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Operation GRYPHON (Excalibur Squadron IC)

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The Tiger Kingdom
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Operation GRYPHON (Excalibur Squadron IC)

Postby The Tiger Kingdom » Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:28 am

War Office Building, Whitehall
17 September 1939
0900 Hours


Weird sights - visions of the endless dunes. Caravans of light visible on the desert floor below, dwarfed by the endless starfield illuminating the darkness above. A small white city blazing fiercely, the people running and screaming and burning like something out of the Old Testament as figures like dark angels soared above. The sky itself turning dark, the fire approaching, morphing into an all-consuming inferno-

"The Wing Commander will see you now, Flight Lieutenant."
The words of the secretary jerked Flight Lieutenant Robert Page awake from his impromptu nap. He hurriedly stood, blood rushing to his head and his back already aching from trying to sit comfortably in the chair.
"Right. Thanks."

He quietly let himself into the office. It had taken quite some finding to locate this obscure section of the massive War Office building, a delicate navigational process that hadn't been helped by his worried ruminations as to exactly what was wanted of him. Ever since his reenlistment into the Royal Air Force, he felt like an insect under a microscope - always being watched, and always under suspicion. Being called in to see a "Wing Commander Barrett" - an officer Page had never heard of before - was enough to set off his alarms.
Well, cheer up. It's not like you didn't know this was a risk. You're probably about to be retired, or demoted, or...God, I don't even want to think about it.

The Wing Commander was already at his desk, packing a corncob pipe. To Page, he seemed an odd figure - heavily built, but with an oddly aristocratic face, set off by short-cropped blond hair and steely grey eyes.
Page stood to attention with the cripest salute he could muster.
"Flight Lieutenant Robert Page, present and reporting, sir."
The Wing Commander lit his pipe and took a puff, the room quickly filling with the smell of cherry tobacco. He stood and returned the salute.
"At ease, Flight Lieutenant, take a seat."

To Page, the office seemed small and temporary, with no visible personal effects. It was dark, too, which the grim day outside, visible through the window, didn't help - typically grey London drizzle. The sign on the table read "SPECIAL LIAISON OFFICER", with no further clarification as to what exactly went on here. Stacks of paper lay all around.
Curiouser and curiouser.

"I trust I didn't keep you waiting."
Page noticed a broad Lancashire accent. He decided to tactfully lie. "Not at all, sir."
Those bloody chairs should be classified as a war crime.

"Good. Well, there's a reason I called you here today, Flight Lieutenant. Several, actually. First, allow me to introduce myself. I am Wing Commander Edward Barrett, Special Liaison Officer from the Royal Air Force to the Secret Intelligence Service, D Section. I suspect you know already that D Section is concerned with direct action operations - sabotage and espionage and rude things of that nature."
The mention of the SIS nearly caused Page to jump out of his chair.
"I wanted to talk to you, Flight Lieutenant, about...well, about a lot of things, to be honest. Frankly, I may as well start at the beginning. I want to go over your record with the Royal Air Force, and your record as an...employee...of His Majesty's Government. And then, I'd like to talk with you about your future with the RAF going forward. Will that be all right?"

Page suppressed the urge to clench his fists from nerves. Worst-case scenario confirmed.
"Sure. I've got nothing to hide."

"Oh, it's nothing like that, Page. I imagine you've already had your fill of interrogations. And truth be told, I was never much good at those sorts of things anyways."

Barrett stood and strode to the window, looking outwards.

"There's no denying that you've got quite a spotted record behind you, Flight Lieutenant. Joined the RAF on your eighteenth birthday, right out of secondary school. Sped through depot training, excelled in flight training, accepted into Cranwell and graduated in the top of your class. Four years of service in No. 19 Squadron, one of the most elite and prestigious fighter squadrons in the entire Royal Air Force. Transferred to Iraq, served there for a year in the middle of one of the most dangerous revolts the region had seen in a decade, and got the EGM in the process. Resigned your commission right after making Flight Lieutenant to go fight in Spain with the Communists, served there for 18 months as pilot and partisan through some of the hottest battles and actions of the war...Madrid, Guadalajara, Guernica, and so on."

"I want to make something clear-" Page interjected.

"That you're not a communist? Never paid your dues? So you've said, many, many times before. I've no opinion of the matter myself, but if MI5 says you're clear, I'll trust their judgment. You joined up with a local resistance movement, raised hell for the Nationalists all across northern Spain. Slipped back home, only to find out that our security services had had their eyes on you the entire time. You'd been blackballed. So you went into business as a hired gun for a little while, in the crude parlance of our times. Did some work for the SIS too, much of which remains under wraps, even to me, for the moment. But it seems to have gotten you back in our government's good graces, which I suppose is all that matters.

"And that brings us here today."

Page narrowed his eyes. "I'm still not sure why you've called me here, sir."
Barrett stood up and looked out the window, the rain now lashing the glass hard as the wind outside kicked up.

"This is an unusual situation, Flight Lieutenant. I have here before me a man who has numerous disciplinary violations on his record. A man who has previously demonstrated his evident lack of ability to subsume his own beliefs and opinions to those of the Royal Air Force, or indeed, any other fighting force he's ever been a part of. And a man who has made several extremely ill-advised connections with dangerous and hostile political movements and foreign powers."

The Wing Commander sighed.

"On the other hand, this same man has numerous commendations for valor, an immense degree of flying skill, and a combat record like no other pilot in the Royal Air Force. I won't lie, Lieutenant, there are still quite a few people who think you ought to be dismissed from the RAF as a liability, even now. Or that you should perhaps be diverted to some position far away from the frontlines, where you can be safely monitored and kept away from anything of real importance - training work, remedial technical instruction, that sort of thing."
Page shuddered internally at the thought.

Barrett walked to his desk and opened a drawer, withdrawing something from within.
"But there are others, myself included, who say you're among the best we've got. And at least for now, those voices have won out. I want to congratulate you, Flight Lieutenant Page, on your promotion to Squadron Leader."
Page's heart leapt as Barrett carefully placed the Squadron Leader's tabs before him on the table, just barely remembering to stand and salute as he took them.
"Th-thank you, sir. It's an honor."
Barrett returned the salute. "You're welcome, Squadron Leader. But don't thank me just yet - not until you hear what these people have got in store for you."

Barrett reached below and hefted a Halliburton suitcase onto the desk.
"Sealed within this case is the paperwork for your new assignment. You are to command the newest squadron in the Royal Air Force, which has come into existence less than a month ago, and which has not yet mustered. Number 319, Special Operations Squadron."

Eager to see what was inside, Page had already thrown the clips of the case back and opened it up before he realized what the Wing Commander had said.
"Special operations, sir?"

"That's right," Barrett replied, relighting his pipe. "It's a new kind of fighting unit, which has been in the conceptual stage for some time. Something some of our leading military lights in the RAF, along with some of the secret gentlemen from our intelligence services, have come up with. Mr. Churchill, our new First Lord of the Admiralty, has been the prime mover for the idea. He's been pushing for it especially hard, and he likes to cajole the RAF into going along with his schemes. He's even managed to get the French government to lend their support to the idea, and has done some reaching out to various Commonwealth governments too.
"We've been hearing for years now about how the German military has all sorts of secret weapons and new strategies at its disposal to lay its enemies low, their precious Luftwaffe taking pride of p[lace above all others. We've decided to come up with something of our own to counter that - a fighter squadron composed of elite pilots who also have a background in irregular warfare and covert operations. The perfect spanner to throw in the Nazi engine. Nothing else like it has ever been done before."

Page flicked through the documents contained in the briefcase. There seemed to be hundreds of pages - intelligence summaries, aircraft and equipment requisition paperwork, and dozens of pages of personnel files.
"Am...I reading this right? It looks like a lot of these fellows aren't even RAF. There's a Frenchman...an American...another American...and...a German? That must be a mistake."

"Not so, surprisingly. It turns out that people with the sort of skillset we're looking for in are vanishingly rare, and are rather difficult to get ahold of, so we've had to...broaden our recruiting standards, so to speak. There's also something to be said for incorporating operatives from a wide array of military backgrounds and cultures, in order to get the widest range of talents and skills possible."
"Including enemy aliens?"
"Including enemy aliens who have been very carefully vetted and specially approved, yes. Let's just say that we have no reason to doubt Mr. Richter's loyalty to his new home, and leave it at that for now. The details are all in his file."

Taking a heavy puff of his pipe, Barrett leaned over the desk and stared directly into Page's eyes, the air smelling of cherry tobacco smoke.

"Before you say anything else, I want you to understand exactly what you're signing up for. You'll be responsible for a unit comprised of the most skilled and lethal men we can get. You'll be assigned the most dangerous and important missions the RAF and His Majesty's Government can devise - missions that I can assure you will have a direct effect on the outcome of this war. We'll ask the absolute utmost of you. Much of what you will be assigned to do will be classified as top secret, and you may never be able to tell anyone about it. In return, we can promise that you'll receive the most advanced support we can grant - aircraft, weaponry, equipment, whatever you might need. And not to put too fine a point on it, but I can tell you that your pay will reflect the importance of the work you'll be doing.

"And I also want to tell you something else - there was a very short list of candidates named to potentially lead this unit. The First Lord mentioned your name specifically, for whatever that may be worth to you."

Page, still half-expecting his career to be ended at any moment, was taken aback by the enormity of what Barrett was telling him.
Being transferred is one thing. So is being promoted...but what even is this assignment? It sounds almost...too good to be true...
"I have to tell you, sir...This wasn't what I was expecting. Do I have a choice?"

"Of course you do. This is a purely volunteer operation. Nobody's being conscripted here. As a matter of fact, I've received word this morning that a Gladiator squadron operating in Khartoum just had a rather serious malaria outbreak - both the Squadron Leader and Executive Officer had to be shipped home. I understand that's likely to be your post for the taking, if you decide that 319 Squadron isn't your cup of tea. Hopefully the epidemic will have blown over by the time you arrive."
"That's hardly a fair choice."
"Maybe for you. All a matter of perspective, anyways. But from what I can tell from your record, Squadron Leader, you're the kind of man who's not happy unless he's at the center of the action. That's the kind of man we want. And rest assured, this is the main event - the pinnacle. Would you really pass that up?"

Page flicked through the stacks again. An appended section at the back caught his eye.
"You've already designed the heraldry?"
"Oh! Yes. I think our design people got it from the First Lord. How did he put it? 'This new Squadron, if so constituted, may well form the vanguard of a new type of warfare which would serve as Britain's Excalibur, capable of defending the Empire in any domain of warfare, on any front in the world, and against any enemy conceivable', or something like that. It's all very dramatic stuff, but they seem to have run with it quite well. Although if I remember my Arthurian myths right, they may have mixed a sword up somewhere. That's none of my business, though."

Page had to admit it certainly did look dramatic - the single hand proffering the sword from the lake, the beautiful red and gold patterning, "PICK UP YOUR SWORDS AND FLY" adorning the bottom as a motto (was that a line from some half-remembered poem? It seemed so very familiar, somehow)...

"The Excalibur Squadron..."

Page drank it in for a moment - a Squadron Leader's tabs, and his own squadron - composed, at least on paper, of the best in the world.

I think I like the sound of this very much.
Or at least, more than being shipped to the Sudan to spend two months in the infirmary while a war's going on at home.
It was a low bar, true, but Barrett's offer had cleared it.
I expected to be cashiered, and instead they gave me a blank check. I'd be a moron to say no.

"Where do I go first?"
BArrett beamed. "Good decision. There's a car waiting outside to take you to Northolt. As soon as the weather clears, you'll be flown down to Manston Heath. That'll be the Squadron's base of operations, at least for now. I'll put the word out to send the other recruits your way, so we can start assembling the squadron and get squared away for the actual work."
"So you do already have an assignment for us."
"We have some ideas. Nothing very definite at the moment. But Section D and the upper leadership in the RAF and SIS are all very much of the opinion that something must be done, quickly, to contest the Germans. It's a world war we're fighting, Page, and you've got to be ready for anything, anytime, anywhere."

Page stood.
"Just send me the men and the planes, and we'll be ready to storm Berlin by the weekend, sir."
"I'll hold you to that, Squadron Leader. As soon as we come to a decision, you'll be the first to know. Dismissed."
Last edited by The Tiger Kingdom on Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
When the war is over
Got to start again
Try to hold a trace of what it was back then
You and I we sent each other stories
Just a page I'm lost in all its glory
How can I go home and not get blown away

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Goram
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Goram » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:19 am

Watch the ball...watch the ball...

