N71's (aka En) search for his parents ended in grief as he discovered through Gen. Slade (Brazilian Special Forces) of their ambush on the outskirts of Kierman. To make things worse, renegade Partisan troops have returned to Fulda, bringing back terror in the towns of Eichenzell and Neuhoff.
The renegades had regrouped after having been driven out Fulda by loyal Partisan and EUFOR troops. With most of the European Forces at the end of their Tour of Duty, the outlaws had taken advantage of the lull in operations, wresting back control of the besieged towns once more.
The death of both his parents may have rendered his fight for the liberation of Fulda a lost cause. The Eufor troop come to terms with the loss of the two senior M16 agents.
New buildings and an invigorated forest have given Eichenzell a new image. A newly built-up civilian Psychiatric hospital (rising from the ashes after it was completely destroyed in the war) towers the Fuldanian landscape. The institution would help rehabilitate towns people suffering from the trauma brought about by war. Its multi-purpose rooftop has been designed to function as an emergency evacuation facility and an attack helicopter landing pad.
Heaney Air Force Base, Fulda (HAFB)
With a squadron of Apache Longbows now stationed at Heaney Air Force Base (HAFB), will taking back control of the city from rogue elements be an easy and effortless task?
AH-64D Apache Longbows patrolling Fulda skies as troops rehearse themselves for the actual battle. Pilots and Gunners do their best to put their acts together. Just the perfect recipe for effective combat and survival in the event a full-scale encounter with the enemy breaks out.
EUFOR get their Apaches Ready.
Eufor troop "En" awaits for his gunner as aerial sorties over Fulda were given the all-clear by the squadron commander.
Troops marvel at this state-of-the-art killing machine amid its capability to precisely fire laser guided AGM-114L Hellfire missiles and APKWS Rockets. Overpowering enemy positions with incinerating rounds has never been this easy and exciting for a pilot.
The M230 chain gun seems to be the primary weapon of choice for most gunners as a very experienced Apache marksman can take down enemy forces hiding in a heavily populated area with ease, avoiding any civilian casualties.
It is compulsory for pilot to have a gunner (as a co-pilot) to effectively operate the Apache Longbow during combat. Two heads is always better than just having one.
A gunner's responsibility is to make sure no enemy threat would be left standing. As well as striking the enemy first before they establish themselves a strategic position, they also must avoid a blue on blue with allied troops.
The pilot's responsibility on the other hand is to ensure that both he, the gunner and the chopper arrive to base safely, as well as no civilian or troop-mate getting caught in the crossfire.
Communication between both the pilot and the gunner would be the most important and effective "weapon" one could ever mount in the Apache.
It would mean the difference between returning to base in one piece, or retrieve the chopper back as a total wreck. A very costly mistake as one may put it.
The dreaded chain-gun can fire simultaneous rounds, leaving little time for the enemy to retaliate. It is said that you have at least 3 seconds to react with the right type of weapon or you end up facing the sky with the back of your head.
With eight (8) AGM-114L Hellfire missiles and forty (40) rounds of APKWS Rockets at the gunner's disposal, the Apache Longbow is one deadly force to reckon with as it has the capability to attack with utmost precision.
Hovering above Neuhoff, Eufor Headquarters, while keeping an eye for hostile troops encroaching the buffer zone. An enemy AT-4 rocket launcher can easily burn Eufor HQ to the ground, as well as the planting of mines within the convoy route have proven very effective against any Eufor deployment to Eichenzell. However, Apache sentries patrolling the skies have deterred any encroachment attempt by rogue Partisans or the stealthy N.E.B. (New Eastern Bloc) troops.
The Apache's Achilles' Heel.
Though seemingly an invincible bird of steel, the Apache does seem to have a weak spot. Long arms fire to the rotor could effectively destabilise hovering, and eventually bring the chopper down. Direct hits from an M1A1 Abrams tank have also been responsible in bringing down several choppers in combat.
The flight of the Valkyries. Apache Longbows seemingly looking invincible in Fulda skies, suffered one of Eufor's worse aviation disaster in history since the 2008 Black Hawk crash in Neuhoff to which ten (10) of its troops were killed.
Burning flame! One of the choppers shot down by a yet "unknown weapon". Witnesses from the ground described it as something similar to a mobile "Stinger", a notoriously sophisticated surface-to-air missile (SAM). The Apache wreck burns next to N.E.B. HQ, condemning the notorious group as the prime suspect to the latest atrocity.
Crash landing. Both the pilot and the gunner ejects to safety seconds before the crash, as they encountered landing problems due to a damaged rotor blade. Not known to many, the rotors have seem to be the Apache's Achilles' heel.
It always boils down to the coordination between the pilot and the gunner. As with such great power comes bigger responsibilities. The pilot is responsible for both his and the gunner's life, and the gunner must be certain that no civilians casualties would be involved in the crossfire.
A Thorn On The Chief's Side.
