BENT SICKLE


PROLOGUE

When the final quantum leap in Air Superiority was made, it wasn't in the skies above Edwards, or Whiteman, or even in America. The event that changed the balance of power in ways few humans could comprehend took place in possibly the worst place of all; deep in the Ural mountains of the new Russia.

The two pilots that would be the first to experience the New World and it's frightening disorder were both from California; stationed in the hash capitol of Europe, and as different as night and day. Each however, would prove to be the best the United States had to offer, and both would soon realize what they truly had in common beyond living to fly.


Soesterberg AB, Holland

A fully fueled F-15E Eagle is seen being pre-flighted on a NATO flight-line. This aircraft; state-of-the-art, until the imminent deployment of the F-22, is to be piloted by Col. J. "MAD DOG" Halloran. Even during these times of sweeping global change, pilots like MAD DOG still form the first line of defense in the air over Europe. 

Inside the Eagles hardened shelter, MAD DOG is joined by SRA R. "F-STOP" Colter, an airman who enlisted solely to be near Air-Superiority fighters. Today is the day that MAD DOG has agreed to give F-STOP his first incentive ride. F-STOP, grinning from ear to ear, follows MAD DOG into the cockpit, stows his ever-present camcorder underneath the rear seat and prepares for a Viking launch. Airborne, the F-15 begins to prowl the invisible barrier that is to American pilots, still, Soviet airspace. Dangerous airspace. 

F-STOP, at the controls at last, pushes the Eagle through Mach 1 and begins his first barrel roll as the radio crackles to sudden life.

"...WOLFHOUND NINER, WE HAVE AN ALERT
REPEAT...WE HAVE AN ALERT
HOLD CURRENT POSITION AND AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS."

MAD DOG replies and grabs the stick in one easy motion.

"ROGER, KINGDOM...HOLDING."

"What'ya got, Keed?"

F-STOP smiled as he scanned the radar screen; a screen that had been empty seconds ago but now displays a single blip.

"Single target confirmed... 25 right...14,000 ft...range, 20 miles and closing fast."

Five characters appear next to the blip. Su-35.

"Looks like a Super Flanker... turnin' & burnin'."

"What? Tower boys must have been sleeping on this one. Anyone close?"

"Just us and he's getting away."

The Flanker pilot, as though he had realized a horrible mistake, was departing the quadrant in full afterburner. Already prepared to close on the distant SuKHOI, MAD DOG switches on the F-15's gun camera and keys his mike in that same easy motion. 

"Let's check him out... Keed, get that camcorder out and earn your pay." 

F-STOP couldn't tell if the tightening in the crotch of his G-suit was due to the sheer excitement of being in so dangerous a situation, or if it was the result of the 8g turn MAD DOG had just pulled to put them behind the fleeing Flanker and frankly, he really didn't care. 

"Now You're TALKIN'!" 

With MAD DOG's ever calm voice in his ears, F-STOP swings his camcorder across the flight computer screen and back-seat gauges, before pointing it at the afterburners of the ever closer Soviet air-superiority fighter. 

"Hold on Keed, he's goin' vertical..." 

As his eye smashed into the eyepiece, F-STOP thought he must have hit Auto-Zoom. The Flanker was gone and the viewfinder was filled with light. Intrigued by the subtle patterns of what he thinks must be the Flanker's exhaust shock wave, F-STOP is pulled out of his reverie by an uncharacteristic shout from MAD DOG. 

"Jesus Buddha!"

Startled by MAD DOG's attempt to cover all the bases, F-STOP visually checks the empty radar screen and then stares out the cockpit in disbelief. 

As the re-acquired Flanker leads them through the Ural mountains, MAD DOG and F-STOP find themselves over a huge Soviet airbase, hundreds of miles from their position only seconds before. Through his viewfinder, F-STOP sees row after row of Su-34's and two pairs of fully-armed Flankers being scrambled to intercept the Eagle. As F-STOP gets it all on tape, MAD DOG pulls a bat-turn and accelerating past Mach 2, lays in an exact reverse plot of their previous course. With far too many heat-seeking missiles locked on to its own afterburners; the F-15 disappears once again, leaving only a trail of transonic vapor to mark its passage across the Russian sky. As F-STOP blacks out, the cockpit itself, fills with the same light and patterns he'd seen only minutes ago. A light that is the last thing he sees. 

