Kate jerked at the controls, throwing the S-1 into a barrel role to escape the Messerschmidt fire peppering its hull. There were two fighters on their tail and something else much bigger bearing down on them fast. She couldn’t outrun them and the S-1 was unarmed.
“What’re you going to do?” Reggie was strapped into the copilot’s chair and clung to the armrests with white-knuckled fists.
“Just watch,” Kate winked at him with her one good eye and then threw the lever that tilted their engines vertically.
The entire plane shuddered sickeningly and the metal hull screeched like a seasick condor. Their momentum continued to drag them forward, but now their engines wrenched them vertically into the air. As the change in velocity crushed them down into their seats, but Kate was gratified to see twin phosphorescent streaks of tracer fire ripping through the night below them, followed swiftly by the speeding fighter passing through the space they had occupied a moment earlier.
Kate guffawed. “Oh, how I wish I could see the look on that pilot’s face.”
She eased the plane right onto the tail of the fighter. Maybe five yards away, maybe three—it was hard to tell with only one eye. The fighter’s propwash created fierce turbulence, but at this distance the second fighter couldn’t gun for them without the risk of shooting down his partner.
Kate had the advantage of maneuverability, but the Messerschmitts were much faster, and she judged that her mid-flight vertical dodge was a one-time trick: try it again and she would shear the wings right off the S-1.
Then a flash of lighting from the cloud below illuminated something worse. It was a large airplane of a design she didn’t recognize. The fuselage was folded into the body in a way that made the whole thing look like a single wing studded with a series of sleek gun-turrets. Its four monstrous engines chewed through the air with a startling velocity, but Kate estimated that it was not nearly as maneuverable as the Messerchmidtts. In fact, this new plane looked like it must be a bomber, which meant she could fly circles around it. What good was a bomber in chasing down a fugitive aircraft?
The answer came a moment later when the flying wing’s bomb bay doors were opened and three small shapes dropped from its belly. An instant later, each shape flashed to life and became a red streak in the night. They swirled around each other like a swarm of angry hornets on their way to the S-1.
Another flash of lightning gave her a glimpse of what they were. They were men—individual men, each with a blazing rocket pack strapped to their backs.