Off the Coast of Northern Israel
Sunday, November 15
10:00 p.m. Local Time
“Dagger One—Dog Pound, the package is approaching from the northeast, four hundred knots, and descending from angels thirty-one. It is ninety miles from feet dry. Repeat, ninety miles off the coast. Be advised, six F-4 Terminators are moving toward the package, bearing 170 degrees at four hundred knots. Looks like the Turks are sniffing around.”
“Roger—Dog Pound— the package will be visible in five minutes,” Moshe responded to the traffic controller’s advisement of the approaching Avocet Projet.
He and Rueben had been on the alert for nearly half an hour to assure that the unarmed government-owned jet would have a safe descent into Ramat David. Until the last few minutes no other activity had appeared over the area. But the Turks had had obviously been keeping watch from long distance.
“Frisbee,” Moshe called to his wingman, “Let’s pick of the pace. Afterburner on my mark.”
After a Turkish spy ship’s ticket to the bottom of the sea had been punched on Thursday, tensions had been increasing. That tension was now being exhibited by inordinate attention being given to the incoming Israeli airplane. Knowing who the jet was carrying added an extra element of urgency to Moshe’s mission. He’d made a promise to Ben. The couple who’d be stepping in to care for Celebration Center in the Pastor’s absence would be protected.
“Copy—Dagger—I’m right beside you,” Rueben acknowledged the order.
Ty stared out the Avocet’s window into the dark night sky and imagined what may be waiting for them at Haifa. He was certain Israel’s recovery efforts would mirror what he’d left in Kansas City. The only difference would be in scale. But human suffering was human suffering. The needs were the same, meaning the assistance he could offer was the same in either place.
Blake had questioned what difficulties with the language and the cultural would be encountered. She’d been worrying about their ability to fit into the situation, let along their taking of the lead in Pastor Ben’s absence. Ty had broached the same question by phone to Ben a few days earlier, and he’d been assured that almost all Israelis held at least an elementary grasp of English. A large percentage could speak it well enough to hold a conversation, and many others were fluent. Ben’s words had encouraged him, but the unknown still loomed.
Now that they were nearing the Israeli coast Ty’s thoughts were filled with wonder at how the Lord had directed the last few days. The savviest of fiction authors could not have made this stuff up. Not only had it been an adventure, they were experiencing a certain twist of destiny, plenty of romance, and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies.
Blake, who’d been visiting the galley for a fresh cup of coffee, returned to sit beside. “What’ya thinking about?”
“I don’t know. I guess my thoughts are in overdrive. I’m amazed at how God has blessed me, mainly with you.”
Blake wrapped her arm through his and snuggled as close as she possibly. She sighed with deep contentment. “I was thinking the same thing.”
Ty looked out the window again, lost in his thoughts. He noticed four bright dots moving in the distance, but his mind didn’t register what they could be.
“It feels like we’re descending a little too quickly,” said Blake.
Ty turned and kissed her on the forehead. “More than a little, we’re dropping like a rock. I don’t think we’re too far from Haifa.”
She saw a smile form on his face. She didn’t know it was in anticipation.
“Our real honeymoon is about to begin, babe,” he whispered.
Blake seemed to purr. “Good thing we slept so much on the flight.”
Alarms sounded in the cockpits of both F-16 Lightning fighters. Moshe’s HSD revealed that F-4s had just engaged their radar. “Dagger—Dog Pound, an air-to-air IRSAT has just locked onto the Avocet,” transmitted the combat air controller. “Things are about to get serious.”
“Copy—Dog Pound. Dagger Flight is going in hot,” radioed Moshe. “Light’em up Frisbee. Separate west by two miles and let’s shadow the civilians before the Turks get stupid.”
“Roger, Frisbee going west.”
