NCM Fighter Squadron

Punishment Deserved

by Racer Dan

Racer Dan had been known in the past for his somewhat provoked outbursts, always over something he was passionate about. Of course the General was the one who put him to silence. It took several threats, including a couple of times the General thought he was going to have to strip him of his Commander title.

The General was seriously concerned as to the perception of the general public during these "outbursts", so taming him was necessary. After 2 years of harassment, Racer Dan finally resolved the conflict, and put it to bed. The General was happy with the results. Now the General wondered if maybe he would rather have that old Racer Dan, and get him fired up again, so this mission would succeed.

The General had received a call from Texas. It was on the scrambled line, installed only a few weeks ago. Nobody knows the real conversation, but based on the actions the General was to apply the following three days, there is no question it was a favor for a very close friend.

The General got up early the next morning, and dusted off his C5FS keyboard. He knew damned well Racer Dan would be in bed. He also knew that he should be waking up Dorothy, the new Commander instead of Racer Dan, but he felt that waking up Racer Dan would be more fun. He knew it would piss him off, that is why he didn't call Dorothy. Saturdays was a day of rest for Racer Dan, but that wasn't of the General's concern. Actually he even enjoyed it, as it was an opportunity to "flex" his power as the General, and he got a kick out of getting anyone to snap to attention as he walked in a room. He reached over the lit console to his left, and turned on the ESN (Electronic Satellite Notifier) alert. The ESN Alert was designed by Rockwell Engineering staff to send an electronic signal to the Defense Satellite, and then it will amplify it, and focus it on a 500 sq. ft. area anywhere in the western hemisphere.

Punching in the coordinates of Racer Dan's new house in the midwest was easy. This will infiltrate his house, and instantly turn on any and all televisions in it. With a high pitched squeal for a wake up call, he was sure Racer Dan would be at attention in three seconds flat.

He punched in the command to send, and a slight grin filled his face as he hit the enter key. Two thousand miles away Racer Dan's house was instantly lit up like a Christmas tree on the White House lawn. Racer Dan instantly fell out of bed, and the covers went with him. Stumbling to his feet, he picked up the telephone by mistake. Then he looked at the television, and the General was standing there with his grin staring at him. "Good morning, Sir" Racer Dan greeted. The General instructed him to head for the hanger and turn on the computer for an urgent message.

Racer Dan grabbed his Corvette jacket, and headed for the hanger. He turned of the outer perimeter alarm, and then fired up the heaters in the large hanger. Sitting under cover were the two Fighter Jets which had not flown a mission in over a year. Racer Dan figured he had been put out to pasture, and resolved to live a more normal life. The Stars and Stripes Fighter Jet was parked just in front of the Grand Sport Fighter. Both brought back memories as Racer Dan walked by them. He reached up his hand and gently stroked the paint on the Stars and Stripes. He closed his eyes, and instantly he was back two year ago, the night he got into this Fighter Jet for the first time. He could still picture the ghost like image of Zora as he disappeared in the fog in front of him. The hair on the back of Racer Dan's neck started to tingle, but as he opened his eyes, it went away. He lit up a cigarette, and took a heavy drag on it. Why the hell is the General disturbing me, anyway he thought. Surely the link to the new Commander would have been better. His face started to turn red as the blood pressure increased. The more it increased, the madder he got.

This mission was about to bring the C5FS one of its hardest challenges yet. It was going to be a test of skills that would involve many of the C5FS team. One that would no doubt be their most important mission yet. No one could be left behind, and nobody could be identified, for fear of retribution. The results of their mission will become apparent to the public within a week of their mission completion, and it would affect the nation for at least the next four years.

The messages rolled down the screen as Racer Dan downloaded the scrabbled files. The descrambler tape disks whispered as the drive motors rotated the disks to speed, unraveling the message the General sent. Racer Dan read the instructions twice, as the first time he didn't believe they were really coming from the General. But as always, his was not to question why, but to follow out the mission as instructed.

Racer Dan immediately called in the C5FS pilots one by one, and within a matter of 12 hours they had assembled in the war room in the rear of the hanger.

