The Butterfly Dream is a short story included as part of TSFIA.
September 29th, 2001. Alaska, Yukon Base, A-23 Live-Fire Urban Ops training area.
Its right jump unit swung forward, whiles its left jump unit engaged its full thrust in the opposite direction. The black TSF spun in a deadly arc of burning jet exhaust as its feet mounted super-composite carbon blade sliced through the air at its intended target.
Faced with a surely lethal spinning kick from the oncoming Su-47E, Captain Jerzy Sandek, using his skill honed from years of experience in close quarter combat, evaded the blade kick at the last possible moment, his Su-37UB spinning gracefully out of harm’s way with centimeters to spare.
During that moment Captain Sandek smiled with satisfaction.
That was close, but if it wasn’t, then this whole thing would be pointless.
Using its momentum, the Su-47 followed up on its missed right kick, and delivered a reverse hook roundhouse kick using its left leg. The entire movement was a lightning fast and fluid in motion, which would make any martial arts instructor proud. Anticipating such an attack, Capt. Sandek engaged his jump unit in full reverse, and slipped into the narrow opening between 2 high rise buildings. Not giving the Su-37 time to counter attack, the Su-47’s rear weapon pylons swung forward and opened fire with its assault cannons. The Su-37 immediately side boosted behind a building for cover. The Su-47 “Berkut” followed after its prey as if its namesake.
Such mobility…… Such raw power….
Less than 10 seconds ago it was Capt. Sandek doing the attacking and pursuing. In but a moment, the table was turned, as the Berkut’s sudden logic and physic defying 3 dimensional counter attack maneuver delivered a backwards blade kick that had the Berkut moving in the completely opposite direction, with no apparent need to obey the law of conservation of momentum. Such an maneuver would have been impossible, or maybe a suicide to attempt, with most other TSFs, and difficult with even those that could perform such an feat. But now the latest pinnacle of Soviet TSF engineering has made such a maneuver look easy. Of course, pilot skill is still important as ever to tame and master such a beast.
Capt. Sandek continued to smile happily, at that moment his thoughts were the same as his opponent. The pilot of the Su-47E, his former pupil and subordinate, Lt. Dimitri Kaverin.
“You haven’t lost your edge, Comrade Sandek.”
“The same can be said for you, Comrade Kaverin.”
Preparing his counter attack, Capt. Sandek rapidly shifted his control stick to evade the 36mm cannon fire that was penetrating through the buildings around him. As the Su-37 broke through the smoke and debris around it, he was greeted by the sight of the Su-47, coming in directly in front of him. The Su-47 circled ahead and cut off the Terminator’s escape route in mere seconds, with its far superior speed and acceleration. The Su-37UB immediately reversed its thrust, but the pause during the span of less than a second that it took for the Terminator to overcome its momentum was all the Berkut needed to close into melee range and delivering a downwards axe kick.
Captain Sandek immediately moved his arms to block and protect his TSF’s head and Torso. The impact was tremendous, even with his Fortified Suit the shock was felt in his bones and internal organs. Now both the Su-37UB’s handheld assault cannons are totaled, with one cannon having been sliced cleanly into two. Ditching his guns and not wasting a moment, Capt. Sandek attempted to regain the Terminator’s balanced before the Berkut can achieve a “Target Lock” on the Terminator with its guns.
Heartbeats later, both machines disappeared in the blink of an eye, moving and maneuvering against each other at such speeds that it became hard to track even for the human eye. The training area was filled with the roaring sounds of jet engines, the loud booms of heavy gun fire, and the whirling noises of chain-blades as the 2 machines continued their deadly duel for dominance.
Captain Sandek's heart raced with excitement and his blood burned with anticipation. Such raw power, such potential for unimaginable 3 dimensional mobility, virtually superior to the Su-37 in every way possible.
The perfect machine once envisioned by the П3 plan committee for the purpose of hive infiltration was finally becoming an reality.
“Incredible! This machine will be perfect for them.”
Never have he felt such hope and delight in his heart, that even when still crossing blows with the Su-47, Captain Sandek could do little to hide his joy.
90 minutes later.
Inside the Idol flight hangar, the Su-37UB and Su-47E stood alongside each other. Below, 2 pilots greeted each other. Its has been 3 years since they last met.
“Comrade Kaverin, it’s been too long. The last time we met was during the crushing of the Seward Peninsula Rebellion at Nome.”
Saluting, Lt. Kaverin replied: “Yes, sir.”
“You have improved much, Lieutenant. It would seem that my decision to continue my military career in the rear lines developing TSFs was the correct one. No doubt with my skills, I would be a disgrace to the aces of the front-lines in the motherland.”
