Silent Dawn is a short story included as part of TSFIA.
SummaryEditMay 25th, 2001.
With the jet engines running on full afterburners, and blue flames ignited behind them, the Tomcats swept through the day-breaking sky. With the sun rising out in the distance, its first light began to shine upon the onyx colored valley, freeing it from the darkness of the night.
Four F-14ex soared through the azure sky, their frames cutting through the air, and leaving distinct contrails behind.
“Azrael 1 to all flight units, we are 3km out from the target area, switching to NOE Flight mode now.”
Monitoring the tactical map display in his retinal HUD closely, Azrael 1 can’t help but to feel his heart rate going up due to his own nervousness and unease.
The affirmation was unnecessary, but the rest of the flight answered regardless. Their voices too hinted at their uneasy mood. The nervousness here was understandable, at this very moment they have just flown past the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea and into former Syrian airspace, well within BETA controlled territory.
Reducing thrust and lift, the F-14ex gracefully bled speed and altitude, before readjusting their flight path and speed to hover mere a dozen meters off ground, while flying through a series of mountains, valleys, and canyons, to maximize their cover of approach. The F-14ex’s terrain sensor fed course information to the pilots while the variable wing system shifted and reacted to changing air resistance. The simplest mistakes here can easily cause them to crash into the valley, but so far all 4 machines have flown flawlessly in formation, proving their operator’s discipline and skill.
Due to their current locations and the nature of their mission, Azrael flight cannot afford to lose any speed and time than necessary. As such, these Tomcats are flying in ways that just about violated every safety operating instructions and procedures that were intended for these Tomcats.
Approaching the target area, the rising sun off in the horizon has begun to cast its first rays of light on this area.
How terrible... This region looks like nothing from my memories...
As the light of day give the pilots a good view of the land ahead without using their night vision, Azrael’s flight lead, 1st Lt. Saheed Alabi of the Middle Eastern Union Armed Forces was filled with a sense of anger, frustration and sadness. The fear of being deep behind enemy lines was temporarily forgotten.
Unlike many other regions in the Middle East, this particular area of the northern Syrian Desert was once a lush, fertile ground of grass and other vegetation. However, under the ravaging influence of Hive 09 at Anbar, all forms of life have become extinct in the region. Even the Euphrates and the Tigris, rivers that have birthed civilizations, are now so completely drained that they are indistinguishable from the rest of the desert when viewed from up high.
“Sir! 3’o clock, towards the sun, can you see?”
“I confirm, Azrael 4. We have arrived...”
Off in the distance with the rising sun as its backdrop, the towering forms of several Fort class BETA can be seen clearly under the horizon.
“Azrael 1 to HQ, we have arrived at the designated area, visual confirmation achieved on our targets... I need to confirm again that there is still no change in the Laser coverage area in this region.”
With the Fort class a little more than 40km away from their location, the flight themselves should be well within the BETA’s detection range, and normally should be coming into contact with Heavy Lasers by now.
“HQ to Azrael 1, Laser warning is still not in effect. Latest satellite intel also indicates that your immediate area should be safe for now.”
It was very odd that the BETA in this region seem to be moving without a sense of purpose and in a state of confusion. All intel gathered through UAVs and Satellites seem to suggest that this group of BETA have moved well outside of Laser support range, and do not seem to be intending on engaging in any forms of combat, but simply moving in a random pattern. It is for this reason that Azrael flight has dispatched to gather some “data” on this odd occurrence.
“Command does not foresee any hindrances to the mission, please proceed to the next phase of the operation.”
Suppressing his urges to voice his intense displeasure at the monotone mission control operator, Lt. Alabi of the MEU could only politely reply to the UN HQ that is overseeing this 'top secret' assignment that his team had the 'honor' of being selected for.
“Azrael 1 understood, give my thanks to the UN intel ops. All Azrael units, engage your Type-B Sensor modules and move into range.”
With his command, all Azrael TSF Co-pilots(CSO/RIO) flicked on the switch that would power on the New Tactical reconnaissance pod system installed just for this missions. Having locked on to their targets, the RIOs set them on the preset auto-mode and started recording just like they were instructed to do so during the mission briefing. As to what type information exactly their system is recording on the BETA or its purpose, no one in the entire Middle east Union had a “need to know” important enough to be told. Switching over to inter-flight channels, the members of Azrael flight began to voice among themselves their own concerns.
“These fools at the UN... How can they send us so close to 'observe' these demons, when only Allah himself could possibly know what truly lies in the belly of these Beasts.”
