Distant Thunder [Reaper Six-Lanawint]

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ShatteredSkies, Aug 15, 2014.

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  1. Everything had gone to hell in a split second, it seemed. One minute, and the nation of Usea was at peace, the next in a fight for its existence. There had been no warning when tanks and aircraft, men and ships stormed east from Erusia, less still for those caught on the border. In the first hours of the blitz, it became apparant that the enemy was pushing towards the capital. But as the net tightened, the options for escape grew thinner and thinner. Artillery shells poured down, and the motorcade transporting the royal family took a sudden turn. The protective agent in the limosene with the family held a finger to his ear, then related what he heard. "We're cut off. The Air Force is holding a transport at the airfield."

    At the field, Alex Walker ran across the Tarmac, holding a helmet. He had been just out of the city, on leave, and had spent the night with a lady he'd captivated with bogus stories of his flight career, and went home with her. He'd hurried to the base, found his squadron gone, and quickly changed into a flight suit that was far too tight, and grabbed a random helmet that too, barely fit. He jogged across the flight line, finding an F/A-18, loaded with weapons. Normally, he'd fly with someone in the second seat, bit there wasn't any time for niceties. He barely got the systems turned on, then he saw the limo.

    As the motorcade approached the base, the transport aircraft took a hit from a rocket. With no other aircraft, the King looked around, seeing the Super Hornet across the Tarmac. "Hold that plane. Drive there!" he ordered, then looked at his wife, who gave a nod, then to his daughter. "Lizzie... You're getting on that plane."

    Alex heard the order over his radio, and only cycled his far engine. Who the hell was it in that limo, and why was he being held? There was a war, and he needed to show up.
  2. They say that there are moments that changes us forever. In just one instant, a blink of an eye, everything you took for granted is suddenly called into question. That false sense of security we all have. Every certitude. About the most trifling matters. About your own future and the future of people you care about. Everything is slipping away from you.

    This was the moment.

    And here she was, sitting in the limousine, trying to cope with this new reality, to collect her thoughts and repress her growing anxiety, the noise of the artillery strangely muffled by the deafening sound of her own thoughts. This was not the moment to panic. First, a deep breath. Ok, better already. She needed to think... Find a way to... Damn, it all went so fast... To think that...

    "We're cut off. The Air Force is holding a transport at the airfield."

    Lizbeth's jaw clenched, making it harder to swallow. Noticing her father, looking questioningly at her, his chubby face wrinkled with concern, she answered with the shadow of a smile curving her lips. She was ok. They were all ok. For now. She looked at her mother who was sitting perfectly still, looking intently out of the windows, an air of resignation impregnating her severe features. Lizbeth reached and silently held her hand. The queen shuddered at the contact, acknowledging it, but didn't break her gaze from the landscape. Lizbeth's attention shifted back to the window. They were almost there, she could see the...

    The blasted sound of the explosion reached her ears, and a split second later, her view became obscured by smoke, that quickly dissipated, revealing the remains of what was once a transport aircraft. Their transport aircraft. She blinked. How... But before she could react further, the commanding voice of her father resonated: "Hold that plane. Drive there!" he ordered, then looked at his wife, who gave a nod, then to his daughter. "Lizzie... You're getting on that plane."

    Startled, Lizbeth looked at the plane he was pointing at, then at her father before stammering "W-what? You're not coming?"

    "... We can't. There are only two places on this plane", he answered his broad shoulders hunched slightly. Ignoring the door of the car opened for her by the agent, she went on: "But why me? Why not you? Or mother? I'm..."

    He interjected swiftly: "Look, I don't have time to argue. I need you to take this plane... We'll find another way"

    "Dad?", she begged.

    "Get out of here!", he yelled. She jumped at his sudden outburst, and stood there for a moment dumbfounded, trying to find something to say, to reach his gaze but he stared blankly away from her.

    "Miss?" The voice of the agent drew her attention back to the open door. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, climbed out of the car and started progressing toward the plane, fighting the urge to turn back and say something to her parents. There was no need for that. This wasn't goodbye.
    #2 Lanawint, Aug 15, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  3. Alex cycled the other engine as he saw a man in a suit rush a girl to the side of his aircraft. He reached over and helped her into the second seat. He looked back at her, she was scared, frightened, out of her element. But she was now his responsibility.