Dorothy addressed the group from the Commanders chair. Her voice was firm and clear. There will be no deviation from the instructions to follow. Racer Dan listened closely, while rubbing a small tear on the right pocket in his flight jacket. The jacket had torn during a mission to Vancouver,one of their first missions. Since it was a "battle scar", he refused to have it repaired. Above it was engraved his name, and under it was "Commander, Retired." He fiddled with what was left of a cigarette, rolling it slowly in the ashtray in front of him. He started to drift his thoughts off to a night months ago in a bar, when he heard his name from the Commander.

"Racer Dan, you are to form a Squadron of eight Fighters, and once airborne, the Satellite link computer will download your coordinates. Only then will your wingmen and you open the envelopes in front of you. The instructions will be self explanatory."

Racer Dan fiddled with his envelope. The rebellious side of him made him focus on the flap of the envelope, and his finger slowly picked at it, as if to show everyone his defiance as to the top secret instructions. As he looked up, the Commander was staring directly at him. He smiled, and he put the envelope back down in front of him. The Commander picked up the files in front of her, and her envelope. The files were dropped into the shredder, and with a loud whirl the cutting blades of the shredder ate the files, folder and all. The strips of paper fell to the bottom of the waste can, and the electronic sensor in the bottom of it sent a signal to the electronic spark ignitor. A small gas valve opened, and the flame shot about 8 inches across the bottom of the can. An exhaust fan started in the side of the can, and in less than a minute, the shredded paper was dust.

Meanwhile, the Fighter Pilots began to line up in the hanger. Flight suits were zipped up, and helmets were in hand as they approached their Fighter Jets. Racer Dan decided to hop into the Grand Sport Fighter, but as he stepped into the first foot hold to climb into it, the Commander hollered once more at him: "Better take the Red White and Blue one, Racer. You will be glad you did".

Racer Dan shook his head OK, although he felt like the Commander was just being bossy. But two days later he would recognize she was indeed right- he needed the Zora Special to fly this mission.

He pulled off the cover, and climbed into the cockpit. Helmet on, he hooked up the oxygen hose, the communicator lines, and the pressurized flight suit lines just in case he needed to get on the G's... As the twin 454 big blocks fired up, the chrome exhaust lit up a golden yellow and red. The exhaust fumes burnt black until the engine reached its operating temperature, and then Racer Dan taxied out to the runway. In front of him was the rest of the Squadron he was to lead. Once cleared by the tower, he pulled back the twin throttle handles to the rear, and the Fighter Jet was airborne in only four seconds. They all climbed to 50,000 feet, to make sure they were out of the way of commercial airline traffic, then they hit their scrabbled communication computers. In formation, the Joker finally broke the silence with the question: "How about we open up our Christmas card from the General, and find out what this is all about. The Junkyard warrior had already opened his, but he remained silent so nobody would know. The mission was to head for the southern coast of Florida. They were to pick up some men once they land at the airport, and then take them up to 60,000 feet before opening a second envelope. They were to be greeted at the airport by some Corvette enthusiasts in a group called the C5 Registry. This was the first time that the C5FS was to be actually seen by any Corvette enthusiasts, so whatever the mission, the General sure was desperate to make it work.

The flight was uneventful, and as they landed they could see some lights on the back runway, so they taxied over to see if the C5 Registry was there. As they approached, the headlights on over 20 C5 Corvettes lit up the end of the runway, and the Fighters pulled up to the sleek Corvettes and turned off their engines. In front was a couple of the C5FS pilots who were on the C5 Registry too. Their shiny new Z06 Corvettes made Racer Dan turn a little green with envy. Some day, he thought to himself ... someday. Several drivers got out of their cars, and brought over eight men. These eight men each had a black hood over his face, so we could not recognize them. There hands were secured in front of them. They told us these men were our cargo, so we loaded them up in the rear seat behind each of the pilots, and then waved as we headed down the runway. We banked a hard right, and flew back over the C5's before we headed up to 50,000 feet. They were still out of their cars, and we all "waved" our wings at them, then climbed up to our cruising altitude.

