Kate watched her opponents converge on her from every direction. Two fighter planes and a rocket trooper against just one of her.
This isn’t a fair fight, she thought. They need more planes.
With the Mescherschmidtt barreling down on her, Kate simply cut her engines, praying that she would be harder to see without burning rocket exhaust venting behind her.
The ploy worked: the fighter rushed over her, tracer rounds searching in vain for a target. As soon as he had sailed past, she launched herself back up and forward, landing so that her boots slammed down on either side of the cockpit screen.
Earlier that night she had wished she could have seen the pilot’s face after she pulled a fancy maneuver. Now, she had her wish: he was right there, close enough to see the whites of his astonished eyes through the lenses of his goggles.
Kate slammed the butt of her empty Thompson down onto the cockpit screen. Glass exploded outward and was instantly whipped away by the wind. As she pried the screen’s frame away from its housing, the pilot reached for his pistol, but the confining seat prevented his draw. Kate’s hands darted in at him and, with a quick flip of her wrist, she undid the buckles on his chest and at his waist. She yanked him up by the scruff of his flight suit, where the slipstream grabbed him and pulled him away into the night.
Not bothering to watch his parachute open, she dropped into the cockpit and seized the controls. It was cramped for a woman wearing a rocket pack, forcing her to hunch forward and hook the front of the seat with the backs of her calves to keep herself in place. It was uncomfortable, but the position allowed her to reach the stick and the throttle, just in time to pull the plane out of its dive. The Messerchmidtt was quick and responsive, its nose coming up eagerly under her control. There, in front of her, she could see the remaining rocket-truppen, his thruster cutting a red scar across the sky.
She thumbed the trigger and felt the fifty caliber machineguns vibrate the frame of the plane, but he was hard to hit. Tight turns. Steep ascents. Sharp drops. Still, she stuck to his tail as if she were glued to it, sending controlled bursts after him whenever his silhouette passed the crosshairs.
A flash of lightning in a cloud below revealed the rocket-truppen’s gambit. He had deliberately led her back towards his mother ship. He had probably also radioed ahead, because they began shooting at her captured plane the moment she was in range.