I was not going to write a oneshot ever again, but alas, this is another one of those. It is inspired by Jason Low's "Live, from New York – it's Azumanga Daioh!" The Jason's work was unjustly removed by , but we remember it, although in a perverted way as the gentle reader will see soon. For the "One Day Over Wonsan" is an Aviation Otaku Crossover! See, I was not satisfied with the way Jason did the ending for the "Live, ...". But it is easy to heap criticism, not so easy to do better. Thus, the oneshot attempt.
Reader is advised to keep in mind that this fanfic is largely a portrayal of the strange world of an armchair pilot, which might have little to do with reality -- starting with geopolitics and all the way down to tactics. Yet if you detect anything abnormal, feel free to mention it in the review. The one finding most goofs wins, as usual.
ONE DAY OVER WONSAN
"The most important thing for a fighter pilot is to get his first victory without too much shock." -- Colonel Werner Moelders, Luftwaffe, 115 victories
"I didn't want this boy to reach home. The canopy leaped into the air as the pilot jerked the release; I pulled around tight to get my bullets into him before he could get out of the airplane. He had one leg outside the cockpit when the slugs smashed him back inside.'' -- Robert S. Johnson, highest scoring allied ace of the European Theater
Tomo always was unenthusiastic about lasing targets for her flight lead, Capt. Mizuhara. Although it made her vulnerable, that was part of the job. But then, it was too convenient to blame her for a bomb landing off-target. Between the two of them, it was the same old story since the elementary school: Tomo Takino screws up, "Yomi" Mizuhara is angry, rinse, repeat. Yomi's actual name was Koyomi, but nobody used it. For some strange reason American pilots called her "Jubei-chan". They also called Tomo "Genki", which was terribly irritating. Perhaps they tried to show their affection for little sisters. Tomo would much prefer respect and reverence for the first ever female pair in Japan flying combat missions in jets. Would it kill those idiots to give her a decent handle, like "Lightning", or "Black Death"? The "Jubei-chan" suited Yomi though. And it was worth to see her cringe when introduced by Americans. They stuck to mission-specific callsigns on the radio.
Luckily, this time a Korean ground FAC designated the target, a pillowbox, their last for this sortie. Tomo banked her now empty F-2 sportily to terminate the racetrack circuit, all the while scanning for threats. But she could not help watching how Yomi rolled in with an ideal precision. That woman was such a show-off.
But before Yomi let it off, an AWACS operator came on the radio. "Gold Lead, incoming bandits for you, bearing three-one-zero, distance ... one five," announced he in a calm voice. Tomo felt a jump as her fingers itched on the joystick to reverse the turn. There was a pause. "Jubei-chan, are you there, come in," insisted the operator, a little more urgently now. Tomo replied, "This is Gold Two, Gold Lead is on target right now. Roger on the bandits." Damn, her voice must have been two grades higher. What timing, and only 15 or even 13 nm out by now! Bandits must've popped out from a valley, coming low, trying to jump them. And their own cover has moved to the north to help with a challenge. This was suspicious... Must be an operation in effect. NK's air force was pretty much destroyed, so these would be Chinese "volunteers", if not Russian mercenaries... Curses on that Yomi, won't she release the load and pull out, Tomo thought.
She leveled the wings and peered intently in the pale sky due North-North-West. Thin cirrus floated high above the battlefield. The smoke raised from the Wonsan area behind her, but it wasn't obscuring the threat approach from the right. It was too far to see little dots of incoming fighters, but a BVR missile launch would leave a smoke trail visible for miles. The sky was empty and peaceful.
Finally, Yomi came on the ground channel: "Magic, this is Gold Lead. Affirmative on Bandits. We are going in." Tomo felt relieved and a little surprised. She was afraid that always cautious Yomi would retreat, but finally her opportunity to score has come. She immediately started a shallow turn to starboard to let radar to pick up the bandits, while giving Yomi time to climb out. Now only a direct order could make them to turn tails. But the invisible man a hundred miles away only said, "Roger. Good luck, Jubei-chan!" They were going in! Tomo screamed "Yeeeeeh-haw!!" and hit the throttle. However, as nobody reprimanded her for the radio procedure violation, she quickly retarded it and made a little S-curve. Yomi was climbing without the burner, as if in an exercises. The silence was becoming uncomfortable.
Mercifully, when Yomi's F-2 reached low 3-o'clock, she came on the tactical frequency in Japanese. "Tomo-kun, please separate a little, to about three, five hundred, and assume Lose Deuce. They probably have Archers, so if you're targeted from ahead, forget everything and evade. But try to stay in support, and don't turnfight with them. No funny business and high alpha, understand?" The unexpectedly informal speech made for a funny contrast with the role of the intrepid leader, Tomo felt. She answered curtly, "Roger, Yomi-kun." Who was she teaching, anyway? No funny business, indeed.
Radar wasn't picking anything. The bandits were hiding behind a ridge somewhere in a futile attempt to ambush them. But with the surprise destroyed by the AWACS such tactics lost their usefulness. Tomo constantly trained her eyes on ridge lines and scanned the sky ahead, trying to spot their adversaries first. But it was not to happen. First, the radar made a ping. A quick look down showed targets five miles away. The enemies have left their hiding. Then Yomi said urgently, "I see them, Tomo. About three one seven. Right ahead." How can anyone with fixed eyes be so sharp, thought Tomo, but before she had time to become irritated, she saw them too. Two huge dots, in a Fighting Wing formation. Two dots and an ominous trail of smoke, extending quickly.
The missile obviously went for Yomi, who hit the burner, banked and started climbing into what looked like a segment of an enormous barrel roll. The smoke trail began to follow immediately, two corkscrews matching each other, looking set to meet. Tomo held her breath. But no! The correction for the momentary vector put the missile out of phase. It did not even proximity-fuse and went away.