Returning the salute, Captain Sandek maintained his normal poker faced expression. But to anyone that knows him, they could see through his eyes and tone that he was in fact in a very good mood.
“You joke too much, sir. It was all thanks to the machine today. Even though the Su-47 is incomplete and currently only operating at 80% of its max performance, it easily dominated the Su-37. I have no doubt that with all the work you have done on the E model, the completed Su-47 will be the strongest TSF this world have ever seen. The best TSF of the West would be garbage compared to the golden eagle (Berkut), Comrade Major.”
Compared to years before, Dimitri Kaverin had grown to be a fine pilot. His voice and eyes burned with conviction, and respect for his once CO and instructor. Sandek could only smile and rested his hand on the shoulder of his pupil.
“Thank you, Dimitri. You have demonstrated to me what an elite front-line pilot could do with the Berkut today. This data will be most crucial to the next phase of development. And also I must remind you that while recently promoted, I am still only a Captain here in the UN. Should we meet again after I return to the Soviet Army, you may call me Major. Also, this being off the record, but you are still too over eager in your piloting, and your CQC fighting style, while impressive, is fancier than I would have liked to see from one of my former students.”
“Understood sir. Though, you always did drill into me to always ‘seize the initiative, hit them hard and from unexpected angles’.”
“True, but I seem to remember teaching you ‘keeping it simple, clean and practical' a bit more.”
“Understood, captain. I will remember that. So I’m now just wondering, that since a front-line nobody like me is being called here to trial in this thing, does that mean the project is near completion? Perhaps then I will be seeing you back at the Motherland soon? Maybe even a long overdue promotion and awards from the Motherland for you sir?”
“Hnmm… If only things can go that smoothly.”
Checking around him for eavesdropper, Kaverin responds in a quite tone.
“Sir, you are goddamn national hero. I've read the reports and heard the stories. The terrorist attack last month here at Yukon. The actions of you and the 'dolls' under your command averted a global catastrophe. Surely the party will recognize your actions. I have no doubt that what you did that day, sir, would even merit the order of-?!”
Noticing the sudden icy cold stare and dark expression on Sandek’s face, Kaverin felt a griping chill crawl down his spine, as he stood frozen before Captain Sandek. Whether its because he called the 'Scarlet sisters' 'dolls', or because he reminded Captain Sandek of certain events that transpired on that dark day, Kaverin could not figure out the cause of the sudden change of mood in his former CO.
“…..Comrade Kaverin, I hope for you to survive in the future.”
Standing in stiff attention, Lt. Kaverin kept his eyes straight and not looking into the eyes of Captain Sandek and willed himself to squeeze out “Sir,I apologize for-”
“Still, it can’t be helped that you happened to have heard me mumbling my thoughts…”
The sudden mood swings of Captain Sandek puzzled Lt. Kaverin to no ends. Sure, 3 years is enough to change any man, but this is getting odd. Now, Captain Sandek seems to be paying Kaverin no attention, as he turned to look at the mountains off in the distance and continued to mumble quietly.
“Fighting to a stand still is pointless... the result would be unacceptable... No different than losing...”
From Sandek’s voice, Kaverin can detect a hint of sadness and regret.
“Putting pilots into a machine that is not ready, or letting machines be operated by pilots that are not ready... Neither of which are acceptable...”
The image of a certain pilot appeared in Sandek’s mind, and a dark flame grew in his heart. The pilot in question, though he may hail from the hated West, and despite all his flaws, he was…… 'Acceptable'. Thus Sandek choose to turn a blind eye when it came to this man and his interaction with the 'Sisters'. Hoping that through him, they may see the true darkness that lay hidden in all mankind, the last stepping stone for them to embark on the path of becoming the ultimate efficient fighting machines. But it seems with the revelations during the recent crisis that his plan has truly backfired...
“It would be so simple... If only the problem was with the machine, and not the people...”
Captain Sandek’s words disappeared into the winds of Alaska. Kaverin, the only man to hear those words, could not hope to discern their meaning, and could only follow his former commander’s gaze into the Azure Sky.
One day after the conclusion of the largest terrorist attack in North American history, the now and forever infamous 'Yukon Incident', the Kremlin's R&D department finally finished the production test trial model of the Su-47E, and had it shipped to Yukon for testing by the 331st Special Experimental Development Squadron. Weeks later, despite a still not fully repaired base, both live combat and JIVES exercises with the Su-47E Berkut officially began. And almost immediately, even though operating at only at 80%, due to the TSF being still incomplete and temporarily using not up to spec parts, it still defeated the Su-37ub in almost every category.
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