Authors: James Rouch
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Cover illustration: Harrier GR3.
Initial production of this type,
92 aircraft, all for the RAF to be used in the tactical support role.
At the outbreak of war two squadrons were stationed at
Gutersloh in Germany. Less than half the serviceable
aircraft were at dispersed sites at the time of the Warsaw
Pact attack. Despite heroic efforts by ground and air crew,
all of those remaining at the airfield were destroyed on the ground.
The surviving Harriers inflicted heavy losses on the
Soviet advance in the first few days, though the number
of sorties flown by No 3 Squadron after the fourth day
was severely curtailed due to the difficulty of fuel and
ammunition resupply over roads choked with refugee
traffic, or by air due to WP intruder missions aimed
specifically at such efforts.
It is generally acknowledged that had another squadron
been available and the supply situation not been
bedevilled by years of political penny-pinching, then the
WP advances in the Northern and Central Sectors of the
Zone could have been halted perhaps as much as fifty
miles short of the point at which they eventually stalled.
Engine: Rolls Royce Pegasus. Max speed: Mach 1.3 in
dive, 737 mph in level flight. Weapon load: any combination
of cannon and rocket pods, free fall cluster munitions,
laser guided iron bombs, super-napalm or air-to-air
missiles up to a total of 8,000lb (Conventional take-off)
51000lb (Vertical lift).
THE ZONE Series by James Rouch:
THE ZONE 4
For Carola Edmond, who guided me through the Second
World War and Nick Webb, who led me into the Third.
Copyright © 1981 by James Rouch
An Imprint Original Publication, 2005
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without permission of the publishers.
First E-Book Edition 2005
Second IMRPINT April 2007
The characters in this book are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
THE ZONE E-Books are published by
IMPRINT Publications, 3 Magpie Court
High Wycombe, WA 6057. AUSTRALIA.
Produced under licence from the Author, all rights reserved. Created in Australia by Ian Taylor © 2005
...and in conclusion... this committee recognising that the battlefield of the future will be dominated by the guided missile... it is recommended that the production of manned combat aircraft be stopped as soon as is possible under the terms of existing contracts... and that all new projects, at whatever stage of development, be cancelled immediately.
The above is taken from the last page of a consultative document, one of several, considered prior to the final drafting of the British Government’s Defence White Paper published in April 1957 that declared manned combat aircraft to be obsolete.
This document was circulated among senior Air Ministry Staff, who were invited to append their comments. On this particular copy, now in private hands, the only note, pencilled alongside the conclusion in the margin, and alleged to be in the handwriting of an air commodore, is ‘
At the outbreak of World War III, taking the Warsaw Pact and NATO totals together, there were more than 5,300 manned combat aircraft in Central Europe, with over 9,000 in reserve and second-line units, with the Warsaw Pact out- numbering NATO by more than two-to-one.
She was struggling, trying to push him off, but he wasn’t going to stop, not now. Christ it was hurting, the fastener of his zip was biting into the base of his iron-hard erection and the lace trimming on her knickers was like sandpaper against its sensitive tip.
‘Can’t you wait? At least let me get them down ... this is no good for me... you’re making me wet...’
He had to finish, had to; he’d waited so long and now, as he’d been afraid it would, it was proving difficult. ‘Just keep still.’ His face was in her hair and his every laboured breath was saturated with the blended scents of perfume, deodorant and hair lacquer.
There wasn’t enough room on the back seat of the Opel, he could only thrust an inch or so at a time, or his feet became entangled in the door pull or ashtray. It hurt, he’d be sore for days, but he had to finish.
Managing to push forward a fraction, he felt his penis slide on the silk-like material to the shallow smooth valley between her thigh and crotch. Suddenly he knew he could do it, could feel his body priming itself as he rubbed harder and harder and faster and faster; Now, it had to be now... now...
‘I don’t like this, let me... oh you sod, you dirty sod. You’ve done it all over me, it’s running down my leg. Get up, get off me. No, stop, you’re dragging my dress through it... have you got a tissue..? be quick. You rotten sod, what a mess... it’s all between my legs...’
Somehow Libby half-turned, opened the car door and backed out. Before he walked away he threw her his handkerchief. He didn’t want to, but he saw her, by the pale illumination of the interior light. She’d pulled herself to a slumped position against the far door and was holding up her skirt and parting her legs. Grabbing the folded white linen she shook it out, bunched it and wiped the slow white avalanche from the hem of her underwear, and from among the stray strands of pubic hair escaping beneath it.
Well, he’d done it, and he hated himself for it. Not because of her, she’d been keen enough to leave the Naafi and go off with him, not because of the discomfort he experienced as he tucked his fast-shrinking self back into his clothes, there’d been several times in the last couple of years when he’d made it that bad himself by exercising it: no, he hated himself for having done it at all. He’d betrayed Helga, broken the impossible promise he’d made to himself when he’d heard she was among the millions of civilians trapped by the Russian advance.
