01 Feb My Organization Takes Care of Everything Paranormal Assault
What do you call a secret project that you don’t want anyone to know about? Trick question- you don’t call it anything. Secret projects with names are the ones that get found out. Project Azorian. MKUltra. Operation Cyclone. The Aurora plane. Each one is secret, for very different reasons. Azorian was kept secret to make sure that Soviet Russia never found out about the fact that America was trying to steal one of her sunken nuclear submarines. MK Ultra was a CIA mind Control program, which was at times hideous and undeniably disturbing.
Operation cyclone is a now-denounced operation to arm Mujahideen “Freedom Fighters” fighting against the Soviet army during the invasion of Afghanistan, mainly to test U.S. weapons against the soviets without a direct conflict. “Freedom Fighters because we want to believe they fight for a better place, although in recent times it has become much more of an allegory for insurgent, and the usage depends on whether your country supports the insurgents or not. Secret because there was supposed to be plausible deniability, and moral cover: “It wasn’t us!”
Aurora is a suspected secret program by the military or CIA, although it is unknown exactly who decided to procure it, the replacement for the SR-71 Blackbird. Secret because you don’t want your enemies to know what you can and can’t see.
Credible Sport I and II were procurement programs during the late seventies to find a very short-take-off and landing, or STOL, aircraft, which could be used to land and take off from a football field in Iran as part of a plan to end the Iran hostage crisis. Before the planes could be used, a deal was struck for the hostages release. After the hostage crisis was over, although there was no real need for the aircraft, the air force continued development of the airframes involved until well after the end of the hostage crisis, calling it “Credible Sport II”. Unbeknownst to the public, there was also a program called Credible Sport III. Whereas the first two programs worked with C-130s, a mid sized cargo transport capable of airdropping things as small as people and up to the size of something like a Humvee, the third worked exclusively with the much larger C-5 galaxy. While the notion may seem absurd, it does have real world tactical implications. These aircraft were modified and upgraded so that they could perform specialty tasks, all while carrying a quite cumbersome load. Not only were they modified for STOL, but for vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL. The modifications included a few more engines, four massive shaft-driven turbines that resided in the wings, and huge external fuel tanks that allowed the aircraft to keep its original range, even with all of the upgrades.
These modifications make them able to take off and land from just about anywhere, with the capability to unload up to two Abrams tanks, or somewhere around 300 infantry. One plane makes two companies. Two make a battalion. Whole units of infantry or special forces could be precisely delivered, all with a serious modicum of stealth, due to the ground-hugging computer systems and nose-mounted radar that allowed the planes to fly just above treetop level, out of sight of enemy radar detection and tracking systems. Some were even given redesigned airframes with stealth technology, although those did not last long, as they were too unstable and the way the airframe had to be rebuilt added a severe amount of weight, decreasing cargo capacity.
There were two additional modifications made to the aircraft which made it more suited for combat operations. Firstly, the aircraft was fitted with a rear cargo ramp that could open mid-flight, something that already existed thanks to ICBM delivery system testing in the late seventies. Secondly, the aircraft was mounted with several defensive guns, mainly 7.62mm miniguns, that could be controlled remotely from the cockpit, or by a person mounting it. Due to the extra duties to be fulfilled during VTOL operations, the crew was increased to 10, and cockpit extended accordingly.
Why do you need to know all of this? Well, the truth is that you don’t. I could just say that some big plane came and picked us up, that we just made it out. But, that wouldn’t be very believable, would it? Although you may find it somewhat boring, trust me, It’s all part of the build-up. And, although these C-5s were scrubbed from records as “scrapped”, they still retained their original names. City of San Antonio and Patriot are the two that we own. We acquired them when the program was ending, and rather than being truly scrapped, we managed to repurpose these god-awful bulbous lookin’ planes into their final role: to serve as an extraction and insertion unit for the finest ghost hunters in all of Afghanistan, and maybe even in the world. But, of course, you’re bored out of your mind with all of this technical information and engineering mumbo-jumbo. You likely don’t know or care to know what a shaft-driven turbine is, and I understand. Don’t worry, I have the solution- starting next sentence.
