WIN! Tom Clancy's HAWX PS3/PC Packs

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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. brings a slice of air combat to the man's near-future techno-political fare where private military companies earn the wages of war. It was released just a couple of weeks ago and, thanks to Ubisoft, we've now got some copies to give away, bundled with a sweet flight stick from Thrustmaster. Find out how to enter beyond the jump.

So, first, here's what you could win:
* 1 x Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas flight stick (PC and PS3 compatible)
* 1 x Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. game for PC or PS3

We have three H.A.W.X. packs up for grabs, each containing the game and the stick, for your choice of PC or PS3. Sorry 360 (and Wii and Jaguar) owners!

Here's how you can enter. We want you to write the opening page of the Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. novel. That's up to, say, 200-300 words of espionage thriller fiction. Feel free to invent your own characters, situations, events etc, and try to give it an air combat style twist; but what's more important is that it hooks me in, just like any good novel's first page should.

Leave your scintillating prose in the comments below or email it to the usual address. You've got until Monday, April 6 to get your entry in. Only the best three will win. Good luck!

Oh, and if you're looking for some inspiration, here's the game's launch trailer

[Terms and Conditions]


Comments

    2014. A time of war, a time of future, a time of private military companies. War never changes, the only thing that differs nowadays is that countries send us, the H.A.W.X unit instead of their own armies. Some call us collateral, others label us as pests, the way I see it you’re gonna die sometime so why not die doing what you love. After the events of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran I’ve changed from a man of optimism, to a cynic with not a care in the world. That’s why I’m glad to be a part of H.A.W.X squadron, when the going gets tough you sure as hell can bet we’re there.
    “Come in H.A.W.X squadron, we’ve picked up an unidentified fleet of F-16’s on your 6, you are free to engage over” came the sturdy voice of Commander Mcgraw, head of comm’s unit. “Roger that, you heard the man boys, let’s kick some ass” I instructed my fleet as we immediately changed course. War is a funny thing, the fear that you feel when combat is initiated is nonexistent, its only once the conflict is over that you feel the cold, spine tingling numbness that war creates. “Captain, we’ve got two birds on the horizon, T minus 20 seconds to contact”. For a second, I lost my sense of authority and that’s when the training kicked in. “YOU ARE WEAPONS HOT! FIRE AT WILL!” I roared as I urged my wing of three close friends into the heart of battle. As I lined up the F-16 in front of my crosshairs I pulled the trigger with a feeling of suspense and anticipation, a spur of four missiles launched at the targets. Nothing prepared me for what would happen next.

    way too much time needed! i already have the ps3 game and i'd rather buy the stick!!
    its all yours Noel ;)

    BTW, where can i find that stick? id love to give it a crack.

    It was only three days ago that Matthew Thorington had stood in a crowd of protesters, engulfed in a sea of swaying banners and sign-song chants that somehow managed to sound the same year after year, cause after cause. Flag in hand he had joined in, standing in solidarity with his brothers.

    Now though the baying crowds which had surrounded him were replaced by the smooth carbon composite cockpit of a General Electric HAWX Air Interceptor. Thousands of angry voices silenced, replaced by the roar of the underwing jet engines. The sound had once impressed him but now it was offensive, embarrassing, like being at a restaurant with a friend who is too sure of themselves, braying at their own jokes as people pretend not to notice.

    The theory was sound to be sure, shift more of the responsibility for defense onto contractors. What could be a more powerful symbol of the strengths of capitalism than to have the most powerful nation on the planet be protected by private enterprises cruising the skies in technology beyond even that which the government owns?

    Throttle up, Matthew slid into the sky as he had a thousand times before. It always felt slower once you got up there, the deceptively slow drift of cloud past the cockpit. Occasionally he would catch a glimpse of his shadow darting over the gleaming skyscrapers below and it would pull him back to reality, an Earthly reflection of his power.

