The fretwork of cables they had been throwing out and stringing over branches was finally beginning to pay off. “I have a signal sir.” the radio operator announced. “There is an aerial gun platform on the way.”
“Do they know where we are?” Mirl asked.
“I believe so. We are getting distress signals out, which they can pinpoint.”
“Very good. Keep it up until the batteries run down.” Mirl walked back along the wing and slid in through one of the old cockpit blisters. He wanted to share the good news.
The bombardier was sleeping. His leg was troubling him ever more- it might already be too late to save it. There was no-one else in the cabin, though the hatch to the bomb bay was open. Mirl headed in that direction. There was the rattling report of a burst from an autogun and the airframe shook. Mirl ran over to the hatch and ducked his head through. “What is going on here!”
“There was movement sir!” The co-pilot pointed down through the foliage. The navigator was hopping from one half open bay door to the other, trying to get a better view.
“You do not shoot at shadows! Wait until you have a certain sighting.”
There was a noise from below. Something rattled against the skin of the bay doors. Another burst of fire followed, one bullet getting through the gap and ricocheting around the cowering crew men.
“That seemed quite certain sir!” The co-pilot was too scared to sound smug.
“Get a gun. I shall wake the bombardier.” The navigator jumped across the gap to the rack of autoguns. He landed hard, and the leverage finally dislodged the door. Mirl reached out, stretching across an impossible distance, as the young airman tumbled backwards away from him. He hit a large branch, heavily, and stopped flailing as he fell toward the ground. The wing lurched, and Mirl could hear the bombardier being thrown from his bed.
There were shouts from below, and more gunfire. The co-pilot turned his autogun toward the shots and let off a burst. Mirl grabbed two of the mini bombs and tossed them through the gap.
The co-pilot stopped firing. There was silence for a moment before two explosions shook the trees. The wing shifted slightly again. “There is an aerial gun platform on the way.” Mirl announced.
“Give it speed, there is not long for us.”