Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
Author’s Note: Thanks to all of you who reviewed! Sorry for the long wait.
Thanks to: Erica, my beta, for improving my writing. And Uriel for her Canada/Air Force knowledge.
Alex entered her room and walked over to her bed. She sat down and placed the folder Sergeant Greenaway had given her on her lap. She stared at it without opening it, a small smile gracing her lips.
Not only was she going to fly, she was going to be the Captain of one of the squadrons. Though she knew that going to the front was a very dangerous thing to do, she was glad she'd be going. She finally had the feeling that she’d found her goal in life.
Alex lay down, her legs dangling over the edge of the bed and the folder still on her lap. The young woman started to realize what being squad Captain would mean…She was willing to risk her own life, but being the leader of the squadron meant she'd be responsible for the life of others as well. Of six lives to be precise.
She shifted on the bed, lying down completely, one hand behind her head, staring up at the ceiling. That evening Greenaway would inform the other cadets about their mission and about their new squadron leaders, and Alex only hoped that they'd respond differently than Sautier had.
The six men who'd be under her charge were all cadets with whom she'd had training with. Some of them had become friends -Vaughn, Bourassa, and Meloche often joining her when studying or in the mess hall. Rawn was a totally different story though; he shared Sautier's viewpoint when it came to women serving in the RCAF and had never made a secret of this.
They'd be leaving the next day at 10 p.m. and would arrive at the RAF base at London around 6 a.m. the next morning. From there on they'd be briefed on their exact operation.
Suddenly her thoughts drifted to Andrew. She'd be leaving him behind. Though they had parted on bad terms, Alex felt that she couldn't leave things the way they were. One of them had to be the bigger person and give in to their stubbornness.
She sat up, placing the folder next to her on the bed, then stood up to rummage through her belongings, fishing out some sheets of paper and a pen.
I know last time we saw one another, we didn't part on good terms. I'm sorry we left things like that and I'm sorry we disagree on this. But I am not sorry about the decision I made.
I've been assigned as Captain of a squadron and we will leave for London tomorrow.
I regret that this is the only way that I can say goodbye to you, and I am sorry that I have to tell you this all in a letter.
I never really felt that my life had a use, but since the sergeant allowed me to fly I realize this is where I belong, Andrew. This is what I am supposed to do. I hope you can understand.
Since Toby's death I put all my effort in becoming as best of a pilot as I could. I am doing this for him -to make him proud. I can only wish that I make you, my big brother, proud too.
I wish you all the best and hope you and Claire will live happily together, that your wish for a family of your own will come true.
You have found your place in this world. Now I need to go to find mine.
As she looked up from her letter and spotted the clock she noticed it was 5.30 p.m. already. She'd missed dinner and was now running late for Sergeant Greenaway's briefing.
Hurriedly, Alex put the letter in an envelope and put it underneath her pillow, then walked out of her room, heading for the mess hall where Greenaway had ordered them to assemble.
As she entered the mess hall she noticed all other cadets were already there, and just as she sat down at a table, Greenaway walked in.
"Will you all please sit down," the bull-necked man ordered as he walked to the front of the hall.
The cadets started to take their seats, Vaughn and Bourassa joining Alex at her table.
Vaughn leaned closer to the young woman and whispered, "You know what this is about?"
"I heard two Squads will be sent to London," Bourassa interrupted before Alex could answer.
The dark-haired cadet had always been one of the gossip-spreaders and always seemed to know everything about everyone. Looking over at Vaughn, Alex noticed the questioning look in his eyes.
"But there aren't any Captains," he stated as he looked from Bourassa to Alex and back.
"Vaughn," Bourassa started, "Why do you think Sarge ordered us to come here, huh?" he nodded his head into the direction where Greenaway was standing, talking to Sautier.
"Guess who made it to Captain," Bourassa said as he regarded Sautier with disdain.
Alex had been silent the entire time and was glad when the Sergeant ordered them to be quiet.
Sautier was still standing at the front, a few feet behind the bull-necked man. Greenaway sought Alex, and as he caught her eyes, he silently motioned for her to come to the front as well. She nodded curtly and stood up.
"Where are you going?" Vaughn asked as he had been oblivious to the Sergeant's silent beckoning.
Bourassa, who had noticed the exchange, looked at Alex in surprise as she walked over to the Sergeant.
“Listen up everyone,” Sergeant Greenaway stated as he looked around the mess hall. “The Allied Forces are advancing quickly, pushing the Nazi’s back further and further. Because of this there is a big need for more air force support.”
“So it’s true?” one of the Cadets asked.
“Yes,” Greenaway replied. “We got the request to send two squadrons to the front.”
Suddenly the hall filled with noise, all Cadets talking through each other. Now they realized the rumors had been true the room filled with excitement.
