Note Ooops, I got all excited about going to see X Men and forgot to post this yesterday.
The final guidance signal had come on when promised and they had been bearing down it ever since. A white scar on the grey of the ocean had appeared on the horizon and slid toward them. Closer to, it was an irregular shape very low in the water, with two ships moored to the south and another to the west. “Half Time base to Wasp flight. Receiving?”
“Receiving. This is Wasp flight leader. Request permission to land.”
“Permission granted. Your only other option is to turn that thing into a boat. Approach from the west. Light crosswind from the northeast.”
“Okay flight. The Cicciles should land first. They will be closer to empty.”
There was an average length runway cut into the rock, more than long enough for the Wasps, laid with a hexagonally patterned rubberised matting. The fighters landed close together and were bustled off the runway to refuelling spots where their pilots were helped from the cockpits and walked with a cramped hobble to a feeding and flushing tent.
The Wasps landed in reverse order, until Four landed hard. The right wheel collapsed and the plane pirouetted off the runway toward the nearest ship. It came to rest with one wing crumpled against the hull. The pilot and navigator jumped out and ran the best they could for cover, but there was no fire. Two, and then Reed, approached the runway more carefully.
As they taxied into the rest area, Reed noticed the fuel hoses and drop tanks around the other planes. He climbed down to be greeted by an officer in naval whites. With no understanding of Navy rankings he saluted, just in case.
“Wing Commander Reed, I am Captain Browdy, commander of Half Time field.”
“Pleased to be here sir.”
“Come this way and I shall see you are fed and flushed. Our mechanics will want to talk to you about the state of your plane.”
“You are planning a fast turn around?”
“Half Time is tidal. We have about twenty thousand counts until the island is under five spans of water. There is only stowage space for a few planes on our ships, and one of those has been taken by your number four.”
“I do not think any of my flight are ready for another trip just yet.”
“Never fear. We have new crews for all your planes.” By now they were within the tent. At the far end sat crews in fresh gear, all ready for take off. Reed’s flight eyed them suspiciously, between huge mouthfuls of fish stew. “You shall be billeted here for a few days, until the next flight arrives, which you shall then take over.”
Flushed, and with a bowl of stew each, Reed and Jay stood outside the tent watching the refuelling. On the far side of the runway, inflatable pontoons were strapped to the wreck of Four. As the tide rose, so it would be lifted and could be moved to the crane that hung over the ship’s side.
“Horse was right. This is something very big.”