Operation Lantern



Scene Title Operation Lantern
Synopsis A man of a thousand faces, a midnight raid that never happened, and the spark that ignites civil unrest — all in one night.
Date June 19, 2009

Staten Island

Friday June nineteenth, at approximately twenty one hundred hours we'll commence operation Lantern.

Under the canvas of night from far off, the New York City looks like a cluster of stars strewn out across a black canvas. With the moon shrouded by a blanket of thick clouds, the night consumes the city's dead heart. The roar of engines high in the sky heralds the arrival of demons of steel; machinations crafted by the hands of man to deliver unto the wretched the death they so eagerly crave. Clouds peel away from metallic frames like smoke rolling off of water, disrupted by the high-pitched whine of jet engines.

The go code for this operation, is Tinder and the code to stand down will be flashlight.

Reflected on the water of the east river, these lightless demons fall one by one into tight formation after descending through the cloud cover, black shadows cast against gray clouds with the starlight of a crippled city glittering beneath like some forgotten treasure. These iron demons move unerringly through the dark of night, one by one breaking off from the formation, their lightless wings cutting contrails through the air, unified in their precision, a ballet of aerial maneuvering serving as a prelude to the darkest moment of this night yet to come.

**I will be flying Baba Yaga with callsign Hitman 1-1, Popovich is Archer 1-1, Nikitich is Archer 1-2 and Muromets will be Archer 1-3. Sadko and Veles, are callsign Owl 1-1 and Owl 1-2. Koshkin and Koschei are evil 1-1 and devil 1-2 respectively. The strike package will consist of Archer and Hitman, with Owl held in reserve. **

In the faintest flicker of will, Baba Yaga responds immediately. Her massive control surfaces leaving delicate ribbons of pure white in her wake, tangled with those created by the prop upfront. She wings over, tumbling like an acrobatic in her delicate spin to bleed both speed and altitude. The engine rolls back to idle, the propeller's blade turning into the wind. As she drops below a thousand foot, now as silent as death itself. There are no bombs, though she wears a pair of minigun pods nestled under each wing. "Hitman 1-1, safeties off. Will begun my run in, ninety seconds."

The package will assemble on the tarmac in tight formation, radars off, outboard lights off and transponders set to passive.

Inside Baba Yaga's cockpit, pulled down tight under harnesses sits Hitman 1-1 himself:Fedor Ibragimov. Glaring through the heads up display with eyes of glass, thermal goggles pulled over the visor for his helmet. His pulse was pounding in his ears already, palms sweaty with anticipation as he sucked on pure oxygen. Safeties switches to off, he eased his thumb over the trigger ever so carefully. "Almost there."

All radio traffic will be encrypted, no exceptions.

«Archer 1-1 en route with payload» It begins, the symphony of static crackling inside of Fedor's helmet, «Archer 1-2 en route with payload, get ready for some hail.» The voices are all familiar, but each one sings a song that signs the death warrants of hundreds, if not more, death warrants that will be paid for in the blood that soaks the forgotten island. «Archer 1-3, en route with payload.»

After assembling, Devil will then take off with the strike package in tight formation.

At this distance, Staten Island looks like so much of a neon cancer, with lights of the Rookery glow bright and colorful like an oil slick over the dark land. The broken spine of the Verazanno-Narrows twisted and jet black against the pale midnight of the Hudson. «Owl 1-1 ready and waiting.» Lower and lower, Fedor's aircraft descends, condensation peeling back over the cockpit in thin glistening beads that catch the manifold hues of colorful neon light below. «Owl 1-2 ready and waiting, come back safe.»

The radar report will only read the Devil flight due to proximity. We'll proceed out over New York, drop below one thousand foot after we go feet wet and then separate.

Another static pop and crackle inside of his helmet, more voices joining the call, «Devil 1-1, eyes on all our birds.» Once dark and amorphous forms begin to become clear, the outline of buildings against the ground fog that rolls over Staten Island. Darkened buildings with lightless windows nearly blend into the terrain to human eyes, but to the heartless mechanical eyes Fedor wears over his own, they are painted in more colors than a rainbow — reds and yellows and whites standing out against blues and purples and blacks. «Devil 1-2, all-clear on the eastern front, I think I smell rain.»