“Quiet, please,” the bull-necked man said, but when the men didn’t listen he spoke up again, this time more forcefully. “Quiet!”
Finally the Cadets settled down, focusing on the Sergeant again. “Now listen carefully. There will be two squadrons, each consisting of seven men, which means not all of you will be sent out.”
Again there was the humming sound, though, this time the sound of the Sergeant clearing his throat was enough to let the silence return.
“Each Squad will be led by a Captain. For these positions the two best Cadets will fulfill these positions. Sea Hawks Squadron will be led by Sautier.”
A few grunts of disapproval were heard, but as soon as Greenaway started to call out the names of the squad-members, it was deadly silent.
“…Ferguson, and Montpellier. The six of you will be under the leadership of Captain Sautier.” The Sergeant looked around the mess hall once before he continued. “White Falcons Squadron will be led by Captain Savage.”
The second the Sergeant had said her name, Alex received a lot of stares and the talking started up again.
“I’m not going if she’s going,” someone said loudly.
“A woman as Captain?”
“They must be crazy!”
“Silence!” the Sergeant thundered. “Captain Savage has had the same training as all of you, though in fewer days she has proven herself to be an excellent pilot.”
Alex looked at the ground as she noticed several of the Cadets glaring at her angrily. The Sergeant noticed and stepped next to her. He placed his hand on her shoulder, then continued, “Captain Savage will lead the squad. I know she’ll be as good a Captain as any other, and if I ever find out any of you treat her differently you will have to report to me.”
The men seemed to settle down a bit as the Sergeant’s words settled in. Alex sneaked a glance at Vaughn and Bourassa. She’d wanted to tell them both what she’d been offered by the Sergeant, but hadn’t found the courage to explain the situation –not knowing the two Cadets well enough to know how they’d react.
“The White Falcons will exist of Bourassa, McKenzie, Meloche, Rawn, Thomas, and Vaughn.”
“No way!” Rawn said as he stood up. “I won’t be part of that Squad. Not as long as she’s going,” he said, jabbing his finger into Alex’ direction.
Vaughn, who sat at the other end of the mess hall, stood up as well, flinging his chair backwards. “What are you afraid of? Think she’s more of a man than you’ll ever be?”
Alex’ eyes shot up as she heard Vaughn’s words. Never had she seen him get so angry; the guy had always been a calm and kind person –not one to be butting heads with others. She then noticed Bourassa staring at him as well, surprise written all over his face. However, she wasn’t able to determine whether he was shocked because of Vaughn’s outburst or because of what he’d said.
“Shut up,” Rawn quipped.
Suddenly, Bourassa stood up as well. “No you shut your mouth. You heard the Sergeant. And know that I’ll be more than glad to inform him as soon as you take one step into the wrong direction.”
Guess that answers my question, Alex thought as Bourassa met her eyes and gave her a reassuring smile. The support of her two friends, and that of Sergeant Greenaway, gave her back the confidence that had vanished a few minutes before, when Rawn had yelled his disapproval.
She’d already counted on disapproval of some of the men, but the strong reaction of Rawn still surprised her.
I wish Toby was here, Alex thought. Though her two other friends had her back, she sure missed the full support from her best friend. She heard the Sergeant dismiss all others and order both of the Squadrons to be at his office at twenty-one hundred hours. As most of them trotted off, Alex was joined by Bourassa and Vaughn as she left the mess hall.
“Congratulations,” Bourassa started, “I’ll be glad to serve you.”
“Yeah,” Vaughn chimed in. “You’ll do much better than Sautier…He’s such a thickhead.”
Alex smiled ruefully. “It isn’t Sautier I’m worried about,” she said quietly as they walked out of the building and towards the barracks.
“Don’t worry about Rawn,” Bourassa said as he turned to the dark-haired woman. “We’ll look after you, right Vaughn?”
“Yes. Just like Toby’ll watch out for you from up there,” he replied as he looked up into the sky. The young Cadet had known about Alex’ friendship with Toby and knew how much she still missed him.
Alex was touched by their words and by the faith they seemed to have in her capabilities. “Thanks guys.”
The briefing didn’t take more than fifteen minutes, the Sergeant being very clear and concise with his orders –most of the operation’s exact details would be revealed to them once they’d be in London, and so, now they’d all been order to prepare themselves for the upcoming flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
As she entered her room, Alex remembered the letter she’d put under her pillow. She walked over to her bed and grabbed said letter, then sat down on her bed, flipping the envelope in her hand. Was this letter a good idea? Or would it enrage Andrew even more, knowing that she would go to the front?
Maybe it’s better if he doesn’t know about this, the dark-haired woman thought.