Henry White, half crouched, tapped his bat on the ground. He looked up to see the bowler coming in off a short run up. The ball pitched slightly short of a length and well outside off stump. White rocked back a fraction and aimed a vicious cut through the backward point. The bat seemed to sing in his hands as he made solid contact and the red leather ball flashed away, past a helpless fieldsman.

"Yes!"

He shouted, calling his partner through to take a run. White set off jogging, watching the ball skit away towards the boundary fence. He ran nonchalantly, rather going through the motions, until he looked up at his partner. The man running towards him had a pair of claret stains on his shirt and his previously white clothing was slowly morphing into a dirty field grey. White kept running towards the stumps at the opposite end but by the time the two batsmen had crossed, White's partner had completed his metamorphosis. Gone was the white dressed cricketer and in his place was a uniformed German infantry Corporal. Instead of the floppy County cap, he wore a steel helmet and instead of a bat he now had a rifle.

White's jog slowed to walk and then to a halt. He stood, incredulous, on the pitch and stared at the German "batsman". The claret stains on the front gave way to large holes in the back. The German groaned and collapsed on the pitch. Slowly, what had been a late summer's day in St. John's Wood became a cold, rainy night, in a trench, close to Loos in Northern France. White looked down to find his white clothing had equally changed - this time to the uniform of a British Lieutenant, and like the German, his bat was now a rifle. He heard a voice shouting at him, something frantic, but he couldn't quite work out what it was saying. It seemed to be a world away, somewhere completely separate from the body at his feet and the trench he found himself in. Suddenly, White realised that the voice was his. He was yelling to men to wake up and stand to. All around him, Lord's transformed into hell on Earth. Tracer fire lit up the night sky and the yells of men in a life or death struggle filled the air. White looked down to find hand grenade at his feet. It hissed, exploded and that was that.




Henry White's eyes snapped open. He sat up and rubbed his eyes.

Damned odd

He thought. He hadn't dreamt of the last war in nearly 15 years now. He'd heard other veterans talk of unending nightmares, but such afflictions had never been his burden. His sleep had never been plagued by the faces of dead men or by the horrors that had once been a routine sight. So why had today been different? The dream he awoke from hadn't been a nightmare by any stretch, but it had certainly been odd. But then, today was a day for oddity. Today was the first day of his second war.

In his wardrobe hung a blue/grey uniform adorned with insignia and the ribbons of medals that commemorated actions fought long ago. It wasn't the same khaki uniform that the man who sat on the bed had once worn, but it was a uniform none the less. He had never thought to wear one again, yet here he was. He sat on the edge of a bed, in a country hotel room in Manston, Kent. His journey from Brooklands had been pleasant enough, and he had spent a comfortable night. Yet now, he would put on the uniform again and in such fashion, his second war would begin.

The dress shirt was less scratchy than he remembered, but then, the last time he wore one was twenty years ago and perhaps the materials had been changed. He stood in front of the thin, floor length mirror, and slowly, meticulously, tied his thin black tie. He reached for the blue/grey battle dress jacket and paused, letting his fingertips brush over the embroidered wings and medal ribbons. The 1914 Star was there, along with a British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. The board was capped off by two white and purple ribbons of the Military Cross and the DFC respectively. Both earned for gallantry during the Great War and it was the former that he had found himself dreaming of during the night.

They had come quietly that night, with blackened faces and dulled bayonets moving through the dark. The sentry didn't see them until it was too late, and the raiders fell on the sleeping men in the trench below. The young Lieutenant had walked out of a dugout and straight into a raider. He didn't remember much of the ensuing struggle, but he could vividly recall the dull report of his pistol, the surprise in the German's eyes and how warm the freshly split blood felt on his hands. He remembered seeing the light go out of the moustachioed soldier's eyes as he slumped down, but how the gun came to be in his hands and how he brought the barrel to bare he would never know. From there, he had rallied the defenders to repel their attackers with rifle, bayonet and fists. They had been entirely successful, driving the raid back empty handed and taking a pair of prisoners themselves. However, one of the raiders left a grenade for the Guardsmen that came for him. When it exploded, it peppered the young officer's left leg with shards of wood and metal. Even now, twenty years on, the leg seemed to twinge when he thought about it. For his action that night, he was recommended for the Military Cross and in 1917, he met King George V to receive that decoration.

It was often he thought of what might have become of his life, had he not been wounded that night. He was taken back to a field hospital for treatment, and then onto light duties in the rear to suitably recover. It was here that he met and befriended a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps. In the high summer of 1916, whilst the Somme raged at the front, the young Lieutenant was treated to a joy ride by his RFC friend. He spent twenty minutes in the observer's spot of a B.E.2, but that was all he needed to catch the flying bug. Later that week, he put in a transfer to the RFC and to his immense surprise his application was accepted. He spent the rest of the Great War in the clouds, flying SPAD VIIs and Sopwith Dolphins. By the time of the armistice, he had managed to tally 28 victories and firmly entrenched himself as a capable airman. It was this that he was decorated for the second time. Demobilisation and a twenty-year career as a civilian pilot (mostly for Hawker, but occasionally for Imperial Airways) followed. It was all but a certainty that his life would have been extremely different had he not caught fragments of exploding grenade, that night in October. Certainly, he wouldn't have been in this hotel room, preparing to start his second war.

The bicycle ride from the inn to RAF Manston took less than fifteen minutes. He pedalled at an amiable rate. He could have gone faster, but it was already a fine morning. The summer had been glorious and it appeared that the good weather would continue into early autumn. The trees retained their vivid green and the sky was so blue it hurt your eyes just to look at it. You could almost be forgiven for forgetting the chaos that threatened to consume Europe, it all seemed so idyllic.

The peace of the morning was broken by the sudden roar of an aero engine and almost immediately the machine passed low over head, as it made it's final approach to land. He recognised the roar of the Merlin engine and the shape of the Hawker Hurricane, native to Manston, immediately. If you were to flick though one of his many log books, you would find well over 600 hours on the type. Indeed, you would be surprised by the sheer number of different types and the thousands, upon thousands of flight hours accrued. The man was no longer the young Lieutenant of 1 Scots Guards, that he had once been. Now he was a middle-aged man of 46, and a Flight Lieutenant in His Majesty's Royal Air Force. Older than most he certainly was, but his advancing age had not diminished his skill as a pilot. He fancied he could show these young chaps a thing or two yet.

The pedal bike coasted around a corner and came face to face with Manston's gate.

"Papers, please Sir."

The gate Sergeant said, with a distinctly uninterested air.

The Flight Lieutenant handed over a folded piece of paper - his orders - and an Air Force identity card, the name on which read "Flight Lieutenant Henry. K. White".

The Sergeant glanced at the card, and at the papers, before nodding the man on the bicycle through the opening gate. Flight Lieutenant White waved a friendly wave as he pedalled slowly through the gate, and into his second war.
Last edited by Goram on Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
Last edited by Wg. Cmdr. Gibson on Monday 17th May 1943, edited 617 times in total.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

It's coming home.

Half a bee, philosophically, must ipso facto half not be. But half the bee has got to be, vis-à-vis its entity - do you see? But can a bee be said to be or not to be an entire bee when half the bee is not a bee, due to some ancient injury?

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:06 pm

3rd of September
1939
Southampton


"Morning, dear" Alexandra said, walking into the brightly-lit conservatory. She wore a whote bath robe, and carried two things; under her arm was the morning newspaper, a special issue because of the troubles with Germany. In her arms, she held little George, not a year old. She smiled as she looked at her husband, drinking a morning coffee in his favourite chair, watching the green Southampton hills rolling before their house. The son shone brightly through the glass panels of the conservatory, giving a healthy hue to the plants and the food, neatly spread out across the breakfast table.

"I see you outdid yourself" Alexandra said, kissing her husband on the head. Howard smiled, stroking her cheek with his right hand. She took a seat at the table, picking for herself a sausage and a piece of toast, royally buttered.

"What's the occassion?" Alexandra asked, trying not to spill too much of the toast on her bath robes and George. Howard took the newspaper from her, and smiled.

"Nothing. It's a sunday, I'm home, it's a beautiful morning... reason enough for a good breakfast, if ever there was any" Howard said, as his smile ran away from his face. He folded open the newspaper, which had one big headline streched across it.

GERMANY INVADES POLAND

He did his best to get his smile back, but Alexandra had aready noticed. Now she looked worried, too. George began to wake up, too, making uneasy noises. Howard immediatly noticed the tension rising in the small conservatory. Even the birds outside had stopped singing, and the only sound was the rushing of a morning breeze and a few chickens prancing about. Desperate to break the uneasy tension, Howard reached for the radio, putting it on BCC 1. Smooth sunday music from the States came rushing into the room, filling it at least with some distraction.

"It will be nothing, dear. Chamberlain will do anything to avoid a w... a conflict. He did it at Munich, and he'll do it again. Britain does not want war."

While that was at least partially true, the aeroplane engineer could not help but think about the ever-increasing orders of Spitfires at the Southampton plant. Not just the Germans had seen this state of affairs coming, not in the slightest. Yet, he kept on smiling. There was nothing he could do about it. He flung the newspaper unread into a woven basket in the corner, taking another sip of his tea. Then, he took over George, cradling the infant in his arms. The baby had his tiny fists balled up in front of his face, which could not stop the littlest of yawns from escaping his mouth. Howard smiled. No, they would be alright. He was too old for the draft, anyway. They could not send him into the trenches like they'd done with his father. There was nothing to be worried about. Nothing at all. No war, or a short war. Over before Christmas, yes. Another conference, in Milan perhaps. Or Berlin. A short anxiety, a big relief, a small celebration, and on with the normality of life. Looking outside, Howard could not feel the war coming. The sun was high in the sky, the grass and the trees danced happily in the breeze. Nothing told of war. There was no forboding.

"Shhh, Howard, listen!" Alexandra said, twisting the volume button of the radio. The voice of the BBC anchor became quite a bit louder, and now filled the entirety of their attention. George now began to wake up, too, putting his tiny fists in his eyes.

"We now interrupt this broadcast for a message by the Prime Minister" he said, to the relief of Howard.

"See?" He said, letting out a relieved sigh. "Peace in our time, again. I think..."

"Shush! I want to listen!" Alexandra said fiercely, training her ear towards the radio.

"This morning, the British ambassador..." a voice from the radio uttered. The voice sounded tired, worn out.

"Poor sod, must've been awake all night" Howard joked. Alexandra didn't react.

"... that unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were
prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would
exist between us."


Howard moathed a silent 'huzzah', as he took a bite of his piece of toast. "Good one, Neville. Show the Bosch what we are made of. I told you..."

"I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is now at war with Germany"

The following silence was only broken by a few sounds: a gasp of air from Alexandra, a piece of toast dropped by Howard, the crying of Little George, and a phone ringing in the living room, bringing a message Howard would remember as long as he lived.

As long as he lived.

17th of September
1939
RAF Manston Heath


"It says R.E.A. Restrictor on the box, doesn't it?" The clueless truck driver said, looking at the half-opened wooden box. Indeed, the words 'R.E.A. Restrictor' had been painted all over it, both on the top and on the sides. The truck driver, in the honourable employ of the RAF, didn't really understand why this mechanic was throwing a fit all of a sudden. In front of him, holding two of the bloody things, was an enraged mechanic, doing his best to explain what was wrong. The truck driver had to write somthing down on the receipt, after all.

"Yes" Howard said, doing his best to regain at least a semblance of calmth.

"Meant for 12 psi. These are boosted Merlin engines. They need 15 psi restrictors" Howard exclaimed, pointing at the open nose of one of the base's Spitfires. Howard didn't know whether it was his excitement or the heat of the base's workshop that made it so hot there. Somehow, he had begun to sweat violently. To his utmost annoyance, the truck driver pulled up his shoulders.

"That's only a three psi difference. Can't be that bad" the driver tried, looking at his watch and time table. He had three deliveries still to do at local radio towers. This guy was ruining the whole schedule.

"Only a three psi difference!" Howard said, turning on his long axis. The incredulity lept across his face, much to the dismay and fright of the truck driver. The mechanic angrily walked over to one of the planes, pretending to speak to one of them.

"Did you hear that, Reginald?" Howard said to the plane, who answered in deafening silence. In the distance, a circular saw could be heard buzzing away at a hurricane. "This man says that three psi doesn't make a difference!"

The truck driver took a few steps forward, his face now a mix of annoyance and genuine fear.

"Look, man, I don't..." he tried, without much effect.

"What's that?" Harold continued, pretending the driver hadn't said anything. "Your engine will crush a 12 psi restrictor? It will be sucked into the engine and you will explode mid-air? That sounds detrimental to the war effort, I say!"

The truck driver was now losing his patience. "Hey, I have a long day to go."

"Yeah" Howard answered, his blue eyes not trained at the driver. "And the RAF has a long war to go. Get me those 15 psi restrictors tomorrow, and I'll let you go."

A few minutes later, Howard watched the truck drive off the compound, back towards the town. The mechanic sighed. He hated to be so hard on the man. It wasn't his fault, after all. Howard had problem seeing that, though, if people didn't show enough respect for the magnificence of machines. The whole of society was based on 15 psi restrictors, 12 psi restrictors, merlin engines, airplanes, axels and grease. Lots and lots of grease. Still, Howard vowed to not be so hard on the man in the future, or other people in his position. However, he would get those 15 psi restrictors, that much was certain. He would see about apologising when he came back tomorrow. As he saw the truck driving through the sentry post, he saw something else coming his way. A man on a bicycle, being allowed onto the compound. Howard took a dirty rag and began cleaning his grease-stained hands, the small smile he had vanishing with the first autumn winds.

"Our first customer..." he said, turning around. There was still a lot to be done.
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

Lack of a real name means compensation through a real face. My debt is settled


Part-time Kebab tycoon in Glasgow.

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Morrdh
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Morrdh » Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:28 pm

Not long after Flight Lieutenant White had cycled through the gates of the air base a Tilly pulled up after a short trip to the railway station at Minster to the south of the RAF station. Once again papers were exchanged with the gate Sergeant before the vehicle passed through the gate and completed its journey by halting a short distance from RAF Manston's Watch Office. The Tilly's passenger thanked the driver and got out, collecting his kit bag before walking over to the Watch Office to report in. Two things of note were the insignia of a Warrant Officer worn on the cuff of his sleeves and shoulder titles that read 'IRELAND'. He also wore the wings of a pilot's brevet above a series of award ribbons that included the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, General Service Medal, the Air Force Cross and the Military Medal. The man had very tanned skin, indicating that he'd spent a considerable amount of time overseas and the jacket of his uniform sported the badge of No.2 Armoured Car Company RAF.

Once inside the Watch Office the man made for the duty desk and spoke with a noticeable Irish accent. "Warrant Officer Patrick Wade, just arrived."

The desk clerk barely acknowledged as they handed over some forms to sign, then directed Wade towards his billets. Muttering a thanks and a few choice words under his breath, Wade stepped back out into the September air and made off across the airfield in search of the barracks. He spied an older man making steady progress on a bicycle and also one of the ground crew moving to intercept the cyclist, Wade hazard a guess that they probably knew one another. It wasn't really his business and he only paused to light a cigarette before resuming his quest to find his assigned quarters.
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Len Hyet
Postmaster-General
 
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Ex-Nation

Postby Len Hyet » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:19 am

David Richter was nervous.

Admittedly he had excellent reason to be nervous. His chosen country had just declared war on his birth country, his papers identified him as a "friendly enemy alien" which was probably the oddest way he'd ever been described, his father was missing in a Nazi prison camp somewhere probably being worked like a dog, his mother was terrified that the Gestapo would return for her, he'd been assigned to a brand new experimental flying corps, and despite his best efforts he hadn't been able to find a synagogue in time for Rosh Hashanah which was now three days past and God only knew if he'd be able to find one for Yom Kippur in less than a week. Now for what had to be the seventh time he was explaining to an unimpressed looking Sergeant that yes he was supposed to be here, yes he knew that he was a "friendly enemy alien" and here were his orders and would the Sergeant just acknowledge them and let him through?

Even as he argued with the guard as slowly as possible to focus on enunciating his words and removing as much of his German accent as possible, David's mind went back to when he'd first been invited to this unit. When he'd been given a chance to really strike a blow against the kotzbrocken Nazis.

---

Some weeks ago

"Flight Lieutenant David Richter reporting as ordered sir." David said slowly, as always when interacting with the British he focused on scrubbing the German from his accent.

"Thank you Lieutenant, be seated." The voice belonged to a man in a grey suit with very few distinguishing features. Close cropped silver hair, a lingering smell of tobacco smoke that reminded David painfully of home for a moment. There was precious little else about the man that stood out to the Flight Lieutenant, except his eyes. The man had eyes with that special quality that gave David the feeling they'd look exactly the same whether focused on a child playing or garroting a man in the night.

"Lieutenant it's unusual to find a man in your position. A German, who has volunteered to fight Germans."

Long habit kept David's mouth shut. The man in grey hadn't asked a question, so David did not volunteer an answer. The man nodded in seeming approval of David's non-response, and continued talking.

"Of course we both know why that is. Being Jewish in Nazi Germany is not easy. My condolences on your father by the by."

That at least required a response.

"Thank you sir, though my mother believes she will see him again soon."

"But you don't?"

"I believe if I see him again it will be in heaven."

"That's very pragmatic of you Flight Lieutenant. Tell me what do you know about night combat?"

The sudden change in topic threw David for a moment, before he found his bearings once again.

"It's confusing, frightening, not conducive to good discipline or plans requiring more than one moving part. There's a high probability of failure associated with night attacks unless used specifically to deny the enemy rest and comfort in which case they work very well and are difficult to stop without constant vigilance-"

"Thank you. And what do you know about the Secret Intelligence Service, D Section?"

David's response was automatic, if honest.

"Nothing sir."

"Good. That means we're not totally incompetent. We're making a new kind of unit Mr. Richter, and I want you to be a part of it."

---

The Sergeant's acquiescence brought David back to Manston Heath and out of the fog of memory. The long road that had led him here, Berlin, the Luftwaffe, Spain, stowing away on a passenger line, praying for just this opportunity, all of it had led Flight Lieutenant David Richter to the 319th, and this field.
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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:01 pm

Granville Hotel, Ramsgate
Kent, United Kingdom
Sunday, 17 September 1939
0630 Hours


On balance, reflected Jean-Martin Isidore de Florac - commandant of the air forces of the Republic and knight of a crown that no longer existed - on balance, there were worse places than the Isle of Thanet in which to sit and wait for the world to turn.

The Isle lent itself, at least, to routine. After a lifetime living under a myriad of assumed identities in a plethora of different countries, Jean-Martin savored the sumptuous luxury of routine like a fine Burgundy. The French spy rose at dawn every morning in his room at the Edwardian wedding-cake of the Granville Hotel, perched on a stone pier above the dusty beaches and cool, murky waters of the Channel. Jean-Martin stretched in his long johns, put on wool trousers against the morning chill, tied on tennis shoes, and trotted downstairs through the darkened corridors with their faded wallpaper and drawn curtains.

Outside, Jean-Martin ran - three kilometers, four on a good morning - but fast, so that silty sand sprayed from the heels of his soft leather shoes as he pounded through the surf. The cold morning water washed around his feet, sucking at them, and the sun was weak: tepid sun, English sun, not like the sun of Syria or even of the Loire. Jean-Martin sucked air through his nose, steady, disciplined. He felt the fire in his lungs, in his legs. He felt every year, every scar. He felt the will behind the unflinching rhythm of his strides, the will that lived inside him like some possession-spirit of the Cameroon jungle, the will that beat out its irresistible demands on the inside of his skull: One more step. One more step. It shrieked like the whistle at Verdun, howling: "Au-dessus! Au-dessus, mes garcons, au dessus!" Over the top.

By the time Jean-Martin finished his run, the seaside resort was starting to come alive. The first sunbathers were still a few hours in the future, but white-aproned waiters moved among the tables on beach and patio, unfolding chairs and unfurling umbrellas and shaking out tablecloths. Jean-Martin jogged back up the hotel stairs to his room and showered quickly, feeling the lukewarm water course over corded muscle and knotted scars, sink into faint lines in his face when he leaned his head back beneath the showerhead. He shaved carefully, and ran a comb through his short crop of red-bronze curls, forcing them back from a sharp widow's peak.

Jean-Martin's reflection in the mirror was fogged by steam from the shower. Steely grey eyes gazed back at him watchfully, half-hidden behind the water beading the glass.

The French officer turned and walked to his closet. He dressed quickly: a three-piece suit of exquisitely tailored slate-grey wool, with a silver watch chain glinting against his double-breasted waistcoat. A gold wedding band went on his ring finger, and an ancient bronze signet on his pinky. His tie was dark blue, sober but shining: Indochinese silk. An American revolver was tucked unobtrusively into a tooled-leather shoulder holster beneath his jacket.

Then, like every morning, it was time for breakfast: ah, the luxury of routine. Jean-Martin strolled down to the patio and took a seat, watching the tide roll slowly up the beach below. He ate kippers and eggs, toast and butter, and black tea; the Frenchman had learned many years ago that, all over the world, the local specialties were likely to be far better than any bastardized attempt at a croissant. The hotel waiter knew Jean-Martin's order without needing to ask. After all, the odd, watchful French officer had been staying at the Granville for almost a month. He always ordered the same breakfast, read the Times and Le Figaro as he ate, and then perused his mail. The waiter knew enough to bring Jean-Martin's newspapers and letters along with his plate of kippers.

The news in Le Figaro was bad. The French army, having tiptoed eight miles into Saarland, had simply turned around and gone home, evidently in disappointment that its farce of an offensive had failed to terrify Hitler into redeploying his troops away from Poland to the West. "Quelle gaspillage," Jean-Martin muttered under his breath. In America, Lindbergh had made a nationwide radio broadcast condemning the idea of American intervention in the new war: national interests, he said, were entirely distinct from "our sentiment, our pity, or our personal feelings of sympathy." That bit of doggerel provoked a bitter chuckle from Jean-Martin.

At least in Poland itself, after the loss of Przemyśl and Gdynia on Thursday, the news was a little better. Kasimierz Sosnkowski had managed to rally three divisions and break through the German lines near Jaworów, capturing most of an SS regiment's artillery in the process. The press hailed it as among the greatest Polish victories of the two-week war.

It wasn't enough. Jean-Martin knew it wasn't enough. The strategic situation was untenable. But that was Sosnkowski all over: the romantic and the savant, the talented artist and architect, the polyglot linguist and diplomat, the man who always had one more trick up his sleeve - one last throw of the dice, for home and glory and ideals, even when everyone else had long since abandoned hope. He had been the same man at Warsaw in 1920, when Jean-Martin had met him first. The Frenchman imagined that he could almost see Sosnkowski on his horse, waving his men forward as he declaimed stanza after stanza of Pan Tadeusz from memory:

The blow struck with such skill, with such force unsurpassed,
That the strings rang out boldly, like trumpets of brass,
And from them to the heavens that song wafted, cherished,
That triumphal march: Poland has never yet perished!

The waves rolled in peacefully against the English shore. Jean-Martin folded his newspaper and looked at the sea for a long time.

* * *


There were a few letters, that cool Sunday morning in September. The first was from Hélène: written in the too-perfect handwriting of a precocious child, and full of talk of horses and flowers and friends coming to visit. Hélène was going to services at the little stone Huguenot church in Florac, and she hoped that her papa would do the same far away in England. Jean-Martin chuckled at that, and absent-mindedly twisted the gold wedding band on his ring finger. What would Elise, that German Jewish daughter of the Rhineland bourgeoisie, have made of this tiny blonde Huguenot aristocrat, with her confident advice and scrupulous script?

She would have laughed, and loved. "Elle m'a aimé," Jean-Martin murmured. She loved me, after all.

Jean-Martin considered writing back to his daughter, and decided against it. Not right now, at least. His mind was full of newspaper statistics and maps, confidential reports from informants in Warsaw and the Rhineland, half-glimpsed conclusions and nameless fears. What would he say? The Germans move too fast. Well, eh bien, war in the East had always been fast-moving; Jean-Martin had seen that himself back in '20. But this was different, somehow. These Germans move fast but keep their organization. That's new. If they smash one hole in the Line, or outflank us through the Alps or the Ardennes, they might be in Paris in three weeks. They could outrun our own retreat.

