CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

yet. Repeat, no confirmed identification on the bogey. Nothing on radio

and no IFF signal. Before we take further action, we need a positive

visual ID. Until we do, we’re calling it a possible hostile. Over.”

“Ah, roger that, Dog House,” Batman replied. “With stress on the

possible, right?”

“That’s affirmative, Watch Dog. You’ve got weapons free, but stick to

the ROES. Get a positive visual identification before you do anything.

The last thing we need is a friendly fire incident to lead the news

stories today.”

“Understood,” Batman said. “We’re on it, Dog House. Bird Dog clear.”

He paused. “Dixie, you still with me?”

“Bird Dog Two, roger,” Mason answered.

“You hear all that? We’ve got weapons free, but mark your targets.”

“That’s a roger.” Cat heard him pause. “Uh, Skipper? You think this

one’s for real?”

“Hell, that’s what we’re here to find out. You keep your eyes peeled up

there, or I’ll have you in for another session of sensitivity training.”

“Oh, no, not that, Skipper,” Mason said, his tone mock-serious.

“Anything but that!”

Cat laughed. The politically correct crowd back in Washington had been

leaning hard on the Navy to provide sensitivity training to teach

tolerance, understanding, and acceptable behavior toward women and

minorities both. It was thoroughly loathed by all concerned and didn’t

seem to do very much good, though the people issuing the directives

seemed less concerned with results than with the actual issuing of the


It was a strange world, sometimes.

“Don’t worry, Dixie,” she said over the ICS. “Even if this run turns up

dry, I’m sure we’ll see action pretty soon. Up at North Cape and the

Kola, it was one damned crisis after another. I’m beginning to think the

old Jeff just kind of draws trouble like a magnet.”

“Just my luck if everything goes quiet as soon as I get in the game,”

Mason told her. She could hear just a trace of bitterness in his voice.

“You train every day of your life for something that never comes. ..

know what I mean?”

“Hey, don’t forget who you’re talking to back here. Of course I know

what you mean. And believe me, if women can get a piece of the action

out here, your turn’s bound to come up!”

0928 hours (Zulu +3)

UN Flight 27 UN No-Fly Zone, Republic of Georgia Cole had never

particularly liked low-altitude flying in rough terrain, and today was

no exception. But the Hip with its VIP passengers up ahead was flying

NOE so that they could get a good look at the terrain below as they

passed, and Cole knew better than to argue with the brass. Especially

when most of the brass belonged to self-important UN twits who tended to

retreat behind language problems anytime they didn’t want to understand

a complaint or a protest.

“Keep your eyes on the road, L-T,” Dombrowski said. “That’s about the

only way to tell we’re on course.”

“Yeah. Right.” The road, in this case, was a track that might have been

paved once, but which had deteriorated under harsh weather, hard use,

and lack of maintenance. According to the map, it followed this valley

all the way up to Chaisi, up among those ice-capped peaks ahead.

He saw something up ahead, a squat vehicle parked alongside the road. He

touched Dombrowski’s arm and pointed. “Shit, Ski, that looks like a Zoo

down there.”

“Got news for you, man. It is a Zoo.” Dombrowski grinned at him. “One of

our freedom fighter buddies told me about ’em last night. His people

have a few of them, compliments of the Reds when they pulled out. It

knows we’re coming, and it won’t fire. Probably.”

Cole muttered a curse. “You might tell a guy, you know. The altitude

we’re pulling now, we’d be dead meat before I could get us high enough

to dodge those suckers.”

The “Zoo”–slang for the ZSU-23-4–was a deadly air defense weapon that

was one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in the ex-Soviet

arsenal. A self-propelled tracked vehicle mounting quad AZP-23 cannons,

it fired 23mm shells directed by the B-76 radar code-named Gun Dish by

the U.S. military. A Zoo could wreak havoc with any low-flying aircraft

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *