Johto Navy PBY Catalina, 54-P-03
Callsign "Mantine", "Rescue 3"
Mount Silver, Johto
The lush forests and farmlands of Johto raced far underneath the large flying boat. Clouds idly drifted in the atmosphere around the aircraft, and the high sun glistened off its pure black paint job. The majestic Silver Range was visible just over the horizon. The Catalina and her crew would reach their objective shortly.
Still, Al Harris had a bad feeling about this mission.
"Damn, I've get a bad feelin' aboot this," he grumbled in the cockpit.
"What do you mean, sir?" his younger copilot inquired.
"Johnson, think about it. We're in a black airplane, flyin' through pure senlight, and net ta mention we'hr slow, bulky, and have a ton o' blind spets. This whele thing jest spells treble."
Lieutenant Johnson fell silent for a moment. "Well, we didn't have much choice anyways, with everyone else going back to Olivine.
"At least we'll be easy to see by friendly troops," he offered with a small shrug.
"Aye, and everywhen else oot there," Harris sighed.
He shook his head. "Bet, enegh talk, we've get a plane ta find. Nellis, anything on tha radio?"
"Negative, sir, everything's quiet", radioman Brady Nellis replied from behind.
"Well, let's get in tech with tha rest o' em. Call ep Darringer."
"Aye, sir, setting frequencies now." After a few hurried dial twists and relocations of wires, Nellis paused, then spoke into his microphone.
"Midnight Aureole, Midnight Aureole, this is Mantine, radio check, over."
A burst of static, before a gruff voice replied: "Mantine, this is Aureole. We just got in the air, heading over now."
"Roger that, Aureole. We'hr abet ta start our search pattern", Harris acknowledged. "We'll let ya know when we find that plane. Mantine out."
Harris paused, then turned the Catalina into a bank. "Ell right, everywhen keep yer eyes open. We'hre leekin' fer a green C-47, came down on when o' tha slopes. Locke, ya still there?"
A quick woof was all Al needed for confirmation.
"Right. Locke, stay sherp in yer turret, bet also be ready fer sem defense."
The Mightyena looked through his turret at the cockpit window, nodded, and started scanning the skies.
"Okay then, here we go."
Time crawled by as Al eased the flying boat into a slow, easy spiral around the mountain, wary of the wind-swept rises that passed underneath the dark fuselage. The search was made even more treacherous by the degrading weather. Every so often, a particularly strong gust of wind would rattle the Catalina, forcing Al to grip the controls even tighter. The clouds they had passed by before began to accumulate. Something big was coming. They needed to find that plane, and fast.
However, no more than a minute after that thought crossed Harris's mind, Locke gave out a sharp bark and pointed below the aircraft. Al banked into an uneven circle, and the remains of the transport came into view.
He mentally winced as he viewed the wreckage of the C-47. The plane had impacted the mountain at an almost perpendicular angle, and shattered into several pieces. What was left of the flight deck had accordioned to a third of its normal length, and was embedded into the hard rock, a solemn note of the ferocity of the crash. The main cabin, which came to rest roughly a dozen feet beneath the shattered flight deck, fared little better. It was compressed to about half of its length, folded and crushed in various areas. The tail section was the only piece still recognizable. It had broken at the rear exit door, and had been thrown so it came to rest perpendicular to the rest of the wreckage. What was left of the wings was blackened and scattered, signifying that the fuel tanks had exploded on impact. Although the main cabin was remarkably clear of burns, it was all too evident that no one on board the doomed airliner had survived the devastating impact.
"Get the radio back open, Nellis", Harris finally said, turning his eyes from the gruesome scene below.
"Midnight Aureole, this is Mantine. We've found tha plane. No servivors. We'll cercle abeve tha wreckage entil ya arrive."
"Copy, Mantine," Darringer replied. "We see you. I'll drop tha troops over the wreckage… I'd get out of the way if I were you."
Harris yanked the controls and eased the Catalina out of its circle and into a steady climb. As he came around, an ungainly, twin engine aircraft, with a picture of a black Rayquaza painted on its blocky nose, passed underneath the flying boat. A dozen parachutes opened up from behind it as Lance dropped his cargo of soldiers, then rapidly ascended to clear the imposing mountain.
"Celdn't a given es mehr werning, Darringer?" Harris asked, somewhat teasingly, but also annoyed at the proximity that the aircraft had passed by each other.
"Well, what's done is done." The bomber pilot replied frankly. "But we've got ta return to base and restock. We're goin' to Sinnoh next."
"Roger, Aureole. We'hr pretty mech den here as well, and we've get plenty o' fuel left… we'll escert ya there."
"Copy that, Mantine. Thanks for the help."
Mount Coronet, Sinnoh
Visibility had begun to fall as soon as the two aircraft had crossed into Sinnoh. By the time the imposing mountain had come into view, the ground below was all but shrouded in dense mist.
"Ah, Darringer, where exactly were yer targets again?" Harris asked as he glanced down into the white abyss. "Cen't see a damn thing down there."
"We're supposed to bomb key Kanto encampments… most will probably be on the other side of the mountain… hopefully the visibility's better there."
