A Last Gasp for Breath
My story is one that has never been revealed. No one truly knows the man behind the legend of The Demon Lord. No one knows who Cipher really was. Except me, I guess. It starts simple enough, being a farm boy born Erich Völler in 1974. I was raised in the countryside of Southern Belka, particularly in the region of Ustio. If you saw me, you'd know where I'm from immediately. Buzzed blond hair, bright blue eyes, and a 5 foot 11 inch stature, characteristic of the Aryan Belkans and Ustians.
I grew up with a love for the sky. Especially from listening to my father talk about his exploits in Osean Continental War in the forties, where he flew a Me 109G in the Belkan Air Force. Although I grew up in the clouds, my father never wanted me to go there. He always insisted I stay on the ground and go to college to be an engineer. But for me, It never could last. In my teens, I flew gliders with a few friends of mine at an old Belkan airfield nearby. It gave me a chance to touch the heavens that before, I only could dream about. It truly changed my life forever.
When I turned 18 in 1992, I rejected a scholarship to go to the University of Oured, and enlisted as a mercenary fighter pilot. My father raged at me for a good hour when I told him what I was doing. He said I was going to throw away my life for something that had no real value, and I was going to be scarred forever. I loved my father, and It was terribly hard for me to turn my back and leave home with him in this state.
But I did, with tears streaming down my face. But I had done what I wanted, what I knew would make my happy, and satisfy the everlasting need of mine to fly higher and faster than ever. In training, I flew with Belkans, Oseans, Yuktobanians, Emmerians, Estovakians, Eruseans, Useans, you name it. I toured all over the world for my training, and I loved every minute of it. It was during this time I was given the nickname the few people close to me knew me by. Cipher. It was given to me by an Yuktobanian pilot named Viktor Andrianov, who said it would be hell for anyone flying against me, because it would be like breaking a complex cipher, since I was near impossible to read.
I took the nickname to heart as I continue to fly and to impress around the globe, and finally take it to the grandest stage on the planet. The Belkan War had begun on March 25, 1995. I had accepted an offer from the Ustian Air Force to fly in their newly reformed, mercenary-only, 6th Air Division. I was quickly assigned and deployed to the 66th Air Force Unit.
And it was on April 2nd, 1995, that the story of the Hell Hounds begins, where mine and another intertwines. This is the story of Galm.
I was cruising in my F-15C at 20,000 feet over the mountains of Valais AFB, ready to get some action. I was motionless in the cockpit of the Eagle, and I was quietly confident that I could take whatever came at me.
"Alright, good to see everyone got up," Central Command said over the radio, "The Belkan Bombers are now entering the area of engagement, begin interception."
"Roger," I responded.
"Cipher, you are now in command of the Galm team as Galm 1. Pixy, you're now Galm 2."
"Copy," the pilot of another Eagle with a single red wing replied, "You better have the money waiting for us after this."
"That's only if you two get back alive," Central Command responded.
"Yeah, Yeah, just make sure it's ready when we get back."
The other F-15 formed up on my right wing as I moved to the lead position.
"You ready to go, Cipher?" Pixy asked.
"Yeah, I'm good."
"I've heard about you," The mysterious pilot said, "And I'm anxious to see what you can do. Take us away, flight leader."
We banked to the left and made a long swooping turn to head off the formation consisting of 6 B-52Gs, 6 BM-335s, and a mixed fighter escort. We were going to have our hands full.
I adjusted the throttle to three-quarters thrust, and armed my missiles. I was going to make a high-to-low cutting pass at the first four bombers in the formation.
"Pixy, I'm going to make a cut at the lead bombers, keep them off my tail would ya?"
"Sure thing Cipher, I'll watch your back."
I nosed the Eagle down from 20,000 feet and began my dive, increasing the thrust again. The Eagle began to shake as I blasted past Mach 1, and I readied my finger of the missile fire button on my joystick. The bombers began to zoom in towards me, no longer specks, but monsters in the sky. I switched to my multi-lock AMRAAMs or Slammers and let loose a volley at about 3000 feet from the bombers. I quickly zoomed through the middle of the formation as the missiles impacted.
"That's four confirmed kills for Galm 1, good shooting Cipher!" Pixy called, "I'm drawing the escorts keep going!"
"Roger, continuing attack, AWACS update the scope, over."
"This is AWACS Eagle Eye, high copy, radar has been updated."
I looked down at my radar screen as the wrecks were now out of the picture as the next bomber formation came into view. But, I didn't have time to attack as the Mig-21 escorts weren't too happy I had wiped out almost half their attack strength in a single pass. The were at my one o'clock high and diving fast.
