It has been about five years since the first fictional piece I wrote for SimHQ starring Alexandra Dmitrieva Andreeva, known to her friends and family as “Sacha”, and detailing her adventures in an alternate world where the War on Terror included an Islamic takeover of an autonomous area in Georgia, a war with a Turkey governed by religious extremists, and an American war in Iran. Originally, Sacha was intended to give our readers an exciting and different review perspective for Lock On: Modern Air Combat, which in December 2003 had only just been released. In November 2003 Bubba Wolford asked me to join the staff at SimHQ specifically to take on the Lock On review, and the game was set for a Thanksgiving release. We planned to do a week or two of articles and features to introduce our readers to the game, which was an exciting release in a world increasingly less populated with combat flight titles. I didn’t want to do the same thing I had been doing since 1999 for web sites like www.WomenGamers.com, which was write the same old review; I was going to do that for the game itself, but to give a look at more in depth features I wanted to do something a little different and fun.
About this time I had read the Operation: Persian Freedom stories so excellently written by “Bones” in our own F/A-18 forums, and I also had the opportunity to read some truly excellent U-boat fiction on Neal Stevens www.SubSim.com, a web site devoted entirely to submarine warfare simulations. I was inspired by these authors and the reception they were receiving to create Sacha and her friends. When I began writing Sacha I had little knowledge on the nuts-and-bolts organization of the modern-day Russian air force or even the pilot gear the pilots wore in the field. As I wrote and researched, I discovered web sites like www.RedPilot.com, which is an invaluable archive and virtual museum of Russian flight gear from World War II to the present day. Sacha caught on with our readership, and eventually, “Bones” and I co-wrote several articles. I was tremendously honored to see Sacha appear as a recurring character in theOperation: Persian Freedom series that had inspired her creation, and I enjoyed writing those stories. Our readers contributed greatly to the series during its run on SimHQ; Eric “EricJ” Johnson contributed the 503rd Special Operations Squadron and Sacha’s first love interest, Sniper Pilot Lt. Alexei Karmarov, to Sacha’s universe, as well as designing the distinctive blue splinter camouflage that the MiG-29 aircraft of her squadron wear. Igor Tishin and Valery Blazhnov of the Lock On design team tutored me in proper Russian naming conventions, which I had badly wrong in early versions of these stories. I am still astonished, and pleased that our Russian friends in the flight sim game have read Sacha and enjoyed her adventures — it is rare that we see heroines in Western media who originate in the East and I like to think that Sacha helped us all understand each other a little better. Thomas “ThomasDW” Weiss and others who frequent the Lock On boards here contributed story ideas and helped keep Sacha both fresh and relevant also, and I appreciate their input and support.
Sacha herself was inspired by a number of heroines in fiction. I like to think that there’s a little of me in her; however, the truth is that her personality is an amalgam of Usagi Tsukino and Minako Aino, better known as Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus from Naoko Takeuchi’s manga Bishoujo Senshi Sera Mun, and Kim Cattrall’s portrayal of the character of Emmy in the 1987 movie Mannequin. I can hear you all groaning now out there. I was aiming for that sort of headstrong, sentimental, breathless, bright, shining young blonde that seems to make friends everywhere she goes, loves her family and friends fiercely, and fights like a pit-bull when cornered, without ever letting anyone forget she’s still a woman. I think I was for the most part successful with Sacha, and I enjoyed writing her very much.
Sadly, my real-world work in the legal profession began to take more and more of my free time, and my husband and I also began developing new hobbies. As I write this, it has been about a year since I last took the stick in any flight sim, and I have not booted Lock On up since late 2006, about the last time I wrote anything for Sacha and her friends. However, she seems not to have lost her appeal to those who have read her adventures, and of late I have had requests to write another, especially given recent events in her part of the world. In 2003 very few people outside the former Soviet Union had any idea where Georgia and Abkhazia are, much less that they were disputed. I knew little of that region and at the start of the last Sacha arc I had no idea that Russia and Georgia were in a very uneasy truce over both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As time went on I learned more about the region, and the stories became a little more attuned to events on the ground as they were then. The recent hostilities in Georgia prompted at least one specific request for the story that follows here, and I hope you all enjoy Sacha’s return.
As you read, I ask that you all please keep in mind who Sacha is: A young, somewhat headstrong Russian woman; a fierce patriot, and former member of Komsomol, the Soviet youth organization, at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Her father is highly placed in the Russian air force, and she has family who fought in the sky in the Second World War, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan. Her political views are not those of the author, or of this web site; if you find her take on her adversaries uncharitable, I apologize but she is who she is.
Since I’ve forgotten how to fly Lock On with proficiency, I prevailed on SimHQ Community member and www.LockonFiles.com owner Thomas “ThomasDW” Weiss for the excellent screenshots. The MiG-29 skins are those used in the previous Sacha stories, and were crafted by SimHQ Community member Eric “EricJ” Johnson.
And now, the story begins…