Jackson legged it into the cockpit and started checking her twin Vickers, moving the controls. Kate “Banger” Harris got in behind and looked over the Lewis gun mounted on the tourelle, before tying the little cords to Jackson’s arms, the cords with which she guided the pilot right or left as she was spotting shots.
“Right!” Jackson suddenly swore, unfastened her safety belt and climbed down. “Dammit, I forgot my bottle. I’ll be right back.” She ran across the tarmac to the LGB Alliance camp and returned to belt herself in. Jackson goosed the huge Liberty out of line, flipped into the wind and poured the gun to her.
Sweetly, she took her off in a fast climbing turn and began to spiral for altitude. The ceiling was not so high and there were thick, cumulous clouds with holes in them. Holes through which Terry Taliban could spy on them, and make a surprise attack. But Jackson hugged close to them, and droned steadily on, working up to fourteen thousand feet.
When a few Muj shells burst blackly below, she cut her gun and yelled: “Wireless O.K.?” But before Kate had time to radio the base, down the sky, roaring like a banshee from hell, came a checkered Terry.
Jackson had been droning at half throttle. A smash of her palm drove the lever against the peg, and the gunned Liberty screamed out its song. She straightened the bank, zoomed and made a reverse bank. At the same moment, Kate’s Lewis began to chatter like an electric typewriter.
Even as the golden tracers spat toward the oncoming Terry, smoke tracer from the Ali Baba began to peck at the wings, ricocheting bluely off the cocking handles of Jackson’s Vickers, and ripped through strut and linen. But the deadly Lewis shooting slugs like a mad thing forced the Muj to veer wide. The surprise had failed.
“Not today, Terry,” said Bev Jackson. “The LGB Alliance fights for all same-sex attracted people, and you’ll have to get up a lot earlier in the damn morning if you plan on pulling the wool over our eyes.”
Jackson grinned, sharpened the bank, and nosed down at the Terry coming up like a skyrocket. Her own fingers tightened on the stick trigger. “Take it,” she muttered, and pressed the Bowden trip. At the same instant the uprushing Muj opened fire.
Jackson’s Vickers trembled on their mountings, a blue haze vomited from the black snouts. The golden tracer sprayed like sparks from an emery wheel. She never released the trips. Around her head, through the wings, into the whirl of her prop came the Ali Baba smoke tracer, little grey threads of death.
Behind, the Lewis gun chattered like a mad monkey, and the Terry, replying, filled the air with staccato hammering. The Terry came up, and splashed into the shower of slugs that Jackson threw at him. The force of the zoom died.
The Muj realised his dilemma, for Jackson was descending like a comet. Desperately, the Muj tried to fall away and out of range, but his control surfaces were no longer sensitive. Fall away he did, but in a bad slip that left him helpless.
Like a devil from hell, Jackson howled down upon the helpless Terry, who wriggled and dodged as the tracer sprayed him. He raised up, and showed a face contorted with horror. At that second a seven-slug burst caught him square in the neck and practically sawed his head off.
The gout of blood was caught by his thrashing prop and sprayed back, a crimson rain. And so close was Jackson that it spattered on her goggles. With wide open gun, the Terry hurled itself down across the five miles to smash to deadly ruin.
Jackson and Harris laughed joyously. They had worked that trick before. But today, their success was more important than ever. “Like I said, not today,” said Bev Jackson, turning into a spiral to regain altitude. “Now let’s get these lesbians home.”