The Last Flight Of The Phoenix – Part Three

In her strafing run Annie knocked out a couple of observation posts and was certain she took out the gearing on one of the big guns. As she came to the end of her run, she looped the Victoria around scouring the Leviathan for Newton pylons, seeing none in sight, she pushed the air wing down and to the right before launching out into clear air behind the battleship. The entire strafing run took less than a handful of seconds and Annie realized she had been holding her breath for the entire run. Catching movement out of the corner of her eye, she visually confirmed that Carol had made the run too, and together they pulled away from the Leviathan.
“No bogies?” said Carol her voice squealing through the tin speaker.
“No contacts… Nothing on your six, you think their air wings would be all over us,” said Annie.
“Well we’re clear… Now what?” said Carol.
“Split S and back down the spine for another run?” said Annie.
“Roger, I’ll split right,” her friend demanded. “This time I go first!”
“You have the lead C,” Annie pulled the throttle back bringing the air-wing up on its side, turned to the right, and then back left performing the split S. The Victoria’s swung around bringing the rear of the Leviathan into their sights.

Carol’s Victoria bobbed just to the left of Annie’s vision as they dived back to the relative safety of the capital-ships deck. The first burst of their combined guns sent a small gun turret spinning off the Leviathan to fall back through the clouds.
“A, can you see movement along the deck in front of us? Are they launching something?” said Carol, her voice squeaking through the tin speaker.
Annie looked ahead of her and tried to make it out, it couldn’t be a turret because the guns couldn’t fire this low, might be air wings raising to challenge them, but didn’t Leviathans only have forward launch bays?
Carol’s voice blasted through the tin speaker again, this time even with sound being washed out and crackle she could hear her wing-man’s anxiety.
“No… It’s too fluid! What ever it is, it’s moving! Pull up! This looks like bad news!”

Carol let off a burst from her guns before the air wing pulled away from the deck, Ann watched the streams of shells lance through the strange flowing movement that was growing in front of them. Another few seconds the shapes took form, and Annie watched almost mesmerized as a creeping horror came over her. It was moving, flowing like a long grass, but it was metal and she could clearly see links in each odd-looking tentacle. She could hear Carol calling for her to pull up through the speaker, and slowly she responded pulling back on her stick, the Victoria nosing away from the deck. Her air wing scrambling at the air as the tentacles shot up trying to grab her. Instinctively she stabbed her firing button, lancing the metal tentacles with her gun fire, she smiled grimly as they started to disintegrate under her maelstrom of shells. The Victoria mowed a path through the tentacles and seconds later the Victoria shot free into the empty air. Desperate to get some distance between her and the unnerving structure she dumped the charger back onto the newton, pushing it to the redline.

The charger pulled the Victoria up into a more rapid ascent than Annie wanted and she struggled for breath as she was pinned further into her padded seat. With her arm feeling like lead she disengaged the charger and nosed the Victoria level. Blinking out the stars Annie tried to recover her breath and get her bearings. Then something exploded against her cockpit, a flash momentarily blinding her and her air wing bucked violently. Moving on instinct she put the Victoria into a shallow spin that took her further away from the Leviathan and into the empty air just beyond the battle. The maneuver was more violent than she anticipated and something wet hit her shoulder and the air wing tipped its nose downwards as her sight started to grow fuzzy.

To be continued…