Moshe knew that Turkish attack aircraft carried practically the same weaponry as the IAF, namely AIM 120C AMRAAM long distance missiles, and close-in AIM 9 Sidewinders. But these were not F-16s bearing in on the civilian plane. They were F-4s, modified, but F-4s just the same. The jets were Vietnam era vintage platforms that had been upgraded in avionics and radar technology. Oddly, the upgrades had been done for Turkey by the Israelis. Still, he had no lack of confidence in superiority of his aircraft.
Suddenly, the animated voice of the missile warning system sounded out, “Missile in the air, missile in the air.”
“Buckle your seatbelts folks,” the pilot’s accented voice shouted on the intercom.
They had just obeyed when plane’s right wingtip dropped straight down and the nose of the aircraft pitched forward. The side of Ty’s head hit the window with a thud.
“What’s happening,” shouted Blake in fear.
“I don’t know, but hold on!”
Ty heard his wife’s voice switch from terror to prayer. “Help us Jesus”
“Take it down, Avocet, all the way to the waves,” Moshe ordered the Projet pilot.
The AMRAAM had been fired at the outer limits of its range, roughly thirty miles, meaning there was time for Moshe to pull a solution out of his hat. “Go high, Frisbee. Get a shot at the lead Terminator. I’ll punch through the Avocet’s wake and shield it.”
“Frisbee going high. Be careful Dagger. Those are our missiles.”
Moshe saw flaming plumes shooting from the Projet as it spiraled toward the surface of the Mediterranean. All Israeli pilots were practiced in the art of breaking the radar lock of an incoming missile, but most of that had involved evading Soviet-made technology. The AMRAAM Slammer now heading his way was American. The technology was deadlier.
Moshe nudged his stick forward and slightly to the left bringing his nose into alignment with the oncoming missile. The AMRAAM was a fire-and-forget weapon with the ability to hold radar lock until its prey was destroyed. Knowing the civilian Projet had no ability to outrun the missile, Moshe’s only option was to shoot the thing out of the sky.
He thumbed the switch on the side of his stick and engaged the radar of his twenty millimeter Vulcan cannon. Once a steady note rang in his earpiece, he gently depressed the trigger. With each second-long pull, hundreds of rounds were disgorged from the cannon. Bright tracers showed where the bullets were drilling through the black sky.
“Frisbee, Fox Three, Fox Three.” Rueben’s voice sounded in the background. Moshe paid no attention. His mind was fully engaged in knocking out the killer that was moving rapidly toward him. He kept his eyes tagged to the crosshair of the Heads Up Display and continued to pull the trigger.
The AMRAAM Slammer picked up speed and began nosing downward toward the fleeing Projet.
“Come on, come on,” Moshe urged his cannon. But the missile continued its pursuit unabated.
“Yeshua, these are your people. I’m almost out of ammo.” As if on cue, the cannon emptied with a final burst. The last tracer scooted off in the distance.
Suddenly, a bright flash plumed in front of the Lightning as the missile exploded. The force of the concussion coursed through the framework of the plane and into Moshe’s body. No damage was done to either.
Moshe checked his HSD and saw that the only other missile in the air was an AMRAAM fired by his wingman. The Turkish fighters had turned and were bugging back toward home, but one of them wasn’t going to make it.
The slow, spiraling dive of the aircraft ended, but by the way Ty felt his body being driven into the seat, the ascent they were was just as severe as the descent they’d just experienced. As the sinking feeling of g-forces began to subside, Ty glanced out his window. A large explosion swelled in the distance then dissipated into nothingness. He leaned his head back on the seat and expelled a lung-full of air.
Blake too was shaken. “What was that?” she asked as she too peered out into the night. Curiosity had replaced whatever fear she had.
“I think we just dodged a missile.”
“Look,” she pointed out the window, “we’ve got company.”
Ty felt a leap in his chest. An F-16 with a Star of David lit brightly on its tail was flying less than twenty yards off the Projet’s wing. He scanned forward to see that the cockpit of the fighter was also lit by a dim glow. Strangely, the helmeted head of the pilot turned his way and offered a smart salute.
Jimmy Root Jr
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