friendly lines.
And their ordeal in surviving the Neuroi infested deserts of Egypt just begun.
To be continued…
Authors Note: That's that, it's been hard on me because I am too busy with life currently, don't get me wrong, I won't drop this story and all but it IS hard to come up with a plot but overall, I am still thankful for you guys who followed and reviewed this story, next chapter would be focused on the rescue mission and also to what actually happened in the real world so please stay tuned for the updates although I have to warn ya, it could take time. Anyway since I am technically brain dead after writing this, I'll sign off for now BUT I'll leave you guys an omake too so have a nice day. – Fuji92
Omake, (This Omake may be differ from the real event but hey, its Strike Witches so anything is possible.)
Location: Bryansk Hospital, Bryansk Oblast, Orussian Empire.
Inside a hospital which located in one of the region of the Orussian Empire, a young man looks at the window from his hospital bed in which he was treated after barely survived from death by the Neuroi during one battle where his unit are engaging a group of Neuroi and are losing badly to the point where it turns to be a last stand.
But suddenly, they are being relieved by another unit whose vehicle is very much different from the standard Orussian Empire vehicles and the men are clearly looked like Orussians he saw them wearing a very different uniform and wielding unique weapon he remembered when he was pulled out from his own destroyed tank.
After the battle, he is hospitalized and will take a long time to recover based on his injuries and he just sighed at his own condition. But he did make the most of his time in the hospital where he sometimes requested a ruler, pencils, paper and a drawing board to continue what he does best, inventing.
The young man just finished drawing something on his drawing paper when a nurse entered the ward with some medicine for the young man. The nurse couldn't help but curious at what the young man is drawing this time.
"Mikhtim, it's time for your medication." The nurse said as she approaches the man.
The young man saw the Nurse and smiled at her, "Ah Katya, thank you." He then grabbed the prescribe medicine and drank it while the nurse named Katya looked at his latest drawings.
"What are you drawing there? More of your brilliant inventions?" Katya said as she giggled.
The young man shrugged as he put down his drinking glass, "A weapon actually and yeah it is a brilliant invention I have done so far. I'm sure that the army would love it." He still remembers that one time when he overheard a fellow soldier talking to his friend in the hospital about their complaint of the current standard issue Orussian Army weapons which deemed useless against the Neuroi.
The Nurse smiled at him and then turned back on the drawing, "You know…this weapon of yours is quite…unique."
"Thanks Katya, I got this…inspiration from those people who managed to save me from my burning death trap." He said as he remembers those people who dragged him out from the burning Tank he commanded. For some reason he felt that he is familiar with those weapons, as if he knews how it works from the first glance.
Katya could only giggled more before she decided to leave the ward but stopped as she turned back to the young man, "You know Mikhtim, I'll wish for your success in your invention if it can help end the war with the Neuroi's."
The young man could only nodded and see the nurse leaves; he then turned his sights back to his drawing which shows a schematic of his designed weapon as he divulged into his thought, "I hope this weapon would help my country to defend itself against those Neuroi's…I am sure this weapon will somehow changed the world…I can feel it."
He knew himself that this weapon is what the Army need and he hoped it would be enough to help his fellow countrymen in combat or his name is not Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov. But he does really felt that his design would have given a significant impact sometime in the future but for now he will keep this design and hoped that when he is released from this hospital, his weapon design would helped humanity fight better against the Neuroi's.
[I made it to protect the Motherland. – Mikhail Kalashnikov. 1919 - 2013]
(P. Omake is dedicated to the famous and influential weapon designer of all time, Mikhail Kalashnikov who has passed away on 23rd of December 2013, may his soul rest in peace. [I originally intended to be posted after his death but cannot due to me is busy with real life problems and my Beta-Reader's Nim Maj busy life as a Teacher so it's unavoidable])