No. Let Hélène keep her horses and her flowers and her friends. Papa would write when he had something better to tell her about. Jean-Martin opened the next letter.

He read it through once. It was short, so he read it a second time to be sure. Then he lifted away the top sheet of paper, which bore the seal of the Royal Air Force, and tucked it into an inside pocket of his suit jacket. From the same pocket, Jean-Martin drew a gold cigarette lighter. He set the rest of the letter afire, and let it burn down to cinders in the ashtray of the Granville Hotel.

There were worse places than the Isle of Thanet to wait for the world to turn. But now the world had done exactly that, and the luxury of routine was one that Jean-Martin de Florac could no longer afford.

The French officer stood, and walked quickly and quietly up to his room to pack.

* * *


RAF Manston Heath
Kent, United Kingdom
Sunday, 17 September 1939
0930 Hours


It was a considerably more military figure that appeared at the gates of RAF Manston Heath than the one that had set down to breakfast a few miles away earlier that morning. Jean-Martin wore the full panoply of an officer of the French Army; his long secondment to Deuxième Bureau made that uniform more natural than the blue and grey of the Armée de l'Air. In truth, Jean-Martin looked rather more prepared to direct a fox hunt than a Spitfire: his tall brown riding boots and khaki whipcord breeches, together with the superb cut and fabric of his tunic, suggested an attention to detail more consistent with the work of an expert tailor than with that of an assembly line.

A more attentive observer might note instead the three lines of ribbons that marched their way across the breast of that expensive uniform. There were campaign ribbons for the Great War, Morocco, Syria, Indochina, Cameroon, the Rhineland Occupation, and even the French Military Mission to Poland in 1920. Other ribbons indicated awards of the Médaille des Blessés de Guerre, the Médaille d’Honneur Pour Acte de Courage et de Dévouement, the Croix de Guerre, and the Médaille Militaire. But the only medal that actually adorned the officer's tunic was France's highest: the Legion of Honor, glinting gold and white and jade-green beneath its blood-red ribbon.

Jean-Martin had walked the mile or so from Ramsgate to Manston Heath, and he arrived a few minutes after Henry White and Patrick Wade. At the gate of the airbase he found a young man in RAF uniform - oddly devoid of unit insignia - arguing with the guard in a poorly disguised German accent. The lad was, it appeared, what the British called (with delightfully Anglo-Saxon understatement) a "friendly enemy alien." The sergeant at the gate seemed unimpressed by this claim, and he was carefully perusing the young man's orders and identification.

Jean-Martin stepped up alongside the German and nodded to the sergeant. "Morning, old boy." His accent was almost freakishly perfect: round tones polished to an Etonian shine, with just a touch of West Country brogue lingering around the edges - as if to suggest a rural upbringing carefully repressed. There was not a trace of French pronunciation to be found. Jean-Martin presented his own orders - the sheet of paper that he had saved from the destroyed letter - and his identification card. "As you can see, this is a bit of an international operation that you chaps have going on here, so I dare say that you may want to get used to the likes of" - Jean-Martin paused to glance at the German's paperwork - "Lieutenant Richter and myself." A dry smile flickered across the officer's face. "N'est-ce pas?"

With that, the Frenchman turned to David. "Commandant Jean-Martin de Florac, of the Deuxième Bureau." He spoke German now, with a middle-class Rhenish accent as flawless as his Oxbridge English. Jean-Martin tugged off one brown calfskin riding glove and offered his hand. "Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant. Shall we proceed?"
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Tiltjuice
Post Czar
 
Posts: 33937
Founded: Jan 20, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Tiltjuice » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:45 pm

0650 hours
17 September 1939
Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station


The dusky-skinned man in a seat by himself earned a few curious stares from the younger generation, and those adults whose curiosity overcame their reserve. But the British were a stolid people, and perhaps more focused on news of the war than on a man in a less than new RAF uniform, however foreign he looked. The headlines he could clearly read, oversized as they were to underline the initial triumphs and shocks.

SAAR OFFENSIVE FAILS

ANGLO-FRENCH WAR CABINET MEETINGS CONTINUE

He rolled his shoulders under the fabric of his uniform. His spine - or something, only Allah knew, but it certainly felt like his back - crackled audibly, and a businessman lowered his newspaper to glower at him. But Djamel Haines-Sahnoun looked out the window, oblivious to all except his own thoughts from yesterday.

"Flying Officer Haines Sahnoun. Do you know who I am?"

"...No, sir."

"Outstanding. It would be churlish to presume you know, then, why you were pulled away from the flight line at the end of yesterday's afternoon..." The civilian facing him across the singularly massive desk consulted some scribbled notes. "Ah. Aerial gunnery practice. In which, upon interviewing your commanding officer, you scored rather well. A natural talent?"

Without waiting for Djamel to answer, the still-anonymous man moved on. "Did you enjoy life in Algeria? I imagine it was quite cosmopolitan in Algiers, with the help of our friends to the southeast."

"Well, yes, actually. With my father's help, as well. He enjoyed his time there, and it helped broaden my world view. I think that without that, or in another life, I might only be a shepherd."

The man drew an expensive-looking fountain pen from the desk holder and jotted a word or two down. "Your father, yes...like most in the Conservative Party, favored Franco. Yet here you are, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Leaving aside the obvious - that you start out fighting for ideals and end up fighting for the man next to you in the trench - how did you find your time there?"

Even a shepherd could tell what was going on now. This man was now clearly MI5, not like the two bulls of Special Branch who had requested him to follow, but the purpose of the interview still eluded him. Was the country now so paranoid that it cast such a wide net? "I dare say I would have found more mundane work if I had given up on ideals," the British-Algerian riposted, but carefully. "Islam has a saying...." Djamel closed his eyes and recited the 75th verse of An-Nisāʼ: Why should you not fight in God's cause and for those oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, ‘Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors! By Your grace, give us a protector and give us a helper!’?

"It means - " Djamel gave a translation, missing the look of comprehension in Anonymous Man's eyes at his initial delivery in Standard Arabic. "It would not be human of me to let an unjust loss of life pass even with only a frown. Whether it is from nationalists or republicans, fascists or communists. I - politics is not a thing to run into in Algeria, and the only strife there was is with my own family. Surely you know this, if you have gone to so much trouble."

"Then you're exactly what is described in this file," Anonymous Man said at last, holding up a folder with a loose sheaf of papers within. "Very well."

The flummoxed pilot, now completely lost, struggled to keep up with what came next. Fighting skills. Recognition of his language abilities. Testing all of them, adding those results to the file. Reassignment to a newly formed squadron at RAF Manston Heath. Effective immediately. You'd best get packing. Best of luck out there. Here are your orders and train ticket - report to Squadron Leader Robert Page.


A day earlier it had been. The only relatively firm conclusion he'd come away with was that the Anonymous Man was completely unidentifiable.

The businessman with the newspaper gave it up as a bad job after a few ticks of the long hand, but a loud harrumph broke Djamel out of his thoughts. He inclined his head in apology and hauled the duffle bag closer, before closing his eyes for a brief bout of sleep. What lay within was not for untended young children to get at.

The train's final whistle failed to wake him, but the hand of a conductor roused him. "This is the stop at Kent, son. RAF Manston? You'll want to head north about a mile, then northeast another mile and a half."

"Yes, thank you...My apologies. Thank you again."

The trek over was not so difficult compared to the Spanish heat, and as he drew closer to the gate he could see the sentry poring over some documents, looking up at two men occasionally, one of them in a very fancy uniform, the other in a plainer RAF uniform like his own.

"Excuse me!" he called, in a softer voice. His mother had always said that cut down on the amount of Algerian accent, increasing the amount of British in the mix. Hopefully it would turn out to be true, make him easier to understand. "Would either of you happen to be Squadron Leader Robert Page?"
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Kouralia
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15063
Founded: Oct 30, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kouralia » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:38 pm

17th September,
Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth
0700hrs


As the stocky, pale man in the British Army uniform made his way through the back streets of Brixton he kept his eyes down and his cap pulled down over his face. Of course he wasn't the sort of man to trifle with, and he certainly never shied away from a fight, but nevertheless today was not a day to be recognised and the streets he'd walked were unfriendly even at the best of times. Staff Sergeant Sebastian Smythe of the 11th Hussars had very little to his name by any count. A life spent alternating between the deprived streets of one of London's poorer boroughs, and putting down troublesome Arabs in the Middle East on the King's shilling could do that to a man. Of course, the clothes worn by the man pounding the cobbles and the items in the bag on his back were most of his possessions: though crucially not all. Some would have to be left behind. Smythe had been back in town for a few days: he'd picked up some new orders directly from an RAF Warrant Officer on the steps of Adastral House, stopped by a pub to meet with some old friends from before the Hussars, and finally stopped at his mother's house on Barnwell. Now, the Staff's mother had hardly approved of her son going off to fight for King and Country, what with her husband dying doing the same almost a decade before to the day. Of course with all that said and done she was much less enthusiastic about Sebastian's brother's life choices, though the less said about those the better.

Turning onto Brixton Hill, the Staff Sergeant's bag was knocked from his shoulder as a burly working man barged into him, irritable and turning to glower at the soldier. "Watch it, Tommy." The man said, looking sorely as if he wanted to spit on the pavement and incite the ground itself to swallow him. 'Yet another reason not to bump into too many old 'friends'', the Staff Sergeant thought, taking a deep breath to calm himself and reshouldering his pack to continue on his way. 73 Kings Avenue, the orders had said when he'd opened them. He was to find the RAF man waiting there with a lorry, and hitch a lift down to a... He racked his brain, trying to recall the other detail he'd read not a half hour before.

Manston Heath, yes, that was it he thought. An RAF camp of some kind, to be seconded to some 'Special Operations Squadron', though he didn't really understand what that was going to entail.

Ten minutes later

The man at the gate of the Kings Avenue barracks wasn't especially interested to read the orders presented by the man in the Staff Sergeant's uniform, especially not when it looked like the rain might be coming in, and waved him through without even a word passing between them. In fact he was a little taken aback by how quickly he found himself stood in the yard, somewhat unsure of where to take himself from there. Before he could make too much of a fool of himself, however, a friendly voice called over. "Hullo there? Staff Sergeant Smythe?"

"Yes?" Smythe said, acknowledging his identity verbally for the first time. "Are you my ride to Manston Heath, then?" He asked, turning to see who addressed him. It was a gangly, young man in the uniform of an RAF enlisted serviceman that he didn't recognise, marked with a propeller on his sleeve... A propeller? He sighed inwardly: someone must have been really uninspired when they came up with that symbology. Before he could say anything, however, the aircraftman nodded and stepped over, shaking Smythe's hand.

"Aye, Staff: Leading Aircraftman John Grady." He said, "I'm with the technical stores, helping keep the planes in the air. I guess you're just in charge of the... personal equipment, then?" He continued, looking the Army uniform up and down. "I don't suppose you've got much experience with planes then really, have you?"

"Planes?" the Staff Sergeant said, somewhat bemusedly. "No, not really much experience with them at all - but I can fly."

"Oh, you can fly then? That'll serve ye well." The RAF man said, nodding. "Though you'd be lucky to get into one of their planes, an Army man like yourself. Apparently it's all big names in the 'being terrifyin' business that they're recruiting." He added, turning and gesturing for Smythe to follow him to the car. "In fact, I heard it was a Captain, well probably a Group Captain in that case, who's leading the squadron: or is meant to."

As he got to the car, he turned to the Staff Sergeant. "You ready to dart then? Quicker we can get there the better, eh?"

Smythe nodded, turning back one last time to look at the streets of London through the fence of the barracks. "Yes, let's get out of here." He said simply.

Some time later

It had been an insufferable drive for the Staff Sergeant, filled with incessant chit-chat and small-talk which the RAF man seemed incapable of understanding was unwanted. Fortunately it was brought to a conclusion as the RAF vehicle puttered to a halt by the gates where a trio of men bandied words with the gate guard: two in RAF uniform and one sorely overdressed.