Once back into formation, Pat shouted to Randall "make sure you don't get none of that tobbacy crap on your mission instructions". Randall let up on the throttle a little bit, and Pat instantly realized that he was about to climb on top of Randall's fighter, and pushed his stick down dropping out of formation. "HEY, Pat- Y'all forgit how to fly?" he returned with a southern draw. The joker piped up "Heck you country boys still don't know how to drive. You come over to my house this weekend, and we'll go over to the track and I'll show both of you how to handle a stick!"

They all smiled, and knew that even though Joker was still wet behind the ears in his mid twenties, he could indeed teach them all a thing or two. Just then, Fat Ass spoke up with enthusiasm "Yuz guys better read youze instructions, youze won't bee-leeve what the General wants us to do!"

Back to the mission, we opened up the envelopes. Racer Dan read out loud as the others followed: "It is time we as a nation make a statement. We must succeed in totally intimidating the passengers in your plane. We want you to put the fear of Corvette itself in them. Make sure before you meet the C5 Registry at 0400 again at the same field, that these men are sure that you will return if they continue what they have been doing the last four weeks.

We had no idea who these hooked men were, but by the way they were dressed, we knew they had money. But orders are orders, so it was time to fulfill our duty.

Racer Dan instructed Joker to lead the way. Following him would be Vince in his ZR1 modified Fighter, then the Junkyard Warrior, Fat Ass, Pat, Randall, and then him.

The Joker wasted no time in climbing up to 80,000 feet, then put the Fighter into a nose dive. A barrel roll followed, and each pilot followed. It wasn't long before one of the pilots announced "I had to turn on the auxiliary air, this guy is puking his guts out back here. The rest of the pilots chuckled, and it wasn't long before all of the eight men in the back seats were following suit.

After 1 1/2 hours of fun, the C5 Fighter Squadron pilots landed back at the airport in Florida, and let out their passengers. The C5 Registry members were there, but there were two pickup trucks in front. Racer Dan thought this was strange, but then once they removed the hooded men, he realized there was no way a Corvette owner would let them ride in their Vette smelling like that!

They loaded the men in the back of the trucks, and then took off, with the Corvettes behind the two trucks. It was clear the mission was a success, as not one of the men could walk when they got out of the Fighter Jets. Before they left, one of the C5 Pilots with the registry announced to the guys in the back of the trucks- "The General says to tell you all if you don't quit screwing with the public, the next ride will be twice as long."

Racer Dan announced it was time to head home, and the Fighter Jets took off two abreast. Afterburners on, they cut the flying time to less than 65 minutes even with a headwind. The pulled into the hanger back in the midwest, and regrouped in the mission room. On the table in front of them was two cases of beer, and a cigar for each of them.

The General came onto the screen in the room in less than 15 minutes, and announced their mission a success. They were to not communicate their mission to anyone including the other C5FS pilots. As they finished off the beer, they hit the sack. At noon they were to head home. As Racer Dan finished his last cigarette, he flicked it out the window in the bedroom. He still wasn't sure exactly what they had accomplished or why. He spent a restless night trying to figure it out, but to no avail. The rest of the pilots never questioned it either...

The next day, they headed home. Later that night, Racer Dan had just finished eating supper, and then headed to the hanger. The short walk down the trail leading to the hanger made him reflect on the previous days flight. He opened the hanger door, and grabbed a rag to rub down the Fighter. He later climbed into the cockpit, made sure everything was secure, and started to climb out. That was when he noticed a cuff link in the rear seat. He reached over and picked it up. It had a presidential seal on it. "Hmmm ... I wonder what this is about," he thought.

That evening he sat down to watch TV. As he surfed the channels, he stopped at channel 3 - CNN. As they covered the Presidential election, the announcer reported that the Vice President Al Gore was about to make a speech. But he was not feeling good and postponed it for an hour. Racer Dan thought to himself- then shook it off as a long shot. But maybe, just maybe, Al Gore is ready to concede. Once he starts feeling better...

I wonder if his lawyers are feeling OK, too... He smiled, leaned back in his easy chair, and started to drift off to sleep. As he did, he imagined that the rest of the Squadron and the C5 Registry had a tale to tell on exactly how they got the "cargo" to and from the airport they had met at. That must have been a wild ride to the airport, too, he imagined. I wouldn't think they would miss a chance to give them a little thrill of their own...

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