|Squadron A, First Air Army|
Squadron A unit insignia
|Active||2013 - present|
|Allegiance||Soviet Air Force|
|Garrison/HQ||Gagarin Crater AFB|
|Nickname|| Azu Squadron|
Oh Jesus It's Them
|Engagements||Battle of Boskone Five|
|Executive officer||Hiroko Sakaki|
The members of Azu Squadron were originally part of a Soviet experiment in creating advanced artifical intelligences capable as acting as supernumerary crew aboard Ptichka or other exploration craft, while still being able to swap out of vehicles instead of being embedded in one form.
To this end, a server was prepared with a liberal dose of handwavium and multiple storage units attached, one for each AI entity. For experimental purposes, the server was preloaded with copies of the manga/anime Azumanga Daioh. Unfortunately, some damned fool also loaded the server with a complete copy of the web series Yukari Is Free.
The resulting AIs from this mixture of canon and highly explosive fanon were a little too over-the-top to be crew on what were supposed to be peaceful exploration craft. By the time the Azumanga crew were (more-or-less) stable and ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting universe, the Boskone War was heating up, the VVS expansion program was underway and the new Ga-15 interceptors needed pilots. After lengthy discussion, the Central Committee decided to make the AIs into pilots, point them at the enemy and hopefully not end up with too many friendly-fire casualties.
The Boskone War
|“||I am the reaper! I am Shai-Hululd! I AM YUKARI TANIZAKI AND YOU ARE IN MY WAY!||”|
—Yukari Tanizaki at the fall of Boskone Five
Azu Squadron threw themselves into the fighting with a zeal that surpassed even the most combat-happy stormtrooper. Taking over escort duties from Ptichka, the squadron frequently exceeded their orders when engaged in stopping pirate activity. Aided by Space Patrol assets Azu Squadron successfully wiped out multiple Boskonian raiders, provided air cover for the Tango Shoes assault on 1186 Turnera, and performed other duties during the conflict in the Main Belt.
The Azumanga crew missed the attack on Serenity Valley, but ultimately participated in Fleet Action Attila through to the fall of the Black Tower. Their moment in the spotlight occurred during the taking of Boskone Five, when Captain Tanizaki loaded the AZU-01 mothership to the bursting point with missiles and fired them all point-blank into the Boskonian defense grid. The total destruction of 60% of Boskone Five's superstructure in one throw earned Captain Tanizaki the nickname “Mistress of Death” in Great Justice circles.
Currently, Azu Squadron makes regular patrols of the Main Belt, as well as the major Earth – Jupiter trade routes. Despite (or perhaps because of) rising tensions between Earth and the VVS, the squadron has not been recalled to duty in cislunar space.
The Red Starsastroball as the official faction team starting with the 2013 season. Interestingly enough, the VVS Red Stars are the single worst team in the league; the squadron is too busy goofing around and showing off for the fans to actually play the game properly. As of the beginning of the 2016 season, the Red Stars have a worse win-loss record than the infamous 2012 SOS-dan team.
The Red Stars have one unambiguous victory under their belt. At the end of the 2015 regular season, the Stars banded together and completely destroyed the Air Force Fighting Wings, denying the Wings a slot in the finals. Base rumor suggests that certain members of the Wings bench went bragging about their assured victory two nights before the game, a certain dragon happened to be right next to the braggarts, and things proceeded from there.
The Stars are popular in the Kandor City area, where the Vigilantes/Stars divide is very similar to the Yankees/Mets divide in New York: many people, especially in the western neighborhoods near Korolev AFB, don't consider a person to be a real Kandorian unless they're also a Red Stars fan.
Lt. Col. Rens Houben
Comm designation: Azu Zero (also Big Boss)
Main article: Shad Houben
The Black Dragon of the Low Countries took over command duties for the 1st Air Army in general and Azu Squadron in particular during the expansion project. It turned out that Shadur was the only person in X-COM who could make the Azu crew snap to attention on demand.
Much like the rest of the Central Committee, Shadur prides himself on a fairly relaxed command style. His guidance has turned the sqaudron from a barely-functional group of fuckups to, well... a functional group of highly-trained fuckups who get the job done.
Maj. Hiroko Sakaki
Squadron Executive Officer
Comm designation: Azu One
Calm, cool and collected, Maj. Sakaki was the most stable member of the crew and the best choice as squadron executive. She's very dedicated to the Soviet and Fen causes, and will stop at almost nothing to complete a mission. When in combat she prefers to use her railguns to maximum advantage, sniping from distance.
Her primary weakness is anything and everything “cute,” which has been used to her disadvantage by savvy pirates. The most infamous moment was a routine interdiction in 2014 where the pirates almost got away by exploding a cargo pod full of stuffed animals.
Tiger is the squadron's field commander and nominal captain of the Red Stars
Capt. Chiyo Mihama
Comm designation: Azu Two
Capt. Mihama is the squadron peacemaker and as such often acts as Sakaki's unofficial deputy when in the field. Her not-as-carefully-hidden-as-she-thinks megalomanical streak occasionally surfaces during combat, especially if the targets are Turnerites or other nationalistic goon squads.
Lt. Koyomi Mizuhara
Comm designation: Azu Three
Yomi – this incarnation, anyway – is a practicing Mad Scientist and acts as the squadron's unofficial weapons tech and engineer. She's had significant input into the design specs for the Firefox project (see below) and when off-duty can often be found tinkering with her weapons mods. Her goal in life is to reverse-engineer kaboomite and rig up a missile pod with a few dozen kaboomite warheads. “It's almost as good as a death ray!”