I woke up in a hospital gown, laid out in a pretty damn uncomfortable bed that seemed to be the reason that my back was absolutely killing me, right when Petrenko walked in to check on me. In his arms, he carried some folded laundry, that upon closer inspection appeared to be my clothes, which pleasantly were clean of blood. He sat on the edge of my cot, and seeing that I was awake said “Seriously, what’s wrong with you man?” I grumbled out over the sound of me stretching my aching back as I rose to a sitting position “Nothing’s wrong with me, I was just tired.”
“Well, I hope that you got enough rest, because we only have about twenty minutes until your planes arrive.” This got my attention. I had been asleep for that long?… They must have seen how tired I was and decided to let me sleep. I was thankful for that, but I worried about their plans. I suppose Petrenko had the foresight to know that I would be, because he told me “You have ten minutes to get yourself ready for the final briefing.. I would suggest a shower, I’ll be waiting outside of your room when you’re done.” I nodded to him, saying “Roger roger, I’ll be out in ten.” He then set my clothes down at the end of my bed, saying as a grin spread across his face “Silly Amerikans and their movies.” As soon as he walked out of the door, a built male nurse, muscles bulging against his scrubs, walked into the room with confidence befitting such a man. He said only one thing, very simply “Igor remove needle.” and he did, so smoothly that through my clenched eyes I felt nothing.
Yes, I hate needles. Just the thought of something long, thin, and sharp entering a vein does not sit well with my subconscious. Of course, needles are something we all have to deal with. Vaccines, Shots, et cetera. I have a strong allergy to poison ivy, a creeping vine which grows in the South United States quite pervasively, and every time I get a huge outbreak of that itchy, blistering rash on my skin, I just go with the fastest route out- a steroid shot straight to the rear. However, that doesn’t mean I have to like it any more than mosquitoes.
Igor left after slapping a waterproof bandage on my arm to make sure I wasn’t spurting blood in the shower. I swung my legs out over the side of the bed, looking at the pile of clothes at the end. How they got all the blood out, I’m not sure, because the dark grey BDUs I wore were soaked in Gabe’s blood last I remember. They didn’t use the same cleaner on me evidently, as I was still covered in filth and a thin film of dried blood.
I pushed myself off of the bed, throwing my legs out to catch myself on the ground, and strode towards the shower, indicated by a small sign on the wall. It was located across the room past a tiny door, which led to a bathroom just as small as the portcullis implied. The toilet was within centimeters of the shower, whose floor was square shaped, and made out of some old, wearing plastic from the seventies that probably gave someone mesothelioma. The only thing that shielded the rest of the tiny space from the shower water was a moth-eaten canvas curtain that seemed as if it would barely contain the onslaught to come. It seemed pretty indicative of the condition of the base, and her men. Over the course of my stay, the dull roar of the somewhat-distant still explosions had grown to a louder, much closer and much more present roar of bullets, cannons, and the occasional detonation of a mine or explosive charge.
I hopped in and turned on the faucet. After a few moments of gurgling pipes and weak, impotent spurts, the shower head blasted freezing cold water at me with the force of a pressure-washer, but other than taking a deep breath, I did not react. It’s a thing I do, to manage fear. Even if I have time to wait for the water to warm up, I almost never do. Shocking myself with a blast of ice-water reminds me of the control I have over myself. The pain of the cold water droplets hitting my skin is a glut of hailstones, each one daring me to flinch, and sometimes, I do. Most times, I take a deep breath end endure it. Then, it warms up, and I push forward with newfound vigor. The shower in that hospital did not warm up, unfortunately, so I quickly and thoughtlessly washed myself with the crappy soap they have in dispensers under the showerhead, rivers of frigid water flowing down my body the whole time.
Although it had not even been three minutes, when I finally stepped out it felt as if I had been there for twenty. I quickly used the scratchy towels that were situated on the racks just outside of the shower, drying myself off from the top-down, making doubly sure to reach the groin area. Once we got out into the warzone, I would prefer to chafe as little as possible, and even with the compression underwear that I put on especially to prevent this, an area like that being wet can only lead to bad things, especially when in combat we are going to more than likely get all kinds of sweaty.