"'Morning, sirs." Smythe said, nodding a greeting to the officers while he took the aircraftman's papers and his own, ready to hand them to the guard once the commissioned folk were seen to.
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Len Hyet
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 10701
Founded: Jun 25, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Len Hyet » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:43 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:-snip-


Out of the corner of David's eye as he continued trying to explain to the Gate Sergeant his presence here he noticed an officer with a well-decorated uniform approaching. His attention however was consumed by his discussion with the guard, and so he was a little startled when the Officer not only addressed the guard on his behalf, but then turned to David and cheerfully greeted him in fluent and flawless German.

Richter's face flitted through several emotions in extremely rapid succession. Surprise at being addressed in his native tongue, only doubled when it came after what sounded like (although Richter couldn't be sure) French, and rather cultured, at least to David's ear, British accented English. It wasn't every day that someone switched between three difficult languages with such fluidity, and even less so when two of the languages bore very few similarities. Despite being neighbors, the French and German tongues had little in common, though both had deep connections with the further afield English. Surprise was quickly followed by a tinge of embarrassment. His papers merely identified him as a "friendly enemy alien" in service of the British Crown, his nationality was... well. David's sudden realization that there really was only one enemy nation as Austria now only existed as a legal fiction in some circles saved him some of the embarrassment. Still though, as the English would say he'd worked damned hard at if not erasing his German accent then at least disguising it somewhat. Eventually however he dismissed embarrassment in favor of rueful humor, and let out a soft chuckle as he took Commandant Florac's hand.

"Flight Lieutenant David Richter, Herr Commandant. Please though, English please. Judging from your quick deduction my English needs practice and well, my native, oh what's the word. Sprache?"

David paused for a moment and chewed on his words, struggling through his still-not-quite fluent, though rapidly improving, English to pick out the right word. He'd never spoken a word of English before arriving in the country a few months ago, still smarting and raw from the disbanding of his Brigade and losing the war in Spain. He'd thrown himself into learning but the tongue was difficult.

"Ah, language. My native language is not as welcome as it used to be. But, yes please let us proceed. Your accent says English sir, but your name suggests French Nobility?"
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The Two Jerseys
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 11652
Founded: Jun 07, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Two Jerseys » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:04 pm

Central Flying School, RAF Upavon
08.15, 14 September 1939


As the morning parade broke formation, Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Talbot started heading back to the barracks to dress for his first training flight of the day; he only made it ten feet or so, as he was stopped dead in his tracks by someone calling his name. See that it was the Station Commander summoning him, he altered his course and reported.

“Walk with me,” said the Station Commander as he lowered his salute; as the two officers started walking, he continued: “How goes the refresher course?”

“Rather well, sir,” replied Talbot. “Qualified on seven types in six days, scheduled for the Hurricane today and the Spitfire tomorrow.”

“Keep up at this rate and we’ll put you to work as an instructor!” he jokingly replied. “On a serious note, you’ll be delayed a bit this morning, someone from Whitehall up to see you.”

“Dare I ask why they want to see me?”

“You can, but I know as much as you...”

Talbot stepped into the small conference room, where he found a man in a chalkstripe suit examining the various photographs hanging on the wall. Upon hearing Talbot enter the room, the man turned around to face him; he was well over six feet tall and built like a brick wall, with hair slicked back to show a slightly receding hairline. “Ah, there you are! Flight Lieutenant 36001 Geoffrey Talbot, I presume?” he asked in a sophisticated-sounding voice.

“That’s right,” Talbot replied.

“Would you please close the door?”

As Talbot closed the door, the man moved over to the table and leaned on it. “I understand that you’re a busy man, so I’ll make this brief: the RAF is forming a new squadron with which my organization has a vested interest, and I’m here to ask you if you would like to volunteer for it.”

“And what organization would you be representing?”

The man shrugged his shoulders. “For the past week my organization has technically been the Queen’s Royal West Surreys, but let’s just say that I represent the Foreign Office...am I making myself clear?”

Talbot furrowed his brow. “Are you trying to recruit me as a spy?”

“That’s rather the general idea...”

“Well you may have noticed that I’m a pilot, I’m here to fly aeroplanes, not spy!”

“But that’s what we want you to do, fly! Only you’re going to be flying special missions!”

“How special?”

“Special enough that we want a pilot who can shoot, drive fast cars, knows several languages, and is looking for some action, to say nothing of the rest of the skills mentioned in your file. So what do you say, old boy?” He paused as Talbot contemplated the offer. “If it helps convince you, I could arrange for you to be handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll...”

“All right, I’ll volunteer for your little outfit. And I may very well hold you to that offer...”


RAF Manston, Kent
09.30, 17 September 1939


A British racing green Talbot 105 open tourer silently flew along the roads of Kent, its driver deep in thought:

So after kicking you to the curb for your own good, out of nowhere they send you a telegram telling you to report to Air House ASAP, you hop in your P-35, fly from Cleveland back to New York in the dead of night, hop the first liner to Southampton, hop on a train back home, visit home just long enough to say hello and put on a uniform, take the train to London, report in, get told you’re now a flight lieutenant and to report to Upavon so they can train you to fly aeroplanes that you could fly in your sleep, get recruited as a spy, get orders to report to Manston, stop by home long enough to pick up the car, and now here you are reporting for God knows what...

Reaching the gate, the car glided to a stop behind a small traffic jam as several people congregated around the gate while a car in front was trying to enter the station.
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Grenartia
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Grenartia » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:46 am

RAF Manston
0930 Sept. 17, 1939




Jimmy sighed as he walked towards the gate of RAF Manston. A week ago, he was in Halifax, Canada, and a week before that, he was in Buffalo, New York. Prior to this month, he didn't think it was possible for a man to get shuffled around so quickly. A year ago, he didn't even think he'd be fighting in a war. But lately, barnstorming had become less and less lucrative. Too many in the game, not enough coming to see shows any more, even for somebody with Jimmy's aerobatic skills. Sure, the barnstorming thing was just moonlighting for his day job as an airmail pilot, but that quickly became a stale experience (and half the reason why he got back into barnstorming after his time in the Army Air Corps). Things were getting kind of hairy, and Jimmy needed a way out.

The Brits and the French had just declared war on Germany when Jimmy got to Buffalo. Everyone knew Canada was going to join them sooner or later, so it seemed like a safe bet that they'd need good pilots. One of his old Army buddies, Nate Green, knew "some guys who know some guys" who were willing to set him up with some fake papers to get him into the RCAF. From Buffalo, it was a quick jaunt over the falls, and down to the nearest recruiting station. Really, the most significant change was giving him dual citizenship, so that he could be open about his previous experience, and to entitle him to serve for Canada.

Having previous military experience under his belt basically allowed him to skip nearly all of his training, and by his 3rd day, Canada had officially declared war. At this point, he was informed that he was being shipped directly to Britain by flying boat (along with a bunch of cargo, to save on expenses). A few days later, he was on the other side of the pond, and had been summoned to a meeting with a Wing Commander of some kind, putting together special squadron.

A few days previously, at an undisclosed time and location

Thibodeaux sat in the essentially empty office, waiting for the man who sent for him to come back in. The man's office was immaculate. It was as if the office had just been set up a few hours ago, just for this meeting. Suddenly, the man walked in through the door.

"Apologies for the delay, Pilot Officer...Thibodeaux, was it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. I'm Wing Commander Barrett." He immediately offered his hand to shake, and Jimmy obliged, and then he continued, lighting up his pipe. "You might be wondering why I called you here. Rest assured, you aren't in trouble. However, we are aware of your recent...difficulties, and we know you don't actually have Canadian citizenship. But, it seems you have a few friends in the American government who are willing to vouch for you."

Oh, shit. Thought Thibodeaux, as Barrett put emphasis on the word "difficulties". He just managed to keep his voice sounding calm as ever to respond. "How's that, sir?"

"You see, I'm affiliated with an organization that has an interest in activities that aren't normally done in warfare. And Mr. Thibodeaux, we're quite thrilled to have somebody with your qualifications in our service. We've arranged a mutually-beneficial agreement with your government, in exchange for them overlooking you serving with us. You won't be privy to all of the details, but there are some pretty nice incentives for you that I can let you in on." the Wing Commander explained, as he slid some papers across the desk to Jimmy.

The Pilot Officer looked over the paper with nervous curiosity. Several of the incentives were pretty nice, indeed. Immunity from prosecution for any violation(s) of the Neutrality Acts, Promotion to Flying Officer, etc. Barrett looked at Jimmy, clearly expecting a response, but being respectful enough about it to give Thibodeaux time to consider the offer. After a minute of contemplation, he responded. "Alright, sir, its a deal. Where do I sign?"

"Right here, Flying Officer." The Wing Commander replied, passing a sheet of paper and pen. "Also, here are your orders."

Back in the Present

As Jimmy approached the gate, he noticed the beginnings of a line forming. Cue the "queueing" jokes, he thought to himself with a soft chuckle. Apparently, some people in cars were even getting in on the action. As he came closer, he noticed one was really overly-dressed, another was wearing some non-RAF uniform (but still British), and everyone else was wearing RAF uniforms like him. Getting the attention of the appropriately-dressed non-RAF man, he asked "Do you know what's going on here?"
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United Kingdom of Poland
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Founded: Jun 08, 2012
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby United Kingdom of Poland » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:18 pm

September 10th
Évreux Air Base bustled with activity as Lieutenant Henri Vodat, formerly Maret Korenov, walked into its administrative building. Ever since the declarations of war by France and Britain against Germany after the latter’s invasion of Poland, the Armée de l'Air had busied itself doing what it should have already done years before… actually preparing for the war. Since the start of hostilities, Vodat’s squadron had only found one problem after another. Planes missing radios, machineguns and cannons in fighters misaligned, and a list of other problems plagued the base. A list Henri felt was about to grow as he knocked on the door of his Escadrille’s commanding officer.

“Enter.” He heard a man say. Doing so he saw a figure inside that wasn’t his commanding officer, a man wearing the uniform of an British officer. Henri had heard rumors that the RAF was sending squadrons to France as part of the BEF, but for aircraft and pilots to already be arriving… That did not speak well of the Armée de l'Air’s preparedness.

“Can I help you with anything sir?” The old Lieutenant asked after saluting.

“Lieutenant Henri Vodat?” the officer asked.

“Yes Sir.”

“Wing Commander Barrett.” The officer replied. “Please sit Lieutenant.”

“I’ve been reading over your dossier here, Mr. Vodat.” Barrett said after Henri took a seat. “It seems you’re quite the world traveler. Two years in the International Brigade, eleven years in the Legion before that…”

“Sorry sir.” Henri interrupted. “I fail to see why a RAF officer would bring up my years in the legion.”

“My apologies.” the officer replied. “But the squadron I am forming requires more than just fancy flying skills. Skills both your government and His Majesties feel you fit the criteria for. What do you say Lieutenant?” he added, sliding a piece of paper over to Henri.

Vodat smiled. “As my old commander said. The Legion never backs down from a challenge.”
--
September 15th
Approaching the gates of RAF Manston, Henri Vodat couldn’t help but feel like he was sixteen again, eagerly waiting to join his father in the service of Mother Russia. That had been a long time ago, another lifetime as far as he was concerned.

Making his way up to the gate. Vodat was surprised to see a collection of pilots, both RAF and non-RAF, waiting to enter the base. “And here I was thinking I’d be the last one here.” He said to himself as he took his place in the line.

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Founded: Feb 20, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:44 am

RAF Maston Heath
17 September 1939
Howard Cavalier


After a few minutes Howard had calmed down again. His encounter with the clueless truck driver was already a distant memory, a far-off haze in the back of his mind. He had spent the rest of the early morning with a wrench and a bucket of grease, doing what he liked most: re-adjusting wing-mounted machine guns. There was something mathematical, purely mechanical about the task. It required all the skill and all the training he'd received over the years of working for Supermarine, while also having a real-world tangible benefit for the aircraft. He moved the guns milimetre by milimetre, measuring the precise angle akong the flight path, using measurements of distance and the speed of a Spitfire. It was difficult, it was hard, and that was what made it perfect. It kept his mind focussed on a single task. The world outside seemed tho vanish.

Little George.

A normal thought, perhaps. Howard was fastening a bolt when his infant son appeared before his eyes. A single flash, the little fellow in his crib in Southampton, playing with a pendulum. Howard shook his head, and focussed on the bolt again. He bit his lip while allowing the wrench to fill his entire head, looking at it getting ever thighter.