Devil flight will stay east of our area of operations, and Devil 1-2 will act as command and control and monitor the island with active radar so you wont be blind.

Baba Yaga rolls back, her propellers turning to slice at the air once more as the RPMs come back up. Its just a gentle touch of the stick and rudder pedal to get her spun around, racing upwards still for another few moments before she pulls hard over the top to come down on her target from above. Minigun pods already starting to spool, as she goes silent once more. Cross-hairs drifting earthward, before settling upon the first target.

The strike package, meanwhile will execute a change in course to approach Staten island from the south. Hitman will peel off to make gun runs, leaving Archer to make its bombing run.

"…so there I was, right? We're halfway out of the Rookery, and she's just stumbling down drunk, you know?" Leaning back on the upturned milk crate, a young man rakes fingers thorugh his hair, holding a beer aloft in one hand with a crooked smile. "So I'm sitting there, watching her trying to get up, and just knowing that she's going to pop, right? So I'm — like — stepping back," he waves a hand towards one of the men seated nearby, "and Jim here — "

After Archer goes feet dry, proceed to four thousand foot and follow your flight plan. Set ordinance to release on GPS co-ordinates, which will already be programmed before the action.

Dozens of white-hot signatures in Fedor's goggles begin moving wildly, like scrambling ants away from the scorching ray of a magnifying glass held between them and the sun. The stream of bullets from the underwing miniguns look like white-hot lances thrown down from atop Mount Olympus on the thermal goggles, tearing through the building, it's occupants, and every floor to the basement as if they were all wafer-thin crackers.

You are guns free if anything gets launched at you, or any aircraft approaches you in what you consider to be a provocative manner.

The bullets tear straight through the four-level building, through the building adjacent to it, and through several parked cars in the line of strafe. The night is illuminated by the muzzle flash of the miniguns and the distinctive and horrifying whirr of one spinning up. People on the street scatter from the gunfire, the engines of Fedor's plane heard only once its too late to do anything about it, appearing as a black, winged silhouette backlit by a moon struggling to break free of the clouds.

Your objective is to put the bombs on the targets, not kill the occupants. So I don't want to hear or see anyone mopping up, no targets not on your flight plan al right?

Its really a pretty short strafing run, She just wanted to get the roaches into their cars and bolt holes before she really got into the swing of things. Not that Baba yaga hadnt struck men out in the open mind you, the rounds hit so close together that it doesnt even just cut they obliterate flesh as if thrown into a blender. Reducing human beings to smears hardly recognizable as having once been a living thing.

Let me say that again, so we are all on the same page. Guns free for self defence, not for cleaning anything or anyone up.

She sweeps low, her prop now arched back under the load of full throttle. She races down from her perch above, rolling once or twice before deftly veering away from the earth. Her trajectory is a finely timed one for certain, coming within feet of the ground before rocketing upwards into the night once more. Rocks and sand blown into a hearty dust cloud in her wake by that turbocharged propeller of hers.

We'll be reviewing gun cameras and will perform a post flight round count to make sure your all the honest men I know you to be.

Inside, Fedor cranes his head back to keep his eyes on the target. Grunting hard Baba Yaga warned him in that smooth sultry voice"Increase altitude, increase altitude, increase altitude." She says it for like a minute after a low pass like that, but truth be told at nine sustained G's Fedor cant hear a single solitary word of anything. He's grunting and practically chewing at the oxygen in his mask to keep bloodflow circulating to his brain. Finally loosening his grip on the stick with a delicate sigh, angling up for the second pass.

After dropping ordinance, head back under a thousand feet and go back the way you came.

Dust drifts in the air in billowing clouds, low fog is stirred in white whorls and eddies from the downdraft of the Tucano as Fedor sweeps in for the second run. Once again, the barrels of the miniguns spin up and begin to fire, laying waste to the surrounding buildings and people with rapid-fire extermination, even as the symphony of demons once more come in over the airwaves. «Archer 1-1, payload dropped.» The corresponding plume of dust and debris in the distance is the result of the dropping of several hundred pounds of stone from thousands of feet above the ground.