The light becomes the glare of an overhead light bulb and the missile lock-on klaxons fade into an announcement over a P.A., as F-STOP awakens in the military hospital at RAF Lakenheath. MAD DOG is nowhere to be seen and a lonely and confused SRA R. Colter will soon find that no one will even tell him how he arrived in Great Britain. With two words, he sums up his current situation. 

"Jesus Buddha!


Nellis AFB, Nevada

Dr. Willis T. Stanton; Codename "OPPY," signals to the guard and the lights dim in the ABOVE TOP SECRET briefing room within which sit some of the most brilliant minds in High-Energy physics. 

"Gentlemen, what you are about to see is a combination of confirmed gun camera footage and a video tape shot by an Airman during an un-authorized incentive ride in an F-15E out of Soesterberg yesterday." 

A distant aircraft, centered in a circular screen, appears in the darkness. 

"This, at first, appeared to be a standard VVS Su-35E. Despite it's air-superiority blue camouflage, the two center mounted blade antennae and the fact that it is unarmed, along with it's arrival - literally out of nowhere, suggests strongly that it is a test vehicle of some kind. Our F-15, though also unarmed, was the closest aircraft in the area and moved, without permission, to intercept the intruder. An intruder that ultimately disappeared into an aerial vortex of some kind... taking our aircraft with it." 

The room fills with a collective gasp of astonishment as the aircraft vanishes in a flash of blinding light that precedes the image of the gun camera film melting. 

OPPY replaces the first tape with a second. 

Recognition, then disbelief. 

"Yes, those are the Urals. We've photographed the entire range down to Level V resolution on every subsequent satellite pass and no trace of such a flight-line exists." 

The whirring of the VCR gives way to anxious mumbling as hundreds of combat-ready Su-34 fighter bombers and row after row of AN-22 and IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft come into the frame. 

"As you can see, our aircraft's presence was not appreciated. Please notice the unusual missile load on the Flankers being scrambled. Each carries 10 short-burn AA-10 "Alamo's" instead of the usual mix of long and short-range missiles. Note also the lack of SAM sites, the half-empty tank parks to the north and east, and the fact that all the aircraft have some variation on the one black - one white blade antennae configuration." 

"Here we have the end of the tape just before the airman blacked out. As you can see, the cockpit fills with light though some gauges remain visible. What we are viewing is an accidental document of a most extraordinary moment in time, if we can still use the term". 

As eyes adjust to the darkness that follows the blinding final images of the airman's tape, OPPY inserts yet a third videotape and the screen fills with a rotating, 3D sphere. Enclosed in the translucent sphere are two interlocking tetrahedra. Each tetrahedron has an apex at the poles with their six remaining vertices co-incident with two parallel lines north and south of the sphere's equator. The lines are highlighted and labeled 19.5°. 

"Tetrahedral Geometry. In this country, only Richard Hoagland's Mars Mission has pursued tetrahedral geometry and it's hyper-spatial implications seriously. They also, found that Jupiter and Neptune's great Red and Blue spots, as well as Olympus Mons on Mars, and Mauna Kea on Earth, all have something in common; these planetary energy phenomena are all found at 19.5° north or south latitude." 

Whispered conferences as Jupiter, Neptune, Mars and Earth replace the previous animation. Earth slows to a stop as the circumscribed tetrahedra return; now, with three points on land and three points on water. A glowing data point and meridian appear at 19.5°N/155.30°W - the island of Hawaii. 