    Even now, most of the people below would feel pride if they saw him pass overhead, assured that everything was well and safe. He flicked the cover from the launch toggle switch and circled around. Just a couple of miles ahead the UN building stood tall, barely required nowadays in a world where business would not allow it's activities to be disrupted. War between nations was a primitive futile concept that prevented the markets from operating as they should. Better to live in peace and work together for the greater good.

    There was a buzzing in his ear now, the faint calls of ground control ordering a return to his set flight path, a warning he was entering restricted space. Matthew switched off the transmission, swatting away the annoying distraction.

    He could make out the worlds flags in the distance, swaths of colour lined up and flapping in the morning breeze. His hovering finger hesitated for a moment then pressed down. Dual trails of smoke snaked ahead, as they reached the building an instant of nothing. Then growing blossoms, red and yellow and so beautiful.

    On the radar screen Matthew could see a stream of dots, growing every second like an angry swarm coming to meet him. No matter, he hadn't expected to land again anyway. He'd go down fighting though.

    @ brad.
    I thought i was the only one who couldn't be bothered :)

    Artemis Global Security, once a small time security firm had grown exponentially over the last few years. With the public calling for reduction in military spending due to difficult economic times, entire units were being sold off to private enterprise.
    Commander David Crenshaw, a highly decorated pilot, having led the High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron "HAWX", was not comfortable with this new life. Having served in the US military his entire career, to suddenly find himself within the private industry, only personal opinion differenciating him from a gun for hire.
    A dark and stormy night once again in this dense mountainous jungle, the dark rainclouds obscuring any glow from the heavens. Occasional flashes of lightening provide only a glimpse of the aircraft standing ready from the slightly open doors of the main hangar. David sipped carefully on his steaming cup of earl grey. It was too hot to enjoy such a drink in this part of the world, but old habits are hard to break. No runway lights were permitted at this covert location, and only a dim glow escaped from the pilots locker room at the rear of the hangar. The rest of the squadron are silent, having turned in some hours ago.
    Finally Crenshaw could have some time to reflect, it has all happened so fast.
    The military style encrypted radio loudly crackles to life on the nearby wall, quickly returning thoughts to the mission.
    "Assault 1 to HAWX, Assault 1 to HAWX, We're approaching point A, ETA in 10. over"
    Before David even has a chance to acknowledge the request, he hears his squadron of pilots begin to scramble....

    The cockpit is flashing red from all my intrument warning signals - strings of enemy missiles - air and surface to air, all locked on my thermal signature. Our squadron is in deep enemy air space and the sky is like a spiderweb from the contrails of jets and missiles intertwining, the latter destined ultimately for its unfortunate prey. The harmonious rumble of jet engines longingly plays a rhythm buried in a pilot's killer instincts from the mere sound reverberating around its path. Adrenaline heightens my senses feeling that my awareness is my only ticket to survival. A glimpse of my radar shows one red dot fast approaching my five o'clock with seconds remaining till impact. Gloves soaking from the sweat of my palms, I knew my flares this time would not be my angel of salvation. My HUD simultaneously lit up with an enemy lock from an incoming bogey. The radio bursts with the voice of my wingman Chuck, almost in despair, for me to evade and drop hard. Stick in hand, I launched a sidewinder while dropping the air brakes, I pulled hard while the g-force demanded every muscle from me to maintain lock as I twisted my bird hard to the right. The missile narrowly passes my wing while momentarily target explodes. A short lived celebration passed over me as I change course to once again remind myself why I loved being a HAWX pilot. "Shake and bake, baby...shake and bake!"

    Masters' Turn.

    2012. South Korea. 15KM South of Border.

    Cpt. John Masters pulled hard on his flight stick, forcing his F-22 Raptor into a 7.2G inverted turn. The sudden increase to his weight pinned him hard against his seat and forced the blood from his head. His vision dimming, John caught a glimpse of the MiG's tracer rounds pass within meters of the left wing of his fighter jet.