Alexandra.

She appeared before him, too. Outside their house, on the hill just opposite their garden. It was topped by an ancient oak, one that had seen much already. Howard liked to think the oak had been planted there by the troops of Elizabeth, getting ready to repulse the Spanish invaders. In his mind, Alexandra wore a light, white summer dress, dancing in the warm evening wind. They watched the sun set, basking in the final light of day, and observing the stars that began to wheel overhead.

Howard threw down his wrench and climbed down his ladder, taking off the goggles he'd been wearing. He felt his forehead, warm and sweaty. Why? The task was precise, but not exhausting. A fresh breeze flew through the workshop. No engines had been fired that day. He looked around, his eyes panicked. He needed some fresh air, and fast. The smell of gasoline and grease welled up, a smell he had never minded before began piercing his thoughts, fill him with nauseau. George and Alexandra flashed before his eyes, first one, then the other, then together. Howard unbuttoned his mechanic's overall, running for the hangar gates as fast as he could. Once outside, he took a mouthful of fresh outside air. The smell of grass and tarmac mixed, far more pleasant to the nose than the repulsive gasoline air. Howard spat, trying to remove the last tastes of iron and grease. His stomach convulsed, he nearly threw up his breakfast. Then, he looked up.

The RAF- men had not come closer. They were huddled around the sentry post, apparently having some sort of chat. Howard sighed. Somehow, he had hoped it was all a joke, or a mistake. No-one would show up, he would twist his thumbs for a while, and then, they would send him home. 'Sorry, Mr. Cavalier, our mistake. A cock-up at the higher-ups. We're looking for a Harold Cavalier. You can go home, now. Best of luck' A pat on the back, and he'd be off. Apparently, there was little chance of that, with the pilots assembling outside the gates. The nausea came back to him as soon as it had left. He wished he's said 'yes' to that job building shadow factories up north. A cushy desk job, a good pay, and essential to the war effort. No chance of being conscripted for this. But alas, he was one of the few engineers in Britain who knew how to fly a Hurrie, how to fly a Spit. His skills had betrayed him.

Quickly, Howard moved to the barracks, placed just beside the airplane hangars. The wooden building was empty, beside a small gas heater and the rows of bunk beds, all still unmolested. Only his own bed was already made, since he'd been the first to arrive. Beside his bed hung a cloathes hanger with an RAF Flying Officer uniform, with a note attached by a paperclip.

'With our compliments
- Barrett'

The uniform looked exactly his size, how they'd figured that out the lord knew. On his bed was an unopened envelope, directed to him. Send from: Leicester Street 12, Southampton, England. Howard sighed, and turned around again, leaving the barracks. The air was weighing too heavily on him, and he felt the suspended unform watch him despite its lifeless nature. Outside, Howard perceived the sentry post and the parliament of RAF-pilots, still convening outside the gates.

"Hey!" He yelled, waving at them from afar.

"Don't worry, the Spitfires don't bite! Unless you're Bosch, of course"
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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2528
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:20 pm

RAF Manston Heath
Kent, United Kingdom
Sunday, 17 September 1939
0930 Hours


Jean-Martin watched David Richter's face carefully. There was surprise there, particularly at Jean-Martin's unaccented German. And then...was that embarrassment? Perhaps something stronger; Richter's eyes flitted away from the Frenchman's, and a muscle tensed at the corner of his mouth. Shame.

Jean-Martin felt a flicker of empathy - and of guilt. There was, he knew, something clinical in his observation of Richter: probing for weak points, the places of pain and need and insecurity that, properly manipulated, could turn a man into a living marionette. Richter wore his pain on his sleeve. That made him vulnerable. But it also made him...

Decent, perhaps. Jean-Martin was not a decent man. Good, maybe; not decent. He knew that. But he could appreciate decency when he saw it.

Richter swallowed his shame, and chuckled ruefully, and shook Jean-Martin's hand. He spoke in English. "Flight Lieutenant David Richter, Herr Commandant. Please though, English please. Judging from your quick deduction my English needs practice and well, my native, oh what's the word. Sprache?" Richter paused, and Jean-Martin waited for him to find the translation, grey eyes twinkling with just a touch of wry amusement. Then the German nodded. "Ah, language. My native language is not as welcome as it used to be. But, yes please let us proceed. Your accent says English sir, but your name suggests French Nobility?"

Jean-Martin chuckled drily. A crowd had amassed at the gate: a dark-complexioned man whose features made Jean-Martin think immediately of the Maghreb; a pale and stocky fellow in British Army uniform, who nodded to Jean-Martin with an Englishman's innate sensitivity to gradations of social class; a few more RAF men, one of whom drove a green motorcar and looked impatient; and even a very young man in the uniform of the Armée de l'Air. They all look so young, Jean-Martin thought, and the thought was a distant pang that he dared not examine too closely.

The Frenchman turned back to Richter and spoke again in his Oxbridge English. "An excellent idea, Lieutenant." Jean-Martin took the younger man by the arm and led him gently through the gate, arching an eyebrow at the sergeant on duty as he did so in a way that warned the Tommy not to interfere. "You're quite right, by the way, although" - and here Jean-Martin chuckled again - "I'm sure you know that la belle France has no nobility, not anymore. We are all equal citizens of the great Republic now." The commandant smiled and waggled his fingers so that Richter could see the ancient bronze signet on his pinky. "At least, that's what they tell me in Paris. I'm afraid some of the country people outside the bounds of that great city may not have heard the news just yet."

From a distance, Jean-Martin saw a man emerge from the base's barracks, slightly wild-haired and clad in a jumpsuit stained with engine grease. Always a good sign. As the mechanic started waving his arms at the pilots, Jean-Martin turned back to Richter. "As for my English," he added, "it's just practice. I'm an intelligence officer, so I practice hard to hide my - how shall one put it? - my native tenor." Jean-Martin paused. "But I fancy that, in your own way, you might feel that you have just as much to hide as I." The Frenchman offered a sympathetic smile. "So I shouldn't worry. You'll get there, old boy. And who knows? Maybe you'll pick French for your next project."

The mechanic, closer now, continued waving. "Hey!" he shouted. "Don't worry, the Spitfires don't bite! Unless you're Bosch, of course."

Jean-Martin waved back. "And then," he called in reply, "if half of what I've heard is true, they bite like like a half-starved tiger." The Frenchman tugged off one brown leather glove and offered his hand for a shake. "Commandant Jean-Martin de Florac," he introduced himself. "Late of the Armée de l'Air, more recently of the Deuxième Bureau, and currently of - well, whatever this is, I suppose. How do you do?"
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kouralia
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Founded: Oct 30, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kouralia » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:21 pm

RAF Manston Heath Approach Road

"Hmm?" Smythe said, turning in his seat as a man walked up beside the window, wearing an RAF uniform like a number of the others present at the gate house, with a number of stripes on it but entirely unalike those worn by the Staff Sergeant. "Sorry, sir," he added, considering that anything not made of chevrons or trippy propeller graphics likely meant a commissioned officer. "We're just waiting for papers to be checked to get onto the base: these gentlemen, and Aircraf-"

"Leading Aircraftman," the enlisted airman interjected.

"Sorry: Leading Aircraftman Grady and I have some more supplies for the stores of one of the squadrons here." He leaned his arm out to pass the papers to the man on duty at the gate as he spoke. "I've been appointed SQMS for a... 319 Squadron." Smythe said, "From what the assignment said, I' assuming most of these people here are for that same post. Would I be correct in assuming you are too, sir?"
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Gibberan
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Founded: Jul 15, 2012
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Gibberan » Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:44 pm

September 17th, 1939
Nearing RAF Manston Heath
Approximately 0920 hours


The tobacco spit made an audible splash on the side of the road. The sole of a faded boot ground the brownish-black residue into the gravel until it was no longer noticeable, and then continued on its way, kicking rocks and pebbles along the quiet Kentish country lane. Out of chew, the hand belonging to the boot reached into the azure blue overcoat and pulled out the near-empty pack of Land O' Smiles cigarettes. Scarred and bruised from years of use, the hands were uncharacteristically steady as they lit the rolled piece of heaven and brought it to the chafed, unamused, unkissed, and unspeaking lips of Flying Officer Clifford McTavish. He inhaled and exhaled, stifling the match and returning the metal box to his pocket in one motion.

Mother wouldn't like you smoking, he found himself thinking, as he always did.

His foot kicked at another rock.

But Mother is dead, he thought grudgingly, as he always did, and I'll be too, sooner or later. It's just something to take the edge off until then...

Hearing himself think, he sighed at his petty nihilism. He knew at least some of it must be self-manufactured bluster in his head, if only for the fact that without any idealism whatsoever, he wouldn't be here. Two years ago, he was still a hopeful young man on the USS Lexington, one of America's first true naval aviators, without a care in his life. But the crushingly-low pay, the criminally-stupid officers, and...the accident, it had all eventually gotten to him, he admitted. After he resigned his commission, the RAF seemed to be the best way to get his hands on some badly needed cash. Did he not care about the cause, opposing that damned-insane Hitler shit and his evil Nazis? Of course he did; even before two weeks ago everyone with half a brain had anticipated the clouds of war (that spoke to the wisdom of the leaders of his adopted country). However, the RAF, probably upon finding that he was not actually Canadian, had also sentenced him to what seemed like an eternity shooting up Arabs in the Holy Land—the holiest stretch of lifeless desert Cliff had ever seen—and that had been that. Until last week.

"We know where you're from, Mr. McTavish, and we know Boston, Massachusetts is not a Dominion of the Crown." That's what the Wing Commander—what was his name, Garrett? Marrett?—had introduced himself with when he had payed the Southie a visit at RAF Haifa a few days ago. "We've known this information for quite some time, actually, but naturally, only thought it prudent to look deeper into your file when it was absolutely necessary. Very interesting what we found." Beyond the fact that another world war had started, Cliff had no idea what 'necessary' meant. Minutes ago, this man had been throwing around fancy words like "prosecution" and "Neutrality Acts," but Cliff was skilled enough in his usually-dismal interactions with people to know it was a farce. They (whoever they were) not only wanted him, they needed him. For what, he could not say. "Seeing the pressing circumstances my...our nation faces, my organization is currently cooperating with the RAF to form a special...squadron, of sorts." The man barely elaborated on what "of sorts" meant, but Cliff understood it well enough. And for some stupid reason, if only to get out of the Middle Eastern heat, he signed on the dotted line.

No, two years ago, it wouldn't have been his choice to come gallivanting off up to the Isle of Thanet for some mysterious job fighting for the country his ancestors had so proudly fought against. But it was his job, and it promised to be an interesting one, and he intended to do it well.

He inhaled again as the rich tobacco smoke filled his lungs, and his personal crisis disappeared. For the time being.

A garishly-green sports car suddenly flashed by, lifting up dust and spraying in the serviceman's face. "Fucker," muttered Cliff under his breath (not that the racer, whoever he was, would have heard it regardless of his tone). He looked at his watch, the face scratched with use from the Pacific to Palestine. Barrett had advised him to not be late, and, despite his deficiencies, Cliff did not intend to. Nine-thirty is the time, and I'll be there at nine-thirty. He quickened his pace, and the airfield finally came into view. The large wooden sign greeted him: WELCOME TO RAF MANSTON HEATH - HOME OF No 3 SQUADRON.

Cliff looked down at the note he had deftly removed from his pocket. It very clearly read 319 SQUADRON - SQN LDR TO BE DETERMINED. They didn't even give me the right address, he thought to himself sarcastically. He did see that a few other RAF men were gathering at the gate to the compound...including that auto racer in his car. Another was immaculately overdressed, not just in contrast to Cliff's dusty, sun-bleached uniform but also to the other fliers, and from what he heard in the conversation at least one had a vague but pronounced European accent. God fucking dammit, is this it, he asked himself in more wonder than scorn. Despite his misgivings about his potential future squadron mates, Cliff ambled up to the gate as two of the men walked past the sergeant on duty, haplessly trying to prevent everyone else from doing the same.