A female voice spoke up behind me as I dressed myself. “You know, I imagined that you would be handsome without the suit.” I knew Lana’s voice by now, so I kept dressing. “Am I?” I asked aloud, turning to face her as I pulled on the bottom half of my main insulating underlayer, a pair of polypropylene trousers, known simply as “polypro” by some in the armed forces.
Inches away from me, in all of her blue-glowing beauty, she stood, watching my movements. Her hair draped over her chest, creating somewhat of a veil for her to hide behind. She moved in closer, hands reaching out to touch my chest while it was still uncovered. I did not stop, but I did slow down a bit, and focused on my lower half to give her more time to ogle. She traced my muscular physique with her fingers, and although she physically was not touching me, I felt her hands moving across my body, her icy touch tracing the outlines of my pectorals. Unfortunately, that moment had to end. There was no dilation of time like in my dreams, and as I pulled my thinnest underlayer on, covering my chest up, she said “You are handsome, just as much as I had imagined. Dreaming is one thing, but seeing your real flesh, your real blood… It is exhilarating.” She took a step back as I continued to dress, pulling on my polypro upper.
As I finished dressing, pulling on my large, insulated winter boots, I said “I have to go. Briefing.” She was already looking down at me, bent over my boots, her face evidently showing the sorrow she felt at the end of our moment. A tragedy to be sure, however she nor I had time to grieve, because as I put the finishing touches on my boot laces, the lights across the hospital flashed bright, their incandescent filaments pushed to their limits. Less than a second later, they all blew out simultaneously, each with a small pop that ended their giving of light.
Petrenko burst in, his MP-443 Grach pistol held with one hand, as his purpose was not to aim the gun, but to aim the proprietary Russian flashlight and laser combination attached to it just under the barrel (currently only using the flashlight, of course.). If this was a story, I would say that he swore, and said that they had advanced faster than expected. However, he had already done that outside. At least, the swearing part. He said as he aimed the flashlight at the ground next to me so as to maintain proper muzzle discipline, “They’re attacking the generators. We have to leave at once, if not to get to the briefing then to get out of the way.” I nodded in acknowledgement, and finished dressing myself with haste.
Once I was finished, he turned on his heel and started walking quickly through the door. As I walked out of the doorway into a long hall that stretched out in front of me, door after door making its mark on the pristine walls in the darkness, lit at the end by a single window that let in the weak rays of the sun through a thin curtain, a thought hit me. Gabe. I quickly asked Petrenko as we almost-ran to the end of the hall “What about the patients here?”
He responded without skipping a beat as he opened the last door on the right at the end of the hallway, turning his head back to face me “Don’t you worry, your Gavril was the first one to be evacuated.” I sighed in relief for a moment before moving quickly down the stairs with him. Red cyrillic script stenciled on the otherwise white-painted cinder-block walls of the stairwell indicated that we were on the third floor, moving down to the second. When we reached the landing, he quickly spun around, still moving, and pulled something out of his jacket. As he pressed it into my hands, he said “Technically, neither of us are supposed to carry on base, but to hell with the regulations.” And, although I really would have liked to have had my own personal pistol in my hands, the metal-and-polymer black MP-443 he handed me would do just fine. It was nearly identical to his, except for a few scrapes and scratches. Along with it, a few extra magazines. With their 18-round capacity that put me somewhere like 60 rounds. Again, it would do.
Again we set off down the stairs, and upon reaching the ground floor burst out of the stairwell, into a lobby where the final evacuations underway. Because of the power outage, there were little to no lights. Those that could walk or otherwise move were the last ones left. Some held unloaded kalashnikovs with white knuckles, some held only their crutches, and some held their broken limbs or bandaged bodies. Either way, they were all filing out of the doors, being checked off by nurses wielding pens and clipboards. An intelligence officer, wearing the typical larger hat of such a position in the Russian services, was sitting on a waiting-room bench next to the stairwell, and at the sight of us jumped up. He followed us loosely as we made our way through the crowd, plenty of “Izvinite”s thrown around (Izvinite means “excuse me” in Russian). Petrenko and I, as well as the officer who had now seemingly joined us walked out of the propped-open wooden double doors. As we left, the all-male nurses, dressed in off-blue scrubs, quickly nodded in acknowledgement before returning to their clipboards as we made our way out.