    "This guy is good!" John said as he eased out of the turn, recalling some of his previous engagements. John had been here since North Korea had developed mini-nuke technology and conducted live fire tests against Japan, the UN had agreed to 24/7 patrols around the North's borders. After 2 years of constant engagment John had experienced the cannon fodder, the best of the best and everything in between.

    John's friend and wingman, Cpl. Alex 'Mad Dog' Mason pulled into formation. "John! Second bogie at 4 o'clock!"

    The second MiG opened fire. John pushed his Raptor into a spiralling dive as Mad Dog did the inverse pulling his his Raptor into a steep climb. The 2nd MiG followed Mad Dog matching his climb falling into line 200 metres behind him.

    "MiG 2 has a lock on me." Exclaimed Mad Dog.

    John hit his airbrakes and pulled his F-22 into a matching climb. The first MiG would be pushing the assault any second now.
    "Mad Dog! Cut West and release your ECMs." Ordered John as the second MiG released an Air-to-Air Missile. THe Electronic Counter Measures luckily saved Mad Dog from the explosion that followed.

    John fired his AtA in return. As the sidewinder missle hit it's target, John felt the autocannon rounds of the first MiG hit his cockpit.

    John slammed his flight stick to the right sending the F-22 into a triple roll as the rest of the rounds sprayed harmlessly over his canopy. John then watched as the MiG thundered past him heading North.

    "MiG 1 bugging out Captain! Accelerating to Intercept!" Mad Dog yelled, as he hit super-sonic.

    "Negative Mad Dog! Do not follow into the Red Zone! Mad Dog! Mad Dog!"
    John looked down to his instruments to be greeted by a flashing red warning light. The MiG's rounds had fried his comms.

    "Christ!" John swore as he hit is Afterburner in Pursuit.

    In the distance John saw the flash of Anti Aircraft ground fire followed by a fireball in the sky.

    "MAD DOG!!! NOOOOooooo!"

    Anger shook through him, but John steadied himself and forced himself to focus.

    "You bastards, John whispered, his head hung low staring into the fading radar blip that was his friend, "IT'S MASTERS' TURN NOW!" John said as his flipped on his Air-to-ground weaponry.

    EPILOGUE

    April 2, 2012 – Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

    It was a dead black night with no sign of the moon, the absolute worst conditions for flying.

    The deck and ceiling were completely black, I couldn’t see a thing.

    Any fighter pilot will tell you that night flying is one of the most gruelling but satisfying challenges for a Pilot. My name is Captain David O’Connell the commander officer of US Air Force HAWX Flight 106.

    My wingman and I are flying out-dated F-15 Eagle’s, they usually put the best pilots in these old machines, the Air Force hasn’t yet completely converted to the F-22 Raptor yet, and so they keep the most veteran pilots flying sorties in twenty year old aircraft.

    We are cruising to our target in Osaka, Japan at ten thousand feet at Mach 1.2. Since World War II no one would ever have thought that the Japanese would be the next big military threat again…

    *BZZZ, BZZZ, BZZZ*

    My thoughts were suddenly interrupted as the cockpit lit up red by the ‘Missile Danger’ lock indicators throughout my cockpit.
    My eyes darted around the cockpit, virtually no time had passed – it had to be the new stealth, it appeared out of nowhere right on our six.

    “HAWX Flight 106 you have inbound hostile bogey’s prepa…”

    *Click*

    “No shit” I mutter quietly to myself as I switch off my comm’s to base, keeping myself calm, I didn’t have time to speak with them right now.

    “ ‘SLIPPY’ this is ‘FOX’ break hard left on my lead you know what we’re up against here right?”

    “Roger, FOX…” “It’s the St-Stealth Super Fighter right? What the fucks it doing out here?”

    “H-He’s got Missile Lock on me” Dan’s quivering voice gave me a chill – he was right and we were majorly technologically out-matched. We weren’t even near the Japanese coast yet, what was it doing here?

