Out Of The Dark – Snippet 16

Out Of The Dark – Snippet 16

Chapter .X.

It was unfortunate that international restrictions on the treatment of POWs didn’t also apply to what could be done to someone’s own personnel, Stephen Buchevsky reflected as he failed — again — to find a comfortable way to sit in the mil-spec “seat” in the big C-17 Globemaster’s spartan belly. The hell with waterboarding! If he’d been a jihadist, he’d have spilled his guts within an hour if they strapped him into one of these!

Actually, he supposed a lot of the problem stemmed from his six feet and four inches of height and the fact that he was built more like an offensive lineman than a basketball player. Nothing short of a first-class commercial seat was really going to fit someone his size, and expecting the U.S. military to fly an E-8 commercial first-class would have been about as realistic as his expecting to be drafted as a presidential nominee. Or perhaps even a bit less realistic. And if he wanted to be honest (which he didn’t), he should also admit that what he disliked even more was the absence of windows. There was something about spending hours sealed in an alloy tube while it vibrated its noisy way through the sky that made him feel not just enclosed, but trapped.

Well, Stevie, he told himself, if you’re that unhappy, you could always ask the pilot to let you off to swim the rest of the way!

The thought made him chuckle, and he checked his watch. Kandahar to Aviano, Italy, was roughly three thousand miles, which exceeded the C-17’s normal range by a couple of hundred miles. Fortunately — although that might not be exactly the right word for it — he’d caught a rare flight returning to the States almost empty. The Air Force needed the big bird badly somewhere, so they wanted it home in the shortest possible time, and with additional fuel and a payload of only thirty or forty people, it could make the entire Kandahar-to-Aviano leg without refueling. Which meant he could look forward to a six-hour flight, assuming they didn’t hit any unfavorable winds.

He would have preferred to make the trip with the rest of his people, but he’d ended up dealing with the final paperwork for the return of the Company’s equipment. Just another of those happy little chores that fell the way of its senior noncom. On the other hand, and despite the less than luxurious accommodations aboard his aerial chariot, his total transit time would be considerably shorter thanks to this flight’s fortuitous availability. And one thing he’d learned to do during his years of service was to sleep anywhere, anytime.

Even here, he thought, squirming into what he could convince himself
was a marginally more comfortable position and closing his eyes. Even here.


“Daddy!” Four-year-old Shania held out her arms, smiling hugely, as she flung herself from five steps up the staircase into her father’s arms with the absolutely fearless confidence that Daddy would catch her. “You’re home — you’re home!”

“Of course I am, Punkin!”

Buchevsky’s voice sounded odd to his own ears, somehow, but he laughed as he scooped the small, hurtling body out of the air. He hugged the sturdy yet delicate little girl to his chest, tucking one arm under her bottom for her to sit on while the other arm went around her back so he could tickle her. She squealed in delight, ducking her head, trying to squeeze her arms against her sides and capture his tickling fingers. Her small hands caught his single big one, one fist clenching around his thumb, another around his index finger, and her feet drummed against his rib cage.

“Stop that!” she laughed. “Stop that, Daddy!”

“Oh, sure, that’s what you say!” he chuckled, pressing his lips against the nape of her neck and blowing hard. She squealed again at the fluttering sound, and he straightened enough to press a kiss to the top of her head, instead.

“Me, too, Daddy!” another voice demanded indignantly. “Me, too!”

He looked down, and when he saw a four-year-old Yvonne, he realized why his own voice had sounded a little odd. Shania was three years older than Yvonne, so the only way they could both be four — which he knew had been his favorite age for both of them — was in a dream. He was hearing his own voice, as if it had been recorded and played back to him, and everyone knew that always sounded just a little “off.”

His sleeping mind recognized the dream, and some small corner of him realized he was probably dreaming it because of the divorce. Because he knew he was going to see even less of his girls, no matter how hard Trish and he both tried. Because he loved them so much that no matter where he was, his arms still ached for those slender, agile, wigglesome little bodies and the feel of those small, loving arms around his own neck.

And because he knew those things, because he longed for them with such aching intensity, his mind turned away from the awareness that he was dreaming. Turned away from the noise and vibration of the transport plane and burrowed deep, deep into that loving memory of a moment in time which could not ever really have occurred.

“Of course you, too, Honey Bug!” the dream Stephen Buchevsky laughed, bending and sweeping one arm around Yvonne, lifting her up into his embrace.
He held both of his little girls — one in the crook of his right arm, one in the crook of his left — and smothered them with daddy kisses.