Tomo banked for intercept and they met in nose-to-nose geometry. The mean looking Sukhoy with maneuvering canards and a full compliment of 6 AA-11s flashed by and went into a high yo-yo. He was in for a surprise. Tomo did not try to meet him, but simply gave chase to his leader, who merged with Yomi in a mirror reflection of the maneuver. Sidewinder growled in Tomo's ear, but alas, she could not fire until Yomi zoomed by and then it was too late. The growl ceased as the enemy rotated his tailpipe away. As the bandit leader continued his turn, Tomo used the energy she saved by refusing to merge in order to go even higher and rolled belly up. There she waited for her opponent to commit to a direction and it looked as if the game was up, a textbook example of tactical brilliance by Tomo Takino and her friend. But then, something unexpected happened. The Chinese started to pull his nose up and suddenly Tomo realized that he wasn't going to stall. His airplane literally could fly tail first. Quickly, she yanked the joystick, and threw the F-2 into a dive towards the Sukhoy's tail.
It was a close call. At minimal distance, her opponent let go of a missile, apparently using an off-boresight cueing system. If Tomo weren't diving like crazy, she would have received a smack right in the face. As it were, she barely exited the launch envelope while the missile was still slow and went howling for the ground, and then into a risky pull-up, burning her precious energy. Any attempt for a pitch-back would have been pure suicide against an opponent that maneuverable and loaded with missiles, so she had to stay close, within the minimal range of missiles preferably. But being so close was a dead end as well, as the Sukhoy could out-turn her easily. Things were starting to look grim.
Anger over the injustice overcame Tomo. That man! He was flying a superior plane, but he faced a superior pilot. She was better, she knew it. She resolved to keep bouncing her opponent and risk headon shots, trying to gain a gun snapshot. It was the only way to survive anyway. If she went down, she would go down swinging, and not sitting at the stall speed in a turnfight like a lame duck.
But going over the top of her loop, Tomo saw something troubling ahead. It was a big, curly cloud of dark smoke. A fighter was hit and exploded. She wanted to call out to Yomi, but the G-load did not allow her to speak. The only sounds she made were some sort of a hiss and a grunt. There were no other planes in sight anywhere except her and her nemesis.
She continued the maneuver. If the other Sukhoy won, she would be dead in less than a minute. There was a comforting certainty in knowing it. Keeping eyes at the little planform of the enemy's airplane, Tomo squinted, pursed her lips and inhaled through her nose as hard as she could, struggling with the G-suit. She became cold as quickly as she flared up. She wasn't scared. She processed the data and proceeded with the plan. She was a fighting machine, nothing more, fighting until the end.
While Tomo looped overhead, the Sukhoy below dove and gained enough speed to start a loop of his own. Then she knew that she had just ran out of time.
Suddenly, the enemy pilot interrupted his loop and rolled sharply to port. Tomo rolled with him and saw an F-2 boring down like an arrow, flame bursting out of the gun port and leaving a trail of gunpowder smoke. It was a magnificent sight. Elated, Tomo popped her speed brakes momentarily, and assumed a lag pursuit. Yomi pulled up and to the left to avoid a dangerous overshoot and the Chinese made his final mistake. He reversed to press for a shot and Tomo heard a perfect, strong growl. She did not know if the Sidewinder would fuse so close, but she let it go even before she had a time to think about it. The missile went straight to the enemy, who probably heard an RWR ring and desperately banked, but to no avail. At this distance, Tomo could see how huge twin rudders swung to keep the plane from stalling out. Instinctively, she rolled away to avoid being hit with debris, but there was no explosion, only a small flash, and thick black smoke poured from one of Sukhoy's engines.
Tomo pulled up and saw how the glass bubble flew away and the pilot ejected. She faintly heard Yomi calling for her, "Finish him, finish him!" But she only went into a turn and orbited the canopy below, not knowing what to do. Yomi came around and made a short burst, aiming for the chute. The silk folded into a pipe and the Chinese pilot plunged on the hard Korean rocks.
Yomi switched to the ground channel. "Yakima, this is Gold Leader. We have dispatched the bandits, returning to base. Magic, thanks for the help." The base confirmed. They climbed to avoid MANPADs and headed due South-West in silence, after Yomi asked, "Gold Two, what is your fuel state?" Tomo brooded over her first aerial victory. It wasn't what she expected. She was supposed to be happy, but something was missing. Things were shaved too thin. If Yomi didn't return to save her, she would almost certainly be dead now.
Tomo asked on the tactical frequency: "Yomi, what did you do to your bastard?"
"Oh, nothing much," came the reply. "I sent one Sidewinder when we just crossed with you. It could not hit, but the guy was scared anyway and did a lame break turn to evade it. I just did a displaced roll to his rear quarter, and let it fly. Piece of cake," added she with a false modesty of a schoolgirl relaying her holiday trip to Hokkaido. It was as if nothing important had happened to her.
Tomo unclipped her oxygen mask and raised her visor. Her vision was getting blurry. She reached down and switched off the VOX to prevent Yomi from hearing anything her leader and friend wasn't supposed to hear.
After a while, she felt better. But she still felt unusual, as if she lost something which was in her for the whole life. She didn't feel like talking, and it was wrong. She pressed a button and asked, "Yomi, why... Why did you kill him?"
"Huh? What do you mean? Ah, that. An enemy is an enemy. He would sneak to Kimmies and back to China, I bet. Then come back to us. It's a war, Tomo!" After a brief pause, Yomi continued: "Eh, Tomo... Thanks for doing the guy. Good work."
Tomo didn't reply. Bleak mountain landscape rolled below slowly. The thing she lost over Wonsan was left behind for ever.