As soon as I stepped outside, the noises that had been reduced to a low din were now shoved firmly back into my ears. The assault of gunfire and explosions were not only effective against the creatures, but against me, or more accurately, my mind. The constant assault of noise made me uncomfortable, not just because of volume. Just a few hours previously, the mission hadn’t been bothering me, but after the incident with Gabe, my PTSD had been thrown into a hard relapse. Every time an explosion hit, it threw me back into the hallway of my old house, that shotgun blast ringing in my ears. I was physically wincing by the time that we had made it halfway out the doors.
See, I hate the way that movies do flashbacks, because although I understand the fact that they can’t necessarily do it any differently, it still makes people have a different image of what a flashback is versus the way it actually happens. In movies, the entire screen is taken up by the flashback, but in a true flashback in real life, it only happens in your head, I mean if you close your eyes then it is possible that the flashback will be the only thing you’re able to think about, however it is the same as a normal thought, as if you were reading a book, at least in terms of what it is. Movies give people the impression that flashbacks take over your entire being, but in reality it only adds another input. Think of it like opening two programs in two separate windows at once on a computer. It’ll take up a lot more processing power than if there was only one, and concentrating on both is difficult, especially when both are playing loud sounds through the same speakers.
The flashbacks only grew more intense as we walked briskly past the lines of men loading into trucks and vehicles ferrying them to the assembly area. Their voices and moans didn’t do much to help me.
Petrenko was a rather observant man, and although I am usually not the first to jump into medications, mainly out of principle, the side effects are also a worrying factor. However, they have never really been one to affect me. I just always worry about it. He noticed my tenseness. As we walked past ambulances and other vehicles that were loading up the wounded, he pulled a pack of patches “Here, have one of these.” carefully selecting a single one for me. He explained them “It’s something our R&D guys came up with. It works fast, no side effects, no bullshit.”
I stopped walking. Petrenko carried on a step before stopping himself, and turning around to tell me empathetically “Look man, I know you’ve been through some shit, and I get trying to deal with it on your own, I mean, look at me, why do you think I have these?” as he waved the pack of patches in the air.
My teeth were gritted. I could barely hear him, and my eyes stared violently at the ground. I was no longer standing there with Petrenko, my head was way out in the middle of nowhere, being chased by that thing again. Then, her voice pulled me back out, out of the darkness, and back into the light of reality. “John. You should listen to him.” I closed my eyes, and the instant my eyelids shut, I felt her body on mine, the feeling that she was there, and that I was there, and that was all that mattered. I took a deep breath, slowly unclenched my teeth, looked up a Petrenko, and nodded, taking a patch from his outstretched hand. I ripped it open and slapped it onto my exposed neck. Almost instantly, I felt a pleasantly cool feeling spread throughout my body from the patch. Lana said, soothingly, as if she was whispering into my ear, “There you go.” I took a deep breath, then walked on with Petrenko, who was motioning for me to come along.
Whatever the hell that stuff was, it worked like a charm, and I really need to carry some with me., possible long term side effects be damned.
I had almost forgotten about the officer who had joined us. When we had stopped, he had as well. As far as I remember, he just stood there, emotionless, watching our exchange. Either he didn’t care, didn’t want to get involved, or just had no real emotions. I’m not sure which one of the three it was, however the guy seemed like a robot the whole time he was around me, so I lean more towards the zero emotion hypothesis.
We strode out to a waiting open-top UAZ-469B, a mean, green, four-wheel drive utility vehicle identical in make and almost in model to the ambulance that had taken Gabe from the helipad. It was parked on the side of a paved but unmarked road that was flanked on either side by a variety of logistical buildings and support structures. From the sounds of gunfire and concussive blasts that were assaulting my ears, I knew that the beasts were only a few streets down.