    "Strap in!" he shouted to her as he closed the canopy. After making sure the path was clear, he heated the other engine and taxied out towards the runway. "Don't touch anything, understand?" he called back. The last thing she could do was pull one of the several yellow and black striped handles, trigger the ejection sequence, and send both of them flying out of the plane.

    "Red tail F-18. Tower. Clear to taxi," he heard in his earpiece. "Mission orders come from the top, take off and leave the area at full speed, vector for Allenfort Airport, heading zero three three. Do not engage enemy forces. How copy?"

    "Allenfort, zero three three, copy," Alex replied, wondering who had climbed aboard his plane.
  4. Safely strapped into her seat, she should have felt better already. Or maybe safer. But she felt even more lost than before, temporarily paralyzed with indecision, torn between her instinct to take action and the unsettling feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by the situation. Useless. It struck her just how little control she had over the situation, as if she needed reminding. Right now, her fate rested in someone else’s hands.

    In the hands of a perfect stranger who just happened to be here.

    He did say not to touch anything, and she wasn't dumb enough to think that randomly touching the flight instruments could be anything close to a good idea, but there had to be something she could do. As the fear turned into frustration Lizbeth tightened her hold on her purse and darted a curious and analytic glance at her new companion. He was wearing the usual Air Force flight suit. No insignia or stripes, so presumably neither an officer nor a veteran. Her brows furrowed almost imperceptibly. That was not a good sign... Other than that, she couldn't help but notice his ruggedly attractive features and that his suit was a bit tight which could mean a lot of uninteresting things, and was also totally irrelevant to the bigger scheme of things. Wait. Wasn't she supposed to wear one of those... and an helmet? She looked at her own clothes and scowled, realizing just now how silly she must look, with her purple cocktail dress and heels, worn for the charity event dinner she was about to go to, cramped in a warflight about to take off. She thought for a second to ask him about changing her clothes before shaking her head. It was probably too late for that anyway. Instead she looked back at him and asked, with as much assertiveness as she could muster in this context :

    “Can I help with something?”
    #4 Lanawint, Aug 23, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  5. He set up on the runway, and without asking for clearance, firewalled the throttle. It pushed both of them back in their seats, like accelerating in a sports car, but with much more power and authority.

    Alex pulled back on the stick, lifting off when they reached the nessecary speed. Immidetely, he banked onto the vector prescribed by the tower controller, and kept the throttles pinned forward. Within seconds, they broke the sound barrier, a cloud of condensed air around them for a split second, before racing off.

    Alex stayed low to the ground, shooting over buildings and trees. When he heard her voice, he shouted, "See that big green screen in the middle? If anything white approaches us in the middle, tell me." he told her.
  6. High speed thrill rides did not sit well with her, so she expected to find the experience too frightening to be pleasant. But she had no idea just how unpleasant it could get. Before she had any time to worry about it, they had blasted off the runway and quickly ascended into the air. As the pressure abruptly increased, matching their acceleration, she became light-headed, her vision blurred and her whole body felt forced further into the seat, squished so bad that the simple act of breathing became forced and painful. She squeezed her eyes tight, concentrating on her breathing, before opening them again shortly afterwards as her body slowly started to acclimatize to it. But the faint sensation of comfort she had reached vanished at the sight unfolding before her eyes. She stiffened, silently cursing him. Was it really necessary to fly like that? Weren't they supposed to fly high up in the clouds, where, you know, everything seems more peaceful and shit? His voice broke her chain of thought:

    "See that big green screen in the middle? If anything white approaches us in the middle, tell me."

    Lizbeth had been so stunned by the recent developments that she had fully forgotten her previous offer to help him. The mere fact that she could be of any help seemed so incongruous right now. Although, keeping her eyes on a focal point should help her concentrate on something outside of her body and the scenery. Maybe watching what was presumably a radar wouldn't be too bad?

    "Yeah…ok…", she stammered.

