Sunday, April 27, 2014

Captain's Log, Day 126: Ground Targets

          I throttled my A-20 Havoc up, the powerful engines purring. My squadmates were already gliding down the runway and leaping into the air, out for blood. Hands on the sticks, I sent the Song of Silence hurtling after them.
          The runway was perched quite near to the edge of a cliff, so I deliberately kept my speed down, gliding the Song over the edge and jamming the stick down to send her diving towards the ocean. I pulled up at the last second, sending plumes of water rising towards the sky behind me. I quit goofing around and turned towards the battlefield.
          The other Allied forces were strung out in front and above me, climbing into the sky. As I've mentioned before, my favorite strategy involved ground-hugging, so I punched the afterburners and drove hard towards the combat line. Let the others chase each other's tails up top; if someone tried to chase the Song's tail, he'd be eating an awful lot of lead, a strategy which usually worked well for me.
          At the breakneck speed I was making, I soon found myself at the battle lines. The forces were bogged down at a river, exchanging fire across it in a bit of a stalemate. I decided to give our side a bit of a push; targeting an enemy artillery battery, I squeezed the trigger and blew it away. Banking hard, I maneuvered down the bank, systematically blowing the artillery and AAA batteries away. I took a moment to turn the volume the comm, as the shouts and commentary of my allies dogfighting it out in the clouds was a bit annoying. Glancing at the radar, I saw basically everyone up there from both sides, leaving me in relative peace as I destroyed guns.
          Well, for a little bit. An ambitious fighter dropped out of the clouds a moment later to line up on my rear. I took the time to destroy one more battery before switching to my dorsal gun and opening fire.
          For some reason, I couldn't hit the bugger. He twisted madly, missing me with all of his shots as my shots blistered his paint, but did little else. We exchanged fire for about three minutes before he peeled off. I thought about letting him go, but decided I'd invested too many bullets in him to let him off that easily and chased after him.
          As I turned, I saw the enemy airstrip out of the corner of my eye. So that's where he was headed--for refuel, repair, and reload. I wondered if he was out of bullets, even as I lined my A-20 up on him and fired.
          Slightly better results. I saw metal fly from his fuselage, but he was, again, barely scratched. He skipped away; I twisted hard on the sticks, but couldn't duplicate the maneuver. I made a mental note to see about upgrading the Song when I got back to base.
          "A-20, come my way and I'll help you out."
          I frowned at first the comm, then my radar. I couldn't tell if that was directed at me or not, as I didn't see any friendlies on my scope. I shrugged, decided it didn't matter, and chased after my prey. A lumbering B-17 dropped out of the sky a moment later a few klicks ahead. The fighter decided that looked like easier prey than the fierce Song and charged it. It was blown out of the sky an instant later as at least three turrets locked on and destroyed it.
          I sighed. That was my kill, I groused to myself, but decided to be polite anyway. "Hey, thanks for the assist."
          "No problem," the B-17 replied, throttling up and heading back to the battlefield. I thought about following, but decided to have some fun with the base first. I dove.
          A few minutes later, all the base's defenses were nothing but a pile of shredded metal, and I'd gotten to test out the new rockets I'd upgraded the Song with. I grinned and headed off to find a new target. I decided on the cruisers anchored offshore and began heading that direction. After a few moments, I decided to check the stats as long as I was idling...
          "What the heck?" I yelped. All of my teammates were down, with myself and two enemy fighters the only craft currently in the air. I decided to conserve my rockets and broke off my attack run to search out the fighters. A moment later, the stats registered one of them crashing. I scanned the sky for the last one.
          There he was, diving on some of my side's tanks--a Spitfire. I grimaced. Great. Spitfires were notoriously hard to kill. This was going to be a bit of a toss-up.
          He spotted me a moment later and twisted hard to charge me. We bore down on each other; I had a slight height advantage, which I appreciated. At the last second, I threw the Song into a roll, opening fire with my six nose-mounted machine guns and simultaneously unloading all my rockets at him.
          Incredibly, somehow, he avoided all my rockets and only sustained superficial damage as he thundered past, dangerously close. I straightened out invitingly as he looped around to get on my tail, switching to the turret controls.
          The Spitfire opened up, pieces flying from my rudder and elevator. I returned fire, pulverizing his engine. It exploded, fire streaming around the fuselage. He wobbled into the sky. I poured more fire into him...he staggered and--
          Oh, crap.
          I twisted the sticks, but as fast as I was, I was just a second to slow. The pilot, evidently a sore loser, drove his fighter straight into my side, cutting off half my elevator and most of my right wing before dropping like a stone into the ocean below. The Song, mortally wounded, spiraled out of control. I wrestled with the controls, cursing a blue streak, as I tried to aim for the shallows. When I'd gotten her somewhat lined up, I bailed out.
          I watched the Song splash down, within easy salvage distance of the shore. "Sorry, girl," I told her aloud, again cursing the stupid rammer. At least I'd scored quite a few kills; last count, sixteen ground targets destroyed, an almost unheard of number. Plus, y'know, one plane and one assist. I sighed and looked down at the water, itching my nose.
          Gosh, that looks cold.

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