"If we start at Mauna Kea, and travel eastward along 19.5° north or south; from one co-incident meridian to the next, we come to: 100.30°W; in the South Pacific, 30.30°W; in the Mid-Atlantic, 17.20°E; Otavi - South Africa, 90.30°E; Bay of Bengal, and 138.13°E; Camooweal - Australia." 

The slowly rotating globe; with it's glowing network of data points and meridians, is suddenly replaced with a fuzzy photograph of a man. A man, not unlike the assembled scientists staring intently at the screen. 

"One man, in the new Commonwealth of Independent States has been seen at all six of the 19.5° sites. His presence at a site, has always been accompanied by strange movements of tactical and fighter aircraft and/or launches that have put test packages into polar orbit. These movements of military assets are synchronized and appear to have only one function: to establish a momentary, yet simultaneous military presence at all eight of our planets energy focii. Though intelligence from the new Russian Republic is confused and infrequent, we do know that three Russian trawlers are presently on station at the oceanic sites and that a dual polar launch is imminent." 

The scientists strain to see nonexistent details in the face peering down at them. A young man at the rear of the hall, however, focuses his attention on the strange man's even stranger wristwatch; barely visible in the lower corner of the frame. 

"What our pilots accidentally witnessed may be, in fact, the most important breakthrough in modern Space-Time theory; a theory which now may be dangerously obsolete. Given who appears to have made that very same breakthrough, we may now be witnessing an even graver threat to the Free World than was previously thought possible." 

The presentation continues in silence. 


Ural Military District / 40 mi. N.W. of Sverdlovsk, RSFSR

NEVEDEME AVNABAZA. "Invisible Airbase." Thrice Hero of the Soviet Union; Dr. Miriv Vasilynka, smiled in spite of himself at the unprecedented confidence reflected in the naming of his latest technological triumph. Even the accidental overflight by a NATO fighter last week could not dampen his spirits today. He certainly would not have changed places with the unfortunate engineer responsible for the software glitch that had rotated the Taykom Field 90 degrees that day, thus allowing the intrusion. Even so, the fact that the solitary F-15 had ultimately found itself over the North Atlantic and the precious NATO re-supply routes had only proven the Field's ability to instantly teleport entire squadrons of Tupolev and Sukhoi bombers, plus their fighter escorts, precisely where the Soviet High Command would have needed them during the previously planned invasion of Europe. 

The winters of '91 & '92, and the Yeltsin coup however, combined with the unprecedented American stand-down had changed Moscow's strategy dramatically. With the West no longer a threat, they had even disbanded their Aggressor squadrons. With yet another winter bearing down on the once mighty empire, the orders from the secret bunkers had focused on the riches of the Middle East. The ease with which the Americans had defeated Iraq had proven to the world just how vulnerable those riches really were. With the Soviet High Command faced, however, with even further global humiliation, Russia's continued economic starvation and Ukraine's continued refusal to give up their nuclear capability, Vasilynka had conceived of a far bolder and even farther reaching plan. 

World War II had never really stopped and World War III had never really begun. The United States and the Soviet Union had been locked in meaningless struggle for half a century, neither anxious to engage in a conflict which both would lose. Behind the towering walls of tension and fear, however, both the superpowers had secretly raced to develop weaponry which would assure defeat of the enemy and survival of the victor. The Americans, determined to wait out the evils of communism, were dangerously close to deploying SDI and electro-gravitic interceptors; the logical evolution of the very weapons that had ultimately proved useless. Vasilynka's unprecedented plan was the only way of stalling them until the Field was operational. 

The TAYKOM Field and NEVEDEME AVNABAZA were the crowning achievements of the Soviet Union's pre-eminent scientist and his hand-picked team of High-Energy physicists. Since their discovery of the Radio Frequency Quadrupole (RFQ) during the early days at Semipalatinsk, Vasilynka and his team had gone on to perfect not only the double laser at Sary Shagan, but also the ASAT weapon system at Dushanbe. It was even Dr. Miriv Vasilynka whose name had provided the KGB with the anagram "Vladimir Avinsky" when they needed a Soviet scientist who could claim the discovery of the Martian Sphinx and the Cydonian pyramids in August of 1984. 

