HighBypass

FLIGHT - a short, near-future story

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I'm not an author. I love reading, but used to hate writing essays in school. This kind of came out of nowhere. I've not felt inspired to write anything like it since.

 I'd had the well-used phrase "climbs like a homesick angel" running around in my head when I felt inspired to write this story. More inspiration came from my enjoyment of science fiction, and a great Japanese anime movie Yukikaze. I don't know how large I can make a post here on AVSIM. If needs be I'll split it up. The story is only a few pages of A4. Here goes. Hope you like it:

Flight

 

The muted growl of a generator coming to life is her alarm clock. She begins to wake from her slumber; displays begin to glow, lights illuminate and beacons begin to flash. A whistling sound, rising in pitch and volume, precedes a low rumble as she yawns into alertness. She yawns again, and the generator acquiesces into silence, almost venerating her terrifyingly beautiful presence.

Like an apex predator, she begins to move with effortless grace towards the  instrument of her freedom, her deliberate slow, progress belying her abilities. Soon enough however, she reaches the miles of arrow straight runway. A catwalk for a fashion model one might say? Certainly, but no merely human model could ever rival her deadly outline, nor accomplish what she was built for.

She pauses, control surfaces moving as though stretching muscles in readiness. She shouts a roaring crescendo of exhilaration, splitting the quiet stillness of the air apart with her monstrous engines. Controlled violence finally unleashed. Turbines screaming, she squats and accelerates, two huge pillars of blue-violet flame from her afterburners illuminating where she had been, seconds earlier. With feral hunger, she needs to get to the horizon, and she needs to get there now.

Her wings begin to bite into the air, commanding that she be carried aloft, free of any awkwardness she may have exhibited on the ground. Steeper and steeper she climbs, her afterburners pointing her almost straight up towards the overcast sky. Like a homesick angel she plunges into the base of the overcast, her electronic eyes reassuring her of her safe passage through the murk.

Mach One is just a number, the speed of sound, such a low number which she treats with the disdain it deserves. At supersonic speed she erupts clear of the top of the clouds, like an Orca breaching the ocean surface, but far more deadly.

Free! She flies in the "big blue", the crystal clear sky, the sun casting her menacing shadow on the cloud tops. Free! This is her domain, to do with as she will. Her afterburners extinguish as her thirst for insane speed is slaked.

Optical eyes now open to complement her electronic ones, giving her calm reassurance that she is still safe and alone. Alone? Not quite. Others were present on her awakening and had journeyed with her from that time. Are they her children perhaps? No, a better description might be symbiotes: Without them, she has no purpose; without her they are powerless. They are much sleeker than she, and far, far quicker, yet they can never outlive her. For now they remain as one with her. Her missiles break their respectful silence, voices now clamouring to be heard. They let her know that they are alive, watchful, waiting and ready... Ready to exact terrible vengeance on any that dare enter her territory uninvited...

 

Another voice seeking her audience. This one from far away with utmost importance. "Extend Combat Air Patrol to south-eastern extremity". She instantly complies, turning on to a new vector. Electronic sensors begin a maximum-range sweep; something must be out there, or why order the change in patrol pattern? Prey might be a more accurate term to describe the "something".....  She waits...

There.... not one, but six interlopers. Her radar notifies her pertinent data as it picks them out. She instantly catalogues, analyses and predicts. The prey are behaving in the same way as she has seen countless times before, nothing extraordinary. They may not even know of her presence, apex predators can be experts in disguise & concealment after all. Her radar switches modes to not startle her prey, much like a guard dog keeps a wary eye out whilst seemingly appearing to be asleep. Base command are notified of her findings.

WAIT! .. their vectors are changing... velocity increasing... surely they wouldn't dare!! Another incoming priority message:, "All safety interlocks removed. Incoming targets are hostile.... GO!"... Her massive engines once more drink deeply to give her the intercept speed she requires. She runs a quick diagnostic, and all her missiles, as one, are hers to do with as she wishes. The relationship of the six deadly symbiotes will very soon come to an end as she unleashes them from her airframe. They are not totally free though as she continues to give them the guidance they respectfully desire in the same way that a small child might look back to its parents after being allowed into the playground for the first time. The prey begin to scatter as she knew they would. Yet she watches them all, with what some onlookers might class as omnipotence, such is her mastery of the environment. Ever closer she guides her missiles, then with only a few seconds of their fatal hypersonic journey left, they are finally given total freedom. "GO! My children!" Her missiles now enter there terminal guidance phase. Terminal in more ways than one. With single-minded fanaticism, the prey are caught and devoured one after the other.

Yet the prey were not totally defenceless. As they begin to vapourise into fireballs one by one, other smaller, faster signals are revealed to her. She needs to react with extreme agility and speed, for these signals are of a similar breed to her children: Incoming missiles!! Six of them, each trying to avenge the deaths of their keepers. However, she has agility and speed in abundance; she will overcome. As she begins the violent aerobatic display of survival, she begins to mock her would-be killers: She is quite the expert at deception - sophisticated electronics begin to make her assailants doubt their capabilities. They are told lies which they believe about where she has been and not where she actually will be. Electronic decoys cloud the enemy's sensors so they take their best guesses, and they guess wrong. Their deadly, vengeful crusade has come to nought. In futile disarray the missiles explode harmlessly distant. Seven traces flicker and disappear from the display. The predator has bested the prey. She transmits six "++kill confirmed++" messages back to base.

