This article, Great American War, is still being written by its owner Lither. They apologise for the inconvenience.
A vehicle lazily stopped rolling one brisk autumn morning, whispering of the cold winter to come and the doors opened. From inside the bulletproof tinted windows, three security agents exited first, before I myself left.
As usual, crowds lined the walkway up to the Presidential Palace, a restored relic from the times of when the old dictator had ruled. Now it was where new laws were voted on and I spent most of my time. Where the old tyrant's flag had once flown, the new flag was, a blue flag with my country inked on it, and the words "Freedom, equality, justice" in white underneath.
As usual, there were crowds of people barely held back by the guards, each asking me questions about a range of topics, from how I felt about being elected four times in a row, what my response was to allegations of falsifying the votes, what my response was to some child getting lost in the cities and not returning, I just smiled and politely refused to comment as I walked up towards the doors. Once inside I was safer from the media.
Safer. There was no telling if some overzealous journalist had been doing some bugging or some bribing to get what they wanted.
Going down one of the hallways, I turned left and entered a new room, this one with only four people in it, my Defence Minister, Alex Peterson, my Chief of the Navy, Grand Admiral Peter Alexson, my Chief of the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Son Alexpeter and my Chief of Army, my old friend General Boris Kardenschopf (everyone just called him Boris).
The Defence Minister held in his hands a notebook and on his face was a grave expression. Something bad had happened.
"Sir," he said, (I had forgone the various titles and just called everyone higher 'sir' - I felt it was less prone to head growing than 'Most Honourable Grand Excellency' what have you), "I think you should read this report Army One submitted."
Taking it, I noted with rising surprise of what it read.
At 0403 hrs early today the 4th Infantry Brigade encountered a number, possibly up to two hundred forces from Zone B at the fortress Charlie-Bravo near the southernmost border. During the engagement two of our soldiers were wounded while an unidentifiable number, likely most of them, were wounded or killed during the initial engagement and when nearby close air support planes made a retaliatory strike on their position. A commendation must be made for the attached artillery regiment who managed to fire an accurate salvo within eight minutes of the engagement, despite nearly all of them being only just roused from sleep. This initial salvo was obviously far heavier and faster than they expected, having a deleterious effect on the enemy organisation and morale, causing them to be easy targets for the close air support.
The report ended there.
"I think," I said slowly and deliberately, "That allowing this to go unanswered will set an extremely dangerous precedent. We might have beaten them off but if we don't pursue this we'll tell them that we don't have the power to defend against them and they'll do who knows what. We should apply some heavy diplomatic pressure to them over this."
"Sir," the Defence Minister urgently said, "If we do that then we may have a war on our hands. Remember how the last one ended. I suggest we wait and see what new information presents itself."
I sighed heavily and resisted the urge to put my head in my hands. I needed... more... time. But I couldn't hesitate on matters like this. I had to be seen as a strong leader, especially when any weakness would be taken advantage of by our enemies from the south.
"If it is war," I said, "Then we will make war with all our hearts and minds. It will be good to bring the dictator down and liberate the oppressed people. We cannot wait for them to think we are weak. We must act now. Sound a general mobilisation, though, and send everyone you recruit to the south. We can't be caught by surprise."
I turned around and left a group of obviously worried ministers as I went to find someone who could tell me where Vade Matolv was. We had a formal letter to write and a meeting with other powers who probably were not the least bit sympathetic to our cause.
Life wasn't meant to be easy.
0350. Still night just outside his family house, and for the man next to his issued pack fumbling for his keys it wasn't a happy one at all. They ordered Soldado Professional Alejandro Fernando to report at the base before 0630 this day, at the earliest possible time. Alejandro would much rather have slept in later, but thanks to a bureaucratic mess-up he was still waiting on suitable on-base accommodation.
It was a cold night, too. Even in his issued fatigues and not-issued thermal underwear, the wind bit at every exposed part of his body and even lanced into his clothing.
"Damn keys," he muttered under his breath, well-aware that every second he spent he was risking them finding him, "I..."
He stopped. It sounded as if the door just shut. They always taught him to freeze if you think you might be seen, any movement would give you away.
