Monday, March 7, 2011

[1938] Locations: The Airstrip

File:RAF Sopwith Camel.jpg
About a third of a mile past the edge of Port St. Mary is a lonely airstrip. Currently occupied by BUF forces, it is constantly threatened with being cut off from the rest of the besieged town.

The airstrip consists of a dirt track that acts as the landing field, an old two-story house (the airstrip's "office"), an even older barn (the "hangar") and a couple of shacks. There is no tower and the radio antenna (next to the house) was destroyed in recent fighting.

The airstrip has no planes in operation, though there are several around the field in various stages of disrepair or with extensive battle damage. One could, with enough time, cobble together a plane, but who'd be crazy (or bored) enough to do that? Who indeed? Additionally, there is enough fuel in the fuel shack (that's the one with all the sandbags piled around it, right over there to the left. See it?) to keep the BUF garrison in molotov cocktails for some time (or fuel a plane for nearly a half-dozen flights).

BUF forces occupy all the buildings in force with well-protected machine gun nests on top of both the office and the hangar, each covering half of the approaches. There is a half-trench between the buildings, protected with sandbags and other bric-a-brac (including tyres, plane parts, a goat cart, and part of a rusted, old farm truck) on both sides.

In the hanger is a WWI Sopwith Camel, being painstakingly repaired by one of the more mechanically-inclined privates and a couple of others who are bored enough to do the heavy lifting. So far, he's got the engine rebuilt and the mechanisms working and is finishing up on repairing the wings and fuselage. It currently does not have any weapons mounted on it.

The danger that an operational plane presents to the Manx forces is extreme (at least in their mind). Even though they control most of the field, a lucky pilot (of which the BUF forces have none, but who's to know that) might get the plane off the ground and into the air. That could cause some trouble. Manx commanders would rather have the plane in their possession than destroyed but so far every attempt to steal (or if necessary destroy) it has failed.

To the BUF soldiers (and unknown to the Manx), the plane represents a morale-boosting symbol, that despite their precarious position at a lone airfield on a hostile island, they all imagine themselves flying away, away from this crazy town. Over the past weeks, as the plane has been rebuilt and resembling an actual plane, that esprit de corps has increased. And they're willing to defend the plane with their lives, as a living symbol of their hopes and dreams.

These two conflicts will lead both sides, Manx and Fascist, to do some pretty crazy things, surprising things, even heroic and valiant things.

And guess who was given the task to get that plane? Thanks for volunteering, gentleman. We don't have much but we may be able to provide some bits and bobs of equipment. We need the plane before the weekend, can you do it?

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