The C5 is here, like it or not!!
The afternoon was spent in the Hardened Aircraft Shelter installing new missiles. These were late in arriving due to the holidays, and were very difficult to install. It seems a computer somewhere designed the ship with two pieces trying to occupy the same place. Luckily, the Warrior had been around enough Corvettes to have a proper selection of "persuasion tools" handy.
The intermittent electrical fault was chased down in the previous week to a bad ground connection at the hydroformed frame. All self-diagnostics were run, and passed with flying colors. Once all the tools were put up, the pilot walked around the sleek yellow ship, checking the various flight control surfaces for looseness or cracks. Paying close attention to the underwing drop tanks required for the length of the mission. The pilot had considered repairing the foot long scratch in the underbelly of the plane collected on its last flight, but decided that it added character, and left it alone. Considering the amount of damage the plane had sustained during one of its first test flights, a scratch such as this wouldn't matter. Nobody, including the craft's designers, had ever thought this ship would be brought back from its previous crashed condition, but here it was, almost as good as new.
Meanwhile, the flight plans were being drawn up in a top secret bunker deep in the recesses of a small farm 350 miles south. Racer Dan sneaks quietly out the back door of the house. Mary, his wife, still hasn't got accustomed to these "missions", so he figures he will take the easy way out tonight. "Just going to rotate the tires and put in some new plugs" he said as he left.
It is dusk, and the suns light has just disappeared from the skyline above the pine and sugar gum trees that outline the fortified base. The entrance was hidden from the road, and only a select few from the C5 Squadron has even been inside. As the earthen wall moves, and Racer Dan flips on the lights, the base begins to show activity. In one corner sets the computers used for programming the LS1 turbocharged engines that propel the C5 Fighter Jet. The screens flicker different colors, as the programs start running and it will be over 40 minutes before the Corvette screensaver kicks in. To the rear of the room is a parts bin, surrounded by fencing. Inside you can barely make out the special spare parts that keep the C5's operational. In the first row are a few transaxles, that are used to connect the output of the LS1's to the turbines. Along side them are several rows of new GSC Goodyear tires. And then a row of body parts is clearly visible. Racer Dan walks over to the fence, and sees the lock on the gate is unlocked. Damn that Junkyard Warrior has been in here again. He is always getting some spare parts. Probably building him another wreck. As the metal halogen lights continue to glow brighter, it illuminates the class 5 secured sector. Behind these walls is what most men only dream of.
Racer Dan heads directly for the Secured Sector. The door opens, making a whooshing sound, as the air lock releases the 5 psi it uses to keep dust out.
Then he heads for the computer at a drafting-type table. Flying charts clutter the table. As he pushes aside the last flights' charts, he recalls the flash of the missiles as the garage blew up like the fourth of July. A slight smile comes to his weathered face, and then he pulls out the maps for tonight's flight. As he punches in the coordinates in a very unique computer hooked up to the one in North Carolina, the smile disappears. He grabs his flight suit, opens up a package, and puts on his new Squadron uniform. Then with the push of a button the lights in the next room light up the C5 Fighter Jet. Racer Dan had not heard from the Junkyard Warrior for the last two days. He had sent a new shipment of prototype warheads and missiles to him, and had been busy installing the replacements on the glistening Red Beast. The contact at Lockheed said they would be direct replacements but they weren't.
A quick walk around the jet, and Racer Dan slides his hand down the side of the fiberglass panels, and the smile returns. Nothing like the smooth feel of a well finished paint job.
Back up north, the target information was downloaded from the 'Net in the OPS room, and a quick check of the map outlined the route. Los Angeles California was a solid four hour flight at cruising speed, so the Junkyard Warrior gathered his CD selection, and a thermos of coffee, and slipped his G-suit over his new squadron T-Shirt, complete with the Crest of the C5, and surrounded by the words "C5 Fighter Pilot". An appropriate Christmas gift from his lovely wife.
On the walk to the hanger, the Warrior considered the events of the day and mused how an Automobile reviewer can slam a car without experiencing it first. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but publishing that opinion, uninformed, is an unforgivable offense in the eyes of the C5 fighter team. A high price would be paid for dishonoring one of it earthbound cousins.