As she took the envelope to rip it up, there came a knock at the door. Quickly pocketing the letter, Alex stood up and walked over to the door. She opened it to reveal a heaving Bourassa.
“Change of plans, Captain,” the young man said as he’d caught his breath. “We need to go. Now.”
RAF Base, London.
Alex waited in the hallway of the base’s main building. Next to her stood Jacques Sautier who’d just knocked on the door of Sergeant Collins’ office. He would brief the two squad captains about the exact details of their operation.
“Enter,” a grumpy voice said.
Sautier opened the door, practically pushing Alex aside as he walked into the Sergeant’s office. Collins stood in front of a large map of Europe, his back turned to the door as he was reading a report. At the sound of someone clearing his throat, the RAF Sergeant turned to face the newcomer.
“Jacques Sautier,” the former cadet stated as he saluted. “Captain of the Sea Hawks.”
“At ease, Captain Sautier,” the Sergeant said as he adjusted his glasses on his nose. “A shake of the hands is enough,” he added as he offered the stiff squad Captain his hand. “Where’s Captain Savage?” The man adjusted his glasses as he looked past Sautier.
“Right here,” the young woman said as she finally entered the room as well.
Collins’ eyebrows rose in surprise. He had been informed about the two Canadian squads that would come to the RAF’s help, he had been given lists of names and knew that Sautier and Savage were the two squad Captains. He stared at the young, dark-haired woman standing in front of him. This, he hadn’t been informed on.
Alex felt uncomfortable under the man’s scrutiny, but since she’d expected that reaction, she didn’t let it show. As soon as she held out her hand, the Sergeant snapped out of his gaze, and quickly took Alex’ hand, the woman giving him a firm, confident shake. “Well, ehm, yes. Welcome, both of you.” Alex nodded curtly, keeping up her calm, business-like manner.
Taking a step back, he pointed to the large map. “If you’d come and take a look. I’ll tell you all the details of your squads mission.”
The RAF Sergeant explained it all meticulously as the two squad Captains paid close attention. They were to fly their squads across the Netherlands together, and once they reached the German border they would split up, taking different routes towards their targets. The targets were two Nazi communication posts, one near the city of Essen, the other near Dortmund.
“Last week, one of our own squads was sent over,” the Sergeant started as he looked from Sautier to Alex. “Unfortunately none of them made it. They were taken down above Dutch territory as they were on their way to the posts.”
Alex watched the man. The seemingly calm man adjusted his glasses for the tenth time. Must be very hard, Alex thought, to be the one to send off all those squads. She knew their mission was not without danger, Sergeant Greenaway had already told them that much, but now, knowing that eight men had already lost their lives when they had been sent on the same mission, made Alex realize how dangerous it would be. There would be a chance that some of them wouldn’t make it back.
“Those Nazi bastards shot them all out of the air one by one,” Collins added as he walked over to his desk. He sat down, taking two files, handing one to each of the squad Captains. “Inform your squadrons well. Make sure you reach the targets, this is our last chance to destroy some of the German communication centers. With those destroyed it will be easier for the Allied Forces to push them back.”
Alex nodded as she quickly scanned the papers she just got. “No communication, no orders. No orders, no way for their troops to keep their stance.”
“Indeed,” Collins said, the hint of a small smile tugging at his lips.
She looked over at Sautier, noticing he was checking something on the large map. He didn’t seem to pay much attention to Sergeant Collins words. Just as she was about to take a closer look at where Sautier was staring at the map, the Sergeant spoke up, “Watch your squads when you’re flying across Dutch territory.”
“Yes, Sir,” the young woman replied.
“Alright then,” he said. “Brief your pilots and make sure everything’s ready at zero hundred hours. You’ll be leaving at oh one hundred.”
Alex let out a small sigh. Finally they’d made it across the Netherlands and were now flying above German territory.
“You’d think those jerks would be more protective of their own territory.” Bourassa’s voice came across the statics of the radio.
“That’s because they’re losing ground big time in Holland,” Alex replied. “Still, be very cautious.”
She checked their position, then, directing all, she continued, “Time to part ways. Falcons, change to formation Charlie-Delta. Sea Hawks, good luck.”
She didn’t really expect an answer as Sautier hadn’t spoken a single word to her after their briefing at the RAF base, so wasn’t surprised when the radio remained silent. She turned her thoughts back to the mission. The White Falcons were to target the communications post in Dortmund.
The remaining part of the flight to the communications post was relatively quiet when compared to the first part across the Netherlands, and after another twenty minutes they arrived at their target.
The post was situated in a former school. The squad would be doing multiple fly-bys to destroy the post’s communication equipment. After that, Alex would do a single pass to check the target, while the squadron would already start their trip back to London. Bourassa and Vaughn had protested against Alex’ decision to fly back alone, but the young woman had argued that all of them staying in the area any longer wasn’t necessary, and would endanger them even more.
