I’m continuing my slow review of the stories in the Zombie Pirate Publishing SciFi anthology World War Four (which also features my short story “Joey,” but right now, that’s beside the point). This evening, as I write this, I showcase the tale of Chinese fighter pilot Chen Fan’s mission to blow up a Russian fuel depot while being pursued by his arch-nemesis, Iraninov.
It reads pretty much like a standard aerial dogfight between to fighter pilots except the aircraft are really spacecraft capable of operating in atmosphere all the way down to the deck. Fan toggles between worrying about his plane’s damage, evading Iraninov’s attacks, and his moral consciousness at the imminent death of thousands of civilians, collateral damage of his mission, the latter a strange consideration for a hardened combat veteran.
If that’s all there was to the story, it would be like hundreds or thousands of other tales of aerial combat, but even before I got to the reveal at the end, I suspected the truth, if for no other reason than Fan had the incredible ability to perceive extremely detailed images of what was going on at ground level, even traveling at near-supersonic speeds.
I can almost see the premise statement for “Yuddh Ke Khel” now: “What would happen if World War Four were outsourced?”