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Pilotfish

Tremor

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"Tremor, Bandicoot, standby for fire mission."

 

"Bandicoot, Tremor, send it."

 

"Fire mission as follows: Napalm strike, three hundred meters north of our position, ingress east, egress west. On my command. How copy?"

 

"Tremor copies. On your go, Bandicoot."

 

Below, a sea of arachnids, and at their centre, a tightly bound ball of flashing rifle-fire and jostling helmets. The TAC's engines screamed as he pulled it on a tight turn, lining up for the strike. A flash of motion at Barnet's right, and he dipped the stick and cut the throttle. Above, a winged insect overshot, spewing organic napalm in a falling, smoking cloud of acrid fire. Air whistled, whipping past the cockpit as the ground swept up towards Barnet, covered in a moving carpet of screeching pseudo-arachnids. Closer and closer.

 

He pulled on the stick and eased the throttle up again, and the heavy punch of Gs shoved him into his seat. Gritting his teeth, he spiralled into position and thumbed the firing stud. A small buzz of cannon-fire and the firebug was a spray of ichor and vapour on the wind. 

 

"Tremor, cleared hot."

 

"Copy that. Coming around now, Bandicoot."

 

Barnet got his bearings - past his planned ingress. A glance around and a judgement call just too fast for conscious thought. He flipped the TAC on its side and pulled up, sending it in a screeching, banking turn around. Low to the ground, he levelled out, flipping up the 'DROP' cover on his stick. He tried to lean to the side a little to check the angle - an old habit from cargo birds. The military harness held him tightly in place, clinging. He hadn't gotten used to that yet.

 

Bugs streamed below. Coming up on his left, he could see the morita fire. It seemed more sporadic now. Barnet frowned with concern, then looked back to his target. A quick flick of the wings gave him the view he would have gotten from leaning - a pair of tankers shoving and climbing their way through the thronging insect mass. An instinctive sneer came to Barnet's expression. He levelled out, and counted in his head, eyeing the MI position as a landmark.

 

"..Two... one... now."

 

The button clicked. Below and to the sides of him, thunks of ordnance detaching from mountings. Clustered napalm canisters dropping at fifth-of-a-second intervals. Barnet counted them through, then pulled out of his run and banked to get a look at effect on target.

 

Below him, a strip of fire was already blossoming through the horde. The tankers were indistinct in it all, visible through their death throes, and as the chemicals inside them reached flash-point and detonated. They blistered and popped like corn, scattering more fire amidst the crowd. 

 

"Good fire-mission", thought Barnet, immediately before his radio crackled. A new voice, less stern.

 

"That's good effect on target. We've got a royal heading in from our east. Can you gun-run it?"

 

Barnet swung his TAC around to get a look, and saw a hulking figure striding in towards the pocket of infantry, mandibles raised. He nodded to himself, sneering again.

 

"With pleasure."

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