"Pixy, pick up the slack, escorts are on me. Go for the bombers, over," I hailed on the radio.
"I copy, Cipher."
I gunned the engines on afterburner as I rose to face the Fishbeds. I placed myself on course for a head on collision with the lead as I depressed the trigger for my cannon. The twenty millimeter beast roared to life as I scattered his wingmen, but the lead remained motionless as I closed in on him, the cannon still roaring. Seconds later the Mig exploded into a plume of flame and steel, and I stormed through the cloud of fire.
I made and Immelmann turn as I chased down his number two. He was running scared and I calmly sat behind his tail, not tiring myself out chasing easy prey. I followed easily as he was jerking and wildly flailing around. I fired a Slammer and he was disabled. But, I didn't let that fly as I finished him off with a sidewinder for good measure. I heard the Belkans cry foul at that, but I ignored their outburst. I Split-S'ed and went after the last Mig-21 who was trying to climb back up to make another pass at me. I quickly climbed and pulled lead on him as my cannon's aiming reticule came up on the HUD. I put it about 4 inches in front and gave a three second burst. It had an immediate effect as the right wing shredded off, and the Fishbed spiraled out of control. I never saw a chute.
"Pixy, one wing of escorts are down. How's the bomber attack coming?"
"Good, some of the other wings have lent a hand and we're almost done. The escorts are bugging us, can you give us a hand and swat the flies?"
"Roger, I'm inbound."
I climbed again up to 25,000 feet with the sun to my back. I pulled back to about eighty percent thrust as I made my way over to the the bombers. Pixy was right, It was almost mopped up, but I could see the smoke trails from the enemy escorts' missiles.
"Cavalry's incoming," I called.
I hit my afterburners as I rolled over and made a long-winded Split-S to get behind the formation, and I immediately let off Slammers at the five fighters, but these were Mig-29's and were not going to go down as easy. I managed to get one of the Swallows, but the others quickly broke their attack and came after me.
I was unfazed as my missile alert was going off, quickly reacting by speeding up right towards them. I let loose both of my sidewinders, and as soon as I passed them, I stamped on my air-brake and turned around to chase after them. In my first pass I had mortally damaged two of them, so I finished them off with my gun. But the other two seemed different. They had matching light-grey camouflage with red tail-planes. Aces, no doubt.
They quickly put me on the back foot, with one forcing me into a rolling scissors. I fired bursts of cannon fire as we weaved back and forth past each other. His counterpart then proceeded to try and attack from up top. I responded by breaking the maneuver and turning on him, but the first one again was right on my tail. I continued to drive at the high rider, while the other Swallow riddled my Eagle with cannon-fire from behind. I then hit my afterburners and pulled an Immelmann turn and forced the two Mig-29's to scatter into each other. I managed to get the first one right out of the turn, and gave chase to the last one. He climbed up into the sun in an attempt to blind me, but it failed. I fired a Slammer and his plane was gone in a flash.
"Give me a sit-rep, Eagle Eye," I called.
"All aircraft have been destroyed. Good work Galm Team."
"Roger, Pixy form up," I said as I leveled my Eagle at 15,000 feet.
The white solo red winged Eagle soared up to meet my grey double-blue winged Eagle as we slowly made our way back to base.
"Hey Cipher, I think you and me are going to get along just fine. Buddy."
I looked over to him in his Eagle and gave him a thumbs-up, "Glad to hear it, Pixy."
"Don't mention it. Now let's get our money."
I laughed, "You read my mind!"
We landed back at Valais AFB shortly afterwards, and I quickly hopped out of my Eagle to meet my new wingman. He had short cut, but messy brown hair, and cold brown eyes. He wore an old-fashioned leatherneck jacket like the one I was wearing. He had a small grin on his face as I came up to him.
"You're a bit of a youngster aren't you, buddy?" he said as he held out his hand.
"Yeah," I said as I shook it, "Doesn't mean I can't fight."
"I didn't mean that," he said with a chuckle, "Just didn't expect it."
"Front seldom tells the truth. To know the occupants of a house, always look in the backyard."
Pixy shook his head and he wore the same grin, "Where'd you learn that?"
"Here and there," I said returning a sheepish smile, "You learn a few things traveling the world as a fighter pilot, and as a person."
"Wise words," He said as he looked back up to the blue skies, "I'm Larry Foulke by the way."
"I'm Erich Völler," I responded looking over in the direction of GHQ, "Should we go get our money and cash out?"
"You bet! Pay day is always a good day!"
We sprinted off to GHQ to pick up the day's check.
Someone has to put the food on the table.