Petrenko hopped into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and motioned for us both to climb into the back. The officer said quickly, words coming out in one continuous stream, in flawless, Russian-accented English “Hello, my name is Mikhail, pleasure to meet you, this will be your briefing. ” He pronounced his name phonetically, “Mik-hai-el”. Without wasting a second, he pulled out a folder from under his coat as Petrenko threw the UAZ into gear. He handed me a photocopied map of the base, with four concentric circles drawn centering around the runway. He spoke with the same breathless tone and speed, describing the map “What you are seeing is our strategy for retreat, each circle has been fortified with armor, men, barriers, and IEDs. The smaller circles around their borders are planned choke points.” He put his finger on the map, pointing to a road that led from a building to the runway inside of the last circle. “We are here.”
He removed his finger and said “We have been forced to withdraw to the third line, as the lack of fuel for our armor is beginning to cause problems, as well as the fact that we have incurred many losses over the last hour.” He looked out in front of the jeep, asking Petrenko in Russian “They do have power in the ATC, correct?” Petrenko replied after a moment in Russian “Fig znayet.”, which means something along the lines of “dick knows that.”
The officer sighed, then said quietly in Russian as we rounded the corner of the street, driving directly onto the tarmac “May Saint Michael watch over us.” I felt his fear, because the sight that greeted us was not pretty. Hundreds of men lined the damaged tarmac, at least a quarter of them wounded, and the large majority simply exhausted. Lt. Petrenko’s radio went off, a Russian female operator saying two important things. First, she frantically stated “Nuclear launch detected, I repeat, nuclear launch detected! All units, fall back to the final line!” and seconds later “Radio contact established with transports, all units, stay clear of designated landing zones! Launch final phase!” The jeep came to a screeching halt as we arrived at the main assembly area. At its center, a pair of rare single seat KA-50 attack helicopters were spinning up, for one final mission.
“Ka” series helicopters are usually identified by a unique feature, the coaxial main rotor almost exclusively used by the Kamov Design Bureau, which is where the “Ka” in the designation comes from. Normally, a helicopter must have a tail rotor which is a smaller version of the main rotor, but rotated ninety degrees. These exist to counter the force which the main rotor exerts on the helicopter, because of physics. The helicopter turns the rotor, however the rotor also turns the helicopter. Coaxial rotors are where a mechanical linkage allows two rotors to be stacked on top of each other, negating the need for a tail rotor due to the lack of imbalanced forces in the helicopter. Not only do they increase the survivability of a helicopter by giving it some redundancy, but in my opinion, they are incredibly sexy.
They were loaded with unguided S-8 eighty-millimeter rocket pods, each pod carrying twenty, and each helicopter carrying four pods for a total of eighty rockets, all of these in addition to the thirty-millimeter autocannon mounted to their side, just under the cockpit in a recessed mounting alcove. They began to lift off just as a massive shadow was cast over their takeoff pattern, and scrambled out of the way just in time for a side-by-side pair of Credible Sport III C-5s to come slashing through the thick clouds, their turbines generating massive amounts of thrust and downforce.
Landing gear unfolded from under the planes, many huge tires forming a solid base on which to channel the weight of plane and cargo. They landed next to each other almost simultaneously, the rear ramps slowly hydraulically opening just before touching down to allow for troop loading. The engines and turbines were spun down just enough to keep the metal behemoths on the ground, throwing dust and particles everywhere. From the open rear ramps, the only possible entrance due to the fact that the turbines were so powerful, the flight suit and helmet wearing loadmasters practically ran out to greet the men on the tarmac, herding them in as quickly as safety would allow. The wounded were funneled into the Patriot, and the combat-capable soldiers were loaded into the City of San Antonio.
On both ends of the runway, the Russian perimeter forces were falling back, the final line of defense having been passed moments ago. Infantry steadily walked backwards just in front of reversing armored vehicles, all of them spewing lead at the mass of creatures in front of them. I watched from the command tent, satisfied with their speed. We could easily load everyone in, including those men. It would be close, but with the defensive guns of the C-5s, as well as the huge amount of mines that had been placed.