    “BREAK LEFT” I rolled left and pulled back hard on the stick hitting full after-burners, I was going to have to push this old bird to its limits in order to even have a chance to see my enemy before I was dead.

    The G indicator read 9.4G’s

    “Jesus FOX, I can’t keep up with that” Dan’s voice crackled over the radio.

    “Get your shit together SLIPPY, this is what it’s going to take” I barked back.

    *BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

    There is a short flash. Shit he fired already!

    “Missile is incoming… Shit FOX I can’t avoid it…” I break low performing a high G split S, the G forces are intense. I can’t respond to Dan right now – I know he’s done for.

    KA-BOOOM. There is a loud explosion, Dan has been hit by the enemy missile. I can see from the corner it’s not a partial hit – he’s gone.

    Dan has been a great Wingman and friend for many years – but I don’t feel any emotion – what is going on? The feeling is surreal, my body is at its limits. I’m flying my Eagle better than I’ve ever flown before, but it’s happening… automatically – I’m not even thinking.

    Despite the fact that I know the cockpit is buzzing with warnings, I can no longer hear them.

    *MISSILE LOCK* *DANGER *MISSILE LOCK* *DANGER*

    The message flashes across the screen, there is a missile inbound to me. I know I can’t avoid it.

    Suddenly I’m not longer in the cockpit of my F-15 anymore... whats going on... I’m seeing the world through the eyes of a child. What is going on? Is this a memory? How or why I recall this memory I’m not sure. I was still a very young child, I couldn’t even talk, why am I remembering this? Is this my first memory? I remember the weather, it wasn’t a fantastic day, there were white and grey clouds and I can see some blue sky – was I wondering what it would be like up in the sky, or was it a premonition of my death? I was sitting strapped in my stroller with one of my parents pushing me along and I was holding my favourite toy in my hands; it was a black ‘Gollywog’. I’m still not sure what they are meant to represent, but I loved this little guy when I was younger, I had quite a few stuffed toys and teddies but this one was my favourite. My thoughts stumbled, what the hell was going on.

    My stroller turned off the footpath and onto a stone pathway that curved its way off into the distance with short green grass on either side. For some reason that I can no longer remember – probably because my thoughts weren’t memorised in the English dialect yet - I threw my favourite toy off the side of the pram, and he landed softly and silently on the grass next to the path. After he hit the ground I remember being scared, am I scared now? I wanted my toy back! I can remember so clearly trying to reach off the edge of the pram making little baby reaching noises like ‘eh... ih... eh...’. The image of the memory in my head is like I am watching something play through a television, I can just see and imagine the back of my little chubby hands with outstretched fingers reaching for it. I have no idea if I cried or not, but I can definitely remember the feeling I felt inside, that feeling was . . . sadness.

    Was that the first time I felt sadness? Why am I remembering this now? Is my life flashing before my eyes?
    With a flash I am back in the cockpit of my F-15, no time had passed, I can notice the light of the missiles rocket engine. Everything is in slow motion – I don’t have time to pull the eject lever…
    *CRACK*

    silence…

    CHAPTER 1

    January 08, 2009 – Miramar, San Diego, Nevada

    I could hear the screaming sound of F-16’s on full afterburners as I lay on my bunk…

    Chapter 1 – Simple, easy and carefree beginnings.

    Unlike the story about Gollywog the other memories from my younger years don’t flow quite so easily, most of them are not even my own real memories, but rather incidents that I have seen in family videos or in photographs.

    "Chapter 1 - Simple, easy and carefree beginnings.

    Unlike the story about gollywog the other memories from my younger etc"

    That isn't supposed to be there I wrote that prior to finishing my first section cause I had some ideas... just ignore it.

    Maybe I went a bit overboard with length, but I felt like I would lose dramatic impact if I did that...

