Sortie at daybreak is a short story included as part of TSFIA.
August 14, 1998. During first light of the morning.
Aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, the sound of roaring engines broke the silence and calm on the surface of the Lake Biwa Canal. The pride of the US Navy aviators, the Tactical Surface Fighter Strike Squadron 103 "Jolly Rogers" are preparing to launch to aid the besieged Imperial capital of Kyoto.
The unavoidable day has come. 8 years after the fall of Korea, the BETA advance has finally broken past the Korean Peninsula and continued on with their relentless path of destruction. As of now the BETA have broken through Northern Kyushu, and within a month, there were over 36 million confirmed dead within the Japanese mainland. 30% of Japan's total population is now lost.
From a strategic view, it will only be a matter of time before Kyoto is lost. Still, Japan refuses to simply abandon their capital, and under the treaty signed at the joint US-Japan Security Agreement, the US government has dispatched the 7th Fleet to Lake Biwa canal to render assistance to the Capital's defense. Interestingly enough, Lake Biwa was originally set up to provide a staging point for the Japanese defenders against the BETA should they land at Kyushu, but the BETA have struck now, well before any of the proposed defense could be set. Furthermore, the irony is not lost that at one point in history Lake Biwa was also to be a staging point against a possible landing at Kyushu by the Allies during WW2.
Onboard the carrier deck, under the skilled and careful guidance of the carrier aircraft director, 6 hulking forms of F-14Ds are lined up and ready to connect with the catapult.
"Jolly Roger 1 to all Jolly call signs, situation update from higher. The Imperial Royal Guards have confirmed the Shogun's evacuation. Their F-4J units are holding the front, we are tasked with hitting the BETA's flank, and buying time for the Japanese to fall back and evacuate the civilians."
"Jolly Roger 1, you have permission to board the catapult," came the voice of the ever so stern carrier air boss.
"Roger, proceeding to catapult."
"Conduct your engine and control surface checks now." said the voice of the catapult officer .
"Roger, full military thrust achieved....... catapult connected........ all control surface checked, system all green. Jolly Roger 1, a-okay!"
".....I Confirm all green Jolly Roger 1. Everything looks good outside, wind speed and direction nominal, catapult setting adjusted. Countdown to launch, 10 seconds."
"3.2.1. Rock 'n roll."
With the iconic launch gesture and stance carried out by the catapult officer, the F-14D roared and took to the sky aided by the speed boost from the catapult. Racing toward the Mainland, its graceful contrails left behind in the air resembles it namesake of the lithe form of a Tomcat.
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