"Hello, gents," he said, immediately wincing at his pronounced New Englander accent. But he continued. "Anyone here for a...319 Squadron?"
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Grenartia
Post Czar
 
Posts: 40179
Founded: Feb 14, 2010
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Grenartia » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:20 pm

Kouralia wrote:RAF Manston Heath Approach Road

"Hmm?" Smythe said, turning in his seat as a man walked up beside the window, wearing an RAF uniform like a number of the others present at the gate house, with a number of stripes on it but entirely unalike those worn by the Staff Sergeant. "Sorry, sir," he added, considering that anything not made of chevrons or trippy propeller graphics likely meant a commissioned officer. "We're just waiting for papers to be checked to get onto the base: these gentlemen, and Aircraf-"

"Leading Aircraftman," the enlisted airman interjected.

"Sorry: Leading Aircraftman Grady and I have some more supplies for the stores of one of the squadrons here." He leaned his arm out to pass the papers to the man on duty at the gate as he spoke. "I've been appointed SQMS for a... 319 Squadron." Smythe said, "From what the assignment said, I' assuming most of these people here are for that same post. Would I be correct in assuming you are too, sir?"


Thibodeaux glanced at the man's insignia, and found several chevrons (probably a sergeant of some kind), although on a slightly different uniform from LAC Grady's.

Once the sergeant was done handing his paperwork to the other sergeant at the gate, Jimmy presented the guard with his own paperwork, and then turned back to the SQMS (he wasn't sure what that meant, but he was sure he'd find out soon enough).

"You'd be correct, Sergeant... I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name. I'm Flying Officer Jimmy Thibodeaux, by the way." He responded, holding out his hand to shake. Almost as soon as he was finished talking, he heard another voice. A distinctly American voice, from Boston by the sound of it.

Gibberan wrote:"Hello, gents," he said, immediately wincing at his pronounced New Englander accent. But he continued. "Anyone here for a...319 Squadron?"


"I'm pretty sure we all are." Thibodeaux responded, before glancing at the man's rank insignia, thankfully finding it was the same as his own, sparing him from having to quickly append a sir to the end of it.
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Len Hyet
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 10701
Founded: Jun 25, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Len Hyet » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:07 pm

As Jean-Martin turned back to David and in that perfect English accent agreed to continue walking, he gripped David's arm. Richter's first instinct at being gripped, even lightly by the French Nobleman was to flinch, almost imperceptibly. It was more of a tremor really, something that if observed would bring to mind a fine horse shrugging off flies that had accumulated around its flanks. It wasn't an aggressive motion, it wasn't violent at all, merely a deep seated aversion to being gripped. Years of first being manhandled in the Luftwaffe by ill-tempered Sergeants and instructors who barely concealed their hatred for Richter's heritage, and later when a sudden and unexpected grip on your shoulder meant a sortie was going up or later that when it meant the Nationalists were attacking and that violence of action was being called for now had left an impression on the admittedly young pilot.

Still it was clear that the Frenchman had meant no harm and so David controlled the impulse and just smiled faintly at the man who had taken a seeming interest in the German.

"You're quite right, by the way, although" - and here Jean-Martin chuckled again - "I'm sure you know that la belle France has no nobility, not anymore."

It was clear that Jean-Martin wasn't bothering to conceal his, distaste would be the first word that came to mind but it didn't quite fit. More of a disdain for such odd pronouncements that came from Paris and held no bearing on the people in the country who at best tolerated their government. David's impression was reinforced when Jean-Martin waggled a demure pinky ring that clearly proclaimed his heritage as being both ancient and noble and not to be discounted. Germany, and Richter's heart gave a faint pang at the thought of his seemingly lost homeland, had done much the same, getting rid of all prestige associated with the ancient titles with the founding of the Republic in 1919. A Republic that itself had now been overthrown by the fascists, who had done the impossible and rebuilt Germany into a power once more.

David smiled at Jean-Martin.

"My thanks Herr Commandant," he coughed at his relapse. "My thanks, Commandant, for your kind words. Perhaps French vill be my next language, although I think I may do it no favors in making it so." He knew he'd slipped on 'will' and given it a v-sound, but why did these damn English have to have so many words that used that ungodly W. It was an ugly letter. Double yu. Double yoo. Hideous.

Richter waited as the Commandant introduced himself to the mechanic, shaking hands with the Flying Officer, and then introduced himself.

"Flying Officer David Richter, just been assigned to the 319th." David focused almost to the point of exclusion of all else on pronouncing that short sentence as any Brit would, and to his own ears he succeeded. Maybe that was the key, keep it slow and short and focus on the letters.
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Goram
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Goram » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:18 pm

White let his bicycle come to a halt, perhaps a hundred feet inside the perimeter fence. It appeared his arrival had been fortuitously early, even if only by a few minutes, for now there seemed to be a traffic jam at the front gate and the previously bored gate guard was having identity cards thrust at him from all directions.

Even from a small distance, the new arrivals seemed an interesting bunch. Most of them wore RAF uniform, but at least a couple did not. One wore Army green and the other was clad in the somewhat gaudy uniform of a French officer. The sight of these somewhat peculiar uniforms gave White a feeling of confidence. Unlike some other esteemed officers in the Royal Air Force, White had a relatively high opinion of the British Army - after all, he had started his military career in the Army, before switching services. As for the Frenchman, well, he'd known enough of them during the Great War to know that the half-hearted Saarland Offensive wasn't indicative of that country's martial prowess.

He ran his eye over the others but found nothing particularly eye-catching - except for a very attractive green sports car. Rather, it was what he heard which concerned him. Although the distance was small, it did mean he only caught snippets of conversation and only when the wind carried the sound of voices towards him. He didn't hear much but that which he did was, he was fairly sure, came with American accents. He had known plenty of them in France, in 1918 and, to a man, he had found them to be an insufferable bunch. They had been loud and cocksure, boastful and arrogant. White had been civil to them, as decency demanded, but he had not liked them and he had found himself disposed against the bloody Americans ever since.

"Yet"

He thought,

"One must never judge a book by its cover. Not even an American one. Maybe these chaps will be different."

He circled his bicycle around and pedalled gently towards the hangars.

...Deuxième Bureau, and currently of - well, whatever this is, I suppose. How do you do?

"Sorry to interrupt, chaps"

he called out, as he ambled closer

"Henry White, at your service."
Last edited by Wg. Cmdr. Gibson on Monday 17th May 1943, edited 617 times in total.


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Gibberan
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Founded: Jul 15, 2012
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Gibberan » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:39 pm

"I'm pretty sure we all are."

Cliff's disingenuine friendliness quickly turned to surprise as the airman in front of him turned and responded. The man's accent was not British at all. In fact, it wasn't even European. The shoulder patch on the Flying Officer's uniform read CANADA, like his own, but a trained ear such as Cliff's had no trouble in realizing that just the slightest details in his delivery were unmistakably off. Where had he heard that particular cadence before? He remained silent for a second as the gears worked in his head, pinpointing the source. Thinking, thinking...yes, that was it.

But how...and why?

A Louisiana Creole masquerading as a Canadian (and doing a fairly good job) in wartime England? He said his name was Thibodeaux, didn't he? Quebecois my ass. The hell is this Johnny Reb doing fighting a war all the way over here?

Then again, one could argue that there's a Massachussetts Southie doing the exact same stupid thing; the miracle is not that there is one of us here, but two.

"A fellow Canadian, eh?" he said, putting his hand on his compatriot's shoulder, stressing the lie so the Cajun (and perhaps the others around him as well, save for the clueless gate officer) knew exactly what he was talking about. For the first time in weeks, his mouth barely curled into what some might consider a smirk, if not a smile. "What are the chances of that? I'm a little farther north of you, if you know what I mean, but roots run deep, after all."

He extended a calloused hand. "F/O Cliff McTavish, also 319 as you can tell. Pleasure to meet you Jimmy, and you fine gentlemen as well," he said, now addressing all the other assorted servicemen around him. "I'm sure we'll have a great time spending this lovely war together, whether it turns out to be four months or four years."

The surly gate guard had by now had enough of this impromptu gathering. "Aight, you lovebirds, you're all clear to enter," and he began waving the large group past, out of his sight and his responsibility, likely so they could go bother some RAF high-up in the compound instead of him. Cliff walked past, taking another breath of his cigarette and making no effort to keep the smoke out of the unfriendly guard's face. Stepping off the roadway, and instead walking along the ironically-cheerful bright green lawn of the base, he saw another group of slightly-older men, some more aged than others, conversing near the flight line. Perhaps they knew where he was supposed to report?

He absent-mindedly cracked his knuckles as he walked further into RAF Manston Heath, his cigarette glowing brighter with each gust of the cool morning breeze. The fighter planes parked neatly off the runway shone as the sun reflected off of their fuselages. Almost as if they were begging for a pilot, someone to take them off into the wild blue yonder, and into whatever adventure could be dreamt up. So it begins, he thought to himself, not fully knowing what it truly meant.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son in the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through himJohn 3:16-17

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Kouralia
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Posts: 15063
Founded: Oct 30, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kouralia » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:45 pm

"Glad to meet you, Mr Thibodeaux." Smythe said with a strong London accent, taking the flying officer's hand and shaking it before taking the papers back from the RAF Policeman at the gate. "Anyway, grand to meet you sir, but I think we ought to be moving on." He added, nodding to Grady. "Don't want to keep this queue going any longer than possible, and I'm sure I'll be acquainting with you a great deal more in the coming months." Before he could say much more the stripped barrier arced upright and the driver rumbled the small car through the gate, waving in thanks to the perimeter guards before speeding up as it made its way through the base.

It wasn't then long before the tilly stopped next to a shack seemingly alike all the others. Before he could say anything, however, Smythe spotted a small sign next to the door announcing that it was the '319 Squadron Operational and Personnel Stores.' "This'll be my gaff then?" He asked of Grady as they got out of the car.

"Yeah." The RAF man said, "You're dealing with the 'operational' stores, whatever that means. There's some other gent in blue in charge of the stuff for the birds though: no offence, Staff, but I'd be correct in assuming you don't know the damndest about planes, yes?"

"No, no offence taken." Smythe said, peering into the windows of the building only to be disappointed that his view was entirely obstructed by curtains or blinds or somesuch other thing. "I can fly, though I've not really done owt on anything flashy like those ones on the tarmac, but what actually goes into a plane to make it fly is pretty beyond me." As he spoke, the Staff Sergeant turned from the window to try the door, only to be met with a rattle as the locked door refused to open. "If this is where my office is... Do I not get the key?" He asked, turning to Grady.

"Yeah, probably." The other man said, shrugging. "Might be the warrant officer has it, might be the CO has it, might be some plonker in the guardhouse has it. Just tell them you've assessed the site as best you're able, but need to get the key to take up your duties."

"Yeah, that sounds good." Smythe said, nodding to the group of men stood over by the flightline. "I'll head over and see if one of them's in charge." He said, grabbing his cap from inside the car and nodding in thanks to Grady. With that he made his way over with a purposeful walk - more than merely bimbling along but not quite marching, until he was close enough to see that some of those present featured the strange, stripped rank insignia on their uniforms which were apparently the mark of an officer of the RAF. As he approached, he brought his arm up in a smart salute which managed to be both casually executed with his walk, but also arriving at his forehead with such textbook precision that it was as if he'd spent the night rehearsing it. "Good morning, Sirs." He said, nodding to those present and making the assumption that the well-dressed man was as much, if not more of an officer as those clearly in British uniform. "Can I ask, are any of you the Officer Commanding 319 Squadron who I need to report to?" The Staff Sergeant added.
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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Posts: 16793
Founded: Feb 20, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:10 pm

“How do you do. Howard Cavalier, mechanic at Supermarine and… Flying Officer, I suppose” Howard answered politely, removing one of his own working gloves for a handshake. Then, he saw that his hand was as blackened by grease as his working gloves, a nasty by-product of needing to work with the smallest parts of a Merlin engine. Some parts just needed to be tweaked by hand. Now that he saw that, he remembered that his face was probably covered in soot and dust as well. Suddenly, the mechanic felt very self-conscious about his appearance, especially with all these gentlemen in uniforms arriving. Not the least of which was Jean-Martin, who looked straight out of Cambridge or Oxford. Apologetically, Howard raised both his hands to show the black grease stains.

“I’m sorry, commandant. I think we’ll have to wait to shake hands. I’m sure another opportunity will present itself. One that will not ruin your wear”

Howard now took the other working glove off, shoved them in his pockets, and unbuttoned his overall a bit, revealing a dirty white shirt that was ragged and torn by overuse. Howard liked his working outfit, and he had owned this pair of shirt and overall for quite a while now. The uniform in the barracks could wait until later. Howard then, with a simple gesture of his hand, invited the Frenchman to walk with him towards the hangar, where the Spitfires were currently being stored.