"You aren't going to leave without a proper goodbye," a recognisable voice from behind him said.
The soldier stayed rooted to the spot, uncertain about how to respond.
"Alejandro!" the voice behind him yelled, "you were just going to waltz in and out, weren't you!? No regards for your family!?"
A strong but feminine hand grabbed his shoulder and forced him to turn around. There, standing before him, with a mix of surprise and anger in her eyes, was his mother.
"Just what would would possess you to come sneaking in at this hour!?" she shouted at him, before scanning his apparel and exclaiming "And why, oh God why, are you in your uniform!?"
Alejandro just remained there, his face facing straight down towards the ground.
"Look at me when I am talking to you Alejandro!" his mother roared.
"It's my job," he retorted glibly, purposefully continuing to avoid eye-contact.
"Oh you are not getting away that easily! That! That is not just a job" the woman shouted, "CARLOS! CARLOS! CARLOS!"
There was a deathly silence before a stern, old man appeared at the doorway. He seemed rather bleary eyed, as if he'd just risen from a slumber.
"For fuck’s sake! Just what has you two so riled up at this Godforsaken hour," he barely managed before noticing his son in full army regalia.
"It's nothing, dad," Alejandro breathed.
Carlos seemed to be lost for words. A shocked expression etched firmly upon his face.
"SON! This is not nothing... Oh by God's name, what have you done! Not again... oh lord no, not again!" he lamented heartily, "you can't put us through this again. I'll go in your place, son. They'll understand."
"This is my life now. You both just need to accept it," Alejandro stated bluntly, his eyes still fixed firmly on the ground.
"We will not! We cannot! Once was enough. Those who came back last time were damn lucky Going again, why... how do you know this time you'll come back all right!?" his father argued, "Let me go instead, son. You have your whole life ahead of you! You have a family to raise all of your own."
"I can't let you do that," Alejandro coldly spoke, "this is my war, not yours."
"Oh God son! Oh how could you say something like that!? What's happened to the Alejandro we raised? The son who would see sense instead of recklessness," his mother wailed, tears in her eyes.
"This is why you can't go, son. This is why you can't go. Just look at what the mere thought of it is doing to your poor mother," Carlos continued.
"She would feel the same way about you going. Now move aside please, father." Alejandro calmly asked.
"No son! Just no! You're all we have left. If you went it'd just break our hearts. Yes, we may have each other, but me and your mother have lead a good life. We just want the same for you... " his father passionately responded.
"I'm fetching my things. I'll see you both when I get back," Alejandro plainly stated, before forcefully pushing his father aside.
"That's it! I'm calling Maria!" his mother yelled at him.
Alejandro froze for a split second upon hearing the name.
"Fine, I guess I may as well say goodbye to her as well," He retorted before wandering off into the house.
1220. The War Room. A room kept dully spartan in the name of practicality. Here I was standing in front of a table with a screen on it. The screen held a map, my country coloured red and our southern enemies coloured a bleak grey. I stood staring at the map, not looking up as my advisors and military heads filed in and took positions around the table. My Chief of Staff was the first to make a move, pointing at the border between the two sectors.
“Sir,” he began, “We’ve received evidence that suggests our enemies attempted a rapid domination assault.”
Here he pointed to just behind the border and flicked a switch, all known army units began showing up on the map with helpful notes on their designation. His finger was placed on X. Division
“Here,” he continued, “X. Division encountered heavy assaults believed to be numbering between a division and a corps. The existing fortifications from the Line in the Sand allowed us to weather the assault, lasting several hours before enemy forces retreated. The Line in the Sand came under air fire at the same location and cannot perform its duties. X. Division has been reduced to 70%. General de Divisão Alejandro fears that should he suffer a similar assault he will not hold the area. We’re sending in IV. Brigade to reinforce them and III. Combat Engineers Battalion to attempt field repairs.”
This continued for another ten minutes as he pointed out other areas our forces were attacked with, and managed to repulse the enemy.