Two by two the White Falcons passed the former school building. McKenzie and Rawn were the first to open fire, then Meloche and Thomas. Those two fly-bys practically destroyed the communications post. Bourassa and Vaughn were the last two to pass the building, still firing rounds at the already burning building.
Now it was Alex’ turn to check out the post one last time. “Alright, White Falcons, formation Delta, Bourassa fly them back to the nest,” she spoke over the radio as she maneuvered her Spitfire away from the squad. “Will catch up with you.”
She heard Vaughn’s reply. “Roger,” he started, some hesitation in his voice. “White Falcons, Delta. Wild One will catch up.”
Alex smirked as she heard the nickname Bourassa had given her. Wild One. She didn’t want them to call her Captain or anything. She’d rather have them just call her Alex. But the squad members didn’t feel like it. So, Bourassa had suggested coming up with another name.
As the young woman passed the post, she noticed they had succeeded in their mission. The building was completely destroyed, a blazing fire covering the surroundings in a deep red color. “Mission completed. All White Falcons returning to base,” she announced over the radio.
Alex immediately changed her course, setting back out to the West, starting on her return flight to London. The other squad members were about five minutes ahead, so, pushing her airplane to its limits, she headed after them. She was sure that Bourassa was very capable of leading the squad, but, being the Squad Captain, she wanted to be the one bringing them back.
They were flying above Dutch territory again as Alex caught up with the rest of the squad.
“Wild One taking over,” Bourassa’s voice sounded over the radio. “Glad you’re back, Captain,” he continued, looking at her as she passed his airplane on her way to the front of the formation.
“Mission accomplished, White Falcons. You can all be very proud of yourselves,” Alex spoke to her men, a feeling of pride settling over her. They had done it. Her Squad had been able to destroy the communication post without encountering any problems. Though now they were back in Dutch airspace they had to be very careful again, since there was much more activity there. “Don’t let your guards down. We’re not out of the danger zone yet.”
Just as she had said those words to her squad members, shots were being fired from somewhere behind them. “Break up the formation!” Alex yelled as she tried to figure out where the shots were coming from. She noticed six German fighter aircrafts tailing them.
The Spitfires started to change their course, all flying away from one another. The Messerschmitts were getting closer, splitting up in groups of two and following the Canadians as they tried to maneuver their planes away from each other.
Alex checked where her squad members all were and noted one plane of their Squad was missing. “Damn it, Rawn, where are you?” she muttered to herself as she couldn’t spot the man’s plane.
“Do any of you have a visual on Rawn?” she asked the others.
“Negative,” Bourassa answered.
“He was flying behind me,” Vaughn replied. “He took a dive to the right.”
More shots were fired, some bullets hitting Alex’ plane. She looked to her right, spotting a plane coming her way. “Oh fuck,” she hissed through gritted teeth. More bullets struck her plane and she could feel the way it affected her aircraft, which was becoming less and less easy to handle.
Only then did she notice whose plane it was. “Rawn! Have you lost your mind?” she yelled as he kept on firing rounds at her. She pulled her plane into a quick roll towards the left, trying to get out of the other Spitfire’s range. But to no avail, because the minute she saw she was out of his range, a Messerschmitt took his place and started firing at her as well.
“Bourassa,” she yelled over the radio. “Get them out of here.”
She noticed Rawn heading after her again. This time she took a sharp turn left, trying to get behind the man’s plane. Though she noticed her plane wasn’t responding the way it should, she was able to place herself behind Rawn, hanging just a little bit above him.
“Rawn, you bastard, answer me! What’s wrong with you?”
But he didn’t answer. He pulled his plane upwards, colliding with Alex’ Spitfire. The young woman’s plane was sent into a diving spin, the ground getting closer faster and faster. Alex pulled with all her power on the
“Damn,” Alex quipped. Her radio was hit. She knew this made her chances of survival even less. “Bourassa, get them home safe,” she muttered to herself as she felt the plane start to tremble as she tried to get the nose of the plane back up.
But it was no use, she realized she would never make it. The treetops and pastures were getting closer and closer. The plane would hit the ground with a speed way too high for her to survive, and so she tried to reduce speed.
It all happened so fast. Before she knew it she was almost catapulted out of her aircraft, her seatbelts keeping her inside and causing an unbearable pain to shoot through her body. Large branches of trees wrecked the plane, hitting the young woman’s body. After sliding several yard across the ground, the plane finally stopped.
Alex’ entire body hurt, and she felt the life draining out of her body fast. The last thing she noticed before everything went black in front of her eyes was someone tugging at her arms, then an enormous pain coursed through her body, sending her into unconsciousness.
To Be Continued
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