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Tiberian Sun: Dustoff
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Askhati
Flamethrower


Joined: 22 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 8:15 pm    Post subject:  Tiberian Sun: Dustoff
Subject description: The story of Flight Lieutenant Henry Davis, 355th Aerial Engineering Battalion
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An idea that came to me while working on a Nod Carryall voxel, and which I decided to start exploring earlier today. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Dustoff

 It was a simple dusk mission outside Cairo.
 Head in, pick up the armoured personnel carrier, and boost them across the Nile to the eastern side. Swimming the mighty river - something the amphibious APC could usually do quite easily - was not an option, as Nod forces held both banks, and their entrenched Tick tanks were laying a murderous curtain of fire across the western banks.
 Simple, right?
 Flight Lieutenant Henry Davis, of the 355th Aerial Engineering Battalion, Global Defence Initiative, screamed through gritted teeth as the Carryal turned 90 degrees on its starboard turbines, hung weightless for a moment, and then plunged straight down. Nod missiles, screaming upwards on pillars of white smoke, stabbed through the space the craft had occupied moments before - onetwothree, quick on each other's tails - and began their curve back towards where the GDI craft was plummeting through the evening sky towards the dunes below. The dunes, fast approaching, were lit with the flash and crackle of cannonfire discharging, lumbering Titan walkers advancing eastwards and pushing against a trench network of Nod forces that buckled and twisted around the plodding mechanical feet, yet never seemed to quite break. Nod tanks, hunkering behind gutted buildings and lobbing shells westward at the advancing GDI lines, drew rapidly closer and closer as the Carryall fell, and then Davis was wrenching the stick back to port and gunning the VTOL turbines again, feeling the airframe shake and buck below him as the lumbering craft returned to the horizontal and went roaring off at dune-top level.
 “Johnson. Johnson!” Davis yelled for the flight engineer while the dials spun around him, one hand on the stick and the other slapping at screaming overrides, but the cabin line crackled and hissed without comment. “JOHNSON!”
 Below the GDI craft, dunes flashed by in a hypnotic rising and falling pattern, at close to cabin level, interspersed with clumps of odd-looking trees, walkers grinding forward, and all too many sandbagged and fire-spitting Nod positions. They were hugging the earth as much as they could, roaring over enemy lines with those missiles curving down behind them, and Davis felt cold sweat chilling around the collar of his flak jacket as he craned his head back and to the side, straining to catch a glimpse of the trio of Nod missiles.
 Where the hell…
 A building loomed ahead, rising suddenly from the gloom, and Davis banked to the side just in time to go screaming past in a rattle of banging window shutters and a storm of dead leaves from the window boxes. The pilot glimpsed a frightened huddle of civilians in the one room, followed by a blur and the sight of black and red combat carapaces two windows over, and then the Carryall was past. In his heads-up display, the pilot could see the steady ping of the personnel carrier’s beacon some distance ahead and to port, while the craft’s missile detection unit was screaming blue murder and showing the three tracking missiles as bright red diamonds on the HUD, vectoring in from port but oh so damn elusive to the eye.
 Where…
 “Lieutenant! I found the power line!” Johnson’s voice crackled in Davis’ ear as they roared past an overturned civilian bus with a squad of Nod infantry behind it, and Davis barely had time to give them the finger before they were past.
 Assholes.
The intercommed crackled and hummed, Davis’ attention split between the flight engineer and the missiles behind him, and then there was a rattle and bump from below his feet, and the helmeted head of the engineer poked back into the cockpit.
 “I found the power line, and the cutoff. Ready when you are.” Johnson was a blur of white teeth, black lenses and a tan helmet below him as Davis grunted in acknowledgement, and then the Carryall was wrenching back, nose up and tail churning through the top of a dune as the pilot hauled back on the stick. An incandescent beam of scorched red cut through the air in front of them, licking the top of a Titan walker some distance away and taking the top half of the armoured cockpit clean off in a quicksilver puff of heat. Engineer and pilot alike gawked in mute surprise for a moment, Davis’ hands aching from the sudden reflex with which he had hauled back on the stick, as the walker continued plodding forward for another few steps before collapsing in a crash of armoured limbs and spraying sand atop a rocky ridge not a hundred meters to their left.
 “Get on nav-comm, tell them about that obelisk!” Davis coasted the Carryall to the side, ignoring the missile lock tones for a moment, and caught a glimpse of the shadow-shrouded Nod tower to their right, nestled between a row of grey buildings and with its laser emitter tip still smouldering faintly from the energy blast it had unleashed. “Then find me a tall building nearby, and get me a course!”
 They were off again a moment later, catching a last glimpse of the fallen walker and the red shapes boiling up around it with flashing carbines, while Davis strained against his seat harness as he tried to spot the missiles again. The roar of engines around him was a wall of sound that almost - almost - drowned out the screaming tones from the console and the roar of battle below, and the pilot could almost feel his place of calm, his center - his zen - reaching out to him, that place he went to when he had to do his best flying…
 A dip in the terrain flashed up in an instant, Davis riding it down reflexively to keep his craft low - and the first of the three pursuing missiles streaked past overhead, blistering the paint atop the fuselage with the proximity of its passage. Whatever machine logic had guided the speeding missile could not keep up with that instantaneous and sudden twitch from the GDI pilot, and it ran straight and true for another brief moment before ploughing into a patch of sand below them with a crump and a bang, shooting up a fountain of dust and sand as it detonated. Nod soldiers scattered below them, suspecting GDI artillery fire instead of realising where the exploding missile had come from, and this time it was Johnson that flipped them the bird as they passed.