The sudden, violent turn to starboard yanked Buchevsky up out of the dream, and he started to shove himself upright in his uncomfortable seat as the turn turned even steeper. The redoubled, rumbling whine from the big transport’s engines told him the pilot had increased power radically, as well, and every one of his instincts told him he wouldn’t have liked the reason for all of that if he’d known what it was.

Which didn’t keep him from wanting to know anyway. In fact —

“Listen up, everybody!” a harsh, strain-flattened voice rasped over the aircraft’s intercom. “We’ve got a little problem, and we’re diverting from Aviano, ’cause Aviano isn’t there anymore.”

Buchevsky’s eyes widened. Surely whoever it was on the other end of the intercom had to be joking, his mind tried to insist. But he knew better. There was too much stark shock — and fear — in that voice.

“I don’t know what the fuck is going on,” the pi lot continued. “We’ve lost our long-ranged comms, but we’re getting reports on the civilian bands about low-yield nukes going off all over the goddamned place. From what we’re picking up, someone’s kicking the shit out of Italy, Austria, Spain, and every NATO base in the entire Med, and –”

The voice broke off for a moment, and Buchevsky heard the harsh sound of an explosively cleared throat. Then —

“And we’ve got an unconfirmed report that Washington is gone, people. Just fucking gone.”

Someone kicked Buchevsky in the belly and his hand automatically sought the hard-edged shape under his shirt. Not Washington. Washington couldn’t be gone. Not with Trish and —

“I don’t have a goddamned clue who’s doing this, or why,” the pilot said, “but we need someplace to set down, fast. We’re about eighty miles north-northwest of Podgorica in Montenegro, so I’m diverting inland. Let’s hope to hell I can find someplace to put this bird down in one piece . . . and that nobody on the ground thinks we had anything to do with this shit!”

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29 Responses to Out Of The Dark – Snippet 16

  1. Virgil says:

    The crap has hit the fan!

  2. yev says:

    Finally, some action.

    Why Montenegro? A bit close to Serbia, wouldn’t anywhere in Italy be better? Or Greece?

  3. evilauthor says:

    Well it’s about time!

    Although I do wonder what the Shongairi found in their little hack attempt. I suppose the answer is “nothing” since the invasion kicked right off. Although I wonder if all the Earth’s militaries being on alert because of the hack would have any effect?

  4. 4th Dimension says:

    “We’re about eighty miles north-northwest of Podgorica in Montenegro, so I’m diverting inland.”

    From what he is saying I suppose he is over Adriatic. So he can’t be north north-west of Podgorica. Only South of it.

  5. Elim Garak says:

    Finally! The s@#t just got real.

  6. Scott says:

    How much time passed between the hack and the kick off? Important as it will have effects on the success of the bombardment. If straight away then a lot of military personnel may survive. Whereas if a few days have passed then the alert status may just have consentrated personnel and resources just in time to be hammered.

  7. @3

    He was flying to Aviano, which is in far northeast Italy, north of Venice. He has passed over Romania, and is now above central Serbia. He is turning away from Italy, perhaps because there are a number of Serbian large airfields, likely — I don’t have a list — in fair part in the flat Danube valley — Serbia is not in NATO and is unlikely to be bombed –well it makes sense–and he is very close to having a fuel emergency.

  8. Roughly speaking, they are above Kraljevo, whose airport has a 3000′ runway — a nonstarter –that is shown as grass-green in satellite photographs.

  9. At least, Serbia is less likely to be bombed by the Russians or the Chinese or the Iranians, to name three innocent parties whose guilt is plausible.

  10. 4th Dimension says:

    Oh, I know where Aviano is, we were getting bombed from there.

    About airfields, the main one is Batajnica airfield close to Belgrade. The main Military and civilian airfield in Serbia. But that’s likely to get hit after the first weave. Than there is Bondsteel base in Kosovo and Pristina airbase. And number of military airfields in various state of readiness strewn trough Serbia.

    But if they don’t hit us they have just committed a grave tactical error. OR maybe it’s brilliance. Serbs fight most furiously when we got nothing and everything to loose.

    What year is it again? Any ideas?

  11. And with respect to the discussion last issue of the chief executive, it appears that she has become chiefly executed — by the Shongairi — and might better be named “President Flak Catcher and Target Dummy” as she has seemingly served her role in the novel.

    @9 I expect your perspective on the novel is going to be most interesting. I am amused to note, when that bombing gets discussed in other places, I remind my fellow Americans that before the bombing there were negotiations at Rambouillet, only two issues were not resolved, and after the bombing the settlement on NATO transit and extraterritoriality of NATO forces — both for Serbia proper — was settled on the original Serbian terms, at least so far as can be told from here.

