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Title: Dogfight—1973
Author: Reynolds, Mack, 1917-1983
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dogfight—1973" ***

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 DOGFIGHT--1973

      _By
 Mack Reynolds_


     Flying at 1600 m.p.h. you act with split-second
 timing after you sight the enemy. And you're allowed
 only one mistake--your last!


My radar picked him up when he was about five hundred miles to my
north-northeast and about forty-five miles above me. I switched the
velocity calculator on him as fast as I could reach it.

The enemy ship was doing sixteen, possibly even sixteen and a half. I
took the chance that it was most likely an Ivar Interceptor, at that
speed, and punched out a temporary evasion pattern with my right hand
while with my left I snapped an Ivar K-12 card into my calculator along
with his estimated speed, altitude and distance. It wasn't much to go on
as yet but he couldn't have much more on me, if as much; inwardly I
congratulated myself on the quick identification I'd managed.

He was near enough now for my visor screen to pick him up. At least he
was alone, that was something. My nearest squadron mate was a good
minute and a half away. It might as well have been a century.

Now, this is what is always hard to get over to a civilian; the time
element. Understand, it will take me a while to tell this but it all
took less than sixty seconds to happen.

He had guessed my evasion pattern already--either guessed it or had some
new calculator that was far and beyond anything our techs were turning
out. I could tell he'd anticipated me by the Bong-Sonic roll he slipped
into.

I quickly punched up a new pattern based on the little material I had in
the calculator. At least I'd caught the roll. I punched that up,
hurriedly, slipped it into the IBM, guessed that his next probability
was a pass, took a chance on that and punched it in.

I was wrong there. He didn't take his opportunity for a front-on pass.
He was either newly out of their academy or insultingly confident. My
lips felt tight as I canceled the frontal pass card, punched up two more
to take its place.

The base supervisor cut in on the phone. "It looks like old Dmitri
himself, Jerry, and he's flying one of the new K-12a models. Go get him,
boy!"

I felt like snapping back. He knew better than to break in on me at a
time like this. I opened my mouth, then shut it again. Did he say K-12a?
_Did he say K-12a?_

I squinted at the visor screen. The high tail, the canopy, the oddly
shaped wing tanks.

I'd gone off on the identification!

I slapped another evasion pattern into the controls, a standard set, I
had no time to punch up an improvisation. But he was on me like a wasp.
I rejected it, threw in another set. Reject. Another!

Even as I worked, I kicked the release on my own calculator, dumped it
all, selected like a flash an Ivar K-12a card, and what other
estimations I could make while my mind was busy with the full-time job
of evasion.

My hands were still making the motions, my fingers were flicking here,
there, my feet touching here, there. But my heart wasn't in it.

He already had such an advantage that it was all I could do to keep him
in my visor screen. He was to the left, to the right. I got him for a
full quarter-second in the wires, but the auto gunner was too far
behind, much too far.

His own guns flicked red.

I punched half a dozen buttons, slapped levers, tried to scoot for home.

To the left of my cubicle two lights went yellowish and at the same time
my visor screen went dead. I was blind.

I sank back in my chair, helpless.

       *       *       *       *       *

The speed indicator wavered, went slowly, deliberately to zero; the
altimeter died; the fuel gauge. Finally, even the dozen or so
trouble-indicators here, there, everywhere about the craft. Fifteen
million dollars worth of warcraft was being shot into wreckage.

I sat there for a long, long minute and took it.

Then I got to my feet and wearily opened the door of my cubicle.
Sergeant Walters and the rest of the maintenance crew were standing
there. They could read in my face what had happened.

The sergeant began, "Captain, I ..."

I grunted at him. "Never mind, Sergeant. It had nothing to do with the
ship's condition." I turned to head for the operations office.

Bill Dickson strolled over from the direction of his own cubicle.
"Somebody said you just had a scramble with old Dmitri himself."

"I don't know," I said. "I don't know if it was him or not. Maybe some
of you guys can tell a man's flying but I can't."

He grinned at me. "Shot you down, eh?"

I didn't answer.

He said, "What happened?"

"I thought it was an Ivar K-12, and I put that card in my calculator.
Turned out it was one of those new models, K-12a. That was enough, of
course."

Bill grinned at me again. "That's two this week. That flak got you near
that bridge and now you get ..."

"Shut up," I told him.

He counted up on his fingers elaborately. "The way I figure it, you lose
one more ship and you're an enemy ace."

He was irrepressible. "Damn it," I said, "will you cut it out! I've got
enough to worry about without you working me over. This means I'll have
to spend another half an hour in operations going over the fight. And
that means I'll be late for dinner again. And you know Molly."

Bill sobered. "Gee," he said, "I'm sorry. War is hell, isn't it?"



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Imagination Stories of Science and
    Fantasy_ July 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence
    that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor
    spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note.





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