It would certainly not be the first time that these pilots have heard or seen cases where Fort classes would disgorge Laser classes suddenly during the chaos of frontline combat, and inflict heavy casualties on the unsuspecting defenders at point blank range. During their mission briefing, they were not made clear on how UN intel can classify this area as Laser safe, and how they are able to identify that this group of BETA as not 'intending to engage combat'.
All questions regarding such subjects are answered with 'need to know' and 'the information is reliable', and other typical top secret bullshit. And now, with them being hundreds of kilometers from the nearest friendly territory, and having no immediate cover being inside a desert, if they were to run into any large scale BETA presence they would be completely without support. For the MEU, who cannot afford to squander any resources from the Suez Canal Defense Force, to agree to send a flight of the expensive F-14ex to such a peculiar assignment is odd indeed. Not to mention this particular flight was slated to be assigned to the PROMININCE project at Yukon, Alaska. And this assignment has definitely delayed Azrael flight’s arrival at Alaska. All the pilots were looking forward to a bit of R&R away from the frontlines, thus it was quite easy to see all the reasons for the displeasure expressed by many among Azrael flight.
“This is Azrael 1, shut your mouths, I agree with some of you, but we are supposed to be elites, so have some discipline. Besides we are not alone. We are operating under the 'All TSF Doctrine'. If the situation gets out of hand, the Europeans are only less than 20km away, well within their Mk-57’s range for providing artillery support fire.”
Indeed, for the duration of this Op, Azrael Flight has been shadowed by a flight EF-2000s, bearing the squadron insignia 'Rain Dancers', belonging to the European Union TSF Special Forces. The presence of such a prestigious unit in the region is of course no coincidence. No doubt it was the insurance policy threw in by the UN to convince the MEU to commit to this mission.
"Sorry sir. I forgot we are on a black-op mission, with the real black-op guys hanging out in the back."
The joking tone of Azrael 4’s reply drew some laughs from the rest of the Flight.
Normally, if such a high tier assets like the 'Rain Dancers' could be deployed, having the Azrael F-14ex in the vanguard position would seem to be counter intuitive. However, it was deemed that the F-14s, being a two seater TSF, were a suitable platform to be converted quickly to carry and operate the special purpose surveillance gear, so the mission went to the most well equipped and experienced F-14 unit in the region. Still, despite all the bullshit secrecy surrounding this mission, no one in Azrael flight is going to really complain about having such a unit to back them up if things really went to shit.
“All right, it’s time to focus people, we still got a job to do.”
“Azrael 1 to Dancer 1, like we talked about before, in the worst case scenario please recover our bodies for a proper Janazah. If not possible, then make sure to leave nothing of us behind for the foul beasts to take.”
May 25th, 2001
Azrael flight completed the special intel gathering mission, and vacated the Syrian Desert well before the Mk-57 support fire was needed. By the end of the day, as the members of Azrael flights packed their gear and personal effects for Yukon, Alaska, the data they risked their lives for was forwarded to Alternative IV HQ at UN base Yokohama for analysis. From that point on, even in Alaska, Azrael flight was repeatedly tasked with more Top Secret Data gathering/reconnaissance missions at the request of Alternative IV HQ. As more and more of such data is documented and analyzed, mankind’s struggle to understand the BETA continues on one small step at a time.
About the Middle East Union
Shortly after the failed attempts at stopping the BETA invasion by the Chinese and Soviets, with Afghanistan facing imminent invasion by the BETA horde, all Islamic nations in the Middle East rallied under the same religious banner and declared a Holy War against the demons from outer space. However, faced with the Laser class, and uncountable numbers of BETA, and fighting them in open desert, the mighty Jihad was quickly crushed beneath the ravaging horde.
Only with the timely intervention of the US and the decision made by Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) to purchase large quantities of F-4 Phantoms averted a complete annihilation by the BETA after the failed Jihad. To consolidate its surviving forces, the MEU was formed during this time of crisis with the financial, political, and military assistance from the United States. It then no surprise that the Pro-America Saudi Arabia and UAE would hold considerable sway among the MEU ruling council. Even though many are displeased at the American presence, and their rapid deployments to secure all known oil fields in the region, few could argue against their efforts in contributing to the defenses of the Middle East while the MEU trained up its own TSF forces.
Unfortunately, after years of conflict, the Middle East was considered to be a lost cause. With the BETA effectively establishing a HIVE in Iraq, it was deemed impossible to hold the Arabian Peninsula against the BETA tide, and an all out evacuation was carried out to move the entire surviving region into Africa. Today, the MEU is still considered a world military power, fighting beside the Africans Forces and the Israelis, they have defended the Suez-canal since 1984 without fail.
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