    In other words, the United States was defeated, and Serbia won.

    Returning to the novel, I look forward to another Serbian victory, this time including us.

  12. BrotherKalashnikov says:

    And what are the chances of 3 Serbs on this board,and them being Weber readers anyway…..
    Zdravo Zemljaci…. :)

  13. Summertime says:

    If all these places around where they are flying have been hit by meteorites, or whatever the Shongairi use for kinetic bombardment, then shouldn’t they have seen some of the fiery trails through the atmosphere?

  14. 4th Dimension says:

    @10 Yeah. That’s if you look at resolution 1244 properly. But than international community decided “Screw the International law and custom of the last 50 years, let’s do what we want.”
    So at best it was a short term Strategic victory and a tactical draw (since neither did NATO hit or much of our actual forcess or had much impact on their operations, nor could we do much against anything higher than let’s say 6km with only few of systems having 10k hight limit.

    But anyway, let’s get back to the imminent “destruction porn” :D

  15. 4th Dimension says:

    @12 I don’t know how FAR can you see one of those trails, in daylight? Also they are receiving reports of nuke attacks. OR are they misunderstanding kinetic attacks, for nuke attacks.
    Let’s hope some of dead man switches in the big guys arsenals (Russia, China, USA) don’t trigger, and launch the missiles.

  16. saladin says:

    “someone’s kicking the shit out of Italy, Austria, Spain, and every NATO base in the entire Med,”

    austria???? (where i am from)
    we have no military to speak of
    we might be interesting because of infrastructure (railways, transportrouts) and the airport in vienna but you don´t need nukes or kinetic strikes (which would take some time – enough to be observed )for that

    waiting for monday….

  17. robert says:

    @16 Austria is not even a NATO member, is it?

  18. @16

    Given the data quality, they may think they are bombing the bases and fortifications of the Imperial and Royal Army, a major force in current early 20th century Europe…The year is 20XY, that must be the 20th century.

    They may not have bombed Serbia, because it did not agree with their NATO information. And Switzerland is neutral, so perhaps it has no military — and other funny consequences, e.g., bombing Andorra because it is believed to be Grand Fenwick and in possession of Quadium Bombs.

  19. Thirdbase says:

    @ Saladin

    They only got to WWI in reading their history of earth before attacking, or maybe they confused Austria with the military powerhouse that is Australia.

  20. 4th Dimension says:

    A thought occurred to me. What if Shongari landed earlier and met Mongols. Would it be a match made in HELL? :D

  21. TimC says:

    The Mongols certainly treated their enemies rather ‘harshly’ but doesn’t Genghis Khan’s DNA appear in so many people that he must have at least not killed the women? One area where the Shongari could not compete.

  22. They need under 5000′ to land, under 8000′ to take off, and those are the nominal fully loaded numbers. They are apparently quite light at this point; little cargo, less fuel.

    OF course, if we have redeployed a bunch of stuff into Afghanistan and Iraq at this point –How would you guys like to make IEDs with modern explosives? And optical cable detonators?

  23. 4th Dimension says:

    But how long will all this high tech stuff last. AND S are bound to have some gizmo to detect anything more advanced.

    Why would you use optical cables? As far as I know, they are good for high bandwidth transfer, but are not that robust.

  24. BrotherKalashnikov says:

    @23 they are also very good for detonating from very very far away (think of no signal loss for miles) without any detection of the signal source…

  25. 4th Dimension says:

    Why would you want to detonate something form that far by laying a cable for God damned miles.
    1. It’s expensive
    2. Such a length of cable will incredibly increase the chance of detection.
    3. From that afar you won’t be able to see the bomb site anymore
    4. Stemming from three, you might as well drop the optical cable silliness and go for the normal timed detonators, or even simpler “tripwire” detonation

    PS. When I say tripwire, I mean a whole range of detonators that react to the presence of something in the blast area. From normal tripwires, to pullwiress attached to baits, all the way to weight and temperature detectors.

  26. Thirdbase says:

    Where’s the Davy Crockett when you need one?

  27. evilauthor says:

    It occurs to me that the locale being focused on, Serbia, is rather close to what used to be Transylvania. Maybe that’s where our vampires come from? Shongairi bombardment waking up or letting loose Dracula or something?

  28. 4th Dimension says:

    I always assumed the action will center on Carpathian mountains. A sort of reenactment of Vlad Tepes’s campaigns. They will make S shit their pants when being assigned for guard duty there.

  29. Alejo says:

    At last! Now then, I want fighting, bloody war, mayhem and lots of it. Now, now, now! :)

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