I combined today’s Inktober prompt”Bait” with the VA OT creative writing group topic “In Over My Head” and DeviantArt link.

I knew I was going to be in over my head when I volunteered to fly the bait plane for the combat search and rescue (CSAR) mission.

The csar package dropship would make the pickup of the aerospace fighter crew. Another dropship with both csar/spec ops packages would fly for close support. Two aerospace fighters were also needed for air support. The other one would keep watch, from up high, for any enemy air assets. I was flying the bait plane.

If there’s one job during a csar as bad as, if not worse than, being one of the downed crewmembers trying to be rescued, it’s being the pilot or weapon system officer (wiso) of the bait plane. You’re whole job is to make a nice, big, loud, tempting target for whoever might come along looking for the downed fighter and its crew and help the pickup crew do their job with as little interference as possible, under the circumstances.

As both fighters flew over the pickup zone, my wiso, Captain Cameron Piper, announced she had visuals on both crew members and a large group of bipedals heading towards them.

Granted we’ve been marooned here at Themis for over a year, but I’m still not used to the idea that groups of “people” approaching us might not be “people” as we’re used to meaning the word.

“Banana, you sure,” I ask using her callsign, a joke that dated back centuries to some unfortunate would-be actor turned would-be evangelist who based his career plan on the idea of a banana proving the existence of God and disproving Darwin.

“Roger that, Atlas,” she replied using the callsign I’d been given for sharing the last name of a 20th century philosophical grifter.

“I’ll circle back around and closer to the ground to give them a bigger target to focus on,” I told Banana as I shifted the Gemini aerospace fighter into a large circle pattern. The Gemini took its design from some sort of cross between the 20th century F-22/F-15 fighter jets with our modern 23rd century controls and systems for flight and weapons.

As we passed over the group approaching the crash site, we could see that it was a group of trolls, which made our need to provide bait coverage all the more important. I did a quickturn maneuver, almost on top of them, to get their attention, and then noticed they were throwing things in our direction.

“Um, Banana, are those guys throwing spears as us?” I ask partially out of disbelief at the choice of weapons, and with more than a little concern about the inatmosphere intakes of the Gemini catching one of those projectiles and adding to the number aerospace fighter crewmembers in need of csar.

“At least, they’re not throwing rocks,” came the reply from my wiso, before she added a long delayed “yet” that didn’t succeed in improving my expectation of our chances of the next overpass of the trolls.

Flying bait is always dangerous. Flying bait around airborne objects is even moreso. Flying bait around projectiles the size of a small car, makes one question the status of their mental health at the moment they volunteered to fly the current csar mission.

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