“Your assignment,” Mr. Gil spoke gruffly, from the corner of his mouth, “Is on page niner niner, section bravo.” His large, rounded rectangle glasses reflected the overhead portable classroom’s lighting. The rest of his face squinted around his glasses in the traditional leer he adopted for class instruction.
Wil had always felt nervous around Mr. G. and his extremely strong personality. He had a habit of forming his froglike features into odd expressions while barking most verbal commands. Plus, he seemed to find everything he did highly amusing.
She studied the F4F Wildcat that twisted slowly on its string over her neighbor’s desk. That meant the heat was on. Modern heating and air conditioning were perks of class in the portables. Knowledge of aircraft was a perk of being in Mr. G.’s portable. She couldn’t tell the exact date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; but, by golly!, they would all know the names of his flying toys and the NATO phonetic alphabet.
Her hands automatically synced to the rhythm of her classmates, opening the history textbook in front of her and turning to “niner niner.”
Flight Officer Winters, however, was paying attention to the small speck in the vast grey blue at five o’clock. Her body vibrated comfortably in the overpowering roar of the Twin Wasp engine and the dashboard dials agitated reassuringly at regular readings.
“Hold formation,” crackled in her headphones. She felt the anxiety building in her body as she fought the urge to act.
They inched nearer.
The original speck had visible wings, and now hovered above a line of more dark spots plus one to her left. “Second Zero at eight o’clock,” she reported.
“Third at eleven/ten,” two others reported simultaneously. Wil glanced at the positions and acknowledged the additions.
She frowned. The Zeros always flew in formation, as they were, and had more than three pilots flying cover.
“Reading one more Zero at two. Let’s assume these ******s are leading two more behind them like usual,” the flight leader instructed.
That meant twelve Japanese fighters total. Wil grinned in anticipation and readied her guns. This would not be a fair fight.