 “On our 30, two hundred meters out - civie tower.” Johnson pointed as he talked, his other hand tapping on his controller board below Davis, and the pilot saw a reticle of blue pop up on his HUD at the same spot where the flight engineer was pointing. Night was falling all around them, visibility getting poorer by the second, and the strobing staccato of artillery blasts and cannonfire below them was throwing the terrain into strange reliefs as they flew. Davis knew they were in terrible danger, flying this low - but the alternative was to gain altitude, and invite those Nod missiles to catch up with nowhere to run.
 “On it. Get the switch ready.”
 Engine pods roared and twisted as Davis took the Carryall sideways over a dune, slipping over more Nod infantry squads as the distant structure drew closer. It looked to be an apartment tower of some kind, walls dark and windows black in the darkness except for the muzzle flashes of Nod sniper units scattered along the roofline, and the pilot knew he had scant seconds to get behind it before the missiles caught up. Trees flashed by, branches and leaves shredding in the downdraft of their craft’s engine pods - and then they were next to the structure and slipping in behind it in a billow of dust and leaves and flying rubbish from the nearby streets.
 “Kill it!” Davis punched the IFF switches and radio power links on the board in front of him with one hand, while Johnson frantically hammered away at buttons and switches on his own board. “We’re down in three, two, one…”
 The Carryall dropped stiff-legged onto the ground next to the tower, crumpling sandbags and a signboard in the process while narrowly dodging a cluster of overturned automobiles, and then everything in the cockpit was dark. Heart hammering in his ears, Davis toggled the last of the power switches to off-
 Above them, fire blossomed in the darkness as the two trailing anti-aircraft missiles dug into the side of the building with ear-cracking force. The one missile, trying to auto-correct for altitude, took a part of the roof parapet off and sent red-clad bodies tumbling through the sky, while the other kept its low trajectory and blew out a section of concrete facade and glass of the ground floor. Shouting came from above, Nod troops rallying in response to the strike, and debris was still pattering down on the Carryall from the rooftop strike when the first muzzle flashes lit up above them and started raking the downed craft with tracer rounds.
 “It might be a good time to get moving,” Johnson quipped from the front of the cockpit, the flight engineer flinching away as a line of strikes clipped across the cockpit glass and left milky craters in their wake. “Powerplant is coming back, we have power in seven… six..”
 Davis, attention split between the gunfire above them and the reawakening control panel, felt more than heard the shot that hit Johnson in a spray of cockpit glass across his own face. Blood and stinging pain welled from a hundred cuts across his face in an instant, the cockpit glass above the engineer suddenly ragged, and then Johnson was screaming and flailing in his harness, one hand clasped to his neck and feet kicking wildly against the cockpit bottom.
 “Shitshitshit…” Blood frothed down the side of the engineer’s neck and flight vest, and Davis caught a glimpse of suddenly-black flight gloves in the green cockpit light as the engineer frantically tried to stop the wound from bleeding out. “Johnson, sit tight!”
 Davis knew that to try and help the stricken engineer right there and then would be suicide. The fire above them was heating up, and while the Carryall was designed to take a beating in high winds and with heavy cargo, there was only so much protection it could give against enemy rounds - especially rounds plunging from above, where the craft’s armour was thinnest.
 “Don’t… worry… me… get… moving!” Johnson gasped from below, head at an angle and one hand pulling at the emergency medical supplies on his cockpit sidewall. “Get… moving… please…”
 Davis needed little more encouragement, and when the powerplant icons finally chimed green after a long moment, the pilot gunned the engine pods to maximum and pulled back on the stick, sliding the big craft upwards and backwards in a swirl of exhaust and kicked-up debris from their impromptu landing site. The fire from the rooftop above them slacked off, the hammering strikes on the fuselage diminishing, and Davis felt a cool rush of night air playing against his face from the cockpit breach as he turned the craft to port, dropped the nose, and began powering forward past the apartment tower. A last volley of gunfire reached out and licked their starboard side with tongues of yellow, and then they were past, the tower receding behind them in the darkness and the cold swirl of night air driving the scent of fresh blood - his own, the engineer’s, and even the oily scent of the damaged Carryall itself - deep into Davis’ head.
 “Johnson, talk to me. Do you need a medevac, or are we good to continue?” The pilot leaned forward, trying to get a better glimpse of his wounded engineer, but could make out little more than a bundle of bandages pressed against the man’s neck, bandages that were darkening ominously in the dim cockpit light. “Johnson?”
 “Is… good, no… worries.” A thumb popped up from below, then dropped weakly and smeared black liquid over the control panel next to the engineer. “Please… just… go faster.”
 Flying near-blind, at dune-top levels where trees and outcroppings of rock popped out of the darkness faster than a hologram simulator, Davis kept the stick down and the power gauge well past the red line.
 Before, it had been a matter of urgency.
 Now, getting to that personnel carrier was a matter of life or death.

[Updated: 2020.05.27]
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Askhati
Flamethrower


Joined: 22 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2020 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Placeholder bump - chapter 1 done, chapter 2 here next.]
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