    0659 January 3rd, 2015 - Sydney, Australia

    Captain Rudi “Hammer” Elson was riding a rollercoaster at Mach two, the wash from his engines throwing up two misting plumes in the morning sun. The mottled gray F-22 S/EIG sat at about fifty feet above sea level, skimming the waves and enjoying the hospitality and sights of beautiful Sydney. The hospitality was lacking, the sights were a mass of shore batteries throwing up a wall of trip-A and a Voss Class Guided Missile Corvette rushing to block his exit. He jinxed hard right and vector-viffed his way over the shoreline as fire from four separate flak guns intersected his previous flight path. Moments later he was back in the relative safety of the corporate skyline. The radar proximity warning on his HUD lit up as it detected a pair of AADF F-35 almost on top of him.
    “How long left on the dump there TG? I don’t reckon that’ll fool them again, plus we got incoming!” Hammer said through gritted teeth.
    Maddox “TG” Mendez watched the progress bar fill as his fingers ran over the keyboard console in the rear HackTek seat of the F-22. “Maybe thirty sec’s, I’m bypassing security as fast as possible, but the wireless itself is shitty.” The dump of the AADF MilNet was almost complete, if he could just...
    A thin, needle like building to their left split and began to tumble as explosions blossomed at its centre. Debris rained on the F-22, cracking the canopy in several places. The F-35’s cut across their nose and turned for another pass.
    Mendez didn’t notice, he killed the last firewall and hit the return key, grabbing the most sensitive information the system held. Hopefully the plans for Australian Pacific conquest they were being paid to retrieve.
    “I’m done Hammer, get us the hell outta this sinkhole!”

    Vertigo - you never quite get over it compleatly. The dizzying sense of everything around you spinning, tilting, barreling out of control. It scares me. It always has. It makes me feel insecure. It makes me feel... Alive!
    God, i love it. I don't move through my enviroment. I pull on my flight stick and then the enviroment changes pitch to MY will.
    I fly though the air like a god. Hell, when i am up there, i AM god. The very essence of life itself is in my hands. Life to be taken or spared. Though if this is true, i am not an ideal god, as i don't seem to remember the last time i spared a life while up there, in the heavens.
    But i'm not in the heavens - not now at least.

    My eyes open to a cold concrete wall, painted grey, with an empty cold steel bench bolted to it in the far corner of the room. Then again, in a single 2x3 meter room, i don't quite know if you could describe anything as far...

    I close my eyes again to see if i can fall back to sleep and dream of the heavens, though my chances feel slight though a hard, lumpy pillow and a bed that may as well be a coroners slab. Regaurdless, i try. Try to obtain sweet unconcious so i can be amongst the heavens again.

    Through the black, red flashes make me fully aware again.The need to dream is leaves me, as i rise eagerly from my cot.

    ...Somone is calling to the gods for help, and a god they shall get...

    Join the Airforce, they said. You'll get your degree AND do your country a great service. They forgot to mention the regular beatings, non-consenual love-making and early morning starts. When the chance to join a PMC presented itself I took it with open arms.
    I've never looked back since, and that's not just because of the scars. Now I get to fly a really fast plane, with cool colours on the side, and guns and rockets and another button which I think might be for a laser, once someone invents a proper one.
    The other day I went to Belgrade and shot a few arabs in the spine. Well, I say their spine but the bullets are about as big as a fist, so it could have been a little bit off and they would still die a pretty unpleasant death.
    Then, the other day, I went to Iran and I blew some of those rascals sky high with a rocket or two. Turns out they were disableds or something, but it's not like anyone will miss them, am I right, or AM I RIGHT? Anyway, I got in a bit of trouble for that, because unlike a government army or whatnot we have to fill out forms for all the ammo and rockets we use on a mission. I used fifteen times more than anyone else on the run, so I have been told to take some compulsory sick leave or something to make up for it a bit. To think about what I've done. In the airforce, we were told to use as many bullets as possible, because the government was making 2c on the dollar for every round we spent. That's why we didn't even get in trouble for shooting our own troops. The bastards were insured, the country was making a profit on the munitions and if they'd been any good at fighting they would have been up in the skies.
    My name is Tony Hawx. Welcome to my world.

