Dec 05, 2014 – Sun Chasers prequel
Posted on 05 December 2014
The sky stretched out in front of him, the perfect frame to the setting sun straight ahead. Below were only clouds, and above he could see the stars starting to come out. It was the stuff of stories.
“Lieutenant Hannigan. We have what we need, you can turn around and bring her home.”
The voice, distant and tinny through the radio, was an unwelcome intruder on the moment. He ignored it.
“Bill?” His partner’s voice could have been on the other side of the world.
“I need to do something first” he said. “I have to see….”
“See? Oh, don’t tell me—“
“Can it Barry, and just tell them to keep their pants on.”
He looked down at the instrument panel and smiled. He didn’t know why they accepted his application to be a test pilot, but he wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. They said the SR-71 Blackbird was the fastest plane that could ever be built. Good. The Air Force wanted to show off to some Navy Aviators? Well, they could pay the price, at least for a few minutes.
He eased the stick and brought them to the heading he needed. 270 degrees on the money.
“Lieutenant Hannigan, we show you off course.”
“There is a bit of turbulence we are going around,” Barry said into the radio. He then clicked off the transmission. “Bill!”
He punched the throttle. He didn’t need all the speed they said these birds had, but he needed most of it. He double-checked his altitude and looked at the scrap of paper he had written the math out on. There was a spot he had to hit, just pefect. Too high or too low, too fast or too slow, and it wouldn’t work.
“Bill, just give it up, already.”
“Barry, I said—“
“Lieutenant Hannigan! Return to—“
And then the sun changed. He looked out at it, and slowly, he lifted the visor on his helmet. It was still there, yellow-red in the early evening sky, but there was something more. No, not more… less.
“Do you see it too?”
Silence. He looked down at his instruments and smiled, and then the ship shuddered, a ripple of the imagined turbulence made real, and the moment was lost.
Cursing, he lowered his visor against the painful glare of the light and looked at the instruments again. Their altitude and velocity hadn’t changed, but somehow, that didn’t matter.
“Let em know we’re on our way.”
Despite his words, it was a long moment before he could bank the plane back towards the airfield.
Back on the ground, as they exited, a ground tech chuckled and shook her head.
“Mad Bill Hannigan. I’d heard stories, I didn’t expect them to be true.”
He smiled at the tech. “I’m sure you haven’t heard the best, though.”
She smiled. “Offering to tell me?”
Before he could respond, Barry grabbed his arm.
“What was that, Bill?”
He glanced back, but the tech was walking away, although she did glance back herself. He sighed and looked back at his co-pilot.
“Remind me to tell you a story sometime, Barry.”
“Yeah, a story. The story of the Sun Chasers.”