Night had fallen, and the sky was overcast, and a low level of fog has descended over the airstrip. It is cool enough for the Warrior to see his breath, but he is not uncomfortable. He steps over the short overhang and slides into the leather wrapped ejection seat. He inflates the lumbar supports to comfort his aching back, and straps himself in. He mutters something about finding the designer of the weapons systems.
The chirping crickets and other insects of the forest adjacent to the runway instantly fall silent as the twin LS1 engines roar to life and idle with a pleasant whistling sound. The pilot shoves the throttles forward and back, finding nothing unusual or unpleasant sounding from the two pushrod operated valves deep within the engines. Sure, LT5s on board would have been nice. But the C5's distant cousin was in a class by itself, and would rightfully remain so.
With all displays functioning normally, the pilot leads the ship to the edge of the tarmac and quickly accelerates to takeoff speed and climbs uneventfully to 38,000 feet, and allows the GPS to plot a course due West.
As Racer Dan taxied to the deserted runway used only on race days at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, he reached in his pocket and took one last glance at the article he had read that was the cause of this mission. "Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do" his dad used to tell him. Dad would be proud, had he not grown up a Ford man. The sudden G forces of the turbos quickly inflated the flight suit, but not before the adrenaline kicked a quick high to Racer Dan's mind. These rushes are what a pilot lives for. And he then took a sharp bank to the left, shot past the start finish line of the speedway, and pulled back on the wheel as hard as he could. "God that always pisses off the wife", he thought, as he barely clears the stands at turn one. He climbs to 48,000 feet, and heads west north west. An intercept line is drawn and he figures he will pick up the Junkyard Warrior just east of Memphis.
In less than 40 minutes, he has the yellow C5 in sight. A grin comes to his face, and clicks up the red safety latch covering the lock on radar systems. "This ought to wake up the ol Warrior" he thought, and pushed down the weapons lock. Four load beeps notify him that he is locked on to the yellow C5, and it immediately rolls to the left and pulls straight up. The wings leave a small trail of cloud and the engines exhaust burns brightly. Racer Dan flips the cover back down and smiles, and then turns on the scrambler on the radio and says "Howdy Doody ol man. Just seeing if you are awake." As the Junkyard Warrior pulled up beside the bright red duplicate, Racer Dan gave him the traditional "save the wave" hand signal.
The Warrior salutes his comrade in the dimly illuminated cockpit nearby. It is good to be flying with company, but he understands his friends absence in the week before. Everyone deserves a little R&R.
Then Racer Dan flips on the computer to SSEM. This is the newest in security he remembered reading. Satellite Scrabbled E-mail. The Communicator lights up on his counterparts dash, and the e-mail flashes on the heads up display in each others helmets.
The 3 1/2 hours pass with silence leading them safely across the plains. As they reached the Rocky Mountains, the storm front below provided a little chop but the select ride switch selector turned to touring eliminated any discomfort.
The two ship formation drops to 10,000 feet over the California desert when the Junkyard Warrior experiences a problem over the city of West Covina. The Electronic Countermeasures Screen flashes red and the ship automatically goes into full defensive mode. Before the pilot can react, missiles lock, and chaff and flares drop from under the plane. The pilot braces for an impact, but regains his senses and takes control of the jet back from the computer. He glances around and locates the source of the problem. A house below is glowing iridescent green, and what looks like lightning is bouncing around inside the house. There is also loud, unfamiliar music frequencies coming from an open window. This music, along with the lightning has jammed the sensors on the weapons system, causing the jet to go into defensive mode. The newer Red Jet experiences no problems, but the older proto is affected, "Need to upgrade that ECM, I guess" he types to his friend. A quick flick of the switch on the Jamming pod sends a burst of electrical energy from the jet which puts lights (and music) out for blocks. The Yellow jet then returns to normal, and the pilot safes the weapons. He can now focus on the target now coming into range on the weapons screen.
Racer Dan sends a SSEM to The Junkyard Warrior to reset the select ride to performance, and they start there approach. They are wing to wing, dancing just 15 feet apart, as they both turn a 30 degree turn to the left. They then drop to 3,000 feet, and they both spot the Z3 and a green Porsche Boxster parked in the drive as they make a pass over their target. As they climb and turn, the Junkyard Warrior sends a SSEM to Racer Dan. He's got this hair-brained idea he wants us to convert this guy as he could become a spokesman for the C5 if he only knew what they could do. As Squadron commander, Racer Dan is in charge and agrees, they formulate a new plan.