“Unfortunately,” he said next, “Our strategy has been a completely reactive one. By being the attackers they continue to own an advantage over us. We must prepare ourselves for the possibility of the Line in the Sand failing to contain them at some point before we can muster the forces needed to push the south out of Southern America and free their people.”
The Chief of Army cleared his throat.
“I have a plan,” he said, “We could use the time we have now to prepare our country for Defence Plan Barbarossa.”
The Chief of Air Force looked visibly repulsed on hearing that.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” he shot back at the Chief of Army, “I feel we could hold them off by establishing devoting all air wings to destroying their military infrastructure, roads and industry.”
“You don’t want Defence Plan Barbarossa,” the Chief of Army replied, “yet you condone bombing their cities?”
“This is different,” the Chief of Air Force replied with perhaps undue viciousness, “These civilian casualties under Defence Plan Barbarossa are avoidable. Quickly forcing their collapse of their supply will allow us to rout their armies quickly and let us win the war in only a few months. Defence Plan Barbarossa will drag the war on for how many years? How many of our civilians will die from your plan?”
“And if your plan fails,” the Chief of Army retorted, “We’ll be almost completely out of an air force and they will have air supremacy. We can’t win without an air force no matter how hard we try. Defence Plan Bar-”
“I think,” the Chief of Staff cut him off, “Defence Plan Barbarossa will be easy to initiate. After the civil war our civilians already have the fight for freedom mentality ingrained into them. It only requires us to tap into it.”
Chapter added sometime in the future
The same sensation of rising up. The same sensation of leaving the ground behind. The same angle of ascent. If I'd done it once, I'd done it a thousand times, seated in an aircraft off to war.
But this time, this time it was different. There was no parachute, nor was there any functional ejection material. This flight was one-way only, even the weaponry had been removed, it was far too expensive to lose. I had a far nastier payload.
Strapped on every conceivable part of the aircraft was enough explosives to level a city block.
Looking over my shoulder, I could see two others with the same loadout falling into formation. My eye caught the ground slipping away, and at that moment it struck me precisely what I was doing.
One hour earlier
The officer's briefing room bored me out of my brains. Rumour had it that something important had come down from the top, but the CO was nowhere in sight. I wondered where on earth he could be.
As I finished that thought, as if to make fun of me, the door burst open and our commanding officer, Coronel Alecksandr burst in with a few papers. He moved up towards the front, sit fast, as usual, all that, and finally he was able to speak.
"Comrades," he articulated nervously, "We've received reports and orders. Reports has it that on a large bridge to the far north the North Americans are moving an armoured division around in an attempt to press forwards after recent battles pushed us backwards to regroup. Now, this is a serious problem. If they can follow up on their successes in the field, they'll have a direct striking line south to Brasília. Defending the heart of the revolution is vital and trumps all concerns, even the will to live."
He sighed and the nervous look left him and he looked dejected.
"I am ordered this," he said, "To assemble a team capable of the complete destruction of the bridge at all costs. We must deny them movement. But we have a problem - combat losses and diversion of resources to the south has left us only with the flying coffins known as Dachshunds. In the time we've had, we managed to convert three of them into flying bombs, and we need pilots. Because of the nature of the mission, I want volunteers only. Stand up if you're up to the task."
Upon hearing that, I felt the creeping feeling of dread. There was no way to survive this, it was a one-way mission.
My brain told me to keep my damn head down, that the war was already lost, that someone else would, that my life would be thrown away for nothing, but my heart knew the answer.
I stood up. Two others did too.
The CO looked at us with some approval.
"Good," he said, "Come up to the front. There's all kinds of paperwork involved in this. The rest of you may leave now."
As I moved towards the front, I noticed everyone leaving was keeping their eyes averted, trying not to look at us.
Reaching the front before the other two, the CO slammed some of the papers down in front of me.
"A shame, Major Guilherme," he said quietly so only I could hear, "You always were one of our best pilots. Not like the two newbies."
"Thanks, sir," I replied, "Not very in-character of you."
"I can act however I bloody well want," the Coronel replied at normal volume, "Especially to some flyboy Major wanker."
Back in character again.
