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Quantum Musings

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Gordon Rowlinson


The Crimson Wind

by James Gardner


Rainwater no longer fell from the sky but dripped from parked warplanes. It ran along the ground and a thin mist fogged up from the airfield.

In the distant east dark clouds spat yellow-white lightning cloud to ground. The ‘clearing from the west’ of the latest weather report melted clouds in the sky over battle weary flyers and their support crews. Surrender, the Telmans quit, like a water spigot turned off, like the sky clearing above. ‘More to follow’ but sleep, food, and home seemed every Grunlander serviceman’s lot; no longer a sweat bath to remedy a dirt massage.

With the war’s end a full day past, personnel no longer used rainstorms to cover their work. But now the showers were gone too and men reluctantly appeared walking back to duty. They fueled flying machines from trucks and removed debris from the last Telman raid. A bulldozer filled three-day-old bomb craters. Several enlisted men threw the shredded remains of a fighter plane into trucks.

A technician climbed a ladder and replaced a loudspeaker in time to hear, “Telman military aircraft approaching from the northwest. Use Defense Protocol Amber. Protocol Amber reads: ‘Crew all defenses. No first-fire. No unauthorized return fire. Weapon’s discharge only when ordered.’ End of Amber Protocol.”

The sound of the Telman formation, a dull drone ever so slowly increasing in volume, stiffened every person on the field. Three female medical techs got under their ambulance. Two male mechanics got under their crash truck. Several men manned anti-aircraft guns only to hear, “Standby. No fire authorized.” continuously playing on Defense-Com.

Dots became miniatures that swelled to life size. The Telmans landed in formation. They taxied in formation: sleek black twin engine warplanes with counter rotating props parked in V’s of three. The characteristic goat-coughing sound of Telman power plants vibrated in every Grundlander’s ear.

Twenty-four motors on twelve aircraft shutdown at the same time. Their sound faded together to only a single ‘cough,’ then silence. Twenty-four hatches opened on twelve warplanes and twelve aircraft commanders accompanied by twelve public liaison officers dismounted.

All save one loosened their pistols in their respective holsters. The one walked easily. He briskly saluted the first officer who stumbled from the cloud of dust made by a Grundlander staff car skidding to a halt. The Telman handed a manila envelope to the nearest open mouthed NCO, and said, “Technician, fuel twelve; aviation grade one.”

The Telmans stood waiting. The Grundlander Commander could only say, “Who on the Three Continents are you? And what is your business?”

The Telman flight leader was bandaged on his throat and both forearms bulged from gauze. Fire resistant gloves hid his hands. In the manner of Telman leaders he spoke in the plural, “We are the Crimson Wind.”

A quickly drawn breath filled every Grundlander’s lungs and hissed out, “I sees ‘em.”

“You know us it seems,” said the flight leader, “I am Luft-Officer Stomarn.”

Stomarn’s liaison, a thin female, staggered a few steps opened her mouth to speak and collapsed onto the tarmac. Grunlander crash rescue team Echo Four started first aid and voiced a preliminary diagnosis, “Shrapnel to the left leg.”

“Why are you all just staring? Where is my fuel? Can you rearm my fighters?” said Stomarn. His military demeanor melted leaving a stark primal fear, “You weren’t told were you? Your donkey-fool leadership didn’t tell you; did they?”

He kneeled over his liaison officer, “Hilde, do you live child?”

Satisfied with her slight nod he stood, “Hear me you soldiers led by fools, spacecraft have descended onto the polar ice and discharge flying machines, armored crawlers and infantry. The off-worlders invade the three continents from the pole. This is why the war between Telman and Grudland is over.”

A single open four seat vehicle approached the crowd. A single non-com jumped out holding a manila envelope, “You the airfield commander? Uh, sir, it’s supposed to be very important; about the Telman’s and something going on at the Upper Pole.”

“Stomarn, our av-fuel accommodates I.C.E. power plants with a compression ratio of 10 to 1.”

Stomarn looked as if he swallowed an egg whole; then he half smiled, “The fuel for the Sky-Fire racer; no? Yes, this fuel is nicely.”

Colonel Carmichael, the airfield commander muttered, “In my wildest nightmare...” then he yelled, “Fuel and rearm The Crimson Wind.”

The loud speakers blared, “Uh Colonel? Uh sir, the gate’s called. Them trucks and stuff got ‘Parliamentary Approval.’”

A convoy appeared towing bombs stenciled ULTRA SECRET and scattered among the foreign aircraft. Grundlander technicians busied themselves underneath the Telmen’s fighter-bombers mounting the bombs.

“Stomarn, what’s up?” Carmichael’s eyes darted about.

***

The Crimson Wind departed north. Grundlander aircraft sat fueled, armed, and ready to fight with their crews nearby.

Other than three bright flashes on the northern horizon nothing else occurred.

At dusk two Grunlander mechanics talked, “Strange, you recon they attacking the off worlders?”

“Has to be. But I seen ‘em come east and I seen ‘em go north. They’s visible. More seeable than the wind. Listen...”

A dull drone ever so slowly increased in volume. Pale evening sky showed no aircraft.

The Telmans parked in formation: sleek black twin engine warplanes with counter rotating props the goat-coughing sounds all stopped together.

Five hatches opened on five warplanes and five aircraft commanders dismounted in time to be greeted by the airfield commander stumbling from his staff car.

Stomarn saluted.

“Yes, yes what?” said Carmichael.

“The fool off-worlders didn’t sense us until the sun gouged them with her fingers.”

Carmichael’s mouth fell open, “The sun has no fingers.”

Stomarn said, “The action that heats the sun fell; as if she bled on them.”

Carmichael still frowned.

Hilde limped up, “Element one fuses with itself to make balloon gas and heat. The ashes of our enemies are frozen in radioactive glass.”

“From the Crimson Wind,” said Carmichael.

Yes, my friend,” said Stomarn. “Star’s blood from a crimson wind, plasma bombs from invisible aircraft.”



2011-06-10 10:08:41
Ironspider - I liked the feel of this story, though some parts interrupted the smooth flow. I'd suggest expanding this as I'm curious about both the Telman-Grunland war and the aftermath of the off-worlder's arrival. Ironspider


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