Jr. Lt. Tomo Takino
Comm designation: Azu Four, (also Bonkura One)
Lt. Takino is brash, full of energy and not the brightest bulb on the string. She considers herself a daredevil pilot of the same type as Ben Rhodes (she isn't) and a combat pilot to equal the great Red Baron (she really isn't). She even had her Fearless painted the same color as von Richthofen's aircraft, to further hammer the point home.
Despite this, Tomo is a capable pilot, if a bit reckless. She flew the prototype Fearless Hypervelocity Hurt Machine during the test phase and earned her callsign when she gunned it up to maximum velocity and wrecked the engine in the process.
Jr. Lt. Ayumu Kasuga
Comm designation: Azu Five (also Bonkura Two)
Osaka is... well, she's Osaka. There's not much more that can be said about her. Probably the least capable of the Azu Squadron pilots, Lt. Kasuga generally flies as Tails' wingmate, because Capt. Mihama can be trusted to keep her out of serious trouble.
Osaka usually back-benches for the Red Stars, although she's got a small following as an astroball color commentator.
Lt. Steven Kagura
Comm designation: Azu Six (also Bonkura Three)
Lt. Kagura is the designated squadron tank. She feels that her job is to keep the commander or the exec alive during a fight, and usually manages to rack up an impressive repair bill after a mission. Not the best pilot, Aquagirl is probably the most natural pilot in the squadron – she learns tricks faster and with less trouble than most, making her a potential force to be feared.
Capt. Yukari Tanizaki
Commander AZU-01 Mothership
Comm designation: Azu Seven (also Mother One)
Imagine a force of utter chaos, something capable of destroying anything and everything in its path. That's Capt. Yukari Tanizaki in a nutshell.
Yukari commands the first squadron mothership, and when she's not failing to get the respect of her subordinates she's usually off destroying something with extreme prejudice. Whereas Yomi is all about the clever use of weapons of mass destruction, Yukari prefers the “hit it until it stops moving” school of combat.
Yukari also may or may not be partially demonic in nature. Research is still continuing.
Capt. Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa
Commander AZU-02 Mothership
Comm designation: Azu Eight (also Mother Two)
The second-most stable member of the squadron, Capt. Kurosawa considers it her sworn duty to keep Yukari under control at all times. This doesn't work out nearly as well as she'd like. Often harrassed and frustrated by her comrade's antics, Nyamo still tries to act like a responsible adult. This also doesn't work out nearly as well as she'd like.
Azu Squadron flies several different types of aircraft. Combat missions are done primarily with the Ga-15 interceptor aircraft, while long-range patrol or escort missions can be done with the Tu-95X bombers. The Tu-95 is also used to carry fighters to a drop zone in order to save on fuel costs.
VVS Factory Ga-15 “Fearless”
Main article: VVS Factory Ga-15
The Ga-15 is an interceptor aircraft based on the American X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane. This is the squadron's fightercraft of choice.
Tu-95X “Cosmo Bear”
Main article: Tupolev Tu-95X
The Tu-95X serves as the primary mothership for Azu Squadron while on patrol duty. It has also been used as a heavy weapons platform responsible for wrecking several Boskonian installations and on one occasion an entire fleet sent to take out the Cosmo Bears.
VVS Factory Ga-11 “Fang-2”
Main article: VVS Factory Ga-11
The Ga-11 is a light fighter design based on the Hughes Devastator fighter from the game Crimson Skies, and is meant as an in-house replacement for the F-EZig light fighter. Azu Squadron is involved in the flight test program for the Fang-2, although they probably won't use it in frontline duty.
VVS Factory Ga-19 “Falcon”
Main article: VVS Factory Ga-19
The Ga-19 is a radically cut-down version of the venerable MiG-15. The vehicle was designed and built strictly for demonstration purposes; it's used most often by Azu Squadron as their primary astroball craft.
Operations during the Boskone War and subsequent Great Justice missions have proved the Ga-15 design to be a remarkably versatile interceptor. Unfortunately, the Ga-15 is still an interceptor, not a superiority fighter. A 2014 demonstration flight against the RAAF at the Woomera proving grounds showed that the Fearless was at a distinct disadvantage if unable to use its superior speed and acceleration characteristics.
While the Soviet Air Force believes the design is solid enough to continue production for the foreseeable future, X-COM designers are looking at creating a proper aerospace superiority fighter. Recent developments in large-scale cybernetics have influenced the design process, driving research in the direction of a variable configuration mecha instead of a simple fighter aircraft.
This project, known inside the force as "Firefox," uses the Sukhoi Su-47 as the mold-line template for the mecha's aircraft configuration. The initial results of the Firefox program will be released sometime in 2016.
Azu Squadron has featured in the following stories:
- (Fenspace Alternates) The South Is Rising (Someone Get A Hammer)
- Exactly why this series, nobody from the Soviet Air Force has been able to explain, other than a shrug and a “it sounded like a good idea at the time.”
- Absolutely nobody in the VVS is willing to own up to this one.
- As KJ DuPree remarked, “It'd be like putting the Dai-Gurren Dan on the starship Enterprise: just a bad idea all around.”
- Highly deniable assets from Section 9.
- The Institute Dragons won the cup that year, 5-4 over the All-Stations.
- Or the VVS as a whole, for that matter.
- Yomi swears that she didn't see the cow when she started her practice bombing run.
- There is a long and ugly story here. Suffice it to say that this is one thing from Yukari Is Free that Kags would dearly love to give back.
- Long association with Yukari means she's lost a bit of stability.