"Just sign here," he continued, lifting up the stack to one line at the bottom, "It says you accept this mission will cost the greatest price, we'll notify your family of how you died, all that shit."
I dutifully signed at the base, and stepped back for the next two to do the same. Once they were done, he looked at us.
"Right, that's done," the Coronel said, straightening up, "I promise all of you, I will do my best to grant you the highest medals for bravery for what you signed to do. But for now, I'm using my power to give the three of you field promotions."
"Major Guilherme," he addressed solely me, "Congratulations on your first day as a Tenente-coronel. I wish it was under better circumstances."
He did the same to the other two, but I wasn't paying attention, until he barked at us to leave.
As we left I saw him visibly sink and mutter, just on the edge of hearing, how he'd done this too many times.
I had levelled out the aircraft and was keeping it carefully within the "green line", a line painted on the speedometer showing the only speed the aircraft was unlikely to crash inside.
I heard newer versions had some touchscreen called the "TonoAes" or something inside them. Perhaps they were reliable enough to not be called flying coffins. Perhaps it was just a layer of polish and perfume onto a turd.
Still, I was hiding in the cloud cover, mostly to reassure myself, and the aircraft was shaking and rattling worryingly.
There was a particularly long bout of rattling and shaking. Warning lights told me that would be the landing gear falling off completely from the turbulence of the clouds. One final discouragement of second thoughts. Landing a Dachshund in a way that did not involve the complete destruction of the aircraft, landing strip and the pilots' remains was hard enough before one factored no landing gear and covering the entire fucker in bombs into the equation.
The clouds dispersed for long enough for me to catch a glimpse of Brasília upon the horizon as we passed, smoking from intense bombardments it suffered every night. I raised my right hand in a final salute to nation and revolution, just as the control tower had made one salute to me as I flew off.
One Hour Later
A radio message informed me that I was reaching my target, and only the landing gear had catastrophically failed. This was an achievement, though probably helped by me mostly avoiding activating any functions as complicated as the ailerons.
I lowered the aircraft down out of the thick cloud cover and stared at die Brücke that loomed out. I couldn't make out individual units at this height, however it seemed much larger than a division, maybe even a corps was trying to cross. This was big.
I aimed my aircraft at the far left side, noting that my two comrades had pointed at the right and centre sides. I throttled it, watching the speedometer move past the green line. As it did so, the aircraft already started shaking and rattling all the more, sounding like a groaning beast. My comrade aiming for the centre, though doing nothing I hadn't done, was not so lucky. The rapid increase of speed had caused the plane to shed many, largely unnecessary, features such as the wings, undercarriage and of course the tailplane, causing the remains to careen into a river below us and detonate spectacularly.
"Goddamn European engineering." I muttered to myself.
This drew the attention of the crossing forces, and rapidly the air went alight with AA fire as a barrage of rounds flashed through the air. I suspected that attempting to dodge the fire would cause far more damage than tanking it, so I flew straight forwards, some hostile fire cracking the glass of the cockpit, however most missed due to the Dachshund not presenting much of a target.
My other comrade was not so lucky, as his plane caught fire and detonated, sending shockwaves through the air.
I flipped the switch to arm the bombs - I hadn't earlier due to the high risk of the plane falling out of the sky and detonating on our own side - and stared straight at the bridge.
I was only five hundred metres from it when the plane started to slow down. The shaking was even worse, and a warning light appeared to warn me that the engine was not installed.
As I had no hope of taking off in a real plane without an engine, much less a Dachshund whose reaction to such an endeavour would presumably be to detonate spectacularly, I could conclude it disappeared in-flight.
The fucking engine disintegrated. Bloody-fucking-goat-sodomising-hell.
There was no time to hit it and swear - I feared it would only make things worse. Presumably I'd engage some autopilot that would fly me right away from my target. Or explode.
I dipped the plane down towards the river, and then used the more rapid descent to gain speed and duck below the AA fire, moving back up into pointing right at the left corner of the bridge. Lucky, as in the last highly complicated manoeuvre the ailerons and flaps decided to party in places that were not on the wing. I shot towards the corner, closing my eyes just before the impact.