“And indeed, a half-starved tiger. We can starve it some more once I tuned the Brownings to each pilot’s personal preferences. Do you happen to have a preference?” He asked. This kind of talk could have waited, of course. It would have been far better to leave it off for when all the men had been assembled. He would have to explain it all in detail again anyhow, but he felt like it was one of the only things he could safely talk about. All these people were soldiers. He had just been a civilian only weeks before. Somehow, he needed to prove that he was not the lesser, that he was a perfectly capable part of their squadron. Howard felt the pressure, real or not, mounting in his insides.

This pressure mounted as they were joined by two others: David Richter (“just been assigned to the 319th”) and Henry White (“Sorry to interrupt, chaps”). One on one with Jean-Martin, Howard had already felt quite some pressure, but with three soldier types present, he began to feel overwhelmed. A fear of future exclusion began to creep up on him. It was visible by clothing already: he was going to be the odd one out. With some jittery mannerism, and a veneer of ease and comfort to hide his insecurity, Howard began to talk about the only subject he felt comfortable with.

“Hullo there! Nice to see some faces here” he lied. He would have loved the isolation, if it hadn’t been for his home sickness.

“As for the squadron, commandant…” he said, partly to Jean-Martin but also to the others who’d just joined them.

“Whatever it is, we’re favoured by Those On High. These Spitfires are not the three year old models of Reginald’s day, that’s for sure. Eight browning machine guns, hot air traps for the wing-mounted radiators… And I’ve just been installing restrictors in the carburettor. Who knows, we might be getting our hands on some of those Hispano’s they have been building.”

As he talked, Howard got a chance to look at the other men some more. He could see that the Frenchman had a story to tell, from his numerous former positions at fancy-sounding bureaus. There was a golden band around his finger. A married man. He looked at the ring around his own hand, which looked remarkably similar to the one Jean-Martin was wearing. Did he have a wife somewhere? A son or daughter waiting for his return? The man was aged for a war pilot, he could easily have a nearly-grown or adult child. Howard thought of Southampton for a moment. Was there a Southampton for Jean-Martin Florac too? He had never thought of soldiers as real people. He had never really met any. He assumed that they just existed, living in barracks all their life. Thinking of his own father, that could never really have been the case, but it certainly felt that way.

And then the other man. Richter. He had pronounced the name like a German would have, pronouncing the CH sound like no Brit ever could without a lot of training. This man was either very fluent in foreign languages or a native of some country that used a G sound like that, but the very British pronunciation was enough to convince Howard that he was a man of the Home Isles. This man looked younger, but there was a look in his eyes that Howard recognised from veterans. That look of having seen much, a thoughtful look of someone who did not take anything for granted anymore.

Finally, White. A man with an athletic build, despite his age. A man like Jean-Martin: old for a war fighter, but with enough outward appearance to make one confident in their abilities. Some of the soldiers were old enough to be his sons. A wedding ring adorned his finger; he was a married man too, like himself and the Frenchman. Here too was a story to be told. Soldiers, so far from home, so far from their families, who had lived about twice his life. Men who, had they been but a little bit older, could have been his father, had he still lived. Howard waved these thoughts from his mind: they were not going to do him any good. He would focus on the job at hand, so long as it kept him sane. The Spitfires were his hope of pulling through this.

“I was just asking the commandant here… do any of you sirs have a preferred gunning distance?” he asked, both to the three men he had already met, and a fourth one who joined them just then. He asked them if any of them was the commanding officer of the squadron, to which Howard had to reply negatively. The man didn't introduce himself, which Howard found rather rude.

"I don't think we can help you with that, mister..."
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

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Kouralia
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15063
Founded: Oct 30, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kouralia » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:35 pm

As Smythe made his way across the station toward the group of servicemen, he found himself momentarily flustered when the small party began to walk away toward the hangars, leaving him to hurry after them. Despite his pace he still only arrived as they finished talking, to salute and ask the men there if any of them were the Squadron's OC. The pale NCO found himself quickly sizing up the men he now stood with. Two dressed as he now assumed was a pretty standard manner for the RAF Officer cadre, one wearing a very ostentatious uniform which was unalike anything else he'd seen, and the fourth who'd spoken to him clad in the dirty overalls of a hard-working mechanic: something an armoured crewman could surely appreciate.

"I don't think we can help you with that, mister..." The mechanic said, casting his eye over Smythe and tailing off the sentence in a manner the Staff Sergeant took to be an invitation to further speak - though he hoped sincerely he wasn't overdoing it. He knew that even for a Senior NCO of the British Army it would be unbecoming to have barged in on a group of Officers who were having what was likely a private chat, but would the rules be different for the RAF he wondered? Surely, they were all officers, so they out-ranked him. But they were pilots, he also considered. They were the 'grunts' of the Air Force, the individual riders and knights and practitioners of air warfare; thinking of it that way, weren't they really just up-jumped private soldiers? Smythe tried to put thoughts of decorum from his mind, hoping he wouldn't blow it so soon.

"Sorry, sir." Smythe said to the oil-stained man who looked to be about his age, half-turning his khaki-clad Arm to make visible the three down-turned chevrons surmounted by the Saint Edward's Crown of his rank insignia. "Staff Sergeant Baz Smythe, formerly 11th Hussars." He said. "I didn't mean to intrude but I've been assigned to the 319 Special Operations Squadron as the 319's Quartermaster Sergeant and I'd hoped that some of you gentlemen might be able to advise on this circus we've got going on. I'll be honest: I've not done anything with the RAF before, and I'm not entirely sure how you chaps run your shows."
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Grenartia
Post Czar
 
Posts: 40179
Founded: Feb 14, 2010
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Grenartia » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:38 pm

Kouralia wrote:"Glad to meet you, Mr Thibodeaux." Smythe said with a strong London accent, taking the flying officer's hand and shaking it before taking the papers back from the RAF Policeman at the gate. "Anyway, grand to meet you sir, but I think we ought to be moving on." He added, nodding to Grady. "Don't want to keep this queue going any longer than possible, and I'm sure I'll be acquainting with you a great deal more in the coming months." Before he could say much more the stripped barrier arced upright and the driver rumbled the small car through the gate, waving in thanks to the perimeter guards before speeding up as it made its way through the base.


Thibodeaux couldn't help but notice the staff sergeant never did introduce himself. Before he could call back to him to catch it, the other flying officer decided to speak up.

Gibberan wrote:"A fellow Canadian, eh?" he said, putting his hand on his compatriot's shoulder, stressing the lie so the Cajun (and perhaps the others around him as well, save for the clueless gate officer) knew exactly what he was talking about. For the first time in weeks, his mouth barely curled into what some might consider a smirk, if not a smile. "What are the chances of that? I'm a little farther north of you, if you know what I mean, but roots run deep, after all."

He extended a calloused hand. "F/O Cliff McTavish, also 319 as you can tell. Pleasure to meet you Jimmy, and you fine gentlemen as well," he said, now addressing all the other assorted servicemen around him. "I'm sure we'll have a great time spending this lovely war together, whether it turns out to be four months or four years."

The surly gate guard had by now had enough of this impromptu gathering. "Aight, you lovebirds, you're all clear to enter," and he began waving the large group past, out of his sight and his responsibility, likely so they could go bother some RAF high-up in the compound instead of him. Cliff walked past, taking another breath of his cigarette and making no effort to keep the smoke out of the unfriendly guard's face. Stepping off the roadway, and instead walking along the ironically-cheerful bright green lawn of the base, he saw another group of slightly-older men, some more aged than others, conversing near the flight line. Perhaps they knew where he was supposed to report?

He absent-mindedly cracked his knuckles as he walked further into RAF Manston Heath, his cigarette glowing brighter with each gust of the cool morning breeze. The fighter planes parked neatly off the runway shone as the sun reflected off of their fuselages. Almost as if they were begging for a pilot, someone to take them off into the wild blue yonder, and into whatever adventure could be dreamt up. So it begins, he thought to himself, not fully knowing what it truly meant.


Oh, come on, you damn Yankee! Jimmy thought to himself, as the Bostonian officer spoke. You're only drawing attention to yourself, and I'm pretty sure everyone here who actually matters already knows neither of us are actually Canadian. But of course, he kept these thoughts to himself, as he shook McTavish's hand. He'd have to work alongside this guy, and who knows, he might be a pretty decent guy once you get to know him.

Before he could respond to say he was technically listed as having dual citizenship, he rushed off to the flight line, along with every other person who had been waiting in line at the gate.

When he arrived at the flight line, a man, who seemed to be the mechanic in charge of things, was speaking.

Great Confederacy Of Commonwealth States wrote:“I was just asking the commandant here… do any of you sirs have a preferred gunning distance?”


"I'll stick with the standard distance, if its all the same." the Flying Officer responded.
Last edited by Grenartia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Impeach Humanity, Legalize Death Stars, Life is TheftWis/Gren 2016 Something all cisgender allies should start doing. I wear teal, blue & pink for Swith. ⚧Copy and paste this in your sig if you passed biology and know gender and sex aren't the same thing.⚧
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Monfrox
Post Czar
 
Posts: 33413
Founded: Mar 25, 2011
Father Knows Best State

Postby Monfrox » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:46 pm

September 15th, 1939
Somewhere off the coast of the British Isles
0732 UTC


The morning was dreary like usual in the center of the British Empire. A place known for as many rainfalls as Seattle would usually be pretty uninviting, but it was here that many volunteers for the next big war would gather. They came for many different reasons, and from many walks of life. And of course, all different races and nationalities. But, there was one who'd make her own history. Samantha Melody stood looking at her wristwatch and then looked up to the waves of the early morning tide. The sea salt smell hung heavy in the air. Surprisingly, she didn't get seasick at all on the long voyage across the Atlantic. She stood wearing a dark navy blue pair of slacks and a suit vest over her white button-up shirt, all hiding her chest that had been carefully bound. She took her overcoat off her shoulder and slipped it on. Her matching brimmed hat hid a messy and short mop of dark brown hair that had been trimmed down to make her look as boyish as she could. Her suitcase was at her feet, and she hoped that everything in it would be enough to get her started on a new path in life.

Samantha Melody was a mob princess - the daughter of a don - and had made a name for herself back in the states. It was all fine, the organized crime scene. She had little choice other than to play along at a young age due to her situation of being orphaned at two years old. Her parents were just fuzzy memories, and her new father had imprinted himself on her. Funny, she never seemed to have a mother figure in her life though. She was always surrounded by older men, doing the mob's work, or the waste management business as they called it. It was kinda weird, calling it that. Especially since she mostly did her legal work out of the flower shop. Funny enough, that was the girliest thing she'd done her whole life. She eventually got good at it but not before she had a falling out with the family. After earning a place on the most wanted list by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, though at a very low place. It came with her own nickname and everything though, since most only heard her called by her first name. Sometimes she wished she hadn't gotten ahead of herself, course she was always acting like a stupid kid. Even now, as she ran away from a very powerful and connected group of people that would most certainly hunt her down.

A touch on her should made her jolt. Caught in her own mind; she whipped around a full 180. Had she not recognized the person standing in front of her, she'd probably have been more abrasive with him.

"John! Chrissakes, don't sneak up on me like that!"

"Sorry, Sam."

"How long you been on this ship, anyway?"

"That a trick question?"

"Nevermind. Why are you here?"

"Your father wanted to know what you were up to and where you were going, so he had me follow you."

"Only you?"

"It helps that you and I know each other so well."

"Right. Well if you're here to ask me to come home, I'm not going."

"Well, that's a given. You've come this far, and it's take hell or highwater to get you back. I'll be hanging out around here just to make sure you're not getting into trouble."

"Lovely. Just don't expect to share hotel rooms."

"Wouldn't dream of it. What are you doing over here anyway?"

"Trying to get a start on a new kind of life."

"Leaving the family?"

"Well...no...maybe I just need some time doing something else..."

"Be careful. You're a wanted criminal in the states now. Your shot at a fair and easy life is pretty much...shot."

"Don't remind me..."

The two parted ways as they disembarked from the passenger boat after it docked. Samantha didn't have the guts to tell John that she'd be joining the RAF.
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