    She then proceeded to stare intently at the screen, silently praying that it would stay empty, asking herself questions she never thought she would ever ask herself or anyone else for that matter. He said anything white. Would it take different shapes, depending on if it was a jet fighter, or an incoming missile? And what would be the estimated time it would take for an incoming missile to reach its target from the moment she would see it appear on the radar screen to the actual impact. It would have to depend on the differential between their speed and the speed of the missiles, and the eventual changes of the trajectory might also impact it, right? It was probably a matter of… minutes? Probably more like seconds… And why the hell weren't there some kind of alarm system on this thing to warn the pilot about it? That seemed better than having to rely on the human sight, right? And just how long will it take until they arrive at Allenfort?!? All she wanted right now was to close her eyes and pretend she was anywhere but here. She had managed to restrain so far from bombarding him with questions, but she finally decided to break the silence, eyes still glued to the screen :

    "How long until we arrive?", she questioned, trying to hide the nervousness in her voice.
    #6 Lanawint, Aug 25, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  7. "Couple hours." came his clipped voice. He snapped the aircraft ninety degrees and pulled hard, banking quickly. They were over a highway, much easier to fly over, when they leveled out. Alex knew she was probably very uncomfortable in the backseat, but he had his orders, and that determined how little he cared.

    The radar screen was packed with shapes, blue squares representing friendly ground forces, blue triangles for friendly fighters and other aircraft. White was unknown, and presumed hostile. Sometimes they clustered together, sometimes only pairs were visable. But what was apparant was that the blue shapes were dissappearing faster than the white ones. More disconcerting was that it appeared more white triangles were entering the airspace over the capital.

    Alex had this same display, albeit smaller, on his HUD, but he'd told the girl to watch her larger display because he was more concerned with flying. After ten minutes of low altitude, high speed flight, they were out of the battle area, over the woods and farms and towns outside the capital.
  8. Couple hours. She got her answer. Just not the one she hoped for and it seemed almost unbearable. Yet, a minute passed. Than a few more followed, and time seemed to come to a standstill as Lizbeth stood there, eyes wide open, loosing herself in the contemplation of the patterns the shapes made on her screen. It was almost pretty, the way blue and white sometimes melted before slowly shaping itself into something else. But as the prominence of the white forms over the blue ones became obvious, reality sank in. What the hell was she even thinking? There was nothing “pretty” about it. When a shape disappears it means… that someone died. Fighting the growing need to look away, she forced herself to keep a watchful eye on the screen, but the distraction provided by the shapes was now lost, replaced by a disquieting feeling, as she watched the forms huddling over the opposite direction, getting further and further away from them before disappearing as they flew over the countryside. Her breathing quickened as uneasiness began to well up inside her at the thought of her parents, still out there, surrounded. Maybe hurt. And she had no way of knowing.

    Time seemed to be dragging on as they spent a half hour in what was now an unsettling silence. A deep sigh escaped her pursed lips. At least in a car, there was always the option of turning on the radio to distract yourself. The radio...God, she was so stupid sometimes. Why
    didn't she think about that sooner! He had to have radio contact with the headquarters or some other kind of authority.

    "Do you know what is happening back there?", she shouted. She had to stay positive. She escaped. Maybe they did too. Surely he would know about it, if that was the case. "Is there any other flight heading toward Allenfort? ... Friendly ones?" Just because she couldn't see it or he couldn't see it didn't mean they didn't exist, right? They were probably too far behind. She had to believe it anyway.
    #8 Lanawint, Aug 25, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  9. At a safe distance, with no contacts friendly or hostile around them, Alex climbed, and eased off the throttle. It would increase his efficiency, flying through thinner air. The cockpit was pressurized, so the girl in the back wouldn't feel any differant.

    "No," he replied, though it was a lie. He'd heard everything, and Usean forces had been routed. They'd left a desperate battle minutes before it was lost. Military Headquarters had been taken out, communication was scrambled. It was every man for himself.

    He wondered about his comrades, the members of his squadron, family to him. Whether they made it, or it they were dead. He pondered it all in a distant realm while he flew among the clouds.

    Finally, his curiosity got better of him. "Mind introducing yourself, ma'am?" he asked, wanting to know who his passenger was.
  10. The answer had been short and noncommittal, further dimming the prospect of getting any reassurance or even insight toward the war front situation and her family’s well being anytime soon. She took it as a hint that he didn't want to expand on the subject any further and withdrew once more into silence, lost in her own thoughts, all of them quite unpleasant, aware of the change of altitude but not paying any real attention to it. He didn't know what was going on, so they were probably cut off from the headquarters. That was… bad. If so, how could they even be sure that Allenfort hadn't been attacked too in the meanwhile? Was it still safe, or were they just running from one hell to another?

    "Mind introducing yourself, ma'am?"

