Jul 9, 2013

The Prologue

I came with this piece of fiction for some elaborate thing I was planning. Unfortunately, it fell apart eventually and I have decided to 'open source' the prologue, as I don't really know what I want to do with it. Basically, it's up to you, the readers, to decide how you want this to go ahead. If this post gets any good responses, I could follow up with it.

August 18, 1945
Sgt Sayanapuram Duraiswamy “Phantom” Thyagarajan
Matsuyama Aerodrome

Phantom was on time, as usual. In his ten years of service to the Indian Air Force, this was to be his most important assignment, and highly classified too. The crew for this flight had been hand-picked by the ones at the top. They were supposed to transport someone highly important to Tokyo. At that point, Phantom had no idea about who he was. He found his co-pilot waiting at the cockpit.

“Have we flown together before?,” he asked his co-pilot.

“I doubt it.”

“Sgt Thyagarajan”, Phantom introduced himself.

“Karun Krishna Majumdar. Nice to meet you”, his co-pilot said, shaking his hand.

“The pleasure is all mine.”

Phantom Thyagarajan was known for his ‘by the book’ attitude, whereas K. K. “Jumbo” Majumdar was a little reckless. They were to compliment each other well in the mission. They were among the finest in the Air Force. Phantom was a born leader and Jumbo, a daredevil of a pilot, both were efficient in completing assignments.

“Aren’t you supposed to be dead in the plane crash in France last year, Captain Thyagarajan?”, inquired Jumbo.

“My friends don’t call me Phantom for no reason. I survived the crash, but decided to remain dead to the world. Being dead has its advantages.”

The Mitsubishi Ki-57 was perhaps one of the most important transport aircrafts in the possession of the Axis powers at that time. Nicknamed the ‘White Crane’, the Ki-57 was designed from the heavy bomber Ki-21 for civil and military use, with the incorporation of new fuselage to provide accommodation for passengers. With over a hundred hours of flight time, this particular aircraft had proven to be a faithful servant to it’s master, and therefore, was chosen for this highly classified mission.

There was a light drizzle and the clouds blocked even the tiniest amount of sunlight, but that didn’t undermine Phantom. He had flown in far worse weather and survived. This was the day he would do his nation a great service by completing the mission.

“Are you afraid of Mother Nature, Jumbo?”

“We are not taught that in training, Captain.”

“Neither was I. But sometimes it feels we are so tiny as compared to the world!”

“Here’s you coffee,” they were interrupted by the flight attendant.

“Thank you”, replied Phantom.

“... and the manifest including the two passengers on board.”

Phantom’s smile disappeared on reading the names of the passengers. Among the two was arguably the most important person in India’s freedom struggle, someone who was feared by even the viceroy. He showed the manifest to Jumbo, and said, “It is time.”

“Let’s roll,” Phantom said as he push the throttle lever forward.

Jumbo started the checks prior to the flight. “Oxygen check. Engine Instruments check. Airspeeds alive, both sides. Eighty knots, crosscheck.”

The cockpit started shaking as they approached the takeoff speed. “Mother Nature really loves us, doesn’t she?” Phantom joked. “The crosswinds really help me exercise my muscles for a change.”

“V1 and rotate.” Jumbo said, as Phantom pulled down the control wheel. The White Crane started its ascent. The plane took off through the rain.

The turbulence increased with increasing height. The radio buzzed to life. “Topsy 473, Matsuyama departure, radar contact. Turn right One Two Zero. Climb and maintain niner thousand.”

“Roger that. Right One Two Zero. Climb and maintain niner thousand.” Jumbo did as instructed.

“Topsy 473, Matsuyama departure, how is the weather?”

“Departure, this is Topsy 473. We have turbulence. Severe turbulence.”

The aircraft continued its ascent, and Phantom held on to the control wheel with all his strength.

“You all right?” Jumbo asked.

“Yeah, definitely. Turn the aircraft 20 degrees left, and increase airspeed. We need the speed to go through the clouds.”

“Departure, this is Topsy 473. We need to deviate 20 degrees left for weather.”

“Topsy 473, 20 degrees left approved. Report back on course.”

“I think we are moving too fast for this weather.” Phantom asked.

“Don’t worry, mate. I am going to get you out of this in no time.” Jumbo pushed the throttle lever further forward, and the aircraft continued on its ascent. Jumbo was attempting to find a break in the clouds, causing the ride to be even more turbulent. 

“We’re almost there,” Phantom said. At this point, the sound of the engines was deafening. You could see only black out of the window. Jumbo quietly prayed, hoping this would end soon.

And end it did. The aircraft extruded out of the clouds into the clear sky. The Sun looked down at the them with its blessing.

Jumbo pulled down the throttle, as the speed went down. “Control’s all yours now.” He said, looking at Phantom. Little did he know what was to follow.

The problem started with the descent.

“Topsy 473, this is Tokyo Centre. Descent and maintain level three zero zero.”

“Roger that Tokyo Centre, descent and maintain level three zero zero.” As soon as Jumbo touched the control wheel, something snapped. The control wheels got locked in position, and the plane suddenly pitched into an uncontrolled dive.

“The elevator feels really stiff!” Jumbo was panicking at this moment.

Steering mechanisms failed, and the plane started losing altitude rapidly. Phantom remained calm as ever. All of his life right from a rookie to a Sergeant flashed in front of his eyes- his recruitment, the narrow escape from the crash in France.

“We’ve lost hydraulics.” Phantom said.

“Center, this is Topsy 473. Mayday. Mayday! We have lost our hydraulics. We are in an uncontrolled dive.”

“We would need drag. Dump out the fuel,” Phantom instructed Jumbo.

“Next, I need you to take out the brakes and the gear.”

“Brakes. Gear. Down.” It wasn’t of much help. The plane continued in its dive.

“Next to my seat, you should see a lever that says manual control. I need you to pull it up, turn it clockwise and push it back down.” Jumbo did exactly as he was told.

“That’s great. Come on.”

The manual control helped Phantom level the plane, and also helped lower it’s speed- atleast by a little. This enabled the plane to crash land on its belly rather than the nose hitting the ground.

The terrain was visible, and there were just a few hundred feet above the ground. Thankfully, it was an uninhabited area.

The automatic cockpit voice was telling the heights as the plane lowered.
Hundred... Fifty... Thirty... Twenty... Ten...

“Brace for impact.” Those were the last words of Phantom. As the aircraft touched the ground, Phantom hit his head against the steering control, and blacked out.

What happened after the crash? Who was the high valued person on board? Did he survive? Do let me know in the comments.

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