    I remember when i was 5 and i wanted to join the air force. I would carry around my toy plane everywhere. But today times have changed, war has changed. It is now fought by PMC's. The PMC's now have better equipment and men than the government forces. Being in a PMC as a pilot was my dream job. Until one night. (DA DA DA)
    We were called to do an operation in The Middle East. No big deal, we'd done it many times before. Tonight we would have 4 pilots go out and take out some forces over their areas. We had been flying for 15 minutes when the radar began to light up. When i looked ahead the sky was filled with planes.
    "THERES OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!" said my fellow pilot.
    The planes had seen us and suddenly we had over 9000 planes flying at mach 3 in our direction. My cockpit began to flash. "WARNING WARNING". I thought this was the end. but i was wrong. (DA DA DA)
    Missiles soared at my fellow pilots and explosions filled the air. I was the only one left. I began to try and shake them, but its hard to shake 9000 planes. I decided that if i was gonna die in style. I turned on my portable radio which i always take with me to battles.
    "welcome to the dangerzone
    feel the poison in my veins
    tell me are you strong enough
    to keep up with my life
    welcome to the dangerzone
    what you see ain’t what you get
    let us fly this aeroplane
    tonight!"
    I flew upwards into the clouds. I then did a barrel roll. Then i spun around and we were coming face to face. I shot my rockets and i hit the first enemy. The enemy's plane then crashed into another enemy's. A chain effect began and then there was no enemys left. I killed 9000 enemy planes with one rocket. Some might say it was a good shot. Not me.

    “Pull up, pull up!”

    The voice in his ear piece jolted him back to consciousness, immediately assessing the situation he realized he was mere seconds away from plunging nose first into the ocean. Captain David Crenshaw, formerly of the USAF, pulled back hard on his control stick, willing the nose of his aging F-16 to pull its nose up in time.

    He closed his eyes.

    It had taken him by surprise, flying over the Arctic Ocean the last thing he expected was for radar warning receiver to come alive. Looking down at the RWR display he saw the missile approaching from 2 o'clock, followed by the aircraft that had fired it. The warning tone suddenly became shrill, the missile was actively seeking him now, it was less than 20 kilometers away and closing fast.

    Crenshaw banked his F-16 hard left. Glancing down at the RWR he saw the missile change course, it was still tracking him, and was now less than 10 kilometers from him, he had seconds to act. He pushed the stick forward, sending his aircraft into a steep dive, and at the same time pulled hard to the left again, and pushed the button which released a cloud of metallic chaff behind him.

    He felt the explosion behind him and hoped it had not been close enough to damage the delicate tailplane. Fortunately, his aircraft responded with the agility that had saved his life countless times over the past 7 years, any damage would be minimum. Looking down at his radar, he pulled the nose up and turned to engage the enemy.

    The enemy's JAS 39 bore down on him from above, firing bursts from its cannon. Jinking his plane to avoid the gunfire, Crenshaw flew past mere meters away from the enemy aircraft. He pulled on the throttle and turned, getting himself behind the JAS 39, pulling his own trigger he let loose with a stream of bullets from his Vulcan cannon.

    The JAS 39 exploded right in front of him, but this time he was too close to his target. A large piece of the JAS 39's airframe struck his cockpit, and the rest of his F-16 was showered by smaller pieces of shrapnel. The force of the explosion knocked his plane around, and soon he found himself in an inverted dive. He pulled back on the control stick.

    His world faded to black.