    She flinched as his voice cut through the silence and realizing that her gaze had drifted of the radar while she dozed off, she straightened herself eyeing the radar screen warily before breathing a silent sigh of relief. Nothing to see. Thank goodness. Wait, introducing herself? He… didn’t know who she was? Right, why would he! Out of her small world where everyone knew who she was, she enjoyed a certain anonymity, unless confronted with an avid reader of the magazines she appeared on when participating in official events or charity networking galas. Her response came quickly:

    "Sure. I’m Lizbeth…" The fact that her own identity was so intricately connected with her station that so many people saw her "the princess" rather than just "Lizbeth" made the thought of stopping there and holding out on her last name quite appealing. But it was quite obvious to her that what he was asking for was not just a name, but rather an explanation of why the hell he was babysitting her while there was a war raging on so she went on. He deserved an explanation, and her last name should be self-explanatory "Lizbeth Sheringham".
    #10 Lanawint, Aug 26, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  11. Alex nodded unseen to her, he had the friggen princess on his plane? Things must have really been bad if that happened. "Well, your highness, I'm Alex Walker. And I apologize for being an asshole earlier, I was just trying to keep both of us alive."

    What waited for them at Allenfort? Deep within their territory, no penetration by Erusian forces would reach there. That was likely why he had been ordered to take the princess there. Wasn't the Winter Castle there too? He shrugged, and focused back on flying.
  12. Lizbeth shook her head. And there we go. The sudden deference, quickly followed by an apology. She answered courteously, her mouth twisting into a wry smile:

    "You don’t need to apologize. I understand…"

    It was not that she didn't appreciate the apology per se. An asshole might have been a bit too strong a word but he certainly didn't seem to pay too much consideration to her well-being, and didn’t inquired about it, not once. And while she did understand the reasoning behind it, prioritizing their safety - after all she had stopped herself from bombarding him with questions for that very same reason, trying to avoid distracting him while his focus should rather be on flying- just a little “you ok back there” sure would have been nice...

    But if the apology was welcomed, the timing of it was hard to ignore. Would he have apologized if she was some random Jane? Maybe, maybe not. And now, there was no way for her to know it. No matter. Whether he was genuine or not, whether it was his choice or not, he still saved her. She added, warmth that wasn't there before coloring her voice:

    "… and thank you."

    And since he seemed now more talkative than before, she decided to chance another question, one that she had been really itching to ask, wondering if it would end up with another non-committal answer this time around :

    "Can I ask you something? Why were you alone back there? Did I hijack some kind of a solo mission?"
    #12 Lanawint, Aug 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  13. Alex looked down, and reached for a thermos "want some... It's either water, coffee, or some type of juice... I grabbed it while I ran." he offered, unsure of the contents. He held the thermos behind his seat, for her to take.

    "My job, ma'am." he replied. When she asked about why he was alone, he sighed. "I was out on leave when the invasion started. I rushed to the base, my flight suit doesn't fit, my helmet doesn't either, and this isn't my plane." he informed her.
  14. Lizbeth couldn't hold back a giggle at his reply, but quickly stifled it as she shut her mouth close, and recomposed herself before giving voice to the apologetic smile that spread across her face :

    "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh."

    She was set on opening the thermos that she grabbed after thanking him, thinking that coffee sounded real good right now and hoping that it was indeed coffee in it, when his answer reached her ears. And she even surprised herself at her (over)reaction, but she had been caught off guard, and unable to read his facial expression, the miffed way he listed everything including the most trivial ones didn't help.

    "That must have been rough."

    There was no irony in her voice. After all she hadn't been the only one whose peaceful morning had turned into a nightmare. He did too. Actually, that did explain what was up with his suit tough… she would have bet on a laundry incident.

    As she failed to unscrew the thermos, she winced, noticing her unsteady grip. The strain of the recent events was starting to make itself felt. Pff. It wouldn't resist her for long… She wedged the thermos between her legs to get a firmer grip and had been barely starting to try to twist it open once more when she inquired, averting the conversation to a more casual subject:

    "I didn't know you could get your own plane. Did you choose it? Or was it assigned?"
    #14 Lanawint, Aug 27, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  15. He shrugged as he flew, checking the systems and the radar constantly. Alex shifted around in his seat, then replied, "I have an assigned one. Ours have black tails. This is a red tail. Differant squadron markings. I suppose someone took mine in the confusion, I don't blame them."

    He checked his map, they had a few hundred miles to go, and not enough fuel. He'd have to land on his first pass, on fumes, he reasoned after a series of calculations.