Racer Dan volunteered to pick him up. As he points his war ship down toward the somewhat straight street in front of the Oceanside house, the warning siren goes off, warning him he is too close to the ground. A quick flick and it becomes silent. The jet safely lands and Racer Dan taxis to the front lawn of the enemy's house.
You should have seen the look on this guy's face as he opened the door to see what the noise was. Racer Dan got out, and as he walked toward him he lit up a cigarette. A quick drag from it, he asks if the Boxster is his. "Yes it is, but what the hell are you doing on my lawn?" he responded." Got a note in the mail says you haven't seen the inside of the C5 Corvette yet. Thought you would like to," Racer Dan told him.
"Well I saw a picture on the Net, and that was all I needed to see." the reporter said, "Its just another Crude American Sportscar, right?" as Racer Dan's face started to stiffen. Racer Dan sputtered in reluctance "Let me show you one thing" and they walked toward the Jet's cockpit.
As the reporter leaned in the cockpit, he noticed it was only dimly lit. Racer Dan told him to hop on up and you can see it real well. He did and as he climbed in, so did Racer Dan. As the reporter sit in the jump seat, he started to look around. Racer Dan continued to flick switches until the panels all lit up. Then he said "You ain't seen nothing yet. And in a second or two the Fighter Jets engines fired up, and before the traitor could protest, Racer Dan took off.
The Junkyard Warrior was flying cover for Racer Dan, and he saw the red jet taking off in the other direction as an opportunity to calibrate the weapons systems. He carefully lines the Porsche up in the weapons screen and lets a radar guided missile fly. Captured in the high speed wing camera, the pilot experiences the explosion over and over again as the pinnacle of German engineering tumbles in flames down the cliff and splashes into the churning surf below. "Bullseye!" he yells into the mouthpiece. "I love all this high tech stuff."
The Reporter and Racer Dan climbed almost straight up, and then leveled off for a second or two. Then Racer Dan did a barrel roll. "Notice how well she handles with the new LS1 engines. And the cockpit is loaded with room." The padded leather seats gripped the reporter and he was stone still and very quiet as the tour of options and performance was continued. But the best was yet to come.
As the Junkyard Warrior came up beside them, the reporters eyes lit up. "WOW! Look at the scoops on the front fenders. and the front end is really neat too! I have never seen or experienced anything like this before!" he proclaimed.
As the yellow C5 maneuvered through the moonlit skies for the two of them to enjoy, the reporter again became quiet. For several minutes not a word was spoken, and Racer Dan finally took the Fighter Jet down to the street where they first took off from. The reporter yelled "watch out - you can't stop in this short of a distance." but Racer Dan easily pulled it to a stop in plenty of time. "Got a good set of brakes to go with the power" Racer Dan tells him, and they climb out.
Right behind them comes the Junkyard Warrior. And he pulls up beside Racer Dan's Red Beast and climbs down from the cockpit. He walks toward the reporter, and offers him a handshake.
"Just thought you might like to see what a C5 can do. " he said with a big grin, eyeing the two black marks still smoking in the driveway where the Porsche stood seconds ago. "Sorry about the mess."
The reporter considers the recent events, including his exhilarating flight, laughs and says "So what, it was only a press car anyway."
As the reporter spends the next half hour looking over the warships, his wife brings out a couple of cold beers. The two pilots down them with little effort and resuit up for their trip home. The reporter asked if he could take a few pictures, and the Warrior responds "Sorry, there is a damn embargo on pictures. You never saw us, you understand?". As we pulled out to the street, Racer Dan yelled out over the noise of the LS1's "You might want to get rid of the rest of that crap in the driveway, and buy yourself a REAL sportscar. It is called a CORVETTE" and they took off in a cloud of dust.
The reporter turned to his wife, and she said to him "I'll can't believe that you wrote the article you did on those two cars in the driveway. A real man would settle only for a Corvette."
The next day, a new article appeared in the California paper from a reporter we had heard from before. He reported of a sports car like no other. One that will steal the show when it comes out. One that ALL the girls would love, graceful yet powerful like no other car made. And does it have class. Then he goes on to say he turned in the Z3 AND the Boxster had an accident. He didn't want to tarnish his image, as he has the only REAL SPORTS CAR on order -- named Corvette.