Denis Sokolov was born in 1961 in a City of Vyborg, close to the Finnish Border. He was born into a good family, to a loving father and mother. His father had served in the great patriotic war as IL-2 pilot, and mother as a medic to the red army. He also had a brother, named Ivan, whom he was close with through Ivan's life. Denis's parents were both religious, still believing in the ways of the Orthodox church, and they had taught their children to believe in god. Though, during those times having a religion was a dangerous thing, as the officials weren't kind to any caught having any religious items at their homes.
He lived a normal child's life, one of the more entitled ones, as he got almost everything he wanted with his brother. They succeeded in school, and sports. They traveled around with their parents in the USSR, seeing different people and ways of life.
Coming of age
In 1979 Denis reached the age of 18 he applied to the VSS (Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily SSSR) to become a pilot. After straining physical and mental evaluation, he got accepted into the pilot program, and got to fly the war machines for the soviet regime. A thing that his father had done, so he proudly went on with his training. He flew with all kind of aircraft during his training, and when the SU-25 was introduced, he got selected as one of the first young pilots to be flying this new war machine for the communist ideology. By now, war in Afghanistan had been going on for three years. When Denis got introduced to the 200th independent attack squadron, he was it's youngest member, flying combat sorties against the Muhjadeen.
Soon the war would come to a standstill, and Denis had flown over six hundred sorties, lost one plane and got wounded two times, first from a American manpad and second from a Muhjadeen machine gun emplacement. In 1989 the war was over and the squadron withdrawn back to USSR.
During his holiday from the combat in Afghanistan, he met Sasha. A woman of his dreams. After meeting her for the first time, he spent every free time he got from the skies of combat with the woman, and soon after they became married. At first they planned on getting children straight away, but the USSR fell in 1991, and so fell their way of life and economy. Denis working still for the new found Russian air force (Voyenno-vozdushnye sily Rossii) training new pilots with iron hand, teaching them the realities of war and being one of the saviors of infantry, the angel that descended from the sky and brought hellfire upon the enemies and like it was Chess, where everyone thought their next move carefully. Soon, he gained a nickname from the fresh faced recruits, "Papa Grachi" (Father Rook), for his way of scolding everyone and making them understand that this was not a game.
Soon, the first Chechen war came, and Denis got ordered into combat service, as a squadron leader in 4th Russian air army, and once again took part of supporting the infantry during his time there, destroying encampments and enemy positions of the Chechen's.
Soon, this war would come to an end too, and Denis would retire from the service of the Russian air force, with a rank of Major, with over thousand sorties behind him, chest decorated in medals. But these were not important to the man. He got finally time to spend with his wife who was relieved that his husband was not in constant danger anymore. Soon, the man got work from Aerofloat as an airliner pilot. Though, this time he didn't fly alone, nor that close to the ground.
In 1999 when returning from a commercial flight to Europe, his wife was waiting for him at home, with mischievous look on her face. Denis thought that what was going on, when she gave him a stick, what he thought as a thermometer, but actually being a positive pregnancy test. Denis was on the heights of his happiness. He would be a father. 5 months later, his first Daugher, Varvara was born.
She grew in Denis's and Sasha's eyes and soon they were blessed with a 2nd daughter, and got named as Alyona. The family was happy and the children were enjoying each others company. Years went by, and soon, Deni's decided to retire in the age of 55. The family had been traveling around the world with the benefits of having a airliner pilot as the head of the family. In 2017 family decided to have a trip to Australia, to see all the Kangaroos and Koalas over there. The plane took off at the Vunukovo international airport heading south, towards Chernarus where it would do a stopover at Mirloslavl airport before continuing it's way over the sea towards Australia.
The plane landed and rolled onto the runway. The passengers left the plane, and Denis and his family went to the Aerofloats lounge to have something to eat and rest before the next flight would leave. But soon the flight board started showing flights delayed one by one. Denis went to find out what it was about from the staff, and they just were as baffled as he was. Soon, they got heard that many other flights would be delayed as well for a while. They got a taxi to a hotel, which was already packed with people who were stuck in the country. Denis and his family were cramped into a too small hotel room, looking the television. Things going on it seemed bizzare. Both Russian and NATO forces were fighting in the country. Against something that seemed from poor B grade horror movie. Denis had not came here to bring his family to danger.
They waited in the hotel for a few days until Denis got fed up and took a taxi to the airport, going to talk with his friend within the local Aerofloat's office. There he met an old friend of his from his military times. The two conversed for a while, before Denis managed to get three tickets to a plane that was returning to Russia. His Family was going to be on that plane off the country, and he would follow soon after. Flights were still flying in and out of the country, so he waved at his family with a somewhat sad smile on his face, as the plane took off the runway and got high in the air. Soon, a flame roared in the sky, and bits and pieces of the fuselage, wings and was seen in far off distance, and Russian jet's flying over the airfield. Denis yelled in Anger and Sorrow. He rushed to the staff, asking, crying and pleading that what was that. Was it the flight that his family was on. But he wasn't alone. Many others had the same idea and he got pushed off the counter.
Day later he heard that Russia, the country that he had fought for, bled for and given his best years had betrayed him. There was now a no fly zone on the country. There was no way out.
He was alone. All colors faded from his life. He sat in the now quiet, and spacious hotel room looking at pictures of his now dead family. He felt empty. He had been in the room for past three days, just looking at these images. He hadn't eaten nor slept for all this time. He just sat there. When he heard gunshots on the streets, he ignored them for a while. But soon, he just blinked his eyes and walked to the window. It looked like a small scale warzone. He took his few belongings in a small backpack and headed out. He went to the streets, stuck out of everyones ways, because there were clear hostilities towards Russians and foreigners alike. But he still didn't feel anything. Fear nor pain. His heart felt empty. There was nothing to keep him going than just the feeling in his head ticking on him to keep moving.
Denis had nothing. He walked on the side of the road somewhere in Southern Zagorias countryside. There was a slowly healing scar on his head. Going to temple to the top of his head. He had tried to kill himself, but hadn't fought the strength to do it. He had been robbed and beaten, but left alive plenty of times already. An old man, from an old age in a country that didn't want the likes of him. But he kept on going. He still had the pictures of his family which he stared every night, as he fell into restless slumber. He avoided everyone, everyone that might remind that he's still a human, and not an animal that just survived on the scraps that others had left behind.
The ticking in his head kept telling him that his Daughters were still alive somewhere, and he kept looking. Looking from afar, to see a face that he longed for.
He had carved the names of his family to his arm in a moment when he had found cache of alcohol, "Sasha, Varvara, Alyona". So he wouldn't forget them. Not that it would make any difference to the man.
He walked, he roamed and one day his eyes just gazed onto the sea. He walked into the water and had decided that this would be it. Watery grave. He carried a rock in his hand and kept walking deeper and deeper. He was submerged and soon, breath ran out and he drowned. But, soon he opened his eyes on the beach. God didn't want him yet. So he kept on walking on.
Papa Grachi is still looking for his destiny