In the frozen wasteland of northern Siberia, the howl of thunder echoed through the sky. Stones shook and snow was ripped from the ground as the F-5E Tiger II tore through the morning sky. With clenched fists and gritted teeth, Lt. Pavel Dobrow pushed the aircraft as close to the ground as it would allow, for the Tiger shook and snarled at him so close to the earth.
He could scarcely spare a glance skyward to catch the flashes of silver against the frozen grey clouds. A mile above his cockpit, vigilant and primed to stalk him, two MiG-21 interceptors swept back and forth along the air corridor Pavel was supposed to be in. It was their mission to hunt him, and stop him from raining fire on the undefended targets ahead, and if they spotted him, the pursuit would be short and disastrous for Dobrow.
So the Soviet flyer took a page from the West’s playbook he’d heard so much about and took to the ground. A gamble that paid off evenly as the MiGs were now behind him and falling into the horizon. His continued success at evading his comrades both invigorated and terrified him, as did the Tiger’s razor-thin margin of control at such a low-level of flight.
“Anadyr Control to Bort 95, report altitude and heading. Deviation was not authorized.” Pavel’s home airbase controller sounded irritated and slightly drunk, the only two ways to keep warm so close to the Arctic Circle.
Still, Dobrow did not respond, as those were his orders as commanded by his Senior Major. Let Illych deal with those pigs, my mission is to win today!
A break in the rocks where the ocean had eaten into the land slammed Pavel with a wall of frozen wind and spray. The Tiger shuddered and hissed as ice found its way along its wings and body, forcing the pilot to pull its nose up. Which was all it took for his radar receiver to turn from green to yellow, and his main display to alert him that he was now being tracked. No doubt Control is calling the hunters now…
Pavel checked his fuel, his current airspeed, then the map on his leg to see where his target was supposed to be set, and his conclusion made him growl. Too far to outrun them, but too close to turn back!
“Bort 93, exercise is terminated! Ascend to flight level five-zero and return to base!” the controller yelled at him now. And so Dobrow began to comply, pulling the Tiger into a slow ascent and a soft starboard turn. On his nose, the two MiGs were still racing toward him at close to sound-splitting speed. Slowing his breath and switching his simulated weapons load from Safety to Standby, Pavel let the hunters come to him.
“Not bad, comrade! You almost stood a chance in that Yankee trash!” one of the pursuers chortled in victory as they closed in. Right in line with Pavel’s mental countdown.
No, comrade Colonel, you never stood a chance… When his count reached zero, Dobrow clicked his weapon selector to the simulated 20mm guns on Tiger’s nose and squeezed the trigger. Two dozen fake rounds leapt from the Tiger and caught the MiG dead-center of its round nose, jolting the Colonel in surprise and forcing the pursuers to overshoot Pavel.
“You maniac, Dobrow! The tower called exercise over!” the now ‘dead’ Colonel screamed at him.
To which Pavel just shook his head. “Be sure to tell the Americans when our ground controllers have had enough!” He pulled the Tiger into as tight a loop as it could manage and dove groundward again. On instinct and training, the MiGs had pulled up and away, the Colonel’s wingman faithfully in position and not chasing Dobrow yet. This gave him precious seconds to point his aircraft back at his target, letting gravity add to his speed and thrust. As the Tiger raced under five hundred feet, the Colonel let his wingman loose, and the second MiG roared after him on full afterburner.
It was all over a second later. Once the marked target was dead on his nose, Pavel hit the bomb release. At that same time, the Tiger’s warning receiver screamed at him, alerting Pavel to the fact he was now dead thanks to a missile kill.
“Bort 66 confirms enemy kill. Better luck next time, cossack!” Pavel’s hunter bragged.
A moment later, a thousand simulated pounds of fire and iron painted the rocks in smoke and death, bringing Dobrow a smile. “Tell that to all those dead riflemen below.”
Something for a new Mid-Week Flash Writing Challenge I managed to stumble onto. Busted the word limit slightly, but the mission could only end on victory or death.
I hope you all enjoy.