As she turns back to her patrol pattern for one last sweep, her metaphorical fangs still bared, one bit of data from the hunt seems to be in error, an anomaly. Once more she instigates a systems diagnostic. Once more her systems report nominal at this time. She is still the perfect machine she was designed to be....

REVELATION!! In an instant she backflips to reverse course, all her optical sensors snap online to augment the passive radar not a second too soon! Two incoming targets are fast closing on her. OF COURSE!! They are similar to the larger missiles, but like the brightly burning candle of lore, they also have much shorter lives. Close-range heat-seeking missiles! Very agile, very fast, quite deadly. Where did they come from? DIANA already knows the answer. She overrides certain stress & temperature parameters on her airframe and engines. Much like that bright candle, she will shorten her life a little, but what a life! Also like that candle, she is hot from her exertions. With unfettered Combat Thrust available she performs another aerial ballet, this time with ever more violent manoeuvring, such is the tenacity of the enemy missiles. The manoeuvres would, at best, render any human instantly unconscious; at worst, turn them into splintered jelly. Yet she does not carry any organic "payload"... Her commander and her masters are ensconced many miles away on the ground back at base. She is an IF-762 Harbinger, an Intelligent Fighter. She has no requirement for the weighty excesses of survival and escape systems pandering to the weak human frame. Her shape is put to better use by being made stronger, more aerodynamic, more lethal. She is DIANA, Goddess of the Hunt. She WILL survive, she WILL.. she MUST... DIANA seems to bend the laws of physics with her feints and dodges. She dispenses bright, intensely hot flares as though casting off jewels and trinkets to distract a common thief, for such is the manner in how the threat can be subdued.

That seventh flickering trace on her radar... "++ oh, could this be such a worthy adversary?++...." THERE!.. Her optics see the enemy! It exhibits strange facets and confusing angles. Confusing that is, to her radar. However, such electronic camouflage is nothing against a hunter using optical wavelengths. Much as we turn a light on in a dark room to look at its contents, DIANA's optics could plainly watch the enemy as it danced around the sky. Stealth is not everything: The adversary has made a mistake. It dared to announce its presence too close to DIANA. She is not to be trifled with in such a manner, even by such a trickster.

A signal from base: "KILL IT"..

DIANA is not yet powerless. Her six symbiotes, long gone, are backed up by smaller missiles. Only a pack of two maybe, but these are DIANA's hunting dogs, fiercely loyal, yet free-spirited. They have the scent, the heat which they seek, and DIANA instantly releases them. They do not need to be facing the adversary's throat to find it. For with supra-animal agility they leap from DIANA's launch rails, to turn and chase the stealthy abomination. In twisting desperation the trickster reveals more of its fantastic repertoire. It too can throw out decoys to delay the closure of the pack and tire it out. It is successful; the hounds are spent and harmlessly drop away.

DIANA watched this with knowledgeable detachment. She knew of the possibilty that the hounds may fail, ever since she tracked the adversary. It might be an expert showman, a fancy magician, but it does not have the sheer physical prowess which DIANA possesses. The showman has another flaw, for it is a human showman. A pilot sits within. A clever pilot, yes, but so humanly frail. The strange facets and angles are the tools of his trade. He is the adversary. DIANA's hunting dogs have passed, and now it is time for her to carry out the final blow. The remaining weapon is her hunting knife which she now unsheathes. Electrical power flows as relays switch and gears turn. This hunting knife has many blades, for it is in fact her Gatling cannon, a large calibre machine gun with rotating barrels. She tracks the adversary, which feebly attempts to dodge, twisting this way and that, but to no avail. In a nanosecond she computes the angles, and faces the adversary directly. The cannon barrels spool up and one after the other, unleash innumerable 20mm shells. The shells are stupid & blind, but stupid & blind cannot be fooled... The shells streak across the short distance between DIANA and her foe. Preceded by small explosions, a series of large, jagged holes are punched into the strange facets and confusing angles which then begin to violently separate before being consumed in a raging explosion... Stealth counts for nothing if the airframe is no longer viable...

"++kill confirmed++... BINGO FUEL..." Although the well which the engines drink from is plentiful, it is also finite. DIANA's engines have burned what she can afford to give them. She has enough fuel to return to base with a tiny reserve. A tiny reserve which she might use in a dance of celebration over her base?.... Perhaps the human ejected from his doomed craft? DIANA does not care. The human's fate is something for her masters and her masters'-masters to deliberate over..

"R-T-B, DIANA. BEAUTIFUL JOB..", announces the signal from base. She turns to intercept an approach vector, throttles back her engines to a surly growl and returns to base. "++r-t-b..complying++..++thank you for the lovely compliment, my commander++..."

Many miles away, a look of puzzlement was etched on a young man's face. "Strange.... I wonder when DIANA became so polite?..."

R-T-B

 

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That was very well written, Mark! I enjoyed reading your short story immensely.

 

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Thank you Father Bill. :cool:

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You know, in another time, in another life, I would be her commander... :wink:

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