My 2022 WEP-IWSG Challenges entries, bar February’s, were my ongoing Ukraine stories, so I resolve to continue them until there is a just conclusion to the horrendous war.
For those new to this ongoing creation, please note, this present day tale began with my World War II story Feathered Fire, which introduced the Chayka family from Ukraine and appeared in the 2020 IWSG Anthology (No. 5), Voyagers: The Third Ghost.
The current stories open with Part 1, Rainbow Firebreak, for the WEP/IWSG April: Challenge: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/04/20/wep-iwsg-april-challenge-a-hard-rains-a-gonna-fall/.
Part 2, Winged Woes, for the WEP/IWSG June Challenge: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/06/15/wep-iwsg-june-challenge-please-read-the-letter/
Part 3, Moonbeam Magic, for the WEP/IWSG August Challenge: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/08/17/wep-iwsg-august-challenge-moonlight-sonata/
Part 4, Winged Death, for the WEP/IWSG October Challenge: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/10/19/wep-iwsg-october-challenge-thriller/
Part 5, Soul Seeds, for the WEP/IWSG December Challenge: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/12/01/wep-iwsg-december-challenge-first-time-ever/
Part 6, Swords to Ploughshares, to conclude the WEP/IWSG December Challenge and close 2022: https://rolandclarke.com/2022/12/10/swords-to-ploughshares/
I’ve been working on my February Challenge entry and made some crucial corrections.
First, a plot event I foreshadowed in Part 6 had to occur in late Jan/early Feb before the key romantic event of the month. Hence, I’m posting that event here as Part 7 with both Ukraine and Russia probably preparing winter offensives.
Second, I noted some errors in my air force terminology. Specifically, when calling a group of three or four jets, a wing. I sensed I was wrong. I’ve now done my research. Apologies to all who knew a wing consisted of a number of squadrons, which are sub-divided into flights of around four jets.
I will be more accurate in future. Here’s a clearer explanation:
Blurb: Night Witches resolve to make Winter their friend.
Friday, February 10th – CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
The six elite Witches walked into the de-brief, stamping snow off their flying boots.
“Not quite what was intended, trainees,” said the Royal Canadian Air Force instructor waiting for them. “But effective although unconventional… as you have proved every day.”
“Is that a pass then, sir?” asked Anzhela Havrylyuk on behalf of her sisters designated as Silver Flight.
Even if they’d played by their own rules and with Night Witch style, they must have completed their five-week low-level flying and extreme weather training to a reasonable level of proficiency. Or had their approach to the last challenge failed to impress their RCAF trainers?
Hopefully their chief mechanics had succeeded at their tests.
“We were tempted to fail you all,” said the senior instructor, nodding at his colleagues. “But we won’t as we were impressed at your ability to adapt and improvise. It was a chance for us to glimpse that Ukrainian resilience, which has Russia struggling.”
Another Canadian continued. “We’re amazed how this afternoon you dealt with the mock ‘hostile’ raid. Perhaps against a Russian ‘Bear’ bomber your tactic might have failed. But you forced our Aurora maritime patrol aircraft to land—”
“—So, your ground crews could overpower the Aurora’s personnel… who have agreed to stay for the evening. Time to celebrate your success, pilots.”
Outside they were joined by the embarrassed twelve-person Aurora crew, escorted by six Ukrainian chief mechanics.
“They were worried what we were going to do with them,” said Anzhela’s partner Larisa.
“Make them dance all night for us,” shouted the Witches.
A roar of jet engines.
Everyone turned towards the main runway as another four Hornets in Ukrainian markings and the squadron’s distinctive midnight blue camouflage landed.
Ground crew guided the fighters into temporary hangers.
The pilots joined the watchers and saluted Anzhela.
“I’m Kapitan Maryna Sobol,” said the wiry blond leading the group. “We’re Sable Flight from Cold Lake. I’ll explain more in the warmth.”
As they approached the mess, Maryna stopped, glowing inside as she watched a swarthy mechanic spontaneously make a snow angel and giggle.
The mechanic grinned and jumped up. “I’m Bohdana Shvets. The angel’s for our protection. Let me get you a beer and whatever else you desire.”
After she’d eaten, Maryna told everyone, “We’re all Canadian-Ukrainians, inspired by the defense of our ancestral home, especially by you Night Witches.”
Once the shouts of Slava Ukrayini ended, she continued, “We originally trained with the RCAF. Chayka Air obtained our Hornets, then repainted them.”
“So, you volunteered like our Majors?” asked Anzhela.
“Yes. We’ve all changed nationality to fight. But please help us adapt our dialect to standard Ukrainian. If you need to know more, chat to any of us.”
Maryna nodded as the enticing groom pointed at their empty glasses. Her sensual musing was interrupted by Anzhela and the Garrison Commander, who asked a question many had posited.
“Since February 24th, we’ve all worried about provoking the Russians and escalating this war. Fortunately, the gradual increase in weaponry, like HIMARS, hasn’t. But do you think equipping a squadron with NATO jets will trigger that reaction?”
“I pray we can fly ten Hornets into Ukraine via Poland, low-level at night… without the Russians noticing,” said Maryna, crossing herself. “As for combat, how did the Witches avoid enemy escalation before?”
“Witches luck,” said Anzhela. “Guess a few NATO jets with Ukrainian markings on night sorties were misidentified. But a squadron of 20 won’t remain hidden.”
The Commander advised caution. “Timing is crucial. Other NATO deployments like Leopard 2 tanks might distract attention from your next sorties.”
Bohdana returned with refills for the table and asked Maryna, “Can we expect others like you from Cold Lake?”
The blonde smiled. “Like me… or more volunteers?” She paused, staring intently at the mechanic. “I’m unique… but other recruits – sure. Chayka Air has set up a training program for pilot and mechanic Night Witch volunteers, especially from Ukraine, as well as Canadians.”
“Privately funded?” asked Anzhela.
“Donations and Chayka staff giving their time. Plus, decommissioned RCAF jets will be available at discounts.”
The Commander added, “A few avenues remain, so our Canadian MOD doesn’t officially step outside current policy on Ukraine.”
Recognizing the distracted couple, Anzhela stood. “Sir, we must finalize tomorrow’s departures.”
When the other two had left, Bohdana asked Maryna, “Can I be your chief mechanic… please? I haven’t been properly assigned. I have unique—”
“—qualities I need to satisfy. Let’s slip away before we’re missed.”
Sunday, February 12th – Airfield “Kalyniv” near the Polish border.
Anzhela led the six Hornets of Silver Flight in silent low-level approach towards Kalyniv airfield. As dusk fell, she cleared the familiar treetops at the snow-ploughed runway’s end, then lowered her landing gear. Her wing-sisters followed, and when the ground crews taxied away the last plane, Maryna led the four jets of Sable Flight down.
Larisa embraced Anzhela as she climbed onto the ground.
“Even that was too long being apart. At least I got to see how Hornets are refueled mid-Atlantic by an air tanker. Impressive Chayka maintaining their retired RCAF Boeing CC-137. It was comfortable too… more than the truck from Kraków.”
“Or a Hornet for hours?” Both laughed, then Anzhela added, “But our refuel stopover with Chayka’s Swedish military friends was a relief.” As her flight-sisters gathered, she said, “Time to debrief.”
FCA 915 words