Thursday, December 27, 2012

War Angel: part eighty-seven

From the Journal of Steven Keys- August 28, 2030

It has been a long six years, but today it paid off. Day after day after day of working around the clock, and we have a result. A beautiful result.

Oh, I suppose from an aesthetic point of view, maybe not so much. She still looks like a brick. A flying brick, one capable of navigating off the planet and into space, but a brick nonetheless. We welded her together with so much armored plating that I thought it would be a miracle if she elevated even a foot off the ground, but damned if she didn’t do that and more. The cannons consume so much power that it’s frightening, yet we put four of them on her. When I think about the power core inside her, it makes me shiver. But she works. That was the job.

Yumiko and her crew have been working so hard on the navigational system, and I am incredibly proud of her. I know I’ve been singing her praises every day like a lovesick puppy, but she deserves them. Our planet hasn’t really designed a ship meant to travel around our system and return. We have sent probes to deep space, and probes to Mars, but they were not meant to return. They had a course plotted for them and they went.

This thing should go wherever it is meant to go.

Of course, the job is far from finished. This is just the first one. We have seven more in various stages of development. We have been learning as we go with this first one, and because of that, the others should get better and stronger as time allows. I don’t mind saying that is my favorite aspect to it. This project is about fighting back, yes; we want to meet the Omegans in the skies and drive them away. But beneath that, we are engaged in pure, basic science. Hypothesis, experiment, result. Repeat as needed. Even a literature nerd like me can appreciate that. And my personal knowledge base has continued to grow. In the past twelve years, since all of this started…

Wait. It sounds better this way: if I were to extrapolate what I have been doing over the last twelve years to the life I left behind, it would be something like this – I have basically earned the equivalent of a doctorate in Physics and a doctorate in Electrical Engineering, as well as a Masters in Military Science.

Pretty goddamned impressive when I think about it.

But it has always really been about survival. We stayed down here, out of the way, and the Omegans never came close to finding us. In order to keep it that way, we are going to properly launch her from New Zealand. We’ll fly her on the water top at a minimal speed, make her look like a boat, and when we get here there, we’ll turn up the juice and get her into the atmosphere.

True to form at this point, I will be there to see it.

Biggest news of the day was that I was listed as a member of the initial launch crew. I’ll be part of the engineering contingent, as well as part of any repairs that need to be made. As always, I find the idea exhilarating and completely terrifying. Considering that this is the first ship of this kind, there is plenty that can go wrong, and I suspect that anyone on the repair crew will be extremely busy. If I had my preference, I would wait for one of the later ships, but that is not to be my fate.

My theory is that I am being used as a good luck charm. After we got down here, word spread about who I am and what had happened to me. I was asked to share my story numerous times, and the people here also tagged me with the label of “survivor guy.” So maybe they think my presence onboard will help.

They seem to forget all the ones who died next to me. I don’t think I’ll remind them.

It wasn’t enough that I was listed as part of the crew, though. Somehow, I wound up with the honor of naming our flying, over-powered brick. One of the pilots, a guy we call Fish, was tracing his hand across the helm, and he smiled and said he felt like we were about to become angels of death. I shook my head at him, disagreeing, offering up that we were hopefully about to become angels of redemption. That we could use this ship not just to destroy, but also to release our world from the bondage of war.

Fair point, right?

Well, the Colonel was standing behind us as we were talking, and he interrupted, noting that war was always about both of those things and more. That it involved death, destruction, heroics, cowardice, redemption, greatness, and humanity at its worst. I pondered that for a moment, and nodded in agreement. “Then I suppose we’ll do all of those things with this ship,” I replied. “All-encompassing angels of war.”

“Doctor, that’s brilliant,” he smiled, shaking his head. “I think you just gave the old girl a name.”

“I did?” I asked him, baffled.

“Tonight, before you all leave, we’ll have the ceremony, and christen her. This big beast will go out into space with the perfect name.”

So in a few minutes, I will be heading down to the main cave to commemorate the ship, and then I will put my life into its hands. I will kiss Yumiko goodbye, and head back out into a world I will not recognize. But maybe when we are done, we will create a better one.

Time to go. Good luck to us all. And if there is any type of higher power in this universe, may it bless my new home, this flying brick known as the War Angel.

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