Санкт-Валентин - Saint Valentine
OFF THE COAST OF SOCHI, RUSSIA; FEBRUARY 14, 2015 - The skies above were sunny and bright, blue and beautiful over the southern port city. Guests from all over came to this one destination to escape the harsh winters up north to relax by the beachside. Laughter and joy filled the shores as happy patrons stroll the boardwalk, shop in the city centre, and play on the beach. The weather was much like that of California or Florida on a nice summer day. It was very different from what the rest of Russia usually experiences this time of the year. But our story doesn’t start on the beachside, nor the boardwalk or on the city streets. Instead it starts out at sea, far from the distant maritime setting of Sochi. Aboard the famed Admiral Kutzenov, pride of the Black Sea Fleet, there stood a row of Su-33 jets on deck. Then came marching a crew of navy soldiers standing in perfect formation before the sight of the planes. Next, three figures walked onto the deck and stood in front of the naval crew and faced towards a jet covered with a tarp. These were the familiar faces of our epic heroes Larissa, Karen, and Mishya.
Larissa stood directly under the covered jet plane and faced the other two. She began to speak:
“Now you two are probably wondering why I brought you here today and I will explain. It is an honor to have you two in our presence thanking you for your past service. You have done so much for our people, our country, and our great history. And you have served upon this vessel at least once in your career and would like to pay tribute to your valiant efforts. Before me is a little something from all of us to you as a token of our appreciation.”
Lifting off the cover, she threw down the tarp to reveal their grand prize. The crew members cheered upon seeing a brand new Su-33UB Flanker fresh from the air base, shining brightly in the sunlight. Its color scheme was meant to be like that of the other planes, but was made especially for the two fitted with custom design. Being the first of its kind, the new jet style would be used for navy purposes sometime in the near future. And what better way to celebrate the introduction of a new jet to the fleet is to show off it’s custom paint job, courtesy of the contributors? Starting from the back, it features bust shots of Mishya and Karen on both tail fins, a rendition of St. George’s Ribbon painted atop the upper fuselage, prominent roundels on either side of the air intake, and both their names printed under the cockpit, rank and all. But the most easily recognizable feature is the calligraphy painted on the nose, spelling out the words “Saint Valentine” with a stylized emblem.
The two were at awe upon seeing this beauty and the crew members cheered. Mishya and Karen hugged each other in excitement laughing happily. They let go and Karen shouted and jumped up and down like a teenage girl upon getting a new car for her birthday. Mishya was excited too but he kept fairly calm afterward. She ran to Larissa and gave her a great big hug, crying tears of joy. Larissa didn’t quite expect this reaction from her and gave her honest thoughts.
“I’m so glad you like it… it was nothing, really. All for you in being such a great help to everyone around here. You two deserved it.”
Karen had tears in her eyes as she tried to contain her excitement.
“Why thank you so much; clearly I can’t thank you enough!!! You’re truly amazing for doing this… I’m just totally speechless!!! And I always knew you were a good friend, but you’ve taken that one step further… I cannot believe my eyes!!!”
Mishya turned to his sister and wife to hug them. He cried a little too and wanted to say something short but sweet.
“Thank you sis, this really means a lot… and I think Karen best explained my feelings for this.”
The crew cheered one more time and faded into silence. Larissa handed the two their helmets and began to speak again.
“Now listen close because I’m only going to say this once. Take good care of this plane because it is yours now; nobody else but us can use it and promise to keep it safe. You can take it wherever you want to go whenever you want. Sadly I can’t keep it on the carrier for much long, but I own a hangar you can use when you’re not flying it. Just give it to me when you’re done and I’ll keep it safe and give it to you when you want it. Do us a favor and take to the skies; go wherever you want now because the day is yours.”
Karen and Mishya saluted her and the crew of the ship before putting on their helmets. A ladder has been placed under the cockpit of the jet and the dome was opened. The two began to walk their way towards it, holding hands as they did so as the sunlight danced in the image of their bodies. They gave off a radiant glow like two angels and kissed under the cockpit. Karen volunteered to pilot the jet because she loved the thrill of flying based on her past lessons with Larissa as well as some navy training. Mishya sat in the back and they both faced towards Larissa and the crew members. Larissa took out her camera and ran to the plane to ask them a question.
“Wait! Before you take flight, can I take your picture for the occasion?”
Mishya and Karen both agreed, and they told her “yes please.”
She looked briefly off into the distance toward the shore and back again. Holding the camera up to her face, she told them:
“I want you to wave for the camera and say Красота!”
The proud couple turned towards the camera while waving, then began to shout, “Красота!”
Before long, the roar of jets began to fill the air and a team of them flew overhead right as Larissa pressed the button. The smoke trail they left were in the colors of the Russian flag. It made for an excellent photo. She turned to them and showed them the photo. Mishya replied with a positive, “Идеальное!”
Larissa stepped back and shouted, “Are you ready for take off?”
The two replied with a confident “Да!”
She responded, “Xорошо!”
Closing the overhead dome and sitting down in their seats, the anticipation was intense. Their plane was loaded onto the flight deck as team members secured the front wheel of the plane to the takeoff strip. Everything was easy going at this point. Karen steered her way onto the strip and stopped before the long runway. Before long, they’ll be airborne. Receiving a signal from the tower, everything checked out to be fine and the shooter threw down his flag. Karen deployed the thrusters and it screeched like a mighty eagle.As the plane launched forth, Karen and Mishya looked out the window and waved. The navy waved their flags and threw off their hats as faint cheers could be heard from inside the cockpit. And the plane was headed into the air. Larissa shouted to them as they left, “До свидания!”
Gaining altitude, Mishya looked down and saw the aircraft carrier getting smaller and smaller. It looked more like a leaf floating down the stream than a massive carrier now. The entire city of Sochi looked like something out of a dream. All around them lay a clear sky and such tiny buildings down below. Of course it’s been a while since they last flew jets, but the feeling was liberating to the soul. Passing the carrier one more time, Karen flew over the city and began to take in the view. She spoke into the microphone on her helmet to Mishya.
“I really love the view from up here… it really warms my heart to see Sochi again but with you.”
“Thank you very much; it’s rare that I take flights like these anymore. You being here makes it so much better.”
The sun began to set and the jet was well over Novorossiyisk by now. Heading northward from there, Karen took a nice aerial tour of the Krasnodar region. Mishya was enjoying the view down below and he asked her, “Anywhere in particular you want to go? Now that you have a plane, anything is possible.”
She responded, “Nowhere in particular; I’m just going where the tradewinds take me.”
And the jet looked like a soaring eagle against the setting sun, flying ever so far into it as the majestic Saint Valentine carries forth into the sky.
Not much to say about this now (since the story explains a lot of what's going on in this picture pretty well) but I will say this. Despite the fact that this was a pretty simple looking picture, I was oddly specific in the references I used. Because I wanted to make something simplistic, yet complex at the same time. And to me it looks almost real in how I drew everything, as I was wildly successful in creating that effect. Here are the references I used if interested in seeing as they each played a major role in the outcome of the picture. Enjoy.
Overall shape and design of the plane.
Inspiration for the picture.
The flight suits the two are wearing.
And it's also worth showing you this video so you can get the full effect of this picture.
Here's to a Happy St. Valentine's Day with you and your signifigant other.
Characters © SpetsnazKaz