** Head to grid eighteen, which you'll find on the maps in front of you and on your GPS when your done or if anything goes sideways.**

«Archer 1-2, payload dropped.» Another voice joins the confirmation of deaths, a reaper's toll rising higher and higher as flashes of heat and light rip apart mortar, brick, metal and flesh with equal ease. «Archer 1-3, payload dropped, looks like we got fireworks from that.» A ball of fire and smoke rising up over the block of Staten Island that belonged to Archer 1-3 is indicative of a ground-based explosion — propane tanks, methamphetamine labs, there's really no way to tell from here, but the fires light the path to hell clearly.

Orbit that grid, until the strike package is collected once more.

Baba Yaga arches high into the air, pausing near the apex of her upward turn before rolling out to begin her second strafing run. The HUD dances now, passing between the M134 miniguns and .50 cals stored inboard. On the ground, its all lost really. Rounds rim and tear, like hailstones made from depleted uranium. Every man who's brave or stupid enough to try crossing the street, or to start his car is immediately set upon by such a tremendous amount of DU that its perhaps better to measure them by the pound rather than individually. "Hitman 1-1, almost clear here."

Then, Devil will once again descend below a thousand foot…

As the Tucano pitches up and away from its strafing run, tendrils of flame and smoke rise up from a pair of cars perforated by the gunfire, nothing on the street moves at all, save for paper debris blown in the chill wind coming in off of the ocean, bringing the acrid sting of salt to Staten Island's open wound. The aircraft pulls up and towards the blackened heavens, and out the right side of the cockpit, Fedor can see the orange and white glow of flames in his thermal goggles, the fires that have ignited from Archer 1-3's payload, belching choking clouds of black fumes up into the sky, before it is followed by another puff of smoke and flames as something else goes up in the eruption of pyroclasmic mayhem.

…collect the strike package in a tight formation…

There is, ultimately, one unscheduled target remaining for Baba Yaga to venture towards, and it is that neon cesspool glowing in the northern trenches of Staten Island that comes sighted on the HUD. One familiar building, not tactically or geographically significant, but symbolically significant in the Russian pilot's eyes. The neon glow of the Happy Dagger, it is the denoutment to the operation.

…and proceed directly back to Teterboro airport.

Baba Yaga arcs gracefully away from the wreckage, cutting a pillar of thick black smoke neatly in half as she proceeds towards her next objective. Miniguns still spooled, fifty cals poised and both still hungry for more. She bounces her crosshairs over the dagger, as her over eager pilot inside delicately feels across the trigger.

"It would be so fucking easy."Somewhere in the back of Fedor's mind, distant words tickled. No man who works in the industry of the enemy, is a civilian.

Baba yaga sweeps low, rocking her wings too and fro to get lined up on her target. The engine belches brillaint pillars of flame as she finds full military power for just a moment or two, flaps off. Clean and fast, a bombing run in the most classical sense. She buzzes no more than feet over the dagger, at a steady three hundred mile an hour or so. Dropping her payload with incredible precision, neatly skipping it directly against the front door. The Dagger erupts in wash of light, right on cue.

"Hitman 1-1, I accidentally discharged an illumination flare please disreguard. I am ordinance expended, and proceeding to my return line."

Like a red star burning bright in the night, the illumination flare hangs slow in the heavens on its descent to the Happy Dagger, a bright crimson star that burns against the blackness of night, turning heads as much as the abrupt appearance of a low-flying aircraft could. It takes a bobbing, lazy descent through the night as the Fedor's plane rises up into the clouds, smothered by that ashen gray cover as the demons of steel and fire retreat back into the heavens to rejoin their brethren.

There is a saying, a Russian proverb, one that runs through the mind of Fedor Ibragimov as the neon-sick glow of Staten Island blurs into an indistinct mess of colors beneath his aircraft and eventually vanishes into the clouds.

"Even foul water will quench fire."

In time, it would be seen what a fire it truly was.

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