The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Payback – By Jose J. Clavell

Payback
A Without Warning Fanfic
By Jose J. Clavell

Over the Caribbean Sea

Manuel Figueroa tried to ignore the numbers blinking in his head-up display and the occasional mutterings of Bitching Bettie as the female voice forcefully reminded him that a moment of inattention, or even a sneeze, could cause he and his Fighting Falcon to join the submarine service, permanently. Buying the farm that way would be terribly sucky after surviving the Iraq invasion, the unexpected furball with Iran, the second use of atomic weapons and the first nuclear war in history. That would definitively have pissed him off and greatly disappointed his legion of female fans.
Life had been relatively good since the American forces left the Middle East to their own devices and, in the case of his wing, moved back to sunny Puerto Rico. It had been extremely good for him because, unlike the majority of his mainlander brothers and sisters-in-arms, he had his grandparents and a good portion of his family still living on the island.

Of course, it had been touch and go for a while even there, too. However, living in the tropics, close to other islands in the Caribbean and to South America meant, in practical terms that, unlike his surviving compatriots stuck in Hawaii, Washington State and Guam. Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands continued to have access to sources of supply relatively nearby while they scrambled to put the fertile Puerto Rican soil back into year around food production. Unlike most of the Northern Hemisphere, they had not been exposed to either the massive toxic plume, or the nuclear-winter-like conditions, that the mysterious energy wave that hit North America had created.
The biggest effect that the war had on the island was the heavy psychological toll in the human losses that it had suffered. This was not at all strange if you considered that New York City was seen by many as the largest Puerto Rican metropolis, and it was an article of faith that more Borinqueños lived on the mainland than on the island. There was hardly a family in Puerto Rico that did not lose someone, or like him, many someones. At least for his remaining family, his survival and return from the war had provided some solace for their losses and, let’s not kid anyone, it had been a great relief for him, too, to have someplace and someone to go back home to.
Now, he spent all his free time working on his grandparents’ farm up in the mountains. There, their former cash crops of tobacco and coffee had been largely supplanted by food crops. It was a hard but good life, and Figueroa had entertained the notion that he would like to become a farmer after his release from the Air Force, but with everyone serving for the duration of the emergency, that did not seem likely any time soon. In the meanwhile, being single, a fighter pilot, and not exactly bad looking, there was more than enough company of the female persuasion to keep him entertained. Truth to tell, that might soon change, however, since Teresita Linares was quickly winning the sweepstakes for his heart.
He had been sleeping in Teresita’s arms when the duty officer’s call woke him up with news of the surprise attack on Gitmo by el cabrón Hugo Chavez. Now, as Figueroa glanced quickly to the left and right to confirm his wingmen’s positions, he knew that they were but one of the prongs of the American response. He couldn’t help wondering just what Chavez had been thinking. As a country, the US had been severely damaged, perhaps forever, but much of its armed forces were still intact, and they were not following politically imposed rules of engagement, anymore. That was apparent to Figueroa during the short war with Iran. After the initial surprise attack, he and his comrades had swept the skies of all Iranian aircraft, military or civilian without a moment thought. The only remaining counter force the Iranians could mount was the hundreds of suicide boats and jet ski’s launched against the Navy. However, that had been more than enough! The sight of American warships turning turtle as he circled helplessly overhead would be with him forever.
“Payback Leader to all Payback units, initiate your preparations for detonation.” The order from the Strike Force Commander crackled through his headphones.
That was the first radio message transmitted since the joint Air Force and Navy force had taken off from their Puerto Rican bases. They had maintained strict EMCON all the way. Figueroa swallowed hard as he tightened his seats belts before lowering his nearly opaque visor. He felt foolhardy flying in the same sky where someone planned to detonate a nuclear device, especially given his experience with them during the war with Iran. Perhaps it was not one of the smartest career move that he had ever made but, “What the heck!” he had volunteered, just like all the men and women flying through the sky with him who were making those same preparations. They had all been assured that they were going to be far enough away and well below the target’s horizon so they would be perfectly safe. He fervently hoped that for once the so-called military intelligence got it right. However, since the spooks had failed to predict Chavez’ escapade, he was not exactly brimming with confidence about that reassurance, either.
“At my count everyone look north, good luck and God bless us all!” Figueroa added his wholehearted amen to the Navy captain’s words and braced himself.
“Five…four…three…two…one…NOW,” The young pilot looked to his right and tried to keep one eye closed as the biggest flashbulb in the world went off to his South and, seemingly, right over his head. He blinked owlishly and was relieved to find that his sight had been unaffected. He braced for the incoming shockwave but was somewhat disappointed when all he encountered was some stronger-than-normal turbulence.
“All Payback units, light ‘em up.” Figueroa activated his air-to-air radar in search mode and saw on it the dozens of blips of the Venezuelan aircraft that were participating in the assault against Guantanamo. Their erratic flight patterns indicated that they had been a lot more affected by the Navy nukes than he and his compadres had been.
“Time to put you out of your misery, pendejos,” Figueroa muttered into his facemask with grim satisfaction. He switched to targeting mode, designated his first target, and announced “Tally ho, Fox One.” before hitting the trigger button on his joystick.
His call joined dozens of others as he felt the slammer drop from his wing before its rocket engine fired. The AMRAAM accelerated and started its climb, then quickly disappeared into the hazy Caribbean sky. Figueroa could have followed its progress easily in his targeting display, but with close to a hundred Falcons, Eagles, and Hornets also firing, he couldn’t spare the attention for it. The hostiles started disappearing in ones and twos, and in just a few minutes there was nothing left on his display.
Grimly satisfied, he had to restrain his natural impulse to continue on to Gitmo to engage any remaining enemy. Not when Chavez’ thugs still had thousands of American hostages under their control. Besides, now it was time to speak softly, carry a big nuclear stick, and wait for the Venezuelan response. So, like the rest of his companion’s formations, Figueroa and his wingmen climbed to a better cruise altitude. There was no longer any need to conceal their presence and forcefully reminded their new adversaries. That they may not have a working Air Force anymore but the battle-hardened Gringos still did and they knew how to play the game at a level that not South America tin pot despot would ever hope to achieve.
The ball was now firmly in the enemy’s court. They could concede and let the Americans retreat from Cuba, or not. If they chose not to come to terms, well, there were the C-130s and C-17s of the reinforced Puerto Air National Guard now circling at a higher altitude loaded with volunteer elements of the Army Guard 65th Infantry Regiment and the 92d Separate Infantry Brigade, to force a coup de main despite the expectation of high losses. They were being accompanied by planes that were the definition of ugly functionality, Warthogs, and although they lacked the finesse of his beloved Viper, he was sure that, like the Iraqis and Iranians before them, their adversaries would soon learn to fear the Warthogs, too.
He was pretty certain that the Venezuelans would see the light, one way or the other. Despite having a crazy cabrón for a leader, even Venezuelan pendejos know that you don’t mess with pissed off Borinqueños bend on revenge. That was especially true of someone that had to get up from the bed of the future mother of his children to come and punish them. Surprised at that insight, Figueroa smiled and started making plans while he waited for the bastards to come to their senses.
It would not take long.

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11 March, 2009 - Posted by | Without Warning

1 Comment »

  1. Excellant work Jose.
    I particularl liked the macro & micro stories tied together. Much more JB-like than my poor offerings.
    Ten out of ten & a koala stamp!

    Would love to see the response on the ground, both US & invaders perspective.
    I expect most of the invading Paras have been deployed – a considerable force, but when your backup & resuply go foop in an oily ball of flame, that’d make you gulp.

    Comment by Nowhere Bob | 12 March, 2009 | Reply


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