It is rumoured that Stingers may have already been offered to dealers in the arms black market, ahead of its official release to EUFOR troops. The SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) have yet to see some action in Fulda, and how effective they really are remains to be seen.
A manhunt dubbed: Operation Jenny E against a notorious civilian outlaw group was successful in ending the radicals unlawful activities. Both Eufor and loyal Partisan troops have encountered in the past - civilians discharging unspecified weapons against them, who then would blend with the crowd to avoid capture.
The outlaws had claimed at least the lives of three (3) Eufor soldiers as well as wounding several others with their modus operandi of hit-and-run, reminiscent of the N.E.B.'s guerilla tactics.
Target sighted. A row of hideouts being used by rogue Partisan troops were identified by Eufor soldiers on the ground scouring the area formerly used by the N.E.B. as their headquarters. At least three houses were thought to be utilised by the outlaws.
The Apache's chain guns have riddled the structures with its M230 30mm rounds rendering them useless and inhabitable.
Finishing touches. Gunner extraordinaire Ellynor Lisle reduced enemy hideouts to rubble with a Hellfire missile.
The European Defense Agency (EDA) is said to be funding the construction of a multi-storey residential building over ground-zero in accordance to E.U. plans to integrate Fuldanian refugees displaced by the war, a move which was welcomed by the city council.
Mission accomplished? Apache choppers land at Heaney AFB after clearing Eichenzell of persistent outlaws. For how long the would peace last is unknown, as history would show that there never was a truly lasting peace in the city.
Eufor have seen rogues flee town only to find out later of their return. "How can you fight an insurgency when the enemy has no face?", a frustrated Eufor troop was quoted saying.
"In the lessons of past and present wars, it is always difficult fighting the enemy when the enemy are the very same people you have sworn to protect," added the squadron commander.
Always On Active Stand-by.
Eufor Pilots and Gunners brace themselves for the possibility of skirmishes in the cloak of darkness. The battle has taken an even more nasty turn as rogue Partisans who have taken the reigns of a sleeping N.E.B. use new tactics in trying to get around the Eufor dragnet.
From militia-style ambushes to pockets of insurgency, the opposition will not stop trying at anything in their desperate attempt to succeed at their bastardly plans.
EUFOR's upgrades the Apache Longbow. With the addition of a large EUFOR flag painted on the sides of the chopper as well as pulsar signal lights installed on its wings and pylons, mid-air collisions during night time sorties would be a thing of the past. Pilots and gunners upgrade their skills and capability to effectively engage the enemy in night-time combat.
It is a never ending battle between good versus evil as Fulda illuminates the evening sky with burning houses. Scores of houses torched by the insurgents have left the city in ruins as an Apache helicopter hit enemy positions with its missiles.
Epilogue: What next for N71 Aeon?
With the death of both his M16 parents, the big question now is: What next for the EUFOR soldier? Apparently not all is lost for the Englishman as having to follow an Australian contact from Melbourne to Fulda had created a special bond between the two.
Escape from Fulda. With cases of Post Fulda Gap Syndrome (PFGS) on the rise among the FG veterans, the two troops have decided to escape the German city for a place less stressful and a lot more peaceful.
"It's doing my head in Babes." Lizzy Mornington tells En.
"Well, you know that it is time for you to move on when you no longer feel welcome anymore. I guess it is time for us to go Hun." En tells Lizzy with a grin on his face.
He switches on his Ducati patrol bike and drives across the bridge of a town that once welcomed them with open arms. Lizzy holds on to En's blood-soaked jacket and reflects on the day they first stepped foot in Fulda.
She looks behind her as the city slowly disappears from sight.
Heading up north to the town of Bremerhaven on a hijacked speedboat, the two hoped to escape the internal madness of a once thriving German city.
The river channel (frequented by smuggling syndicates operating an oil cartel) will lead them to the open sea, but what lies ahead of them is still uncertain.
"Where to?" the woman in En's life asks her man.
"We cross the English channel to Hartlepool, and from there we drive back to London." En answers Lizzy back with the sound of an even more relieved and hopeful soldier.
"I have a friend there whom we can borrow a car from." En continues on saying.
"Then we can have that English breakfast we have both been craving for!"
Lizzy sat speechless for a moment with the look of excitement beaming on her face, accompanied with the most reassuring smile as they travel across the German countryside.
"It is so lovely here Babes." Lizzy sweetly tells En.
"There's more of that from where we are heading to Hun.", he answers back pulling her towards him - rubbing her by the shoulders. Their boat throttles across the serene river which seems to get wider and deeper as they go further and further away from Fulda.
For the first time in so many months since arriving in Fulda, the two can now both close their eyes as they sleep together on their last night in German soil.
The end of their Tour-of-Duty serving the European Forces would surely pave way for them to spend more time together. To escape the chaos and uncertainty that befalls the towns of Eichenzell and Neuhoff was the next best thing since sliced bread (and English countryside butter with home-made raspberry jam of course).
... and so a brand new chapter begins as En can be heard mumbling in his sleep the words: "trout... carp... bait... cast..."