"You strapped in back there, Snaro?"
"Ready to go, old man. Let's go get those coalies! I'll take a couple of squadrons down on this run, just for practice."
Colonel Jonathan Frost laughed. Lieutenant Larry Snaro was a rookie, a young new gunner. He was sure a deadshot, but he was a virgin to the bloody art of war. He thought he was some real hot stuff. He may have been able to hold his own in a bar full of drunken soldiers, but Frost would just have to see how he fared against real Coalition fighters.
"How many marks do you have on the side of your plane? Have you actually taken down any coalies yet?"
"Yeah, just you wait until this bombing run is over. I don't expect any less than five squadrons worth of Mongols and Mexicans for the side of my plane."
Snaro patted his huge flak cannon confidently.
"Well, as long as you can keep them off our tail for long enough for me to deliver this payload to the Mexicans, I'll be happy," replied Frost.
"Yes, sir!" called Snaro.
The fleet of bombers and fighters left the green fields of America in a blast of dust. The airplanes soared higher and higher into the air like majestic metal eagles. Eagles, however, never had such a bloody mission as to firebomb Mexican cities.
When a preset altitude was reached, the group of planes broke into three parts. The first part was going to make a feint to the south of Mexico. The second group would break apart into a wide spread column, confusing the Coalition fighters as to the whereabouts of the main force. The third group of planes, which Frost and Snaro were a part of, was to be the main force. It was a large group of bombers with a few fighters to hold off the Coalition Air Force. There were nine bombers and eighteen fighters. This prong would cut through Mexico from the west coast to the far east, bombing the city of Juala.
Juala was a relatively small city, but it was very important. A major railroad junction went through Juala, and the city was almost nothing but weapons factories and munitions dumps. The destruction of Juala would strike a real blow to Mexico.
John Frost and Larry Snaro were aboard one of the flanking bombers. Their plane was named the Ice Brigade, after a bombing run it had made into the icy north long ago.
The radio crackled to life, "This is bombing leader, we have enemy fighters approaching from the west. All craft prepare to engage. Bombing leader out."
"Copy, bombing leader," said Frost.
The other planes in the squadron reported their understanding. John Frost smiled grimly. He always felt a dark thrill of anticipation before entering a battle.
"You ready to engage back there, hot shot?"
"Sure thing, old man. Try to maneuver around all the wreckage."
Snaro hopped into the gunner's seat. Frost heard the rhythmic staccato sound of shells being fired. He smiled again. Humans had a grim fascination with humor about absurd things like death.
"I just hope I won't have to maneuver around the wreckage of our own planes," he muttered under his breath.
Another salvo of shells went off.
"Don't waste your ammo, Snaro! Only fire when it's a sure shot."
"I'm not stupid, old man. Take a look out that greasy cockpit window of yours."
Frost was about to make a colorful exclamation, but his co-pilot beat him to it.
There were squadrons of them. A Coalition fighter was plummeting towards earth. Frost laughed.
"Good shot, greenhorn!"
The odds were still grim, though.
"We're approaching the target. I can see it. Prepare to drop the payloads," said the bombing leader.
"Acknowledged, bombing leader. We..." began Frost, "Oh my god two of ours are going down!"
Two of the bombers were indeed plunging towards the ground. A few parachutes opened as the crews tried to evacuate the ruined ships. The enemy planes opened fire on the paratroopers, killing them all.
"Oh my god," said Frost's navigator.
The two downed bombers exploded on impact with the ground, sending towers of flame in all directions.
"My fuel tank's been..."
The pilot never finished the sentence. His bomber exploded in midair as the jet fuel ignited while in the fuel tank. Frost saw the fighter that had done it.
"Snaro do you see that fighter?"
"Right, old man, I'm on him."
Shells ripped through the clouds, tearing up the sky in grim testament to the power of warfare. John saw the shells eat through the Coalition fighter's wing. The fighter spiraled out of controlled and smashed into one of his comrades.
"Yee haw! You wanted to know how many marks I'll have on the side of my gun, old man? Try ten so far," yelled Snaro.
"Ten? Good god, how many of those coalies are there?"
"I don't know, but they've already aced all eighteen of our fighters and four of our bombers."
"That's almost half our bombing force!"
"I'd guess there's not less than sixty of them," said Snaro placidly.
Frost gasped. This was very bad.
"We're in range! The city's right below us! Drop bombs at will!" the bombing leader ecstatically howled.
Bombs dropped from three of the remaining five bombers. The other two bombers plummeted out of the sky, laid low by enemy fighter. They caused massive damage when they crashed and the bombs exploded in the middle of the city.
"That's it, let's get out of here," yelled John into the radio.
The burst of a gun went off again.
"Scratch another five of them," said Larry Snaro.
"Good God!" yelped Frost.
An enemy fighter was come straight at him, full throttle. A burst from it's guns shattered the canopy window. Frost dove behind his seat as another blast incinerated his controls.
"We're hit, Larry," yelled the veteran.
"So's Juala!" yelled the young gunner back.
John felt wind whip through the cockpit and glass swirl around near his face. He felt like he was being sucked out of the cockpit. He grabbed the doorway into the rest of the plane and pulled hard. Snaro was still sitting in the gunner's chair, firing like a madman.
"What are you doing? We have to get out of here!"
"And go where? They've shot down everyone who tried to parachute out. Where can we go? The other two bombers have been blown apart!"
Frost smashed his fist against the metal side of the plane. This run was never supposed to turn out like this. Juala was gone, but so was the whole bombing squadron.
The searing white flashes of pain from punching the plane gave Frost a new sense of urgency. He grabbed Snaro and pulled him out of the chair.
"What are you doing? The only thing left for us to do is take down as many of them as we can before we die!"
"No, there's another option. Parachutes will slow us down enough for them to shoot us down. So we'll just jump without parachutes."
John opened the door to the outside. Most of the things in the plane began to fly out through the open window, sucked out by low pressure.
"The ground's not to much farther away!"
"Are you out of your mind?" screamed Larry Snaro.
John pushed Larry out the open door. The kid went swirling towards the desert sands. With a great thrust, John flung himself out of the plane, just before it crashed a few moments later into a smoldering crater.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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