The White Lily

3

The date was May 2nd 1945. The Soviets had just taken control over Berlin. For many, this marked the end of the war. However, this was not the victory RAVAAF soldiers had long waited for. Pockets of resistance still remained and the last technologies of GARD had all but been found. Despite this, everyone on-base was given leisure for the night. Lydia had just returned from her sortie for the day, shooting down at least 2 Messerschmitts. GARD or not, it did not matter; she had always yearned the thrill of the battle.

When she landed, she wasn’t aware of the Soviet victory, so the scene of hundreds of men dancing and getting drunk on the base raised her eyebrows. She immediately brought her war machine to a halt on the tarmac, braking just a little too hard for the tail to raise slightly, almost destroying the propellers. Her comrades brought her a bottle of Russian vodka and told her everything about it. She joined in on the excitement, however, her squadron leader had to report the mission results to the commanding officer.

If anything, she wasn’t happy about the victory, she knew that ending the war would put an end to her career. When Lydia agreed to join the RAVAAF, she was promised a better life, accommodations by the west and her very own personal war machine—no more shared aircraft and no more replacing the white lily on her cockpit. As much as she loved her motherland, she does not want to go back.

Lydia tried not to think much of it now, she was exhausted and wanted to share her comrade’s joy. She took off her flight cap, revealing her bright blonde hair. The sun was low and the gentle wind stripped off the sweat dripping from her eyebrows. She was handed a bottle of vodka and two cigarettes by her mechanic. Lydia was standing on her aircraft’s wings and she swore she saw every single staff of the base gathered around her. Someone at the back of the crowd had shouted “Za Rodinu!”. There weren’t a lot of Russians on the base, so Lydia shouted back “For the Motherland!” for her English and American comrades. They all chanted in unison.

The base was filled with laughter and songs all the way until sundown. The Americans had played swing music on the base’s PA system but the Russians sang their own folk songs. The English, American and Russian staff sang their anthems one after another. Lydia was overjoyed when her comrades started singing Katyusha; she thought that song was incredibly romantic.

She tried not to drink too much as she was still assigned several sorties tomorrow. She hadn’t seen her squadron leader ever since he went to the Colonel’s office. She flicked her half-smoked cigarette and brought a brand-new bottle with her on the way to the Colonel’s office. Benny Goodman’s On the Sunny Side of the Street was playing ever so loud; Lydia could barely hear her thoughts.

As she opened the door to the office, she saw the Colonel, lying on a puddle of his own blood. Lydia was frozen, almost losing her grip on the bottle. After what felt like a century, she glanced over a figure rummaging a filing cabinet just behind the desk. The figure was her squadron leader—his flight suit was a giveaway. The song must have drowned out the sound of Lydia opening the door.

Lydia took a deep breath and shouted “McCarthy!”

He stopped rummaging and without turning his head, replied “Litvyak.”

“What did you do?!”

McCarthy turned around and met her stare “Do you ever wonder why the Authority sent us up there?”

Puzzled, Lydia asked “What are you talking about?”

“We were told we are the ones acting as the barrier between the world and oblivion; stopping the infection of which they call GARD. And you know something? It’s all bullshit.” McCarthy threw a folder right in front of Lydia's feet.

“GARD has their own agenda and so does the Authority. The wonder weapons… we’re not destroying them, we’re seizing them.” McCarthy added. “You’ve seen for yourself what they can do. You know it’s too much power even for them.”

Lydia saw the documents laid out in front of her. Plans of various weapons, blueprints for a gigantic tank codenamed Ratte. She crouched and placed the vodka bottle beside her and turned the documents. Most of the content was alien to her, things such as intercontinental missiles and jet propulsion escaped her. The document even said where these projects are built and kept.

The song finally stopped and the office fell into a dead silence. Lydia saw a flash of light just outside the windows, followed by thundering explosions—the base staff had launched fireworks. Lydia stood up and faced McCarthy. She saw pain in his eyes.

McCarthy walked around the desk and stood infront of her and said “I won’t live under a tyrant. For Colonel Wright here… Well, he’s a start.”

His lack of remorse enraged Lydia. She took him by his collars and pinned him against the wall. “Mat' vashu, you didn’t have to kill him, there are peaceful options!”

“Peaceful?” McCarthy scoffed “Lydia, we are the living proof that peace was never an option. What do you think will happen if you stood up to them?”

Lydia was conflicted. On one hand, she felt as betrayed as he did—she fought the Germans ever since the war broke out, trying to keep their weapons away from her Motherland. The thought of having such weapons existing dismayed her. On the other, she was against the very idea of killing a comrade. McCarthy took her arms off of his collar.

Her heartbeats began to slow down, her breaths were labored and she felt pressure building up on her eyes.

“It’s up to you to decide. However, if you’re staying, I can’t let you leave.” McCarthy reached for his survival knife holstered on his belt. “What will it be, Lydia? Would you live under a tyrant?”

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