    Nice response to this competition, Kotaku au have been getting some good entries to their comps lately. Anyway, here's my shot.
    -------------------------------

    The jet is as quiet as the night is dark and it’s stealth technology masks us from detection. The radio is silent, I shouldn’t hear from base tonight and I hope I don’t. The plane has concealed itself from the world with me inside and seems to tease that at some previous point we ceased to exist. I stare at the instrument panel, it is my connection to the plane and ironically what tethers the plane to the outside world. The faint green glow of the instrument panel is the only indicator to the earth below that we soar above. The gentle illumination is subtle enough to go completely unnoticed unless you know where and what to look for - the trouble is, in this part of the world people do.
    If I were spotted and engaged, would it be the plane’s technology or my piloting skill that saves my life?
    No doubt it would be technology. With the technological advantage that this plane brings, skill wouldn’t even enter the equation. The JC3 is designed to dominate the air – no government in the world and only a handful of PMC factions would have aircraft that could hope to tango with the JC3.
    I know I’m here to babysit; the JC3 is impressive but you don’t leave a 40 million dollar infant with a full payload unsupervised.
    I guess I miss the days when a pilot’s skill was respected as much as the technological prowess of his mount.

    The radio blasts static for a moment before a familiar voice takes over, “Eagle 1, adversarial radar has identified your position, you’ve got two bogies on route to intercept – I’m streaming you the data now. We’re not sure who we’re dealing with yet, but they’re definitely a tech faction – bypassing our stealth measures gives that much away.”
    Christ, being spotted by radar was not something I expected; I guess my definition of radar-invisible differs from the tech labs’, pity I find that out a thousand feet above hostile territory.

    I look at the information in front of me – two planes approaching fast from behind. No plane model or loadout details are displayed, I guess full battlefield control doesn’t extend behind enemy lines.

    “Eagle 1, we have confirmation that the aggressor is Tallas Group. Treat them as hostile - you have permission to engage.”

    Tallas are a small but technologically powerful faction with a niche for air domination. I can only assume the two jets on my tail are T8 – the closest relative the JC3 has.
    The situation has changed - two of the worlds most advanced aircraft are on my 6 and catching fast. That comfortable technology buffer is gone and only exceptional piloting skills can save me now; the realisation is unsettling, but I can’t help but smile.

    It’s time to teach this new bird some old tricks.

    @David Wildgoose:

    I've already sent in this entry via email but just in case the entry is lost/filtered/forgotten, here it is again.

    -----------------------------------------
    Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, 1800 Hours

    "Don't ride too far Dora."
    Dora silently made her way up the driveway. Her mother was busy bringing in the washing but could hear her peddle away.
    It was almost the end of a leisurely Saturday and the sun was beginning to set, creating an orange sky. Dora was too young to go to school and did not understand the significance of weekends. The only difference was whether her brothers were home or not. All days felt the same to her and she did the same thing she loved doing everyday, ride her tricycle. Dora's blue tricycle had tassels on the handlebars that mirrored her pigtails.
    Her two brothers were chasing each other in the front yard playing fighter planes, shooting each other with imaginary bullets.
    "Daka daka daka!"
    "Pew pew pew!"
    They paid no attention to her as she reached the end of the driveway and placed the front wheel on the road. Her neighbourhood was located in the green zone; quiet, edgy, but relatively secure. Regularly, Mexican soldiers would perform a sweep of the area in their armoured cars. Dora had noticed 4 such patrols today.
    "Left or right?" she asked herself.
    Left would take her to her Cousin Manuela's house. Once a week she would make the trip with her mother. She had never gone more than three houses in either direction on her own.
    On a whim she decided to go right. She made it past two… three houses and stopped. Listening, she noticed the noises coming from her brothers' could no longer be heard.
    "They must've gone back inside." she reasoned.
    A distant thunder echoed softly. Dora looked up, confused. There were no clouds in the sky. And then it came. Labouring to the crescendo, the air raid siren sounded, marking the end of peace.

    10000 metres above Ciudad Juárez

    "Rebel convoy spotted at one-four-niner. You are clear to engage."
    "Roger that. Okay guys, let's get to work."

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