He didn’t look around when he heard the door slam, or when he heard her approaching. A small fist half-heartedly punched him on the arm. ‘That wasn’t fair, not after getting me going. Are you going to have a proper go? I don’t mind, if you let me get ready this time.’
‘No, no, I don’t want anything else... I’m sorry, I can’t explain, I just needed it that way, just once.’ So the Zone hadn’t made him totally sub-human, yet. There was still some decency in him if he could summon up an apology of sorts for an easy pick-up like her. ‘Look, I’ll make it up to you, give you some money for some new things if you like.’
‘Alright, I’ll let you, seeing as how that’s the least you can do. You must have stained them, you did a load, it went everywhere, I’ve never seen so much. What are you looking at?’
From the high ground, southern Germany stretched away into the night, marked randomly but liberally by the lights of farms and villages, and occasionally gashed by the beams from vehicle headlamps. But far short of the invisible horizon the sprinkling of white and yellow pinpoints ended abruptly, as though a black sheet had been draped over the landscape beyond.
That’s the Zone isn’t it? I don’t like being this close, gives me the shudders.’ Libby resisted the urge to push her off when she wrapped her arms about him. ‘Yes, that’s the Zone.’
In the far distance a star shell burst and made a bright oasis for perhaps thirty seconds as the parachute-suspended fiery ball of magnesium drifted to the ground.
‘Are you going back in there?’
‘Is it as bad as they say? Do you have to go?’ ‘It’s worse actually, far worse, but I don’t have to go, I want to go, want to.’ Now he felt her move away, as though she were suddenly afraid of him. Perhaps, perhaps he was no longer human after all.
TO: HEADQUARTERS-GROUP OF SOVIET
FORCES GERMANY - ZOSSEN-WUNSDORF FOR: THE SPECIAL ATTENTION OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL ALEKSEEV DEPUTY COMMANDER - AIR DEFENCE - EASTERN EUROPE
FROM: GENERAL PAKOVSKI-OFFICER
COMMANDING AIR DEFENCE REGIMENTS - CENTRAL SECTOR - ZONE
Transmission. Priority. By Special General Staff Code AP/43. Secure link or hand only
Comrade Lieutenant General.
Acting on Intelligence information passed by your office and following orders issued by yourself the action listed below has been carried out:
The 867th (reinforced) light anti-aircraft battalion: the 12th anti-aircraft missile regiment: the 727th armoured medium anti-aircraft regiment: have been moved to cover the rail junction and marshalling yards at Kothen.
All movements have been made by night under conditions of strict radio silence. Counter-intelligence measures have been taken to prevent the enemy detecting the redeployment.
All battery commanders have been ordered not to activate their radar systems until the destruction of our light screen of radar pickets signals the imminent approach of the expected NATO attack.
Under these conditions our main defences will survive to engage the enemy force at close range, when their destruction will be assured.
As required, I can give the Comrade Lieutenant General my personal assurance that not a single capitalist mercenary will survive the implementation of this plan. I am moving my own HQ to a site near Kothen to maintain the closest possible supervision.
Signed: GENERAL PAKOVSKI
Libby kept a tight grip on the mini-gun, as the slipstream buffeted the heavy cluster of barrels projecting through the open cabin door of the helicopter.
The eastern fringes of the Zone were below them now, an ugly land, banded by swathes of chemically stunted sickly vegetation. A whole forest lay flattened, the stripped and charred trunks laid in patterns that marked the paths of massive blast waves from a nuclear bomb or missile burst.
Among the clumps of yellow foliage Libby could see occasional patches of green, where some hardy plant was using the new strength of spring to restart its battle for survival.
There were no targets for the snaking belt of mixed armour-piercing and tracer rounds. They had been told at the briefing there wouldn’t be, but he was disappointed all the same.
He leant out, and damp air rushing past pushed against his visor and sucked the air from beneath it, so he had to gasp for breath. Visibility was improving fast as the sun rose higher. When he looked back he could see the second wave of the assault, five miles behind them and stretching away to north and south, bank after bank of Black Hawks and Chinooks, many with under slung loads.
A Soviet scout car swerved from the track along which it had been making its lonely patrol as the choppers swept overhead, at a hundred feet their massed rotors sending the plants and puddles into wild waving motion.
It was gone before he could sight on it, but he gripped the multi-barrelled gun tighter, in expectation of other opportunities soon.
Now they crossed the rusting wire and overgrown minefields of the old Iron Curtain, and then they were over East Germany and the helicopter sank to fifty feet as it raced above the ill-kept fields and dilapidated villages, following every contour of the rolling land.
‘Will you look at this?’ Ripper rubbed the fabric of his camouflage top between a filthy thumb and forefinger. ‘This is all brand new, it’s just like we were going to a party.’