Teleportation and electronic invisibility, however, were the direct result of Project Taykom, the top secret research program at Krasnoyarsk. The West, interested only in possible ABM treaty violations; while it raced to deploy the ultimate Anti-Ballistic missile system, was completely unaware of the tremendous breakthroughs in Electromagnetic Molecular Manipulation (EMM), that had allowed Vasilynka and his team to hide military assets from orbital surveillance. The "one-year" moratorium in October of 1987 had satisfied western observers while permitting low-level tests and finally deployment of the TAYKOM Field. To this day, the secret facility far beneath the mammoth radar complex had remained totally hidden. Soon, the capability to not only hide massive military aircraft formations but to place them, instantaneously, fully fueled and armed, anywhere upon the face of the globe, would be put to the ultimate test. 

With the technology proven, Vasilynka implemented the political aspect of his strategy; a strategy that had come to him when he had developed the maskirovka that had hidden the Mars Remote Glider Analysis (MaRGA) project from the prying eyes of the West. The ease with which he had manipulated their scientists by allowing them to believe what they wanted, had amazed even the hard-liners to whom he had suggested that the same could be done to their politicians. With the Americans so eager to believe in the superiority of not only their weapons but of their economic system as well, Vasilynka had proposed the un-proposable; orchestrate the very collapse of the Soviet system the West so longed for. Allow the over-burdened Union to "collapse" in order to free the Russian Republic. Russia, the true heart of the Soviet Union would then consolidate the power that had previously been wasted protecting it from an "enemy" that had never wanted to fight, an enemy that only wanted, needed, to believe that it had finally won. As the dead weight of Empire had fallen away, Dr. Miriv Vasilynka had found the future of his new country in his very capable hands. 

Soon, the RSFSR, would be able to achieve all of the old Soviet Union's original objectives in one quick, decisive attack. With the Americans and their new President heaving sighs of relief as they bickered over how to spend their "peace dividend", and the Russian claim to Cydonia and Mars itself all but assured, Vasilynka returned his formidable intellect to the new problem facing him. All Phase One assets; those within the Commonwealth he had created, had been targeted only weeks ago and the Phase Two Global TAYKOM Field, with its ability to hold at risk the American missile fields as well as their Ohio and Los Angeles class submarines (in case the Americans changed their minds), would be operational in another ten days. Ten days, in which to initiate the final stages of the Personal Field Program; the project stolen from his Marga protege's virtual reality breakthrough. Even as his thoughts drifted to Time-Displacement, a soft buzz brought his attention to his watch. 26:51:20. Vasilynka popped two pills; one black and one white, into his mouth as he realized, there were also only ten days in which to find and eliminate the American pilots who had stumbled upon the most dangerous military secret of all time. 

The smile was gone. 


RAAF Williamtown., #77 Squadron

Australia. F-STOP couldn't figure it. 

Three days ago, he had been at the controls of an F-15, wringing the most out of the very moment he had joined the Air Force to experience. Now, after two days of isolation and "de-brief" in England, he had been transferred to the far side of the planet to gas Hornets. No one had believed his story, and without MAD DOG or his tape, he really couldn't back it up. Instead of returning to Soesterberg, he had found himself strapped into the right-hand seat of an F-111, flying flat-out for the "Wonder Down Under." 

Well, here he was. 

As soon as he had touched the tarmac, F-STOP had been ordered into the back-seat of a waiting RAAF F-18. His exhaustion and frustration vanished, however, as the Hornet's pilot flashed him the infamous "MAD DOG" smile. 

 40,000 ft. above the Great Barrier Reef

"Listen up, Keed. You're gonna love this!" 

As the pieces finally fall into place during the secure cockpit exchange, F-STOP realizes that he has developed quite a wicked grin of his own. 