    "I'm not gonna lie, landing won't be smooth."
  16. She quirked a questioning eyebrow at his statement. If landing was anything like taking off, that was an understatement… But why was he talking about landing? They couldn't have arrived already. He did say it would take a couple hours after all and from her calculations, there weren't close to that. But it seemed that landing was something that she had to worry about straight away. She shook her head. Why else would he warn her about it just now? She felt her pulse quicken as apprehension started to rise. Please, don't let this be as hard as it sounds.

    She questioned, curious to what seemed to make him decide to land now: “Is something wrong?” before letting her gaze drop down to her knees, and the thermos. There was a silver lining, though. A least, he was giving her time to ready herself for it, this time. And this was coffee.

    Come to think of it, just when she finally managed to open the thermos, she had to close it back up. If timing and arrogance were decisive factors in the successful use of talent, as she had been told, she was wasting hers, because her timing was totally off right now, and there was not much cause for arrogance about leaving behind her home, her family, even if was meant to be temporary.
    #16 Lanawint, Aug 28, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  17. Alex shook his head. "We have barely enough gas to get to Allenfort. We'll get there on fumes." he told her, wanting to tell the truth so that she wasn't surprised.

    He continued making minute adjustments, though they weren't really needed. He wanted to just get back to the war, fight with his team.

    On the large screen, two white triangles smoked in fast behind them.
  18. Turns out landing was not the only thing she had to worry about, gas was too. Seems like landing, even if it would thankfully not happen straight away, would be even more an issue than she thought it would be. Things most certainly weren’t looking up. But this time, she stopped herself from getting overwhelmed by the possible repercussions of this new information. She had to trust his ability to guide them through the recent adversities and help them reach their destination in one piece. Relying on others was not something she was comfortable with, but she had no choice in the matter. He clearly knew what he was doing and it looked that he had the situation under control. It had to be enough.

    "Ok", she answered.

    Lizbeth poured herself a little bit of coffee contained in the thermos, and carefully dipped her lips in the liquid. It was still hot. She sipped it and puckered. She liked her coffee sweet and light, and what she had just tasted was a bit strong.

    "Do you want some coffee?” she offered “It’s still…"

    Suddenly noticing the white forms that had made their apparition on her radar’s screen, Lizbeth stopped dead in her tracks and gasped "Oh!” For only a moment, she stood, frozen, her cerulean eyes wide open as the realization of what those white triangles on the screen meant sunk into her mind.

    “There’s two!” she hissed, an urgent tone coloring her voice, before spelling out with a catch in her voice while fumbling to close the thermos’s lid "two white triangles… closing in on us!"
    #18 Lanawint, Aug 31, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  19. Merely three seconds after she noticed them, a beeping started in the cockpit, loud and annoying. Alex swore. "Hold on!" he shouted, then spun the aircraft a hundred eighty degrees, so that the ground was the only thing seen in the canopy. He pulled up on the stick, diving the aircraft towards the surface.

    Alex clicked the master arm, bringing his weapons online. He could tell by the speed at which the missiles were closing, and the angle of the enemy aircraft, that the missiles were only semi active, guided by the launching aircraft's radar. In order to evade, he had to break that link.

    He attained lock and fired two missiles, rightside up again. He couldn't see the enemy aircraft, but he knew they were there. He began a hard series of turns at high speed, which might have given the princess in the backseat a roller coaster ride on steroids.
  20. Lizbeth had barely had enough time to throw the thermos in her bag before the world turned upside down. She yelped slightly in shock, frozen in anguish, clutching her churning stomach, her ears ringing with the howling of the alarm in counterpoint to the rapid beating of her heart. The flight maneuvers carried out by Alex, despite being their saving grace, only added to her distress and she snapped her eyes shut in an attempt to distance herself from a situation she had not control over and regain some semblance of self control.

    When the war broke out, she had intuitively grasped the fact that her life was at risk. She then realized how much as soon as she boarded that plane, but it was now that she really understood it. She could die. Not in a distant future, but here and now. In this stupid plane. Away from anything she knew and everyone she loved. But understanding it didn't mean coming to terms with it and fear began to subside, replaced by anger. She couldn't die now! Not like that… She wanted to do so many things. How could she die now without ever having truly lived? She had to… to… The sudden surge she had felt faded as well, leaving her numb. Unable to fight or flee, all she could do was endure and hope.
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