There is no update today, because I’m extremely irresponsible, and I have a new toy to play with: the DCS MiG-21bis, which is a rocket. I’ll probably have a brief write-up of my experience with it so far tomorrow afternoon, and probably a mission log in the evening. (With the Huey, though, not the MiG. I know my limits, although my three charges at an Osa SAM launcher might suggest otherwise.)
Six fighters sped into it. Five parachutes twitched, then turned nearly horizontal as fighters struck the steel cables hanging beneath them. Three of the fighters shook violently as their propellers and the cables tore each other to pieces. The other two parachutes fluttered in the wind a few seconds more, before explosions bloomed on two more fighters as the charges at the ends of the cables went off. In several pieces, the two stricken fighters fell past the three who had taken less critical damage.
The remaining British fighter passed through the minefield unharmed, rolling inverted and diving away, headed back toward its zeppelin. The way was clear for Inconstant‘s bombers.
Joe ordered them in, climbing above Inconstant as they lumbered by, all carrying loads of high-explosive rockets. They skirted the slowly-descending minefield, and Joe followed them, circling overhead. A mile south, Charlie flight herded the British bombers away from Inconstant, making quick slashing attacks and breaking off before the defensive gunners could draw a bead. As Joe watched, one bomber’s left engine belched black smoke, its propeller seizing. It turned out of formation, barely able to keep altitude as it followed one of its fellows toward HMS Sparrow. One of Charlie’s pilots must have winged it earlier.
The weapon here is a take on the WWII-era British Unrotated Projectile, which is well-known enough in this universe to go by the more descriptive moniker ‘aerial minelayer’.
The weather’s been nice lately, and so I managed to run outside for the first time since spring, a nice change of pace from the usual indoor stuff. Dinner tonight is breakfast food, which has me pretty excited, as it ought to, so I’m going to get to it. Here is someone running Doom on a printer.
My Pittsburgh Steelers lost and I forgot it’s Thursday, so if there’s an update tomorrow, it’ll be late. Apologies.
Joe watched Inconstant‘s Vultures launch. The British captain knew his game, to have tracked the Long Nines for a week. He had to know he wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance of keeping pace with Inconstant if he lost even one engine, and now that the pirate pilots had an edge in numbers—Joe saw a third British plane fall away from the fight with Takahashi’s flight, and a pair of Long Nines break off to help Robber flight finish off its opponents—he couldn’t plan on winning the dogfight before dealing with Inconstant‘s bombers. Sending his pilots around the pirate zep at any real distance would expose them to her flak guns, and to repeated attacks from the pirate fighters. That left him with one good option—gun for Inconstant‘s bombers as quickly as he could.
Almost in unison, the remaining British fighters broke from the dogfights, careful to do so when their opposite numbers were off-balance, gaining a few thousand yards before the pirates could turn after them.
Joe keyed his microphone. “Chase them, but leave room.”
The British fighters bore down on Inconstant, aiming to run close along her flanks, so that she couldn’t bring her guns to bear before they were past. A respectable play, against most zeps. Unlike most, Inconstant could answer it. Panels opened all along her stern to reveal hundreds of stubby tubes. Smoke erupted from them, rippling down the rows of launchers. Joe could just see dark blurs as projectiles flew up and behind Inconstant. Puffs of smoke dotted the darkening sky, and a cloud of parachutes descended all around the British planes.
This is actually a real weapon. One of my favorite dieselpunky things to have actually happened. I’ll link to it come next update.
I got home quite late last night, and in my usual irresponsibility, failed to have something ready. I’m pretty booked through tomorrow, too, so you might just have to wait until Sunday. Or, realistically, Tuesday.
I’ve been reading through Alastair Reynolds’ Terminal World, and I have very little bad to say. I enjoy the characters, and I really, really enjoy the setting. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but it mashes together a bunch of random genres, such that it’s not at all odd to find humans modified to the point that they can fly and dirigibles in the same scene.
The radio clicked, and Emma’s Falcon slotted back into formation. Joe looked up and over his shoulders. One British pilot hung from his parachute straps below and behind the bombers, watching as his plane spiralled into the desert, fifteen thousand feet away. The other plane Emma had fired on descended past him, out of control, in a steep turn. Far below, the first crashed into the dunes, throwing up a cloud of dust and debris. Charlie flight split into two elements, one threatening the remaining two escorts, and one moving in on the bombers.
“Good shooting, Two,” said Joe. “Let’s go help Robber out.” He pulled his throttle back to maximum continuous power. The din of his engine dropped a note. It would take a minute or two to climb back into the fight.
“Two more Limeys down,” Burr reported. Reflexively, Cannon looked down at the plotting table, though nothing had changed. Sparrow lagged them by twenty miles, and in between, all the counters representing fighter groups clustered together, engaged too closely to track them separately. “Burr, get the bombers in the air. Mr. Churchill, have the stern gunners shoot as soon as the Brits come into range. Let Joe know what they’re up to.”
Cannon hobbled aft through the radio room to peer through the vision slits. Vultures,stubby, single-engined things, with a turret atop the tail and a downward-pointing vertical stabilizer, dropped from the hangar, overtaking Inconstant and zipping past the gondola’s windows to form up ahead of her. A minute later, one Gorcrow, a conventionally-arranged twin-engine medium bomber, fell from the main skyhook, clawing its way back to the zep’s altitude under the burden of a pair of heavy rocket racks. The other followed a moment later.
Sorry for the delay.
I did get a few pages of writing done over the weekend, happily. I also started on a new Alastair Reynolds book, Terminal World; he continues to be one of my favorite modern science fiction authors, and I’m looking forward to how he resolves all the mysteries he’s setting up.
Sorry, guys—I just plumb forgot, what with the long work week and all. With the long weekend ahead, Tuesday is guaranteed.