From behind me, I heard a familiar male Japanese voice call out to greet me “Hey, copperhead actual, good to see you!” It was Kyoshi. I turned around, saying “Well damn, look who the cat dragged in. It’s been too damn long!” He wore his signature jet-black combat uniform, marked only with the red-on-white flag of Japan, all topped off with a HDPE bullet-resistant helmet. The flag was technically against regulations, but the two of us were so high up on the command chain that we were often allowed liberties like that. He reached out to grip my hand, and pulled me into a bro hug. Although we hadn’t known each other long, we got along really well together. At least, better than some operators.
“They sent me along to make sure you didn’t do anything else stupid, but also to give dear ole Gabe a rest.” At the mention of Gabe, I fell silent, and my demeanor reflected how I felt about that issue. Kyo immediately noticed, and said flatly “You’re not responsible. At least, not until they do an investigation.” I replied “I appreciate your attempt at humor, but anything you say won’t change how I feel.” He sighed pointedly, frowning, then said “How did I know you were gonna say that…” And, at that moment, I was thinking, like an idiot. “How could this day get any worse.” And, of course, I was punished for it by the universe. Severely.
What happened next made even the robot intelligence officer next to me swear. “Pizdec!” (peez-de-yeck) He yelled as across the runway, a massive bear-shaped thing crashed through a building, crushing men and machine under it. From where I stood, it appeared to be at least one and a half times the height of the C-5s. It’s skin pulsed with waves of arcing blue electrical energy, and the noise it made as it shifted it’s huge weight through the rubble it had strewn over the tarmac was akin to that of a transformer in an electrical relay station. A low electrical hum, perforated by the sharp popping noises of the electricity that rippled across it’s skin. From where I was then I couldn’t make out many details of what it looked like, but I saw what happened next clearly enough. A T-72 main battle tank carrying a 125mm main cannon fired directly into the thing, and it barely flinched. A kinetic round slammed directly into it traveling at two kilometers per second and it did not move.
It got worse by the second, because a moment later, as the KA-50s swung around, flying directly over the tarmac towards this thing, it opened its mouth wider than should have been physically possible, and shot out a beam of energy that was most likely plasma, lancing one of them, slicing off the tail, and destroying the other’s rotors. The pilots ejected, barely making it in time before their helicopters smashed into the horde of beasts, their momentum carrying them into the crowd like trucks, before exploding in massive fireballs of ordinance and the blue-green of the creatures. The transports were mostly loaded now, but that thing was not going to wait for us, and we had a nuke on the way that we couldn’t stop to fight it. I had no other options. I had exhausted everything. All of my weapons, all of my contacts. Except for one. It was all I had left.
The world faded around me. All of it seemed surreal all of a sudden. Knowing what I was about to do filled my body with the all to familiar icy adrenaline. My skin rippled with goosebumps. Out loud, I said “Lana, if you know me, you know what I will do.” I heard her voice loud and clear, through all of the explosions, all of the gunfire, and the turbines spinning violently only ten meters away. “Yes. I know.” I took my first step towards the thing. My body started shaking from the adrenaline. I asked her out loud again “Lana, please help with this. I can’t do it without you.” she wasted no time in replying, her voice laden with optimism and emotion. “I would do anything for you, John.” Kyoshi yelled from behind “John, don’t do this, you know what happens after you peter out!”
I started to raise my hand into the air, open to receive what would come soon. “I have no choice Kyoshi, I have to do what must be done.” Then I roared with a voice heavy, soaking, dripping with rage and the sheer will to do what I had to do: “EXCALIBUR”. And, at my call, golden rays of energy emanated from my hand, and coalesced to form the hilt of the legendary blade. I felt it solidify in my grip as it was built from where it would first contact my fingers to the pommel, and then to the tip of the blade. It was practically as bright as the sun, however my eyes had no trouble looking upon it’s beautiful and elegant form. The hilt was ornately wrought, many different stories told within it. That day, I made one of my own.