Part 137: A Break in the Line
Ghost, specter, phantom, there were so many names that she could’ve given to her new Cobra 76X3-6 Fang that would have conjured up fearful visions. But upon first glance, she knew its name immediately. Although the Cobra engineers designated it the 76X3-6 Fang, it was the pilot who earned its devotion, and it was the pilot who earned the right to name it.
When she saw it, it reminded her of her days on her family farm house where she tended to the pigs daily. So she named it Piglet.
The Cobra Fang was never intended to be a weapon of war. It was designed only as a means for crowd control and police actions by local security forces.
But necessity would later deem otherwise and when the Iron Grenadiers intervened in the Eastern Territories during a conflict now referred as the Eastern Rebellions (a conflict between Cobra and the Iron Grenadiers that ended over 10 years ago), the Cobra Fang proved itself to be a devastating weapon of war.
It was small, quiet, fast and could be fitted with Cobra’s latest long range detection and weapons system. In the hands of a skilled pilot, it proved to be a useful weapon of war indeed.
Lt. Winnie Roberts, codenamed Pooh Bear, was not that skilled pilot. She didn’t care for killing. She was assigned to the 37th Fang Wing before the Eastern Rebellion at a time when the Fang was considered a joke.
It lacked any kind of armor. Its appearance was laughable. And for reasons unknown, the engineers placed a nearly useless pea shooter at its nose. The gun wasn’t even able to pierce body armor from a distance let alone cause damage to enemy vehicles.
Considering its lack of armor protection, a gunship pilot would have to be suicidal to fly close enough for the nose gun to be a threat. Pilots who graduated at the top of the academy all preferred to fly the Cobra Mamba, a much larger and deadlier gunship. The Fang was relegated to policing the local civilians and peasant farmers rather than military service.
That suited Winnie just fine. She never wanted to kill anyone. Above all else, she only wanted to fly. She enjoyed flying alone at tree top level through an area nicknamed the 100 Acre Woods.
It was the thrill of a lifetime to this local farm girl. She often buzzed over her family farm during her patrols. Her family was always proud to see the Piglet floating overhead. She often landed the Piglet on the farm grounds to share her food rations and her pay with her family, and pick up a basket of farm fresh eggs for the squadron of course.
One day, she gave her little baby brother, then only 3 years old, her own Cobra Medal of Valor. She placed the small ribbon and medal around the child’s neck herself. Her parents were proud to have a decorated Cobra officer in their family. Unbeknownst to them, the Cobra Medal of Valor was given to her by her superior officers as a show of gratitude for her family’s constant gift of farm fresh eggs and milk.
Indeed, life was good to her. That was until one day news of a local rebellion came across her monitors.
She was ordered to fly reconnaissance over the target zone. Target zone? What do they mean by target zone, she asked herself? She realized that the target zone was where her family farm was.
Without hesitation, she hurried to the Piglet and warmed up the anti-gravity engines. She was airborne and over the target zone in no time. Her family farm was fine. The local rebellion was nothing more than a few noble families and lords disputing over their rights for nearby land. But this local rebellion later grew to what is now known as the Eastern Rebellion.
Later that month, King Mighty Destro saw it fit to send his entire 3rd Army as a peace keeping force. The Iron Grenadiers intervention was met with adamant objection by the Cobra High Councel. Nevertheless, the Iron Grenadiers occupied the Eastern Territories and her family farm was now in control of the Iron Grenadiers.
Despite her many attempts to make contact with her family, each attempt at communication was met with dead silence. She immediately remembered the numerous times when her family beckoned her to stay at the farm for a while on one of her many unscheduled visits with her Piglet. She felt an overwhelming guilt for rejecting their invitation to stay. She always preferred the company of her squadron mates to that of her own family. She took her family for granted as most soldiers did at her age.
From that time on, a limited war was waged by Cobra to expel the forces of the Iron Grenadiers from the Eastern Territory. When it became apparent that the Iron Grenadiers were defeated, they began a full retreat and engaged in a scorched Earth tactic.
When she was ordered to fly recon once again over her family farm, she was devastated to find the entire region ablaze. Over a thousand square miles were engulfed in flames. Entire towns were burned to the ground. She had difficulty finding her family farm because of all the devastation. She flew along the roads and other barely recognizable landmarks and finally located her family farm. She quickly landed.