Heard Island, Lat. 53.10°S / Long. 74.35°E

OPPY couldn't have been more pleased. As amazing as the Russian breakthrough had been, it paled in comparison with the work the Dreamland team had completed in the last five days. Five working days. In the time it took some cities to process a simple employment application, the RSFSR's ability to cloak and place their aircraft had been analyzed, re-created and finally, countered... in theory, at least. 

If the theory was correct, ALPHA Team; hidden even now in a Bitburg bunker, would seize electronic control of the compromised field and re-direct anything flown into it to "POINT ZULU;" five thousand feet above the Antarctic volcano on which he now stands. Australian airspace. A point from which no Russian aircraft can reach a friendly base. A point that will exist, however, only if Team ZULU can erect and align the elaborate array of super-computer controlled tracking dishes, in sub-zero weather and in time. 

Pulling his Air Force issue parka even closer, the lone scientist realized that he also couldn't have been more worried. Faced with fighting to the death or ignominious escort to a waiting Australian airbase, the Russians would most certainly opt for a second use of their compromised field. To what end, and with what still unknown technology, even he, could not anticipate. Silently, he returns to the trailer from which he and his team, will change theory into reality. A reality, perhaps, beyond anyone's imagination. 


NEVEDEME AVNABAZA, Grey Ghost ONE

Col. Vitaly Petrokov, throttles up his re-engined Su-35's twin Saturn/Lyulka turbofans as the two dozen Su-34 fighter bombers of Werewolf One, await the order that will send them and their escorts into the defenseless skies of an unsuspecting Ukraine. Already a Hero of the Soviet Union and a legend at Ramenskoye for his flight-test work for the SuKHOI OKB, Vitaly quickly reflects on the strategy that has brought an already brilliant career to such an un-believable climax. 

Prior to the down-sizing of the obsolete Soviet Union, the Russian republic itself, had already controlled 70% of all bombers, 65% of all interceptors and 32% of all tactical aircraft. Since 1988, Frontal Aviation had taken hundreds of older MiG-21, 23 & 27's out of service, quietly replacing them with state-of-the-art MiG 31's, 33's and Su-27's & 35's. At this very moment, fully one third of that magnificent force was under control of men like himself. 

Linked to a global energy field by the twin blade antennae slung between the incredibly powerful engines of his front-line air-superiority fighter; able to be placed, instantaneously, over any point on the planet by Field control at Krasnoyarsk, Vitaly knew that before the day was out, he would experience what no pilot before him could have ever dreamed. 

Within hours, he would realize what an incredible understatement that was. 


ALPHA Bunker, Bitburg AB

Five years of working side by side with Dr. Willis T. Stanton had paid off. Prof. Jerome Taylor, though 15 years younger, had been Stanton's right-hand man from the moment they had met and had been the obvious choice to lead Team ALPHA. Originally hand-picked... snatched, would have been a better word, from one of the many crested waves of genius generated by the MIT Media Lab, then moved to the Non-Proliferation Arms Control & International Security (NAI) Directorate at Lawrence Livermore; Taylor now sat at the controls of technology beyond his wildest dreams. Only ten days since the accidental discovery of the TAYKOM Field (intelligence had provide the project name as well as the identity of its director), Taylor scans the real-time imagery beamed to the bunker from the re-programmed satellite in geo-synchronous orbit over the Ural Military District. Vasilynka's equations had been quite elegant and his methods brilliant, but the secret of the Russian stealth effort had ultimately been revealed, and not a moment too soon, as Taylor sends the flash message, BENT SICKLE; alerting both Team ZULU and NORAD of the imminent launch of what appears to be every Flanker, Mainstay and troop transport in the Russian republic's inventory.


Stinger One, Point ZULU

MAD DOG and F-STOP, orbiting Heard Island in a race-track pattern in their F-18, are the first to sight and recognize the glow forming at 14,000 feet. This time however, they realize that it is beginning to fill the whole sky. A sky that Mankind was not meant to see.

A sky that will change the world below... forever. 

 

FIELD FX / Image Savant
 

All Text and Images © 1999 by TERMINUS unless protected by previous copyright.