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We follow the Canadians in...

We follow the Canadians in and are cleared first onto the field. It is an uneventful flight back to Sochi and it is good as always to see our home again. And I will have much to explain to my 586th comrades, with my new call-sign. I am sure that Vasily, Alexei, and Dmitri will have much to say about that.

There is a letter waiting for me when I return to my quarters.

This is strange, it has no return address. Tearing open the envelope, I look at the handwriting-it is precise, and clearly written in English. My heart stops when I read the salutation. Only one man has ever addressed me thus:

Hello, Lieutenant A.D. Andreeva,

Or is it that I forget myself? When you left, you gave me leave to call you “Sacha,” as your friends do, and apologized for calling my people dogs. Do you remember? You told me then that you owe me your life, and I now must ask you to trust me once again, for that debt has come due. I tell you this so that you will know from whom you receive this letter. I must speak with you once again. It is of the greatest urgency.

We know that you fly now with the American “Fighting Eagles.” Your new American aircraft is as well known to us as your old MiG-29 with the hammer and sickle once was, Sacha. In ten days’ time, you must fly your F-15C, tail code FF / 82-711 to the Georgian airbase at Batumi. Further instructions will await you there when you arrive and park the aircraft at the general cargo terminal. Do not fail me, Sacha. I trust none save you with what I must relate. Come alone. Today, the Imam received a new pet from his friends in the south, a super bug with a face like a skull, swatted from the sky. Do you remember how I found you? Consider that day when you decide what you must do, my beautiful Russian friend.

It is unsigned. But I know its author. A swarthy man, a tall man, a Turk with a thick, dark mustache and glittering, dark eyes. Kemal Volkan, of the Turkish intelligence service. My savior when I was captured, after the IRLF shot me down over Suhumi airbase last year. Kemal lives! I do owe this valiant Turk my life. There can be no doubt that it is him, these details together cannot come from another. But what can he mean, what can this “super bug” be? A new weapon? A bio-weapon, perhaps? I was in hospital when he found me. I crumple the paper in my hand and run for the door.

I must see Major Curtis…. and quickly!


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