She got out of the Piglet and ran towards the house screaming out for her family, “Mother! Father! Where are you?!”
The only answer she received was the crackling of cinders in a pile of ashes of what was once their wooden farm house. She walked closer to the pile of ashes of her family home where warmth, love, and laughter was once common and that’s when she noticed it. It was unmistakable. It was the smell of burnt human flesh.
Although she was petrified, she slowly stepped closer and closer. She made her way around to the back of the house and was horrified at what she saw. She found a mass pile and burned bodies, each one burned beyond recognition. She saw numerous arms, legs, and heads. She wasn’t able to make out how many bodies there were. Many of the faces had their eyes wide open as if they were staring into her soul.
She was sickened. She fell to her knees, her gut wrenched, and she threw up. She spent what felt like an eternity crying on her knees before she was able to stand up again. When she did, she approached the pile of bodies despite her instincts telling her to leave the area. She felt compelled to see the faces of death by a morbid curiosity.
And that’s when she knew her family was among the dead. She recognized her Cobra Medal of Valor in the pile. And she was devastated when she realized that it was this medal that may have doomed her family for when the Iron Grenadiers found the medal in her family’s possession, they extracted their revenge.
She fell to her knees again. With tears pouring from her eyes, she prayed aloud to the gods and almighty Zeus, “Oh lord in heaven almighty Zeus, please give me the strength to overcome this tragedy. Please grant me the power and opportunity to extract vengeance unlimited. Please among all else, allow me the chance to kill as many Iron Grenadiers as possible.”
That was over ten years ago.
Today, she is leading a strike force against the Iron Grenadiers Siberian Troopers which held the mountain pass into Sector 858A. An all-out war had been declared. Prometheus, a Cobra refinery colony was under siege by the Iron Grenadiers and the Iron Grenadiers Siberian Troopers held the mountain passes blocking Cobra reinforcements. It was now up to her to break the line.
The Cobra Fang was no longer the laughing stock of the Cobra Gunships. It was now fitted with the latest in long range detection and weapons system. The detection system was sophisticated to say the least. It relied on numerous miniature stealth drones already scattered over the enemy. These drones were difficult to detect, difficult to target and shoot down, and most of all, numerous.
Each drone was equipped to detect different signs of enemy activity. Some were equipped to detect sound, others electronic activity, and others to detect enemy communication. They sent their signals back to waiting forces.
Although the Siberian Troopers masked their activities well, it was nearly impossible to mask all the elements of activity that these drones were engineered to detect.
It was up to the pilot to decipher the signals which came through as a series of sounds, beeps, bleeps, beats, and whirls. The right combination of all of these sounds meant there was enemy activity at that location.
It was a moonless night. Winnie was silently floating at tree top level listening to the signals from the numerous drones over 50 miles away. Although it was over ten years ago that her family was murdered by the Iron Grenadiers, the image of burned bodies remained fresh in her mind. Since then, she had dedicated herself to becoming a deadly weapon of war.
She became extremely good at it. She had a knack for deciphering the signal and sounds from the drones. To her, the sounds became almost like music.
PLAY THIS SONG WHILE READING THE REST OF THE STORY:
She concentrated on the signals from the drones. She was intent on killing Iron Grenadiers that night. Any Iron Grenadier will do.
The signals picked up its pace. She toggled her controls to located signals from different drones scattered across the combat zone. She began to notice an increased tempo in the signals. The sound of whirls began to come through. She was getting warmer to locating the enemy in pitch darkness.
Soon, the sounds began to converge. They were getting louder, another sure sign of mechanized activity. She zeroed in on the suspected area. The sounds grew louder. They began to converge. Finally, she noticed the whirling sound that gave evidence to a major supply depot.
Although the enemy was great, they still suffered from the same Achilles heel that every army had suffered since the beginning of warfare, their supply route. The combination of sounds she detected was a sure sign that she had located a major enemy supply depot, but there was only one way to be sure.
She armed a shell from the massive casing mounted above her Piglet. She programmed it to burst in air directly above the target. She pulled the trigger and with a loud thud and whoosh, the shell fired and burst from its housing. It looked like a fireball streaking into the distant darkness before disappearing.