A muffled explosion caught Al's ear over the din of the Catalina's engine. Looking closer at the base of Mt. Coronet, he could make out several columns of smoke starting to rise, and several incidental avalanches appearing on the lower slopes. The battle had started.
"…Damn. Locke! Get ready fer anti-aircraft, we got a lot o' Spitfires ep there. Darringer, ya better stay close, Kanto's net genna let es in without a fight."
For once, the bomber pilot didn't have any remark; he just slid his B-18 closer to the Catalina. Fortunately, none of the fighters seemed to have noticed the two rather large aircraft enter their airspace. The Catalina and the Bolo descended to barely a thousand meters above the mist, the icy slopes of the mountain looming closer.
"We'll follow tha mountain's slopes ep and over", Al commented on the growing Mt. Coronet. "We stay low, avoid tha patrols, and get those bombs ta where they need ta be. Alright, we're genna have ta get ready soon-"
A burst of static suddenly interrupted Al, and made him wince in pain. "Nellis! Fix that comm!"
Before the words had left his lips, the radioman had adjusted the signal, and a new, stern voice filled the airwaves, "Repeat, Catalina 54-P-03, disengage immediately and report for new assignment."
Suspicious of the new transmission, Harris replied as he handled the controls, "This is 54-P-03, callsign Mantine, breaking off. Who am I addressing?"
"This is the Winter Fox."
Harris's eyes widened as Roy Rommel's callsign registered. He keyed the radio. "We copy, Winter Fox, standing by. Whet about tha bomber?"
"Several Spitfires have been assigned to escort the Midnight Aureole- we need your aircraft for search-and-rescue."
As the Catalina banked away, three Johto Spitfires flew closer to the B-18, providing a shield as they disappeared into a cloud.
"Whet's tha situation, sir?" Harris asked.
"We're taking heavy air casualties. The weather has made visibility horrible, and is proving to be a hassle in combat."
As if to solidify the Minister of Defense turned Colonel's remark, a blue Spitfire tumbled past, barely missing the flying boat. Its wings were coated in ice, and just before it vanished into the low fog, a parachute could be seen opening.
"…-most have been recovered" Rommel's voice continued, drawing Al away from the death dance of the fighter. "We have several pilots MIA on the mountain you need to look for- if their aircraft are intact, the numbers are 108, 201, and Reconnaissance number Triple X-Ray."
Al's heart froze as he heard the last of the MIA.
"C…Copy, Winter Fox", Harris managed to say, "We'll stert now, callsign Rescue 3."
As Al twisted the Catalina back around, inside his mission collectiveness was beginning to crack. Alex was missing. He wanted to rush around the mountain, but he knew he had to go little by little up the massive mountain. As he matched the flying boat's climb with the mountain's slope, he began the search.
JAF-201 was found in less than a minute. It appeared the kid had gotten a fuel leak, and had plowed into a snowbank on the lower slopes. Al waggled the Catalina's wings as a sign that he had seen him, but couldn't recover the airman due to the cold- Allina wouldn't last five seconds. He was forced to continue on and hope someone else found him.
On the west side of the mountain, a large black splotch was etched into a cliff face. Bits of charred rubble littered the snow beneath it. At first, Al was worried that this was Collins' aircraft, but it looked to have flown in straight to the mountain- Alex would have crashed higher up. Hopefully.
After a few more minutes of checking the snowy rock rushing underneath the Catalina, Al eased the plane off near the summit. Before he rounded the peak, however, Locke suddenly began to bark to get his attention, frantically motioning behind them. As the flying boat came back around, a large, black debris trail caught his eye.
This aircraft had come down on the northwestern side of the mountain, just underneath the main summit. The Spitfire looked like it had come almost straight down. From the debris, it looked like the engine and one wing had broken off on initial impact, then the fuselage had spun on the ice, before piling up against an outcropping several dozen meters downhill. Despite being blackened from the fiery impact, and folded to half its length, the brown-and-tan Zigzagoon pattern of the Raccoon II registered in Al's mind. He brought the aircraft a little closer, noticing the cockpit area was relatively intact.
What was seen next made Al Harris' heart break apart.
The cockpit canopy had been blown off by some outside force. Blood splotches littered the open interior, and inhuman footprints, along with several more spots of red, led away from the ruined aircraft.
Some unknown scavenger had already made off with the remains of Alexander Collins.
After bringing the aircraft back to level, and towards Johto, Al just stared past the windshield, past the sun, past the cloudly, wind-swept sky.
Lieutenant Johnson, noticing his commander's distress, finally spoke up. "Sir, I can take control for the rest of the flight. You should rest."
"A…Aye, lad, thank you", Harris mumbled. As he eased out of his seat, he turned to Brady Nellis. "Please inform Rommel we have found 201. 108 and… and… Tr-Triple X-ray are still… missing in action…"
Harris sat on one of the spare bunks, glanced at his crewmembers casting worried eyes onto him. Before he could reassure them, he buried his head in his hands and sighed. Locke, feeling his master's agony, came up from the turret and sat next to him with a small whine. There wasn't anything he could say.
The interior of the Catalina was silent for the remainder of the flight.