Destroyermen Campaign Introduction

 

The PCs start their saga aboard a Sikorsky S-42B named the Macao Clipper that has just departed from Manila and is en route to China on 8 December 1941. While still climbing out above the South China Sea, the radio crackles with the frantic early reports of attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, Manila, Hong Kong, and most disturbing of all, at their destination of Macao. Their initial takeoff climb had been somewhat bumpy due to a storm, but the pilots had avoided the worst of the effects by climbing over the odd looking greenish squall. As they were less than an hour out of the Philippines, the decision was quickly made to turn away from the fighting and head for the safety of the Dutch East Indies and the port of Balikpapan where they could refuel and reassess the situation.  

 

As the big flying boat began its turn, a pair of Japanese fighters was sighted closing in fast. The clipper’s pilots, Kenneth Martin and Glenn Appleton, wrenched the plane around tightly toward the attackers. This moved surprised the Japanese pilots, forcing one fighter to swing wide to avoid a collision with his wingman. The sudden evasive maneuver however, wasn’t enough to escape the second fighter who peppered the flying boat with cannon and machine gun fire doing serious damage to the fuselage and causing several casualties among the passengers and crew. Desperate to escape the fighters who were clearly out to shoot them down without mercy, the Martin and Appleton pushed the heavy plane over into a near suicidal dive in order to reach the safety of the greenish squall below them that had grown even more vicious looking as they got closer. The lighter Japanese Zero fighter’s could not keep up with the heavier flying boat’s dive and only managed a few scattered machine gun hits along the port wing that none the less managed to damage the outboard port engine just before the Macao Clipper entered the squall.  

 

The storm turned out to be unlike anything anyone aboard had ever experienced, for as soon as they entered the storm, everything literally became different. The plane lurched upward violently and the wings creaked ominously, sounding as if they were threatening to rip away from the fuselage. The pitch of the engines howled as if the density of the air kept changing faster than could be possible. However, it was outside the plane that was even more bizarre, if that was possible, considering what was happening inside. The rain drops were suspended in motion and none of plane’s controls seemed to function. That is to say, they functioned in that the rudder and ailerons moved like they were supposed to, but they had no effect on changing the plane’s attitude. Frustrated by the inability to make his plane do what he wanted it to do, Martin opened his window and stuck his hand out into the storm. The rain drops his hands encountered were wet just as they were supposed to be, but the drops still didn’t move and there was no discernable wind motion of any kind, which made absolutely no sense whatsoever as the speedometer clearly indicated the plane to be flying at one hundred and eighty miles per hour.     

 

As Martin pulled his hand back inside and closed his window, the plane gave a sudden sickening roll and dropped straight down for several heart stopping seconds before the controls began to function again. When the pilots regained control of the flying boat, they dove down to wave top level hoping to avoid detection by the Japanese fighters all the while scanning for sign that they were being followed. When one of the Zeroes was spotted, it caused a moment of sinking fear, but the fighter was clearly completely out of control, cart wheeling end over end in an obviously non-recoverable dive that concluded with mighty splash as the plane hit the water. 

Keeping to their low altitude, the crew of the Macao Clipper took a quick look at the condition of their plane. Three of the engines were functioning normally and the controls were undamaged. There were multiple holes in the fuselage from the Japanese attack, but the plane was structurally sound. The radio seemed undamaged, but had fallen oddly silent with none of the frantic traffic concerning the attacks around the Pacific. Reduced to three engines, Balikpapan was no longer a viable option, but Davao was well within range and would still be under American control even if Manila was under attack.

 

The situation aft of the flight deck was a different matter, of the twenty-six that had embarked in Manila, four were dead and three more were wounded. In addition, the Macao Clipper’s radio operator was also killed. Fortunately, one of the unwounded passengers, a Percival Reid, was a doctor who gave the purser the grim, but not altogether hopeless assessment that two of the wounded would survive barring any other excitement. There was however, nothing he could do for the third man who was no going to make it.  

 

The attack left a total of twenty-five survivors on the plane. Thus, in addition to the pilot, co-pilot, engineer, and steward of the crew, there were the following passengers: the British doctor, four female American missionaries, seven crew en route to join the American Volunteer Group also known as the Flying Tigers (three pilots - two army and one marine, four mechanics - two army and two navy), two American civil engineers (surveying projects for Texaco) one Dutch civil engineer (Dutch Petroleum liaison to Texaco), a British navy intelligence officer (traveling as a reporter), one British archeologist, a wealthy American dilettante (wounded) and wife on honeymoon, one Chinese businessman (wounded), and a female American lounge singer. Those killed by the Japanese attack consisted of: an American reverend (leader of the missionaries), an American businessman (partner of the Chinese businessman. The two are actually gun runners and part of their stored cargo includes several automatic weapons), and three other would-be Flying Tigers (two army, one navy).

 

During the nearly five hour flight to Davao, the crew of the Macao Clipper realized something had drastically changed. First, there was no radio traffic on any wavelength and no known stations are answering calls for help. Second, the only ship traffic they saw along the way was sail powered. At first, the felucca style boats were thought to be the normal local fishermen, but this illusion was shattered by the sight of a massive nine hundred foot long vessel that simply did not match any known ship in any waters known to anyone aboard.

 

The final proof that all was not as it should be was delivered when the flying boat reach Davao. Rather than the sprawling town that those who had been there recently remembered, the settlement they found was much more primitive and was laid out completely different. While the changes to the city might, with some difficulty, be explained away, it was the changes in the inhabitants that could not be explained by any means. Simply put the villagers, seen scrambling for cover as the Macao Clipper made a low pass over what was supposed to be Davao, were not human! The bipedal forms seen below were generally human in shape, but were furred and did not owe their evolution to the same stock as those aboard the plane with the archeologist Cecil Evans-Clarke offering the opinion that the ‘locals’ seemed to have more in common with lemurs than apes. Regardless of their origin, the inhabitants of what was supposed to be Davao clearly were not the ones that were expected.     

Knowing that their plane had to eventually set down somewhere, the pilot made the decision to land based on the facts that they would have to land eventually and odds were if there weren’t humans in Davao, the likelihood that humans would be anywhere was slim. Adding to the fact that the Macao Clipper had damage that needed to be assessed and the big plane was down to just over half of her fuel. More than anything else, it was their fuel status that made it clear that there really weren’t any options left to them.

 

Choosing an area that seemed the clearest, the pilots brought the flying boat in for a perfect landing. Unsure of the reception they would receive, the passengers and crew prepared for a quick departure as two large skiffs were rowed out to meet them.