But firing her weapon gave away her position and sure enough, the enemy returned fire. She saw white streaks from rockets launch from the horizon slowly arching towards her. But she had to remain suspended in her position to receive feedback and signals from the drones.
Although her heart was pounding, she remained silent and calm even as enemy missiles were streaking towards her. After a few seconds, she saw a flash from the horizon from the explosion of her shell. More importantly, she saw flashes from secondary explosions, a sure sign that she had hit a vital target.
The sounds from the drones intensified signifying increased enemy activity. She listened more intently to the signals from the drones and she finally heard what she wanted to hear. A drone intercepted an enemy radio transmission crying out for medics. The corner of her mouth arched upward as she manage a quiet smile.
By now, the enemy missiles were almost upon her. She saw the white and silver streaks getting brighter and brighter against the darkness of the horizon. After receiving the signals she was waiting for from the drones, she could final descend from her floating position above the trees in an attempt avoid the enemy rockets.
She quickly dropped into the tree line. She cursed the engineers who designed the Fang for not adding doors to it as pine branches snapped and scratch their way into her face as she descended. When she landed, she immediately shut all systems down hoping that the enemy missiles would lose her signal.
There was nothing left to do but sit in complete silence. She knew that the enemy had their own drones overhead and the slightest sound could give away her exact location. She sat and waited as the enemy missiles came ever closer. The sounds from her detection system got furiously louder and intense. Yet there was nothing she could do but hold her breath and sit in silence.
The white and silver light from the enemy missiles streaked closer and closer. Finally, one missile streak directly above her and exploded in midair. The air burst was extremely close. Shrapnel sprayed the Piglet as the other missiles exploded elsewhere.
She breathed a sigh of relief. The missiles lost her signal. She powered up the Piglet again and launched upward. As she ascended above the dark forest into the moonless sky, she was followed by an entire squadron of Fangs. The squadron was in hiding just waiting for her to locate the enemy. The entire squadron of over 24 Fangs ascended above the forest. They followed her in perfect formation towards the target zone.
She radioed to her comrades, “Enemy positions located, we’re in the pipe, 555.”
They streaked towards the target zone and unleashed their ordinance. But the destruction of the supply depot wasn’t enough for her. After the squadron annihilated the supply depot, she noticed enemy fire coming up at her from fortified positions below.
Perhaps she was suicidal or perhaps it was her intense hatred for the Iron Grenadiers that fueled her rage. Whatever it was, it possessed her to streak down upon the enemy positions at treetop level. She maneuvered the Piglet along the mountain ravines directly towards the enemy positions like a pigeon from hell.
She flew directly over fox holes, bunkers, and pill boxes. She peppered the Siberian Troopers with the pea shooter mounted at the nose of the Piglet. The Iron Grenadiers had once ridiculed the Fang calling it the Wood Pecker due to the sound of the small caliber gun, it sounded like a Wood Pecker pecking into tree trunks.
But on that night, Winnie earned the Wood Pecker a new nickname. After Winnie’s attack on their positions, the Siberian Troopers referred to the Fangs as the Death Dealers. Winnie marked her attack run with blood. Winnie’s attack paved the way for the Great Cobra Commander’s Viper State Security forces, or the VSS, to break through the Siberian Troopers defensive lines. They had broken the line and were on their way to save Prometheus from King Mighty Destro’s siege.
After her mission, she knew she was changed forever. It was the first time she killed enemy soldiers. Her attack run cost the lives of several of her squadron mates, but the Great Cobra Commander gave her great accolades for her small role in breaking the enemy lines.
When she returned to base, she looked upon the Piglet and after a slight pause; she fetched a can of red paint and painted the word Killer above the name Piglet. Her squadron, who once poked fun of her codename Pooh Bear, began unofficially referring to her as the Red Death. From that night on, she marked her path with the enemy’s blood and in her Killer Piglet, the Red Death became a legend among all Cobra gunship pilots.
However, despite her growing status, she was never satisfied. No matter how many Iron Grenadiers she killed, it was never enough. Fueled by her intense hatred, she had diligently trained herself to become the fine instrument of war that she was. She dedicated her life to killing those who came from the Empire of the Iron Grenadiers. But after spilling so much blood, she later began to wonder if there was room for anything else in her heart.
In her private moments, she often asked herself if she could ever love anything again and what would become of her if there were no more Iron Grenadiers left to kill?